Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

So what on earth does one wear under a pair of waders ?

LBBW - Life Before Breathable Waders. Not sure I can even really remember fishing without them as a constant companion. OK, so the word "breathable" might be better as "lightweight", for I am never quite sure that these waders we wear are actually remotely breathable, but they are definitely "lightweight" when compared to the horrors of wearing neoprene waders and then yomping or scrabbling for miles. I do grant you though that the seriously top-end waders from the likes of Simms and Patagonia that use Gore-Tex might well have more breathable qualities (I have not used them myself), but for me the simple fact is that my waders and indeed wading boots are I think easily as important in my fishing as the rod and the reel. I was using breathable waders from the fly fishing world long before this lure fishing for bass thing became such a consuming obsession, and for the life of me I still can't work out why more UK and I suppose Irish shore anglers don't wear these things for their fishing. Not for all shore fishing of course, but wear them once and it's hard to go back to LBBW.

But this almost "living" in these waders then throws up a dilemma - what do you wear underneath them so that it is as comfortable as possible for potentially long and strenuous periods. What I found out very early on of course was that something like jeans underneath waders was essentially a waste of time. If you are not walking a lot for your fishing then my particular needs may well not be the same as yours, but for this bass fishing thing many of us tend to walk a long way at times. Especially during the warmer months sweat is going to build up underneath your waders almost whatever you end up doing walking or scrambling wise, and a pair of jeans or similar clothing is simply going to become and then remain uncomfortably damp. They won't dry out until you are out of your waders, and personally I don't like fishing like this.

Sometime last year I think it was I took it upon myself to try and find some proper stuff to wear under my waders. Since then I have tried out any number of different kinds of leggings etc., and up until recently I was beginning to despair a bit that none of them were really working that well. I have tried numerous products from both the outdoor clothing and the fishing worlds, and whilst some came close to working out ok, when I was walking and scrambling for long periods say over a day in Ireland, they ended up becoming uncomfortable to wear. I am pretty sorted for fishing in really cold weather when I can wear a fleece bib and brace or just fleece leggings, but this warmer weather stuff was starting to drive me mad.

Or it was until I took a bit of a punt and went for this exact pair of leggings here from Under Armour (I actually bought them from this link here if that is any help). Why I decided to buy this particular pair I am not really sure, but my theory was I suppose a process of elimination plus me being stubborn and refusing to give up on this. OK, so my body shape hardly makes me the ideal candidate for a pair of leggings like these Under Armour HeatGear Core Ventilated Leggings, but since I am wearing them under my waders then I guess the world of sartorial elegance can breath a little easier. And when I am not wearing my waders then I just wear a pair of shorts over the top of them until the waders go back on. Granted, I have had a few funny looks from time to time, but take a look at what I wear from day to day and you will quickly realise that me and high fashion don't even know each other !!

I have no idea why these Under Armour HeatGear leggings seem to be the ones that work by far the best for me under a pair of lightweight waders, and I am guessing that there have to be other leggings similar to these out there that might do the job as well. These leggings are in no way designed to be worn under waders, but for some reason they are brilliant. I ended up buying a pair of Under Armour leggings I reckon because I had head the brand name before in conjunction with some high-tech fishing clothing out in the US, so I was hoping that perhaps these admittedly "nothing to do with fishing" leggings might end up working ok. And they work better than ok. They are doing really, really well, to the point that I very quickly bought a second pair of them. I might well be barking up the wrong tree with believing that these tight kinds of leggings are ideal for wearing under waders, but they just seem to make a lot of sense to me. Finally I have found what I reckon are the ideal things to wear under your waders - so comfortable, they don't seem to get wet from sweat, and I have made sure to wear them in some really warm conditions. No problem at all, in fact I am convinced that somehow these HeatGear leggings actually cool your legs down a bit. I have used them for long enough now to be completely sold on them as the solution to my own particular dilemma. But what about you ? Do you even think about what you wear under your own waders, or is this another case of me going off on some strange tangent ?