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Fly Fishing 101, Part 7
Wader Tips

It's a man ... no, it's a frog. A huge green frog! Not really, it was Castwell in his new waders. I threatened to paint black spots on them. He said he didn't feel as much like a frog as he did an old Robin Hood in tights. Lucky for me, they leaked.

After a time or three of here-we-go-back-to-the-company, they finally returned permanently to their final resting place where leaky waders inevitably go. The manufacturer was understanding, (perhaps they had the problem before.) The count was three pairs, all leaked. At least the rest of the fly fishers were spared staring at the Old Frog. The green color was not exactly day-glow; but, the fishing definitely slacked off when Castwell was anywhere near the water, even in twilight.

Then came the dark blue ones. A better color anyway. They also made a couple of trips back to their homeland. Castwell got desperate and started coating what he figured were the offending spots with some light blue goo. About the same time, we discovered float tubes. If there was ever a way to test waders, just put someone in a float tube.

You have to kick your swimfins, or move your legs up and down to propel the tube. Tubes don't come equipped with motors (but you can buy a little motor for some). I considered rigging up some ping-pong paddles to use with the hands, but every time I mention it somebody laughs. May just try it anyway.

Float tubing puts strains on waders in places you apparently are not expected to put strains on, unless you spend a lot of time bent over examining pebbles on the shore. So back to the manufacturer. These folks understood the problems too.

They even had a solution, reinforce the posterior section with an extra layer of neoprene. That worked ... for a while. The blue waders had a coat of the goo on every seam, and some places where there are no seams. Guess what? We couldn't stop for a cup of coffee after fishing.

Big blue (can you name waders?) leaked in a very sensitive area. Frankly, Castwell gets rather testy about such things. So we started to hunt for new waders. Again.

What do you look for in waders? Chest type, boot-foot waders, 4.5 mil neoprene are the personal choice of most folks. If you plan on doing some serious walking from one stretch of river to another, stocking-foot waders with good wading boots are a better choice. The wading boots should be made from a material that dries quickly, avoiding rot.

Regardless of which type of wader you choose, they should be washed down with a hose when you get home. Wading boots included. If you fish any of the sensitive waters where Whirling Disease is even suspected, wash your waders and boots in a solution of 10% bleach to prevent possible spread of the spore.

Usually you wear a thick pair of socks under the stocking-foot, to cushion the pressure on your feet. Wading boots should be tried on with the thick socks and the waders to make sure everything fits - and that there is good ankle support. Gaitors, which are like old fashioned spats, will help protect the waders since they help keep gravel out of your wading shoes.

There are various thicknesses of neoprene. We fish in cold water, including the ocean so the 4.5 mil is our choice. A heavier, and lighter version is also made. Dive and wet suits are made of neoprene. It acts as a barrier from the cold.

Standing in the ocean, or a river is cold. Even colder before dawn and after sunset. Keeping warm makes sense. You can wear sweats under waders for extra protection if the 4.5 mil are too warm for your climate. Sweats do keep condensation from forming and making you look and feel like the waders leaked.

Waders that fit your body closely are less resistant to current and waves. You don't get as tired just trying to hold yourself in place. From a safety standpoint, if you end up swimming or just wade in too deep, they don't fill with water - or not as quickly. That could be important.

Several light weight Gore-tex type waders are marketed for warmer climates and fishing in summer heat. They are very expensive. I've personally found that even in hot weather I can undo the wader straps and just roll the waders down to my waist and be quite comfortable - especially since most trout streams water temperatures are less than 60 degrees.

Some folks prefer waders (or wading boots) with felt soles. The felt is supposed to grab onto slippery rocks and stuff and be more secure. I have owned felt soles, lugged, and cleated sole waders. I slide around on felts, especially in salt water where estuaries can be very slippery on a low tide. So I use either lugged or cleated soles. Works for me.

One of the big manufacturers explained the problems of neoprene, also why some wader seams are taped. How the boots are attached and the problems inherent in boots. He explained, very patiently, how they test waders. Believe me, I truly appreciate knowing all that. It doesn't help.

We've been involved with manufacturing processes, and understand problems do occur. I also know that most manufactures go out of business if their products don't work. Quality cannot be inspected in. Quality has to be built in.

The waders I am using now came from Bare in British Columbia. They are a nice woodsy brown, have an inside zipper pocket (for licenses), velcro on the straps, a front chest outside pocket large enough for both hands and a small flashlight. Bare will also do custom fitted waders for a very small additional charge. I've had these waders now for over 3 years. They do not leak.

The bottom line is buy a good name brand, or if you have a buddy that has had good results with waders try that brand. There is no guarantee waders won't leak, but most good manufacturers will stand behind their products. Check that out before you buy!

Stop by the Chat Room and meet some fellow anglers. It is a nice bunch of people - always willing to help new anglers! Or just share your fishing adventures. Fair skys and tight lines, ~ DB

Have a question? Email me!

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