No, I haven't wet myself.

No, I haven't wet myself.

Tracy&James | Thursday, 22 September 2016

On my first dedicated flats fishing holiday I wore an old pair of training shoes. These weren’t a branded make, just a cheap generic running shoe from a high street store. I’d already had plenty of use out of them as I used to jog at the time, so I was comfortable with the thought of ruining them by wading in saltwater every day for three weeks. It turned out that these trainers lasted the course of the trip just fine, and they went on to be used for two further saltwater fishing holidays (as well as being used when washing the car and mowing the lawns in between). The reason I eventually retired them was that sand was getting into the padded layers in the sole making them a bit lumpy and uncomfortable (I’m sure the sand started reproducing in there as no amount of rinsing could get it all out).

I thought about these trainers on Sunday when bass fishing off the coast of Dorset (no fish were caught unfortunately).  I was stood in expensive, leaky waders (just down from the crotch, so it looked like I’d wet myself when I took them off), wearing expensive wading boots that had the felt soles missing due to the adhesive failing - this made them particularly lethal on some of the smooth, algae covered rocks.   Tracy was also wearing waders that had previously leaked and had been replaced, at no cost, by the retailer (as had mine).

By talking to fellow anglers and reading various internet pages it appears that our experiences with waders and boots are pretty much typical – for breathables it’s not a case of if they will spring a leak, just when.  As for footwear, it will unstitch itself and the materials will degrade in such a manner that I wonder if the manufacturers even considered the environment in which they were to be used.   

I guess from a manufacturers point of view making waders and boots that actually last is not a particularly good business model, they want repeat business and that means finding the line between customer loyalty and product quality.  Improving the quality suits the customer, but the business suffers due to the reduced need to re-order (because the product lasts longer).  Go the other way, however, and reduce the quality,thus producing a product that the customer feels fails too early, and business also suffers because brand loyalty is lost.  I have to question whether us fly fishers have allowed this line to be drawn too far over to the low quality side – do people accept that a new pair of waders every season is a fair deal?  Perhaps there’s also a wider question of whether breathable fabrics are actually fit-for-purpose as far as fishing goes.  I know my next pair are going to be neoprene.

Unfortunately I won’t have time to repair my waders before the coming weekend, so if anyone sees someone who looks like they’ve wet themselves near the river Dee in North Wales then it will probably be me. 

Have a great weekend, James.