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story.lead_photo.caption Rock Treads Traction Kits allow wade fishermen to install aluminum discs to their boot soles to avoid slipping on slick rocks. Installation takes about an hour. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Bryan Hendricks)

Slipping and sliding on slick rocks is an occupational hazard for wade fishermen, but a new product promises sure footing.

It's the Rock Treads Aluminum Traction Kit. Created by Forrest Rogers, a Stuttgart native living in Montana, Rock Treads are ingeniously simple. They are aluminum discs that screw onto the soles of your wading boots.

Anybody that has ever paddled an aluminum canoe on an Arkansas mountain stream knows how an aluminum hull adheres to rocks. Rogers said that such an incident inspired Rock Treads.

"Low water, aluminum canoe, Light Bulb!" Rogers wrote in a text message.

[Video not showing up above? Click here to watch » https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZZeGfNYOq4]

Rock Treads are available in three kits. One is for boots with rubber soles, one is for felt soles and one is for removable soles. Each kit comes with 22 discs, 11 for each boot. A kit also contains an equal number of aluminum lock-down nuts and a selection of stainless steel screws of five different lengths. The discs are in three sizes, enabling you to arrange them on the sole for maximum coverage. For example, I put two of the four large discs on the heel and two on the ball. I attached the small and medium discs in an arc on the toe and forward of the large discs on the heel and ball, virtually covering the sole.

Attaching the discs takes about one hour. The first boot is time intensive because of the learning curve. The second boot goes quickly.

Before starting, hold a boot in your hand and arrange the discs on the upturned sole in the desired pattern. This is easy because many boots have dimples or blisters on the sole for placing other types of traction aids. The discs rest atop the dimples. Then, replicate the pattern by placing the discs on a sheet of paper. Do this for both soles, side by side,

Each Rock Treads kit also comes with a 1/4-inch drill bit and a tube of red thread locker. Remove the liner from the boot and drill through the sole into the boot. The liner in Simms boots are not removable, so you must drill through the liner. I worked the drill at a slow speed, angling and spinning the bit to ream out holes in the felt footbed material.

Push a lock-down nut through the footbed into each hole. The lock-down nut stem goes through the sole. The heel holes are easy. The holes beyond line of sight are entirely by feel. Those at the toe are especially challenging because the space is so tight.

The kit comes with two setting screws for this purpose, but I found it was easier and faster to insert a small Allen wrench through the sole into boot as a guide. Slip the lock-down nut over the Allen wrench and push the nut through the hole.

With all the lock-down nuts in place, choose the proper length screw to attach the discs to the sole. You'll need longer screws for the heel and short screws for the toe. The disc must be tight to the sole. If the screw protrudes above the footbed, it will be like walking on nails. The screw should be flush with the top of the lock-down nut stem. I tried various screws until I found the right lengths for each part of the sole. I arranged them with the disc pattern on the second boot to save time.

Place a screw through a disc and gently start the screw into a lock-down nut with a cordless drill. I applied a couple of drops of red thread locker to the exposed screw threads between the disc and the sole and then gently seated the screw.

Replace the liner and put your foot in the boot. You should not feel any protrusions. For Simms boots, you will need to insert an additional liner, like Dr. Scholls.

Rogers said he typically gets 150 wade trips from a kit before a screw head wears down enough to cause a disc to fall away. On the other hand, Rogers said because the discs essentially replace the sole, customers report that their boots last three times longer.

Felt sole boots also resist slipping, but felt soles carry the risk of transferring didymo and other invasive plant species into new waters. Rock Treads should provide sure footing while eliminating the ecological risks of felt.

Check out the installation video that accompanies this article. For information, visit RockTreads.com

Sports on 02/06/2020

Print Headline: Rock Treads improve wading traction

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