Sunday, March 04, 2007

Did you know they made WATERPROOF waders?

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!

8 comments:

Dejon said...

Make sure you test those waders out in deep water! Get up to the edge if possible, but definitely over belt line. A lot of Neoprenes leak badly at that point as I experienced early yesterday in 20degree weather!

Also, what camera did you use for that underwater? Optio?

Ed. said...

Thanks Dejon. That was my last test until official use this weekend, but this particular river is not one I feel comfortable wading much deeper than mid-thigh anyway, I tested that deep.

The camera is the Olympus waterproof (obviously), it's the 720SW (http://www.dpreview.com/news/0601/06012602olympus_720sw.asp) and I'm still getting used to it. There are several underwater settings and I just haven't had much of a chance to experiment. But I am hopeful that I'll get some cool underwater shots this year. Of course even without that, it's just nice to know that I can't ruin it by getting it wet...

Krafty said...

So, they're toasty now... they'll be oh so very much toastier come June ;-) You'll be crying out for those breathables all over again!?

Ed. said...

Oh I definitely need breathables too. I actually called Orvis and since they're two years old, I sent them back. They will either fix them and make them waterproof for $30, or they will replace them and I will only pay 25% of the cost of the new ones. At that time I can upgrade if I want, but either way it looks like they are making it financially beneficial to stick with Orvis waders. Either option will be much cheaper than buying new ones elsewhere, which is what I felt like doing.

I also wet wade in the summer a lot while smallmouth fishing (actually that's what I do now while wearing the Orvis Clearwaters!).

Krafty said...

Two years use from a pair of breathables is pretty poor - like you say it's kind of a good job ORVIS offer the financial incentive. You'd surely go elsewhere otherwise - me included!

Speaking of wet wading - I tried that in a mountain stream in Montana once - it was mid summer and boiling hot but I couldn't even stand up to my ankles - the water was bl**dy freezing!

Ed. said...

There are definitely streams here in the Virginia/Maryland area that are too cold all year round to wet wade in. But the big rivers like the Potomac and Shenandoah warm up nicely (which is why they don't have trout in them).

I'll post an update about what Orvis says, I'm interested to see what happens with those.

Krafty said...

Good Luck with your new ones! I have a pair made by Airflo - had them about five years now, but I had to start patching them in year four. They don't exactly look smart anymore but they still do their job.

Ed. said...

Happy to report the Cabelas neoprenes performed really, really well. I can't say the same for the Korkers I had strapped to them, though, I hated those and abandoned them the second day.