Last month I went steelhead fishing in the 34 degree water of New York's Salmon River. My 'breathable' waders breathed cold water onto my legs all day until I could barely move. I wore those waders once more in warmer water for the trout stocking day described below, and again — after patching the only pinhole I could find — my feet got soaked and cold. Somewhere along the line they simply became not waterproof. I honestly ask only one thing of my waders: keep water out. My 2-year old Orvis Clearwaters simply don't.
Meanwhile, my new boot-foot neoprene waders arrived from Cabela's. This Friday I'm heading back to NY for steelhead. Considering the length of the drive (6.5 hours) and the shortness of actual fishing time (all day Saturday, half day Sunday), I really wanted to make sure I was prepared to comfortably fish in cold conditions for a full day. That, plus a case of post-NFL Sunday afternoon boredom, convinced me that I had to perform a wader test.
So I headed to a nearby stream and put the waders on. I was wearing jeans, which work horribly for breathable waders and twice as badly for neoprenes. The boot size on these waders is really, really big, I could wear two extra heavy pairs of socks and still have room for a nice warm kitten in each foot. So with just one pair of medium weight socks, my feet were moving around a lot. I clomped down to the water and was amazed to find that I couldn't feel the water AT ALL! I waded up to my knees and walked around and stood around for a while. Still nothing. I feel like an idiot for not buying these long ago. I mean, yeah, it's nice to have waders that are simply waterproof, but these things are toasty warm. I decided to snap the boot/wading staff photo above, and when I did I realized how cold that water was. My hand froze instantly and I was impressed even more by how well these waders were keeping the cold and wet off my legs.
This week the Korkers I ordered will arrive and I'll be ready to brave upstate New York once again. Even with the same length trip, I know I can more than double the amount of time I can stay in the water this time. And that simply has to improve my odds. I'll keep you posted!