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Lateral view of a Female Hexagenia limbata (Ephemeridae) (Hex) Mayfly Dun from the Namekagon River in Wisconsin
Hex Mayflies
Hexagenia limbata

The famous nocturnal Hex hatch of the Midwest (and a few other lucky locations) stirs to the surface mythically large brown trout that only touch streamers for the rest of the year.

Dorsal view of a Limnephilidae (Giant Sedges) Caddisfly Larva from the Yakima River in Washington
This specimen resembled several others of around the same size and perhaps the same species, which were pretty common in my February sample from the upper Yakima. Unfortunately, I misplaced the specimen before I could get it under a microscope for a definitive ID.
27" brown trout, my largest ever. It was the sub-dominant fish in its pool. After this, I hooked the bigger one, but I couldn't land it.
Troutnut is a project started in 2003 by salmonid ecologist Jason "Troutnut" Neuswanger to help anglers and fly tyers unabashedly embrace the entomological side of the sport. Learn more about Troutnut or support the project for an enhanced experience here.

Roguerat's profile picture
Posts: 456
Roguerat on Sep 13, 2016September 13th, 2016, 11:17 am EDT
I'm getting to the point where I need all the stability I can muster while wading; a Simms wading staff is great but I find myself slipping and sliding on slime and rock-snot too often for comfort, given a couple badly broken ankles and attendant fragility. Anyway, I'm wondering if any Nuts have experience or anecdotal impressions with aluminum crampons...do they work as advertised, are they noisy and scare the fish, whatever.

I've used screw-in hex-head spikes now and then, having had mixed results and not really impressed.

BTW my spouse is realllly interested in any thoughts here...I'm burning a lot of gas heading north to sand-bottom streams vs. the freestone and cobble rivers closer to home.

A couple hours on the Muskegon below Croton Sunday, some bumps and lots good-sized redhorse suckers that I could have kicked out of the way...not sure if they're lazy or just downright arrogant!


'Less is more...'

Ludwig Mies Vande Rohe
NW PA - Pennsylvania's Glacial Pothole Wonderland

Posts: 398
RleeP on Sep 13, 2016September 13th, 2016, 1:45 pm EDT
I have no experience with aluminum crampons such as you describe. I have used felts with embedded aluminum bars, though. I liked them and felt like I could go right up a phone pole while wearing them. Very stabilizing and effective on algae and slime, IMO anyway. As I recall, they wear pretty quickly though. That's small taters though if they help stabilize you in the water.

The crampons may be just the ticket for you...

I can commiserate with your wading issues. They seem similar to mine. I have bilateral Meniere's Disease and while it is currently inactive, it still leaves me in a near constant state of mild unsteadiness on my feet. So, I have to be kinda picky about where I wade to avoid dunking the $4,000 worth of electronics in my ears (my Meniere's also gave me very severe bilateral hearing loss). So, I tend to avoid real big or heavy water situations. I use a staff, prn, if the stream size or footing calls for it. I also wear studded felts, everywhere. But probably the most important limitation I've put on myself is that I do not own and will not buy full size waders. I do about half my fishing in waist highs and the other half in hippers. I tend to thing that there is a "lead myself not into temptation" factor in fishing in waist highs. If I keep my center of gravity (also known as my fat a--) above the water line, I have a lot fewer close calls on the water.

Good Luck!
Troutnut's profile picture
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2758
Troutnut on Sep 14, 2016September 14th, 2016, 10:51 am EDT
When Alaska banned felt soles a few years back to prevent the spread of invasive species, I was kind of at a loss for what to wear for grip. I had a sprained wrist for months to prove it after slipping on a boulder in some sort of allegedly "grippy" rubber. Then I tried aluminum stream crampons (the kind with aluminum crossbars, which might be what RleeP was describing, minus the felt) and they're awesome. They're better than felt ever was, and way better than any kind of rubber or little studs.

The ones I use are Korkers AlumaTrax, part of their interchangeable sole system. But Patagonia Ultralight River Crampons use the same aluminum crossbar principle. I wouldn't be surprised if other manufacturers have started producing similar products, but those are the two I know about.

The only downsides are:

1. Having to replace them occasionally if the bars wear off or I lose an entire sole in the muck somewhere... but that's with *heavy* use/abuse of my wading boots.

2. Having to switch out soles (Korkers) or take them off (other brands) for walking on surfaces that could be damaged: boats, porches, etc. But that's probably true for any metal grip.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
Roguerat's profile picture
Posts: 456
Roguerat on Sep 14, 2016September 14th, 2016, 11:23 am EDT
Lee and Dr. Jason,

THANKS, this is the feedback I was looking for; I saw the Patagonia crampons in a magazine ad and they really clicked (pun intended, I guess) with what I'm dealing with in wading.

BTW, Jason, I had a pair of Korkers for my first wading boots and did the sole-change thing pretty often...I really liked the boots, the flexibility of soles for different wading conditions and all, but blew the side out of a boot when the stitching let go. Now it's Cabela's just to keep the cost down, although I do like the fit of their wading footwear.

Looks like crampons are going on the Christmas list, toward the top.

tight lines,


'Less is more...'

Ludwig Mies Vande Rohe
Crepuscular's profile picture
Boiling Springs, PA

Posts: 920
Crepuscular on Sep 15, 2016September 15th, 2016, 5:18 am EDT
I use the Patagonia Foot Tractors. They work well. But they are heavy, if that's an issue for you. Personally I don't mind it, in fact I like a heavier boot for the simple reason that it takes more stream velocity to move them. Ask Oldredbarn, I get around pretty well in some pretty interesting wading spots. That said, I'm fat and have a low center of gravity which helps as well. There is a good way to retrofit any boot with the replacement patagonia cleats as well. That will save you a bit of money. You can put them on most boots for around $50.00. pm me if you would like more info.
Wbranch's profile picture
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2635
Wbranch on Sep 15, 2016September 15th, 2016, 11:34 am EDT
Dan Bailey used to sell what we called "Rubbers" when I was a kid with those zig zag aluminum channels on the bottoms. At one time, at least 25 - 30 years ago that is what I wore to help me in slippery rivers. They got kind of expensive and as Jason mentioned they can get sucked right off of your wader if you happen to step into the deep mud when you are wading.

I also bought a set of those carbide grippers that Simms sells that have a somewhat triangular shape. They work well and last a long time and at $39 for a set they should last a long time. I installed them on a set of Simms Freestone wading shoes I have but don't use all that much.

For the last few years I have been buying a box of fifty #10 zinc plated hex head screws. I lay out a pattern on the felt soles of my other pair of Freestones with a 12" ruler and a black marker. Then I take a 1/16" diameter drill and drill all the holes I laid out in the felt soles. Then I use a nut driver on the Hex head screws and just screw them in until they get hand tight. They will never get loose or back themselves out of the wading shoe. It takes no more than an hour to lay out the holes, drill the holes and screw in the Hex head screws. The screws cost no more than $10.00 and I don't need to change them for at least two months of fishing 3-4 days a week on freestones waters.

BTW almost every felt sole is at least 1/2" long. You don't want to buy screws that wind up going all the way through the felts so the points are sticking out and you put holes in your neoprene booties. I buy 1/2" long screws and have never had them go through the soles.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
Martinlf's profile picture
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3047
Martinlf on Sep 17, 2016September 17th, 2016, 6:49 pm EDT
The simms star cleats are very sticky. I wouldn't wade slippery rocks without them.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell

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