This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm
May 21th, 2007


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 occasion.

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 leakitis.

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 few suggestions:

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.

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.

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.

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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