A guide bids farewell to two of his best friends, his wading boots.
“Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.” —Abraham Lincoln
While President Lincoln’s quote may have a philosophical connotation, he very well could have uttered the same words to Blast and Cast Outfitters guide, Todd France had he caught a glimpse of the boots on his feet, only in this case, Abe’s phrase would have a literal meaning. When Simms’ Rivershed Boots hit the market, Todd immediately scooped up a pair and over the years, they became more than just boots, they became a part of him. “I’d say these boots have 400 fishing days on them and that’s being pretty modest.” says Todd. “Every time a guide puts on a pair of boots, those boots are going to work.”
Most guides burn through a pair of boots every couple of years or so but the lifespan of Todd’s far exceed the two year mark. For the past 6-plus years, through thick and thin, his Riversheds have been with him. How did he make them last so long? He did nothing — he fished them hard and put them away at the end of each day. He did have one critical and highly technical repair made some time ago but thankfully, the boot made a full recovery — one of the laces broke and had to be spliced back together. Sure, at a glance you can see the years of use and compassionate abuse, but if you were to take a closer look, you would notice that each and every seam is still as tight as it was the day Todd snatched them out of the box — and the overall structure and construction — 100 percent as sturdy as the first time he put them on.
As structurally sound as Todd’s boots remain to this day, both have a glaring inadequacy. Excluding the barely visible nubs of tread surrounding the Vibram® logo on the shank of the outsole, Todd’s boots are bald — completely bald. Obviously, this deficiency occurred over a long period of time and over the course of many, many miles and just like most sane people wouldn’t feel safe driving around on bald tires, the majority of anglers wouldn’t feel too keen about trudging through a river over slick rocks wearing boots with absolutely zero tread. So why wouldn’t Todd simply pony up and buy a new pair of boots you ask? “Because — they fit my feet.” he said. When put that simply, I started to understand. For example, when you first buy a baseball glove, it’s stiff, awkward and has the universally appealing scent of fresh leather. But after you start to use it a bit, it loosens up, conforms to your hand and begins to take on a somewhat rank aroma — still pleasant — but only to the glove’s owner. It’s your glove and it feels perfect on your hand but nobody else’s. “They just feel right and I’ve held on to them because it’s so rare to find a pair of wading boots that you can legitimately say feel good when you put your neoprene stocking foot inside. In these boots, my toes are comfortable and never get jammed or anything like that. They’ve just formed perfectly to my feet.”
After talking with Todd for a while I asked why his beloved boots had been sitting on my desk for the last week if he loves them so much? “Well, it took some convincing but K.C. finally talked me into a new pair.” Todd replied.
As it turns out, Simms president, K.C. Walsh had recently been invited by a friend to fish with Todd on the Big Hole and one of the first things he noticed about his guide were his boots. Walsh couldn’t help but inquire and flat out ask “What are those?” France laughed and defended his footwear by responding “These are my Simms Boots, I’ve had them for years.” K.C.’s blunt response was, “I’ve got to have them.” Todd knew exactly why he wanted them but wasn’t so sure he wanted to give them up. Even after K.C. made an offer to trade him a pair of brand spankin’ new boots for the old worn out ones, Todd remained reluctant to let them. K.C. persistently insisted and finally, France gave in to the deal and is now a proud owner of a new pair of Riversheds.
When asked how he likes his new boots, Todd answered “You know, the first time I put them on I was surprised because like my old boots, these too were very comfortable. The only issue I’m having is the fact that these actually have traction — they are almost too sticky. I spent so many years fishing and guiding on essentially flat rubber, I almost forgot what having traction felt like.”
As hard as it must have been for France to say goodbye to such longstanding, trustworthy companions, we at Simms are honored to have these boots back in our hands. In terms of Simms’ brand mission, Todd’s boots embody our desire to create long lasting, tough and enduring products that can take the abuse of the most demanding fishing guides.
Todd, let’s circle back in another five or six years and assess your boot needs then.