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Learner’s Corner - Wading Stuff by Johnny Butler of Fly South (JohnBButlerIII-FlySouth@yahoo.com)
A. Bootfoot vs. stocking foot. Bootfoot are easier to get off and on but they are clunkier and not as agile.
B. Neoprene vs. breathable. Neoprene are more durable and more form fitting so as to limit filling up with water but are they hot! Breathable are more comfortable and more versatile
C. Hip or waist high vs. chest waders. Most chest waders now have straps that can be used as a belt for waist high use. When ever you wear waist high or hip waders it always seems that where ever you want to fish is about 6 inches above your wader tops.
D. Warranties are somewhat limited so you need to consider cost and length of use. A sharp stick or a barb wire fence does not know the difference between a $100 pair of waders and a $300 pair of waders, each will rip with equal impunity.
Here is what Orvis says: "What is the warranty on waders? Answer: Orvis fly fishing waders are guaranteed to be free from defects in materials and workmanship or we will repair or replace your waders free of charge. The guarantee does not cover abuse, improper care, accidents, or the normal breakdown of materials over time. No one expects fly fishing waders to last forever, any more than you should expect a pair of pants or shoes to last forever. Waders will wear out over time, and how long depends on how often and how hard you use them. In other words, if a seam on your waders gives out after a year we will repair or replace them. If you tear your waders on barbed wire after two years, or if your waders leak after five years, we can repair most waders for a $30 repair charge."
II. Wading boots
A. Felt vs. regular rubber. Regular rubber boots are for duck hunting. Do not wear them in a trout stream as they do not provide sufficient traction on wet rocky surfaces.
B. Felt vs. Studded felt. I prefer studded felt soles on any stream where algae, moss or other vegetation is on the rocks. I think the studs cut through the vegetation and give a better grip than regular felt. The studded felt are a little more slippery than regular felt on bare rock. The studded felts also make more noise than regular felts. Furthermore, many guides do not want you to wear studded felts in their drift boats.
C. Felt vs. new rubber. Alaska, Vermont, Maryland, Rhode Island, and Yellowstone have banned regular felt soles due to concerns about whirling disease and other aquatic born invasive species. Many boot manufacturers have now come up with rubber soles which they say replace felt and work just as well. Clingon, Vibram StreamTread Rubber soles. Color, etc. me skeptical; I do not believe the new rubber soles offer the same traction and footing as felt soles so I would not recommend you buy boots which only have the new rubber option.
D. A word of caution. In my opinion apart from your rod, your leader and your fly, the most important piece of equipment is your wading boots. The wrong pair of boots are detrimental to your day on the river, your comfort and even your health. Do not buy boots without trying them on with your waders!! Wading boots do not come in widths or half sizes and do not have arch support. All wading boots are not the same width i.e. the width varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. A word of caution, if you like your feet the way they are, do not buy your boots too small in length.
A. Wading staffs. If you are wading the Saluda, Snake, Chatooga, Tuck or just about any tailwater then make one, borrow one or buy one but don’t leave home without one.
B. Wading belt. See A above. Any type of belt is better than nothing. Just do not buy a stretchable belt as it can stretch and let more and more water in your waders.
C. Floatation. You can buy inflatable suspenders or belts or an aquatic aerobics belt or use an old ski belt.
D. Try filling your waders in a safe environment so you can see what it feels like before it happens on the river.