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Banning the Use of Felt Soled Boots and Waders

A ban on using felt-soled waders and boots in Vermont waters was enacted by the Vermont legislature to help curb the spread of aquatic invasive species in Vermont rivers. Felt soled waders can contribute to the spread of invasive species such as whirling disease in fish and didymo, a non-native alga commonly referred to as “rock snot.”

The ban, which became effective April 1, 2011, is designed to slow or stop the spread of these and other aquatic invasive species to new locations in Vermont.

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Quick Links
Why Focus on Felt?
Felt-soled Boots Alternatives, Cobblers & Retailers.
Do I Still Need to Clean My Boots?
How to Disinfect Your Equipment.
More on Aquatic Invasive Species.
Take the Clean Angling Pledge.

What Rivers are Impacted?

The pathogen for whirling disease has been documented in the Batten Kill.

Didymo was first found in Vermont in the Connecticut River in 2007.  A bloom also occurred in a New York section of the Batten Kill in 2006.  Nuisance blooms have since occurred in the Mad, White, East Branch Passumpsic, and Gihon Rivers. 

››Map of current distribution of Didymo in Vermont.
››Map of the North American distribution of Didymo.

Stream fishing in waders

Why Focus on Felt?
Aquatic invasive species can be spread a number of ways, but felt-soled boots are a notable contributor to the problem, particularly with microscopic species that spread through cells and spores.

Felt is especially problematic because it is:

  • Very difficult to clean, dry or disinfect. 
  • Felt’s woven fibers create voids that didymo cells and other small material can penetrate and occupy. These voids can remain damp for a long time, allowing didymo cells to survive.
  • Recommended treatments have often been found to be ineffective at disinfecting these spaces.
››Read more about the role of felt-soled waders in the spread of aquatic invasive species.

What are Some Alternatives to Felt-soled Boots?
  • Remove the felt soles from the boots you have.
    ››View a How-to Guide for Felt Removal
  • Use a studded sole product that straps onto your rubber soled boots or waders.
  • Use waders or boots made with studded or high-grip rubber sole material.
  • Add your own “studs” to a pair of rubber soled boots or waders. Using a nut driver or cordless drill, screw some ½” hex-head sheet metal screws in to the rubber treads on the bottom of your boots or waders. Self-tapping screws will start in easily.
    These screws are not the most durable solution, but they are an inexpensive option for improving rubber sole traction.  Specialized, hardened stud kits are also commercially available.

You can find instructions and more on this option by searching online for “fishing boot screws” or “screws for traction wading” or “motorcycle ice screws."

screw examples
Cobblers, Bootsellers or Manufacturers of Non Felt Soled Boots
*Please see DISCLAIMER below
Business Name Address Phone Web Site
Onion River Cobbler 7 West Canal Street
Winooski VT 05404
Green Mountain Troutfitters 233 Mill Street Route 108
Jeffersonville VT 05464
Korkers Products 1239 SE 12th Ave
Portland OR 97214
L.L. Bean 15 Casco Street
Freeport ME 04033
Orvis 178 Conservation Way
Sunderland VT 05250
Simms Fishing Products 101 Evergreen Drive
Bozeman MT 59715
Taddingers Route 100
Wilmington VT 05356
The Classic Outfitters 861 Williston Road
South Burlington VT 05403
The Fly Rod Shop 2703 Waterbury-Stowe Rd
Stowe VT 05672
Disclaimer: The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is listing Cobblers, Bootsellers and Manufacturers of Non Felt-Soled Boots, and provided a How-To Guide for Felt Removal, as a public service in order to assist anglers and others who must comply with Act 130 of the 2010 General Assembly banning felt-soled boots and waders. The Department has not investigated, researched, prioritized, or otherwise determined the quality of the cobblers, bootsellers and manufacturers or their workmanship. The Department makes no warranty concerning same and does not endorse these persons and entities. All warranties and liabilities are between the purchaser and the service or merchandiser. Any person utilizing the How-To Guide for Felt Removal assumes all risks associated with participating in such removal, including, but not limited to, any injury or loss arising therefrom.

Any person or entity that undertakes such work may contact the Department at 802-828-1000, to be listed above.

Do I Still Need to Clean Rubber-Soled Boots and Waders?
Although the risk of transferring unwanted organisms is reduced when using non-felt alternatives, precautions should still be taken after fishing and especially when moving between waters.  If you’re done fishing, hunting, or trapping for the day, you can let your boots and other equipment dry at home before your next trip. Drying in the sun is the best option, and the longer the better.

If the time between trips isn’t sufficient to ensure your gear is completely dried, some simple cleaning and disinfection steps can be taken:

  • Check your boots and remove all mud and vegetation, as these could carry aquatic invasive species.
  • Add a cup of dishwashing detergent or several capfuls of household bleach to a gallon of water and soak and scrub your boots with a stiff bristled brush for about a minute.
Please do you part to help stop the spread of didymo and other aquatic invasive species by properly disinfecting your boots and other fishing equipment before moving to another waterbody, watershed or upstream site. StopAquaticHitchhikerslogo

››Learn more about disinfection procedures.

››Make your own portable Disinfection Kit.

››Read more about Didymo.

››Read more about Whirling disease.


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