For many Fly Fisherman waders are an essential piece of equipment. This is the ins and outs of taking care of the gear that keeps us warm and dry.
Getting the Right Fit:
In our shop we take wader-fitting very seriously. Having the proper fit isn’t just to make sure you look attractive on the water nor is it just to make sure you feel comfortable. An important aspect of ensuring the longest life possible out of a pair of waders is a proper fit. If waders are too snug over the knees or at the foot extra pressure will constantly be put on the seams. These seams will eventually open up and no one wants that. Having too large of waders can also add unnecessary wear and tear. When extra material bunches up, particularly around the knees, this creates creases in the material. These creases wear thin areas in the material and can lead to leaks. Long story short…. make sure they fit.
What To Where:
To extend the life of waders be sure to wear soft clothing underneath them. Zippers and rivets on jeans can wreak havoc on waders.
Nothing ages waders quicker than improper storage. It is very tempting to store your waders in the box they came in or folded into a wader bag, but don’t. Once a pair of waders has been out on the water it is imperative that they be hung up for long term storage. The creases created by folding and storing can wear on the material over overtime and create weak areas in the material. These weak spots are more vulnerable to punctures and can even crack. To prolong the life of your waders hang them up. They can be hung either by the suspenders or the feet, but you have less of a chance finding a mouse in the bottom of them find they are hung upside down.
The best place to keep waders can vary. They should be kept out of direct sunlight and protected from harsh temperatures. For me, the perfect place to keep them is the garage. Here they are easy to hang, out of the sun, and the temperature is mostly stable.
The fish don’t care how your waders smell, but your fishing buddy might and your spouse absolutely does. So.. to be kind to the noses around you and for good hygiene, it is important to know how to clean your waders. The garden hose is your best friend for this task. Your waders are built for cool to cold water and what comes out of the hose is perfect. Just spray off the outside, turn them inside out and do the same. DO NOT FILL WADERS WITH WATER (I explain below). If they are in need of a little extra care use either a product specifically designed for washing waders or a VERY mild powder soap. If you use soap be certain all of it has been removed before laying your waders out to dry.
Stuff happens. From tiny holes to giant gouges, it is inevitable that your waders will eventually take some damage. But a leak doesn’t always spell out the death of wader. Here is how to investigate any issues your waders may have and what to do about them.
It had been a great day. You landed a lot of fish. You covered over a mile of water and the weather was beautiful. Back at the truck you start stripping off your waders when all of a sudden you notice it…. a dampness on your feet, or back of legs, or goodness forbid at the crotch. Panic sets in as you imagine shelling out a fist full of dollar to replace a pair of waders you just purchased a month ago. Don’t panic. While it certainly isn’t always the case, many times this panic induced dampness is merely sweat. Seriously. It is an easy mistake to make and fisherman, myself included, do it all the time. The key to deciphering between sweat and dampness is first to inspect the location. If your waders are perfectly dry one day and then the next time out BOTH feet are damp it is likely sweat. If only one foot is damp it might be an issue. I always suggest that when it comes to light dampness go out a few times to make sure.
So you got a leak….now what? First and foremost find the source of the leak. If it is a big tear or big hole finding the leak can be no big deal, but if it is minor or what we call a pinhole leak these can be real buggers to find. No matter the kind of leak you are searching for DO NOT FILL YOUR WADER WITH WATER to find it. Not only can filling them with water void any warranty they have, it can ruin your waters. When filled with water tremendous pressure is put on the seams, this pressure can result in a blowout. If you have breathable waders however, there is a trick to find a leak. If you turn the waders inside out and spray the inside with rubbing alcohol the holes should appear as a purple or black spot. This method does not work on wader feet.
Once the hole(s) is located you can determine what needs to be done to repair it. For a small pinhole a product call Aqua Seal is an amazing quick fix. If the hole is large enough to see light through than a patch and aqua seal is required. Here is the bad news… if the tear is very large or a seam has opened up, only the manufacture may be able to repair the waders. Many wader companies have repair programs and just looking into them for your particular brand can be well worth it.