Allan Shephard spends a day salmon fishing the Wye testing the new Patagonia Rock Grip Aluminium bar boots
Wading boot soles have always been a compromise. Felt soles are great on most kinds of rock but really poor for negotiating muddy banks – studs help but its still easy to slip. A further complication is that felt is being phased out as there are increasing concerns about bio-security. That’s moving diseases and parasites between rivers to you and I. Plastic/rubber soled boots get round this but the grip is poor compared with felt on some types of rock.
Solving this problem needed a little ‘out of the the box thinking’ and you couldn’t get further than screwing strips of metal to the soles. This sounds a little like a pair of ice skating boots doesn’t it?
So it was with a little trepidation that I gingerly waded out into Bridge pool on the Rectory beat on the Wye yesterday. The Wye is a notoriously tricky wade in this part of the river with slippery ridges of rock and boulders fiendishly arranged on the riverbed to slip up the wading fisher. I was surprised to find that I instantly had more grip than I would expect from felt soles and as the day went on this improved, presumably as the aluminium bars were textured by the rocks I was standing on. Amazing, and the big bonus was that previously treacherous muddy banks were now dead easy to walk on with no sliding at all.
The boots are cleverly designed so that when the alloy bars wear down you can simply unscrew and replace them with a new set. The boots were comfortable to wear after the initial ‘new shoe’ feel had worn off and I am am looking forward to wearing them again, hopefully with a more successful result from the fishing.
So well done Patagonia for bringing such an innovative new product to the market and apologies to Bill Kliyn for viewing these boots with such scepticism - they are a winner and will get really popular as word get out.
By the way, The Rectory has got to be one of the best stretches of fly water on the Wye and many thanks to Seth from the Wye & Usk Foundation for all his help. Click Here to find fishing on the Wye.