Has anyone seen my rubber?

6 Aug

For those of you that would mortgage your child’s college fund for the latest gear (if it wasn’t for that pesky wife, girlfriend, insert other gear nirvana obstacle here) this blog is for you.  If for some reason you haven’t heard about the  attack on felt, and you resemble a cave dwelling savage, there has been a big movement in the fly fishing industry in the past couple of years to change out all of our felt soles for rubber ones.  Much like prohibition in the twenties, the “Dry’s”, or the old hippies that now make up the corporate fly fishing world, have been telling us good ol’ boys that our shine (felt souls) will no longer be tolerated.  The issue is the transfer of Didymo, rock snot, you know…the, “Oh shit I just fell down flat on my back stuff”.  According to so-called “scientists” this particular type of “algae” can live in felt for days or weeks since felt dries quite “slowly” (notice the musty smell in your truck?).  I have been a skeptical participant in this swine flu of the fly fishing world, as you can see by my strategic use of quotations above (I am making air quotes on the couch as I write this), but once New Zealand banned felt as a nation I knew the conspiracy was larger than anything I could fight on my own. So much like the French, I have conceded and will be learning German in short order.   

IMG_0060My boss got a free pair of Simms G4 Vibram soled boots about a month ago.  He wore them a couple of times before he realized that these size 13 G4’s were a little too snug for his liking.  Luckily for me, my boss is stable in a high wind and requires size 14 wading boots for his canoe paddle-like feet.  My Simms Freestones are six years-old and you can now see my big toes wiggling on both boots.  There was no thought needed when my boss offered to give me the G4’s (helluva nice guy, my boss), even though I can only pull of a size 11 1/2 on my best days which lately are fewer and farther between (am I shrinking?).  For free boots I will wear three pairs of the thickest socks I can find because  in the long run, socks are cheaper than boots.  

So with my free boots in hand I set out for a float on the Watauga, where the Didymo has made the river resemble a Slip ‘n Slide covered in dish soap.  Before I slip on my rubber, I do have to say that the G4’s look like a pair of snowboarding boots.  I do not snowboard, I do not take part in any extreme activities, I don’t even drink Mountain Dew…I fish.  Am I the only one who hasn’t lost all sense of practicality in aesthetics and think that fishing boots should look like fishing boots?  These boots seem to have been designed by the same guy that designed the L.A. Gear Tennis Shoes that lit up when you walked. Actually, these boots would be  a boat load cooler if they had strobe lights, or oil slick sprays, or a multitude of other Goonies-like gadgets (Data RULES!), but they don’t and therefore I feel somewhat silly wearing them as a 30-year-old semi-adult.  As far as comfort, they are two sizes too big for me so I don’t really feel like I can make a valid judgement.  I do however feel that a well fit pair would be nice for my dogs who quite often bark and stink.

IMG_0061Now as for the rubber, in the water I really didn’t notice that big a difference. The Watauga is developing a nasty Didymo problem (ironical, ain’t it?) and even felt can’t exactly be counted on all the time.  That being said the rubber actually gripped well, and didn’t slide on me any more than my felts would have, and they did grip better in the dirt.  The weird thing was that the rubber didn’t grip worth a damn on rounded, shiny, dry rock.  It almost seemed like they needed a little water to get clingy.  If you threw a couple of studs into them I can see how they would be really close to felt if not a little better in the tailwaters.  Unfortunately, studs and boats go together like spaghetti and tuna fish, so this will not be an option on the Nymph-o luxury cruise line.  I kind of figure these are gonna be my winter boots, as they will need a few pairs of socks to make them fit right, so they will get a lot more testing before my mind is made up.  I will say that I have no plans to sell them on eBay.  That ranks them higher then at least three quarters of the stuff that winds up in my beer money pile o’ crap.  (And don’t forget they were free…I love free shit…send me free shit corporate fly fishing hippies…you know who you are.)

– Nymph-o


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