Wet Wading in Waders

Wet Wading in Waders

Tracy&James | Sunday, 29 August 2021

My waders have started leaking; not just a little weep that leaves you wondering if it’s a bit of sweat that your seeing on your trousers, but a full-blown boot and leg filling gush. On my last trip to the river I may as well have been wet wading, certainly on my right side where the leak is. As such I’m now weighing up the options for replacement – certainly wet wading isn’t going to be an option as the UK moves into Autumn.

In the past, I’ve tried all sorts of wader systems and I have a personal pros and cons list that, judging by most anglers I see, not many people agree with. The waders that have just failed me are rubber chesties with integrated boots with moulded soles. The ‘memories’ function on Facebook reminded me that they are 5 years old by showing me a photo of me and Tracy (who has an identical pair) fishing the river Dee whilst wearing them. Given the ground we cover, my clumsy wading and my sometimes gung-ho approach to getting into the water (a slide on my arse down a steep bank is often employed), then I guess 5 years is pretty good going.

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,