Your Wading Shoe May

Endanger Your Life

A trend in wading shoe construction is to have a continuous felt sole with a ramp between the sole and heel. This eliminates the cleat like action obtained with the normal stepped up heel. The ramp of felt between the sole and heel tends to convert the shoe into a ski on muddy slopes, smooth dry boulders when there is sand on the sole (which is most of the time) and smooth mossy rocks under water. Contrary to the manufacturers claims the additional felt does not improve traction - the exact opposite is the result.

The first time I used a pair of shoes of this type I fell five times tearing my waders, gashing my knee, ripping my thumbnail, jamming my thumb, cutting my hand, breaking my glasses and getting dunked (fortunately the stream was small enough so that there was no danger of being swept away). At first I thought it was due to my advancing years but when I continued to have problems even when I was very careful I began to suspect the shoes. So, I used a large, sharp, knife to remove the ramp from the sole and the result was that I haven't slipped or fallen in the many years since the change was made. Flycaster Ralph Eddy and I went steelheading on the Trinity, a few years back and he had a new pair of wading shoes with the ramp sole. I told him about the problem I had with that type of shoe and suggested that he wade very carefully. A few minutes later Ralph was swimming to avoid being swept down a long rapid and a few minutes later, after I had helped pull him out, he was turning purple from the cold as we stripped his clothing off. Fortunately we were close to the trailer and a change of clothing.

Ralph asked for a saw and a knife and removed the ramp from the sole before he would return to wading. Since the modification he has had no further problem.

There are many brands with this problem and more every year - it seems to be the thing to do to keep the construction cost low. If you have such a shoe or buy one because of other desirable features, I strongly suggest that you remove the ramp. A large SHARP knife will work better than a saw in removing the felt and rubber material. The picture shows the before and after operation.


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