Tuesday, 23 February 2010

The Hitcher

I've just come off the phone with Ian Maclean of Orvis, who has been telling me about a new wading boot with an EcotraX soul.

Fascinating I hear you groan!

Well, actually I think this could be a very significant development in our fight against the spread of aquatic invasive species or AIS as they are known in the trade! Orvis have developed a soul which has been shown to reduce the risk of the transfer of these most unwelcome of hitchers......
From my previous blogs you will know that I am very concerned that we are under threat from numerous alien invaders such as Himalayan Balsam, Japanese Knotweed, Signal Crayfish and Gyrodactylus Salaris. We should do all we can do to reduce the risk of cross-contamination of these 'once they are here' species. As anglers we have a responsibility to ensure we do not become the vectors of contamination as do other groups like canoeists.

So I am going to go out on a limb and call for the end of felt souled waders in the UK - I feel that they could represent significant threat to the quality of our very special catchments.

There is well documented scientific proof that felt represents a special problem in wading boots. Although many boot parts are capable of trapping and carrying AIS, the difficulties of disinfecting felt make it very different from the rest of the boot parts. While the elimination of any boot part that could trap or transport AIS is beneficial and should be encouraged, the move to eliminate felt is a prudent and appropriate response to the threat it poses.

For once I hope we would not have to do this by legislation and I would hope that the tackle industry can take the lead by simply phasing out felt. Companies like Orvis and Simms are leading the charge on this.

In New Zealand they have banned felt souls to stop the spread of the highly invasive dydimo algae.

Some anglers have questioned this approach.

However, the move to eliminate felt is based on conclusive scientific proof that it represents a special threat. Companies, organisations and agencies are all starting to accept this and the move away from felt will continue to grow. Anglers may not like the change and some will be vocal in their opposition. However, we should all make sure that any argument is based on sound science. The science shows that felt is a special problem and anyone disputing that has nothing to back their claims.

Finally, we must realise that felt is only one part of the problem. There are many other places where invasives can be trapped and transported in our boots and other gear. We must adopt new habits that include careful cleaning after each use. While switching to felt-free waders is a good thing, it is just one step in the process of becoming a clean angler. Any one of us could be the person to carry an invader to a new water and none of us wants to be that person. Inspect, Clean and Dry your gear after each use and you will help to protect the resource that we all depend upon.

Lastly have a look at this video on the Orvis website -


I think it's a great example of a company with a sense of it's environmental responsibilities...they are to be congratulated!