Traction, CHEAP!
Slipping and sliding got ya down? Try a 2 dollar quick fix!
Have you been regretting not getting a pair of wading boots with studs? If you've got a pair of felt bottom boots and you're in need of some extra traction, try this quick fix. While this isn't a substitute for a pair of stream cleats, it does provide enough extra traction to keep you on your feet in most Great Lakes tribs. This is a perfect solution for wading the shale bottom streams of Erie and Ontario, where cleats are heavy and unnecessary but felt alone doesn't quite cut it. One quick word of caution, if you fish out of a boat often, keep in mind that any type of stud can dammage or mar the boats floor.

What you'll need:
Sheet Metal Screws: steel, slotted - hex washer head
Socket or Nut Driver: to fit screws

Step By Step:

The first thing you'll want to do is figure out whether your screws are the right length. To short and they'll fall out. To long and you risk puncturing your waders or foot! Ideally the screws should be just a hair longer than the felt is thick. 1/2 In. is just right on my Simms boots. Somewhere between 3/8 - 5/8 In. should work for most designs.
The next thing you need to figure out is placement. The key here is "less is more". What you don't want is to completely cover the sole. It's important that the felt can still make contact with the stream bottom. You'll also want to keep the screws just a little bit away from the edge of the felt or they'll tend to fall out easily.
Once you've got the placement figured out, go ahead and start putting the screws in with your fingers. You may have to push a bit to get them started. Now finish up with your nut driver or socket, driving the bottom of the head flush with the felt.


You'll want to check the studs every once in a while because occasionally one may fall out. If you find there falling out frequently, try using a slightly longer screw or placing a dab of clear silicon sealant on the threads before replacing.
You'll also need to replace the studs periodically as they get worn down. I find I have to do this about once a year, but it will vary depending on how often you fish and the amount of hiking you do. It's always best to replace the screws before they get worn completely flat, as removing them becomes a bit more difficult.
Start with your nut driver or socket, but you may find the head is to worn to get a grip.
Next try your screwdriver. You'll need to scrape the dirt out of the slot that inevitabley accumulates in it. If you followed my advise and replaced the screws before they were worn flat you should be home free. If the screwdriver doesn't work, you'll have to either cut a new slot or try and back the screw out with a pair of needle nose pliars.
Author: Brian Doelle

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