Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

I’ve had a gutful of “breathable” waders and wading boots - surely there’s another way?

I know that there is always going to be the argument that by using lightweight, “breathable” waders and wading boots from the fly fishing world, we are asking for trouble around saltwater and rocks, but holy frigging cow there has to be a way around this somewhere out there. The braver among you might well spend much of the year wet-wading around our shores, but aside from the warmest mid-summer weather, let me assure you that I am neither going to start wet-wading nor prancing around in a pair of wetsuit bottoms. Bass fishing to me is about being right in amongst it, and I do my best to stay warm and dry in what to me is some bloody cold water we get around here. Swimming? I leave that to my girls who are far tougher than me.

Waders and wading boots are slowly but surely driving me round the bend with how they simply aren’t standing up to much rough and tumble at all. I think I have had at least four pairs of breathable waders fail on me this year, plus those so nearly excellent Five Ten Canyoneer 3 boots (see here), and I am now on my second pair of the new Simms G3 Guide wading boots after the first pair failed and were then replaced - and this second pair is starting to go on me as well. As per above the eyelets are rotting through, and I have now noticed that the soles are starting to come away as well - I never had these problems on the older Simms Rivershed or Guide boots, and if you are looking at these newish Simms G3 Guide boots then I would think twice if you intend to use and abuse them in saltwater. I use gear hard, but we are in October and I am starting to wonder what might actually hold up for me for the rest of the year.

I had to finally admit defeat with water continuing to creep in around the crotch area in my (not cheap) Simms G3 waders - and no, I am not at the stage of involuntarily wetting myself just yet!! - off they went to Simms Europe who to be fair did a fast turnaround, got rid of the leaks, and charged me about 70 Euros I think it was. Without doubt the most comfortable waders I have ever worn, but I am pretty fed up with the almost constant looking for pin-prick leaks, and as much as I want to wear these sort of waders all the time, to me they just aren’t worth the money if you are going to put them through heavy saltwater use.

You could of course go for the robust and very much non-breathable Bassboots chest waders (check here), and if you aren’t walking or scrambling long distances in warmer weather then they are worth looking at - although I do wish the makers of these waders could find some decent straps and neoprene socks to go on the end of them. They are pretty rough and ready but seem to be able to take more abuse than your regular breathable waders, but I have no interest in wearing them for longer walks etc.

Unless I can find a viable alternative, I think the best way for me to go forward with waders and wading boots is to keep on using these Vision Ikon waders which have yet to fail on me (check here), and then go back to the Five Ten Canyoneer 3 boots - and in doing this I am going to have to factor in say two pairs of the boots per year and at least one pair of the Ikon waders. Almost like an annual fixed cost for my lure fishing if you like. I think the Vision Ikon waders are just about the best “near to budget” breathable waders I have come across so far, and at the price I reckon if I was to get through one pair a year (with constant use, and bear in mind I am often playing with different gear) then that would be ok with me. If I get longer that would be great, but at the price and with the thickness of the material I don’t think it’s fair to expect a huge amount more. Not with me in them anyway, although they are very impressive. For the price of a pair of high-end Simms waders I could buy at least a few pairs of the Vision Ikon ones for example, and from personal experience the Simms ones ain’t lasting much longer at all.

I accept that the Five Ten boots might only do me say six months at best, but at the price and when compared to say a top of the range pair of Simms wading boots, I know what I would rather be wearing for my lure fishing. I prefer wearing those Five Ten boots to the much heavier Simms boots, indeed when the Five Ten ones started to come apart on me it was a bit of a shock to go back to the much heavier and bulkier G3 Guide boots. I felt like a bass fishing ninja in those Five Ten boots, although if you saw me tear a calf muscle the other day over in Kerry then you might have doubted my ninja abilities!! What a tit.

I will keep my eyes and ears open for alternatives, but unless I end up living in the Seychelles, I don’t really see myself not needing waders and some sort of boots to go with them. I have tried a lot of gear over the years and I simply don’t believe that there is a perfect solution out there - nope, the more I think about it, the more I am thinking that I have to kinda manage the situation and factor in the various waders and some kind of boots costs into my fishing and live with it. Sure, I’d love a tackle company to make the perfect pair of waders and wading boots, but with the size of the shore based saltwater market here in northern Europe and the amount that anglers are prepared to spend on this sort of stuff, I wouldn’t exactly hold your breath. We fish in and around saltwater and it destroys stuff with impunity, and as much as I have looked, I don’t see a way round my current frustrations with various items of fishing gear.