My first pair of fishing waders looked like something out of a 1970's horror movie. You know, some guy standing on a pier cleaning fish, wielding a huge knife – his brown rubber waders covered in blood? Yeah, I was that guy – only mine were covered in fish slime and dirt, not blood. I can't even remember the brand name, but I know they lasted me only a year or so and rubbed blisters on my heels like you wouldn't believe. Those were waders worth catch-n-releasing and I released them to a younger, beginner angler sometime in the summer of 1993. I warned him that they had it in for heels.
My next pair was a better quality pair from a name-brand dealer – and they were this new “breathable” stuff. Supposed to keep you from sweating your rear-end off in summer. Well, they kept you from sweating for about the first 5 inches down – but the technology wasn't what it is today, and I'd still end up sweating like a pig from the waist down. BUT – they were light, comfortable and had these little “booties” with separate boots. No more bleeding heels – so that was a big plus. I wore them for about two years, until one day we walked through a field of bushes that had thorns on them. The waders of a million leaks, they became. I needed new waders, so the search began anew...
It was around 1998 when I finally broke down and bought new waders. For a few years there I waded wet and fished little in the winter – even though being in the South meant I could fish year-round if I wanted, and trust me – I wanted. But life was moving fast back then and I had other obligations so my time spent fishing was relegated to the summer months when I could wade wet with just some felt-soled boots and shorts. I was sexy in those shorts too, let me tell you. Sorry, I digress...
I convinced my wife that I needed some really high-quality waders. Spending $150 every two years was bound to add up – and if I'd just spend $250 or so, they'd last me for at least 4 or 5 years I told her. Well, I was right. They did last me 4 or 5 years and then 6 years and 7 years and 8 years, too. As a matter of fact, I still have those waders today. They're made by Simms and at the time it was the cheapest waders they made – but they were still $100 more than anyone else's waders – which at that time was more than we could really afford, my wife reminded me.
As it turns out, though – (don't tell her I said this, OK?) I was right and she was wrong. What is it now – 2012, almost 2013? That's right, I'm still using those $250 waders I bought back in 1998. I'm too lazy to do the math on that, but you do the ...umm...math. That's a lot of waders for the money.
I'm not promoting them or trying to do a commercial for them or anything – maybe I just got lucky and got a bulletproof pair? I dunno. What I do know is that if I can find a taxidermist to do the job, I think I'd like to have my old school waders preserved in an old school way. They stuff waders, don't they?
Owl Jones is an outdoor blogger, freelance writer and lure designer who owns Zazzy Pop Bass & Bream Poppers. He lives in Gainesville, Georgia with his wife, 8 fly rods and their invisible dog Snickers.