Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

Should we be thinking about different kinds of waders for different locations, just like we might change our rod and reel depending on where we’re fishing?

As much as breathable waders aren’t exactly cheap and in an ideal world would last forever, I can’t live without them for my lure fishing. I know that they are designed for freshwater fly fishing and not for what so many of us now put them through, but try as I might I can’t find an alternative solution for longer walks especially. I don’t want to wet wade in our cold waters because for starters I hate having wet feet for hours on end, plus my fishing might involve a good bit of walking, scrambling and/or wading. Chest and indeed waist waders now are as much a part of my fishing as my rods, reels, lures and lines are…………..

And of course I have a few different lure rods and reels here. I don’t know if you do so yourself, but through the course of a bass fishing year I will find myself fishing all manner of different kinds of grounds and conditions - and as much as I am obsessed with the “one lure rod that can do it all”, in reality it just can’t, at least not with how I go about my (varied) bass fishing. So I change rod and reel outfits to reflect where I am fishing and what lures are required to tackle them.

So why don’t we do this more with our waders? I can of course wear breathables for as good as all my bass lure fishing, but with how much a decent pair of waders costs (plus whatever type of boots you might use) and how long we can realistically expect them to keep us dry if we don’t include falling over and ripping or puncturing them, does it make more sense to mix things up and try to literally save my breathables for those sessions where I am actually going to be walking a fair distance and therefore the lightweight and breathable properties of the waders are really handy? I don’t use the same lure rod for every single location I fish, so how about using different waders that reflect where you are fishing because I really want to get as much life out of my breathables as possible.

He is a very, very brave wader!

He is a very, very brave wader!

A friend got me thinking about this a couple of years ago. We were sitting around the house in Ireland drinking coffee and eating bowls of cereal while we waited for the right state of tide on the next mark, and as one does, we were yapping all things fishing and from memory this friend had two leaking pairs of breathable waders and he was chopping and changing between them to try and stay at least a bit dry! I obviously wasn’t giggling at his misfortune, but this friend then started talking about a lot of the night fishing especially that we do over in Ireland and how a lot of it doesn’t actually revolve around much of a walk at all - and if you are getting out of the car and trotting onto a beach to stand calf-deep in the water, do you actually need to be wearing a pair of breathable waders to do so?

Okay, so I still want what a pair of chest waders offers me for fishing like this, but could I kinda cheat the system and not wear my breathables and instead wear a much tougher and cheaper pair of waders for some of my fishing? I must admit to being sceptical about all this because putting on a pair of breathables and then lacing up a pair of boots is about as normal as unclipping a lure rod from the rod racks on my epic Berlingo, so I resisted, but on the next trip out to Ireland that year and my mate had a pair of those boot-foot Vass chest waders and ended up using them for what is turning out to be a fair bit of his lure fishing. He remained 100% dry which I think was a completely new experience for him.

At least ankle-deep yet he strides purposefully like a mermaid

At least ankle-deep yet he strides purposefully like a mermaid

Now there is no getting away from how heavy these PVC waders feel when compared to a pair of breathables when you pick them up, but of course you’ve already got a pair of (wellington) boots secured to the bottom of the PVC ones. On that first trip when my mate started using these “Team Vass 700 Edition Chest Waders”, I have to admit to a little bit of jealousy when he so easily and seamlessly slipped in and out of them when needs be, and us blokes with our breathables were doing that familiar slight wrestle into them and then the boots - balancing on the one foot to try and not get the other one wet as you juggle one leg going into the waders and so on. You know the drill! My mate though rather smugly slipped his VASS PVC boot-foot waders on and off as smoothly as one might move straight to the lure section of a fishing tackle shop.

So I gave in, and you need to bear in mind that I have been wearing breathable chest waders now for more years than I care to remember and as much as they are a compromise, I seriously like what they do for me - but the simple fact is that I can actually do without them and essentially “save” them multiple sessions when those sessions for me don’t require much of a yomp. I am actually surprised now by how much a couple of mates who I often fish with in Ireland are now wearing their Vass PVC waders, in that it started off just on a few beaches where we really are hardly walking at all, and now they are wearing them for a few locations that do require at least a bit of a yomp.

I got hold of a pair of those Team Vass 700 Edition Chest Waders ( I really like the reinforced knees) and I started to wear them for some of my night fishing especially around me here at home when we aren’t needing to yomp far. I am never going to lose that “crumbs these feel heavy” feeling when I pick a pair of these waders up to (so easily) slip them on, but when I have them on and I am fishing in them to be perfectly honest they feel just fine as long I don’t need to be moving around like a ninja. I really like how they are not an expensive pair of chest waders at all when compared to a decent pair of breathables plus wading boots - around £200+ for a pair of my go-to Vision Ikons (without wading boots) compared to under £100 for a pair of boot-footed (wellington boot fixed to the waders) pair of Team Vass 700 Edition Chest Waders, plus of course the Vass PVC ones are a far heavier material and without doubt a hell of a lot tougher than a pair of breathables.


My mate did buy a pair of the studded Team Vass 700 Edition Chest Waders to start off with, but over time he had a stud or two end up creating a hole in the boots via more and more walking over rocks that he did in them - was he just unlucky? He then bought a pair of the non-studded Team Vass 700 Edition Chest Waders and it’s been hunky dory ever since, and that includes using them over rocks a fair bit of the time and the grip seems pretty good on them. If you were to use them on a sandy beach then of course a pair of wellies on the bottom of a pair of waders is just fine as regards the grip, and of course you have now completely removed the annoying factor of your wading boots filling up with sand and small stones.

Now to be fair I tend to default to my breathables as much as possible and especially when I am either going to be out fishing for longer periods and/or I need to walk and scramble a lot, but I am going to make a real effort this year to save my breathables as much as I can and wear these Vass PVC waders more and more. The more I think about adapting my wader setup to where I am fishing just like I would my rod and reel, the more sense it makes to try and save my breathables when I don’t actually need to be using them and therefore in theory prolong their working. My breathables are currently working just fine and I still can’t find any that I like and trust more than the Vision Ikon ones, but how many of you have a pair of breathable and have at least one little pinprick that lets a bit of water in if you are needing to wade and fish?

One thing I will not be doing is using a pair of PVC waders in rough conditions from the rocks, not with how Ben struggled so badly in the RNLI testing tank as per above. Chest waders as a whole are not exactly an ideal thing to be wearing if you end up in the water anyway, but with a lifejacket on I feel a lot more confident in a pair of waders that has a stockingfoot and not a fixed pair of wellie boots on them. And as per this blog post here, without a doubt I have found it a lot easier in the water with a lifejacket on when wearing a pair of waist waders. I am going to use these Vass PVC waders when I can though from beaches and perhaps shallow reefs as and when I think I can get away with them, and then adapt from there.

I have a hell of a lot more wearing and testing of various waders to do before I can come to any sort of conclusions, but as an example I also have a cheap pair of the Vass-Tex 600 Waist Waders to see if they might be useful for some of my (not walking very far) fishing as well. Then I get to thinking if one could possibly strap a pair of PVC waders to the top of a rucksack for those times when you need to walk a good distance, wear a pair of trainers and my sexy as hell under-wader wear for the actual walk (see here), and when I get to my fishing spot I could stuff the trainers into my waterproof rucksack and slip seductively into the PVC waders. What do you do? Are you by any chance doing similar thinking with your waders and trying to tailor them a bit more to your actual needs and of course trying to stay dry? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below. You all have a good weekend.

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