Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

I wonder how much of my lure fishing I could do in a pair of breathable waist waders, and there is a serious reason for trying this

As much as that day we did with the RNLI at their training tank in Poole was principally about wearing auto-inflate lifejackets and finding out how invaluable they can be if something goes wrong, because the four of us were jumping into the tank in the sort of fishing clothing we would wear when we are actually fishing, waders had to come into it. So whilst I can’t get away from how an easy to wear modern lifejacket could one day save my life (which of course is common bloody sense if you really stop and think about it), I am unable to ignore the various questions that wearing waders raised……………

So to those of you here who routinely wear breathable chest waders for your saltwater shore based lure fishing - how much do you know about how our waders behave firstly if you end up in the water, and perhaps more importantly as I found out in the RNLI tank, what about if you need to try and say scramble up some rocks when you’ve been in the water for a while? I got a hell of a shock if that’s any help, and as a result I feel duty-bound to try and find a solution.

Do we really need chest high waders to fish a mark like this, and what happens if you end up in water like this in a pair of chest waders?

Do we really need chest high waders to fish a mark like this, and what happens if you end up in water like this in a pair of chest waders?

There’s a whole lot to this subject that I will keep coming back to over time, but very basically I need to find an alternative to breathable chest waders for those places I fish where if I ended up in the drink I might need to try and haul myself up and out of the sea. There is the argument as well that for a lot of these types of locations I am not actually wading much if at all and as such I don’t  need a full on pair of chest waders. I wear them because I like what they offer me and I haven’t found anything I prefer wearing - but I can’t get away from some potential issues which have come to light. 

But what are these issues? It’s when you might end up in deeper water and you could have to try and climb up and out if something goes wrong. Whilst wearing a wading belt is important, it’s still not going to actually stop water getting into your waders, and if you end up spending a bit of time in the water and then you get the chance to try and scramble out, do you have any idea how much that water now in your waders weighs? It’s pretty bloody scary, and because you’re now a bit tired and stressed and potentially cold and disorientated, if my brief experiences of the RNLI tank and a full pair of chest waders are anything to go by then I would suggest there’s every chance you won’t be able to clamber out because of that insane amount of extra (water) weight.

Even when we're wading for our lure fishing, are we often out as deep as we tend to think we might be?

Even when we're wading for our lure fishing, are we often out as deep as we tend to think we might be?

So let’s say that with what I have discovered, I feel comfortable using my breathable chest waders for a certain percentage of my lure fishing (shallow beaches, estuaries, shallow reefs etc.) - what are my options for the other locations? If I stop and think about how much I actually need to wade above say my lower thighs against how potentially dangerous these things are if they fill up with water and you need to try and climb out of the water, well I need to find an alternative for when I don’t actually need what chest waders can give me.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and whilst there surely have to be various wetsuit based options (as per many of those Japanese lure fishing videos for example), I don’t like the idea of potentially having to fish with wet feet for hours on end. And no, I am not interested in wet wading either in the UK or Ireland for about 99.99% of the year. I could quite easily go and buy say a ¾ length 3mm wetsuit and wear a pair of neoprene socks and my wading boots, but let’s say I’m fishing a long day or night over in Ireland and I wade out to my knees early on and my feet get wet - call me a wimp, but I simply don’t want wet feet for the next ten hours or so. But as far as I can tell something wetsuit based would of course take away the issue of filling up with water as per the chest waders, so I am trying to explore these options.

I was talking to a friend other day and he said why not try a pair of breathable waist waders. If you go looking you can actually find a few makes of breathable waist waders, and whilst to be honest I have dismissed them in the past because I am so used to chest high waders, with what I have learnt recently I am now really interested in how they could work for me - and of course how not being able to get so much water inside might well give me the ability to clamber out of a scary situation if needs be. 

The Vision Ikon waist waders

The Vision Ikon waist waders

Please, please note that I don’t know if this is fact, but if by wearing a pair of lightweight, breathable waist waders I can’t now fill up with water beyond my waistline then that’s a hell of a lot less weight to be potentially unable to drag up and out of the water if needs be. I am going to try a pair of the Vision Ikon waist waders out because the Vision Ikon chest waders do so well for me, and safety concerns aside for the moment, I bet you I could actually do a hell of a lot of my lure fishing in a pair of waist and not chest waders. I would imagine that for walking longer distances they would also be a bit more comfortable, and as long as my waterproof jacket comes down over them then I should be just as well protected from rain and spray as with a pair of chest waders. More to come……..


Oh, and until I can find a viable solution that I know categorically will work with me rather than against me in an emergency situation, I have decided to strap a rescue knife to the belt on which my HPA Chest Pack lure bag sits. I hope I never need to use this HPA rescue knife, but my thinking is that if I end up in the drink and my chest or indeed waist waders are full up with water and I’ve got a chance to try and clamber up and out of the sea then I could try cutting my waders open to let a load of water out. 

And if you think that this is me doing some unnecessary scaremongering, then please try this - put your chest waders on, turn on your garden hose, and fill yourself up with water to your waist. Now try walking around and stepping up onto a chair a few times - not easy, but doable. Now fill yourself up to say the top of your tummy and try the same walking around and stepping up onto your chair. If you actually do this then you will understand completely where I am coming from with this blog post. So many of us wear waders yet we haven’t got a frigging clue what can happen if we end up in the drink in them……….