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 by Archy E. Wiseman

Aside from also being footwear, waders have almost nothing in common with shoes or boots.  Old boots and shoes are like old friends in that there is a shared intimacy and familiarity that brings contentment, comfort, and a small smile to the wearer.  Old waders are psychotic and will turn on you the first chance they get.  They may even be possessed by the devil.


Coming from a family where trout fishing is religion, I, naturally have owned many pairs of waders.  As often as they all have leaked, I am surprised that I have not developed webbed feet or other amphibian features.  My feet have become permanently clammy though, but at least this unique physical feature saves me from having my wife warm her feet on me at night in the dead of winter.  All I have to do is barely touch her with a single toe and she keeps quite nicely to her own side of the bed.


After years of experience with leakages from a variety of waders, I have undertaken a semi-non-scientific-scientific study.  In this study, I have discovered many things about waders.  Waders, for some unknown reason, are made of the most easily biodegradable material known to mankind.  Some are even water soluble.  Several times I have received brand-new waders for Christmas, only to have them leak and completely disintegrate on the opening day of Michigan's trout season in April.  Due to these experiences, I believe waders should come with an expiration date and say: “Best when used by date xx/xx/xx.”  After the expiration date on a pair of waders has passed, a fisherman should just jump in the river naked or, if you're fishing in an urban area, with a pair of cut offs.   After all, there's no sense making a futile attempt to put off the unavoidable hypothermia by wearing them.  Also, unlike every other molecular structure known to mankind, the material waders are made out of actually accelerates its decomposition when it gets colder.  For example, waders disintegrate twice as fast while steelhead fishing in January than they do fishing for brook trout in July, although in either case, you will be wet well before noon.


Waders have also been known to spring substantial leaks and soak the legs of the wearer while he or she was still standing on dry ground.  A close friend of mine almost drowned while trying on a new pair of waders on his back porch last spring.  He said it was nearly impossible to swim out of a pair of waders while still on dry land.  If he hadn’t been trying out a new personal flotation device at the same time, he’d have been a goner.


Perhaps most perplexing is the unique ability waders have that allows them to leak water at least twenty degrees colder than the water temperature of the lake or river you happen to be standing in.  As a matter of fact, it can be ninety degrees outside on a sunny July day and your waders can leak water cold enough to give you a serious case of frostbite.  Emergency room staffs give you a funny look when you go in to be treated for frostbite in July, but once you explain you are a trout fisherman who was wearing waders, they understand.


So, what can be done to ensure dry feet when pursuing fish via the wading method?  Through much experimentation, I have come up with a couple of methods, that while they don’t completely eliminate leaks in waders, substantially reduce the occurrences of leaks to the point of almost total dryness, even while you are actually wading.


This first method requires some advance planning and does not work for the spontaneous fisherman who just decides to go fishing on a whim.  Right now, I am working with several sporting goods stores to get them to offer stream side wader delivery in order for the fisherman to have the freshest waders possible.  It is hoped that by having waders this fresh that they will actually be able to last for an entire day’s fishing.  The optimum situation here would be for a second delivery right after lunch, simply for the added security and semi-guaranteed dryness this might bring.


My best solution for the problem of leaky waders is an invention that I have been working on for about six months now.  Under the assumption that waders will leak regardless of any precautions the user takes, this invention gets rid of the water from these leaks as quickly as possible.   I've built a portable 5-horsepower sump pump that sits on a backpack frame.  A “Y” connector attached to it allows a hose to go down into each leg of the waders.  As soon as you feel a leak, crank the motor up and presto, dryness is yours once again. Once all the bugs are worked out, I fully expect to get a day and a half to even two whole days out of a single pair of waders using this pump.  It’s almost finished and at this point, I only need to idle the motor down a little so that the pump quits sucking the socks off my feet and stops creating a vacuum that cuts off the circulation to my legs. The only other downsides to it are the twice-weekly trips to the chiropractor and the eventual back surgery that I will need from using this device.  It also needs a quieter muffler so that it quits scaring fish, but, if this works as well as I hope, my clammy feet might be history.  However, if this happens, I may need a new scheme during the middle of winter in order to keep my wife’s cold feet off of me.






Archy Wiseman is an outdoor writer and humorist. As a hopelessly but harmlessly deranged angler, hunter, and dog trainer, Archy was naturally drawn to the seriously questionable efforts of the Fly Fish Ohio Team. This is Archy's first contribution to FFO. We most sincerely hope it won't be his last...  You can read Archy's thoughts on life. liberty and the need for a smart dog, a tight shot pattern and friends with access to well-stocked farm ponds on his blog at www.archywiseman.com




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