So what am I going to replace them with? Breathables, i.e. Gore-Tex based waders, look great however, in my experience (for the fishing I do) they are not fit for purpose. My last pair (before buying into rubber) lasted less than a season. This was not a budget pair of waders either, costing maybe five times more than my rubber ones, so I was a little upset and disillusioned at their lack of durability. It wasn’t as if they gave me any reassurance that I would stay dry even when they were quite new – they were replaced under warranty from the manufacturer for a seam leak but then these replacements required a number of running repairs. In fact my confidence in them got so low that I used to carry a picnic blanket with me just so I didn’t have to sit directly on the bank and risk puncturing them on a vicious dandelion or something.
With that said, a new pair of stocking foot waders won’t be quite so expensive because I already have the boots. Well, I have most of the boots! Unfortunately the felt soles of these again expensive items (more than double the cost of the rubber waders) detached and are probably washed up on a silt bank in the Dee estuary somewhere. This then brings me on to the subject of which sole is best (when still attached to the boot obviously). I know there’s a wealth of advice that says felt outperforms anything else when in the water, but for me this simply isn’t the case. I simply can’t tell the difference in grip level between cleated rubber and felt when wading the rivers I fish. I can tell the difference on the bank though – here felt is lethal, a bit like well waxed skis on sheet ice.
As you’ve probably gathered I’m heading in the direction of another pair of rubber waders with integrated boots. The only downside I see to them is how their sized – why they have to make them look like clown trousers is beyond me. However, I’m willing to trade looking a bit clown-like for durability, sure footed-ness and low cost.
Have a great week,