What States Have Banned Felt Sole Wading Boots and Waders?

Felt Sole Wading Boots Ban; Is Your State on the List?

States that don't allow felt waders and boots. There is nothing quite like felt’s gripping ability on slippery rocks in the river. Unfortunately many states are outlawing the use of felt sole waders and boots, due to the spread of invasive species. Find the complete list below along with what types of species you could accidentally transport and a few tips for killing any aquatic hitchhikers.

Many states are changing the wader industry standards with tough laws in an attempt to curve invasive species spread. Among the species of organisms that have caused this ban are didymo also known as “rock snot”, myxobolus cerebralis (the parasitic cause of whirling disease) and New Zealand mudsnails.

Aquatic Invasive Species That could be Accidentally Collected on Felt Soled Wading Boots 

  • Didymo or Rock Snot: This is the bright green algae that coats rock and causes thick stringy matts. This nasty algae can literally smother lakes and streams, by blocking the sunlight and altering the ecosystem greatly.
  • Whirling Disease: This tragic disease has had a serious effect on trout populations all over the US, UK and New Zealand. The impact of this disease in the UK has not been as significant as in many areas because this parasite is native to that area so the native trout tend to have a level of resistance not found in most other areas. This parasite was first found in 1956  in Pennsylvania United States after a stocking infected trout from Europe. Many areas of the western US have suffered up to 90% fish loss from myxobolus cerebralis or whirling disease
  • New Zealand Mudnails: These are small snails that will become extremely dense in most areas they are found. They will starve the insects in a trout stream by clearing all the algae and food that aquatic insects feed on, therefore starving the trout. These snail can multiply by asexual reproduction and they don’t need a breeding pair to spread.

Any or all of these problems mentioned above can easily be transferred from stream to stream via the absorbent felt sole of wading boots. They tend to stay alive longer on this type of boot due to the length of time they stay moist vs rubber soled wading boots.

List of States With a Ban on Felt Sole Wading Boots


  • Alaska: Statewide Ban on all felt sole waders or fibrous material soles while fishing in fresh water in this state. You can use felt soles in salt water however and in any “personal use fishery”.
  • MarylandStatewide Ban
  • MissouriStatewide Ban
  • Nebraska Statewide Ban
  • New Jersey Statewide Ban New Jersey does not have a ban on felt sole waders. Updated feb-27th 2015 (my apologies for any trouble this might have caused)
  • Rhode Island Statewide Ban
  • South DakotaStatewide Ban
  • Vermont* (see note below Updated 7-12-2016) VT has lifted it’s ban on felt soled waders and boots. As of July 1st you can legally use felt soled boots and waders.


* VT: As of 7-1-2016, After a five year ban, once again you can use felt soled waders and boots in VT. Read more about it here: https://vtwatershedblog.com/2016/06/29/felt-soled-wading-boots-allowed-in-vermont-after-five-year-ban/

This is as far as I can determine a complete list of states with laws banning the use of felt sole waders and wading boots. I will do my best to keep this page current with any new updates and states that get on board. I had heard the state of Ohio had a river by river policy on the use of felt, however I cannot find any official information that says there is any law about the use of felt. ohiodnr.gov 

Update—2-27-2015: I have updated the list to exclude NJ. It was brought to my attention today that they do not have a ban currently in place. I have re-opened comments on this article in case anyone has any questions or concerns regarding the use of felt. Please let me know if you find any errors or discrepancies on this page and if you find that another state has enacted a ban on felt. Thanks, Dub

Things you can do to prevent the spread of invasive species on your boots:

  • Wash your felt wading boots with a bleach/water mixture after each trip.
  • Allow felt waders or boots to dry entirely, this should kill most waterborne invasive species
  • Buy a rubber sole and replace your felt boots


Look on the bright side! Snow sticks really bad to felt soled wading boots not to mention there are plenty of really nice rubber wading boots on the market! You could always resort to sandals in the the summer months as well, most people already have those.

If you are looking for a very nice pair of wading boots, I recommend these Redington Skagit river wading boots. I also have had a good experience with Palix river wading boots from Redington, you can read the review about those here.




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  1. Chrissen

    May 3, 2016 at 2:15 am

    Hi, do you know when commercial felt-soled waders were fist available, and where?

    • Dub Paetz

      May 3, 2016 at 11:27 am

      Chrissen, I am not sure when they were available first. I know they have been around in the US since the early 1990’s at least. Have a good day, Dub

      • Bill

        September 22, 2016 at 5:55 pm

        Felt wader soles are at least a century old if not older.
        My father and great uncle fished with them before the War (2nd WW)

  2. Michael McGarghan

    May 8, 2016 at 1:33 pm

    You might want to reconfirm your database for Vermont. The legislature just passed H.570 with amendments from the Senate that rejected the Felt Waders Ban. See HJ260502 on the site: http://legislature.vermont.gov/assets/Documents/2016/Docs/JOURNAL/hj160502

    • Dub Paetz

      May 8, 2016 at 2:33 pm

      Thanks a lot Michael, I appreciate you letting me know. I have sent an email to Vermont’s fish and wildlife department. I’ll be sure to post my findings here as soon as I have a clear answer. Hope you are having a good fishing season, Dub

  3. David Wilson

    June 15, 2016 at 11:08 am

    I’ve always had a question about this ban. Do these invasive species only get passed from river to river by being stuck to the felt on the bottom of the boot, and the laces, zippers, tongues, welts, and interiors of the boot are immune? It seems to me that the soles, which provide so much more grip and safety, are actually the part of the boot least likely to spread these organisms, what with walking on trails and parking lots to and from streams. Can anyone point me to some research that has been done on this? To me it seems very knee-jerk and not very scientific. I used a pair of rubber soled boots and slipped and broke my wrist the first day of use after having never had an injurious tumble of any kind in 20 years of wearing felt soled boots

    • Dub Paetz

      July 4, 2016 at 9:02 pm

      David, perhaps that law is rather “knee jerk” most of them always seem to be.. You are correct that felt soles are far superior in terms of traction (at least in the summer months). I hope your wrist healed up! Thanks for stopping by, Dub

    • Shazzam

      July 7, 2016 at 2:11 pm

      Here here – total agreement on the knee-jerk. Our jerk was David Deen – ‘self proclaimed’ river steward and now on the governmental F&W board in Vermont. Broke my hand taking a crash two years ago. The law has just been overturned here.

      • Dub Paetz

        July 12, 2016 at 1:36 pm

        Shazzam, Thanks for that info! I’m updating this post now.

  4. Shazzam

    July 7, 2016 at 2:06 pm

    VERMONT – In the 60’s & 70’s we were too poor to own felt waders so we glued indoor/outdoor carpet to our boots or SK’s.

    • Dub Paetz

      July 12, 2016 at 1:37 pm

      That’s interesting I’ve never heard of that. Curious how well it worked, thanks for stopping by, Dub

  5. Alex

    September 14, 2017 at 8:38 pm

    Technically, Missouri hasn’t banned them everywhere….just in trout parks and certain streams. However, please, if you are from Missouri and getting waders (or live anywhere near Arkansas) please get rid of the felt. Northern Arkansas has some areas getting invaded by algae that would be easily transported in the felt. Be a part of the solution.

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