I’ve never been the smartest of anglers – ask any of my fishing buddies and they’ll enthusiastically agree – but how I missed this incredibly simple trick to getting my waders to last longer is beyond me.
For the past four years, I’ve spent roughly 150-200 days a year on the water. A lot of those are days spent hiking through the backcountry, scrambling over boulders, tripping through streams, and slipping as I chase big trout down small creeks. That’s part of the trout life. It’s more rough-and-tumble hardscrabble hand-to-fin combat than it is elegant loops on quiet, empty river with no anglers to fill the void created by nature’s silence.
It’s no surprise to me that I’ve gone through three pairs of wading boots in that time. They’re not built for hiking, but when the high country of the Rockies is right out your back door you throw caution to the wind and just go.
But I’ve always been surprised when my waders began to fail. After one pair of stitched-seam waders, I made the switch to welded seams.
Not seven months later, the seams began to split.
Yeah, the seams. I didn’t poke a hole in ’em while falling on a rock, or bushwhacking my way up a mountain face. The seam just split.
I replaced that pair, got nearly a year out of the next set, but soon enough the seams were giving way.
I’m currently waiting for that set to be replaced while I fish with a pair of waders that’s now more Aqua Seal than wader.
So what have I been doing wrong all this time?
I haven’t been washing my waders.
Seriously. You know that tag on the inside that says “machine wash cold?” Yeah, I’ve completely ignored that.
Not washing your waders regularly allows dirt to build up in the pores of the material, which in turn decreases their efficacy at breathing, and wears more on the wader. The result? Waders that fall apart far before they’re supposed to.
To be honest, it’s a bit embarrassing to write this column. I’ve fly fished for years, and written about it for nearly four years now. You’d think the whole, “Wash your waders” tip would have been one of the first I learned.
Nope. As with most things in fly fishing, I learned this lesson the hard way.
So, to anglers new and old – if you don’t regularly wash your waders, do it. Otherwise, you’ll end up like me – spending more than you want to on waders, waiting for returns, and wondering how you managed to burn through four pairs in four years.
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Spencer is a fly fishing writer and novelist from Utah. His debut novel, Learning to Fly, is set for an August 9th release from GenZ Publishing. You can order it here or on Amazon. Spencer writes multiple monthly, weekly, and quarterly fly fishing columns for national and local publications. Connect with him on Twitter @Spencer_Durrant or on Facebook @spencerdurrantauthor.