Could there be some light at the end of the tunnel with our lightweight wader woes?
I don’t believe in giving up, and I refuse to give up on finding some sort of solution to lightweight waders and the problems that so many of us get with what are a freshwater fly fishing product that we are then pressing into service for our saltwater fishing. A mate who is a phenomenal bait angler was recently raving about some new waterproofs made from a very interesting material that he had been put onto by a switched-on north Devon angler, and I take serious note of what certain people tell me. A few phone calls and emails later and I found myself heading up to Braunton to meet with the people from Reed Chillcheater Ltd., and specifically the main man Chris Reed. Whilst the waterproofs these guys are making for anglers are starting to go down a storm in some circles (and apparently they do not leak, end of), to be honest I was more interested in following up our correspondence about what they might be able to do as regards a pair of waders that would be suitable for what so many of us put them through on a regular basis, only for far too many of them to fail on us far too quickly, and often at some pretty eye-watering prices……….
Whatever happens or does not happen, I could have quite happily talked with the guys at Reed Chillcheater for days on end, and specifically Chris and his outstanding knowledge of various materials and what can be done with them. I love the fact that they are making all their gear right here in the UK. It was also an interesting experience for me as regards talking fishing related stuff with a company - here was a bloke who was really interested in listening to what I was talking about as regards the pros and cons of the sort of waders we press into service for saltwater lure fishing especially, and let me assure you that in my experience of doing stuff with companies that this way of working has, how shall we say, not always been the case. Reed Chillcheater specialise in a lot of kayak and rescue services gear, and they are small enough to be able to get into very niche markets and be able to customise their incredible range of materials to supply exactly what customers want. I am loving the sound of this.
Chris showed me the various different materials they work with and via plenty of back and forth about what I think we want from lightweight waders - and what we don’t want of course - we have come up with a plan for them to kindly make me a sample pair of waders to see how they do. Nope, they are not going to be breathable, but we are going to implement various features to make them nice and easy to walk long distances in if needs be, and to be perfectly honest I have had a bit of a gutful of “breathable” waders that I don’t think really “breathe” much anyway, and then the trade off of course is that the lightweight materials simply aren’t tough enough to deal with what we need to put them through.
We discussed the pros and cons of the main materials they use at Reed Chillcheater, and we are going to incorporate a couple of different ones into a pair of waders that should be as tough as you like but nice and lightweight, properly long lasting, properly waterproof, and then with the potential for individual customers to customise certain aspects of the waders to better suit their needs. Is this possible? Well the Reed Chillcheater people simply can’t understand why we are paying so much money yet getting so many problems around saltwater especially, and to be honest they do tie in with what various people have said to me over the years - if you want a pair of lightweight but properly tough chest waders for saltwater fishing then using breathable materials is not a good way to go. There are though different ways of making a pair of waders comfortable to walk and scramble proper distances, and we think we have come up with some interesting solutions.
So in two to three weeks I will hopefully be taking delivery of a sample pair of waders to then press into service and see how they do. I can’t imagine that we will have got it all correct on the first attempt, but the beauty of this company is the fact that they have so much expertise based in the UK, and that if things need to be changed or adapted, they don’t have to then send the sample off to say China and wait for it to come back. They are not looking to conquer the fishing world because their level of business is already about as much as they can cope with (which to me then says a lot about how highly they are respected, indeed the names of some of the organisations and clients who use their gear was mightily impressive) - but they are interested in it via these waterproofs they are making and how their fishing customers are raving about them. If this lot can make what they are making for their current customer base then I do have some high hopes for what we might be able to achieve with fishing waders that actually work for us - and then who knows what in the future? The sensible price and level of customisation could be more than interesting as well. Plenty more to come, but for now I am highly overexcited to see these sample waders and start properly testing them out.