In terms of gear, waders are just about as sexy to me as socks. I’d much rather fawn over new rods, nets, or a really nice wooden fly box. But, waders are a necessary fishing tool. Many years ago, I became a breathable wader convert but I had one complaint–a lack of durability. Even after trying several different brands and models, I came to the conclusion that breathable waders were pretty much “disposable” even when babied. That plus the fact that many decent waders run $300 – $400 is not a good combination. Sure, there were cheaper ones but they were pretty spartan in the features area. So imagine my elation when I found a durable, feature-packed breathable wader for $150 in the Frogg Togg Hellbender!Read More
Not too long ago, I wrote a post about my preference for wet wading when tenkara fishing. While it’s great in the summer, with fall fast approaching (even faster in the high country), it’s time to break out the waders for the colder temperatures ahead.
Every angler who uses waders has their own system for storing and transporting their wading gear so I thought I’d show you mine. It’s a simple system, yet a very practical one that gives me a lot of versatility in wading options from the trunk to the bank.
Many people carry wader bags, and these are OK but I prefer hard-sided plastic containers. They’re easy to hose mud and sand out of, dry quickly, and will never let wet waders or boots leak into your car. Plus, they’re dirt cheap and last forever. I use a Rubbermaid Roughneck 10 gallon storage box because it has plenty of room to fit everything I need, yet is still compact and flat so I can stack other gear on top of it in the trunk (like my gear bag).
The lid even doubles as a nice place to step on to protect your stocking feet from anything that might puncture them on the ground while you’re suiting up. Here’s how I pack it:
First, I put in my Simms wading boots and Keen Newport wading sandals.
Then, I put in my wading socks and spare wading belt. In case you’re wondering, I keep a wader repair kit in my gear bag so no need for that here.
On top of all of that goes my neatly folder waders. Since the waders are the biggest item and the easiest to take out and put back in, I can access the smaller contents below without having to dig through a lot of gear.
This system allows me to quickly choose the most appropriate wading gear according to the conditions:
- In hot weather in a relatively easy-to-wade stream or when I primarily fish from the bank and only need to do occasional water crossings, I can just use the sandals.
- If it’s warm but I need to be in the water more or am in a stream with a lot of toe-stubbing boulders, I can wear the wading socks and wading boots.
- In colder weather or where I need wade deeper, I’ve got the option of wearing the full waders and wading boots.
What is your wading gear system?
At the risk of sounding overly sentimental or cheesy, I’ll confess that I like wet wading because I feel that it gives me a better connection to the river and fish.
I suppose I acquired this feeling a long time ago when I was fly fishing in the surf for Striped Bass and Bluefish in my swim trunks on the East coast. There’s something about being in the water that just makes it a “fuller experience” for me as opposed to being completely disconnected in a boat or quarantined off and in waders.
Luckily, most of the small streams I fish out here in Colorado are perfect for wet wading and don’t require hot, sweaty waders. For the last few years, Ive been using Chacos which are OK but have poor traction and seem to invite toe stubbing:
I’ve also used Keen Newports which are very comfortable and provide toe protection but the traction isn’t any better than the Chacos:
The poor traction is simply because the rubber soles of both of these sandals isn’t grippy enough to grab rocks (especially when they’re covered in algae:
I thought about adding felt to the soles, but there are a lot of concerns with felt helping to spread invasive species from one stream to another. Also, felt would compromise my traction on trail and I hike in to a lot of places so I need something that works equally as well on the trail as it does in the water.
Enter Grip Studs. Grip Studs are a DIY solution that allows you to install tungsten carbide studs into your soles to improve traction. The kit comes with 20 studs, an installation tool, and a pattern guide to show you where to put the studs:
The kind I got are specifically designed for wading boots so I thought they would work well on my sandals. Installation is easy. You just insert the stud into the tool, place it where you want it, and turn it like a screwdriver:
Within about 10 minutes, I had all 20 studs installed. And, in case you’re wondering, yes, the studs are removable.
Now, I’ve got exactly what I need for wet wading: traction on the trail, traction in the water, and toe protection.
Do you wet wade? What do you wear?