I've tried to remember my first pair of waders. No doubt they weren't
'mine' exactly, but hand-offs from someone who either wore them out
(translation: they leaked) or perhaps were borrowed for a specific
I also don't remember what my grandfather wore when he fished. I do
recall fishing with him, first with a bait-casting outfit and at age
eleven he taught me to cast his telescopic steel fly rod. I either
fished from the bank or barefoot in a very cold northern Michigan
stream. We call that fishing 'wet' now, and I've still done it a
from time to time. Usually when the air temperature is just too
high and the very thought of putting waders on is enough to
discourage the idea of fishing at all.
My late husband (he isn't dead, he was just always late), handed
down a pair of his old waders to me. This became a family joke.
They leaked, of course. My oldest daughter got him to confess
years later, he gave me the leaky waders hoping I would not go
fishing with him. Later after we were divorced, she inherited
the leaky waders for the same reason. He didn't want to take
her fishing either.
When I met JC, fishing on the Au Sable River in Michigan, I was
fishing wet. (Remember the leaky waders?) Besides, it was summer
time and I would dry eventually. Campfires are good for that - and
that was long before the kind of fishing pants we have now. Flats
pants are good for more than saltwater.
The first thing JC bought for me was a new pair of waders! Talk
about learning from someone else's mistakes. I do remember those
waders, Hodgeman. And they did last a few years before they developed
There is one thing you need to remember about waders. They leak.
Maybe not right now, but trust me, they will at some point - and
it probably won't be a convenient time either.
I've told this story before about JC and his leaky waders. I'll
make a long story a bit shorter, the waders were made locally,
they were a nice frog green, and decided to leak on an evening
when we were scheduled to stop for coffee with friends after
fishing. The waders leaked at the crotch seam. A lot. Large
wet spot right in front. Apologies were made and we didn't stop
for coffee, just too embarrassing. I believe those were the very
first pair of neoprene waders JC had.
We've had other waders over time, including breathables. In all
honesty, complete disclosure, the brand we have been wearing for
several years are dandy and they don't leak. The manufacturer (Bare
in Canada) did contact us a couple of years ago and told us some of
the fabric they had been using on their breathables was sub-standard
and they would like us to discontinue wearing them. They replaced
both pair - without charge. And more importantly, they replaced all
breathables which were returned because they failed. Unfortunately
the company was sold to a European concern and they are no longer a
Sponsor here, and the last I heard their waders were no longer
available in the US. The waders were really a side-line for them,
their main products are wet suits.
What anyone likes in waders is personal choice, but let me make a
Bootfoot waders are convenient, just one piece of equipment, no
separate boots. However, if you have to hike any distance, they
are not designed for hiking and do not offer any ankle support.
Take care of your waders. We hang them boot/bootfoot up so the air
circulates and allows them to dry. So far this has worked. This
helps keep the rubber/plastic whatever from rotting. I've heard
one should dry them well and fold them up to store them. Frankly,
I'd be concerned about something being weakened where they were folded.
From a practical view, our waders are always handy if we are here or
off fishing...probably right next to the outside door.
Bootfoot come with either felt soles or cleats, and there are slip
on sandle-type soles with studs you can put over them.
Buy either type of wader with the foot big enough. You can always
wear an extra pair of socks or wader booties if the foot part is
too big, but too tight cuts off circulation and your feet will be
cold, cramped and miserable almost immediately.
One more thing - waders will mostly keep you dry. Don't wade over
the top of your waders. That's not a joke - and it won't be if you
don't pay attention to where you are wading. Use a wading staff -
no it isn't wimpy. It's smart.
If you've been fishing anywhere there is Whirling disease or Didymo
treat your waders/boots with bleach solution. Wash off the boat
trailer, and one which appeared as a 'tip' on our Bulletin Board,
wash the dog.
Waders are just a piece of gear - they aren't going to save your
life (there are life jackets for that), and they can be replaced.
In fact, if you aren't happy with yours for whatever reason, buy
a new pair. And if you ask me for a recommendation as to which
waders to buy? We have several Sponsors who carry them, and the
waders just keep getting better. Buy the best you can afford.
And the old ones? Don't give them to me, please. Thank you.
~ The LadyFisher
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