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Old 07-04-2006, 09:54 AM
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Default Leaking Secrets on Fish Waders - by Randal Sumner

Trout bums: Leaking secrets on fish waders

By Randal Sumner
Special to The Seattle Times

The subject of fishing waders reminds me of a monologue Jerry Seinfeld might do. Jerry: "Why do they call them waders? They don't wade. Why not call them leakers? That's what they do best."

I bought another new pair of leakers last year — the $400 variety. These are the best leakers I've ever had — roomy, lightweight and almost comfortable. Over the years, I've bought almost every kind of leaker on the market: rubber, lightweights, neoprene, Kevlar and Gore-Tex. Some still hang in my garage, which is kind of a museum of leaker history.

I've also had about every kind of leak: the torn-crotch leak, the barbed-wire leak, the abrasion leak, the falling-down-on-sharp-rocks leak and, worst of all, the head leak. I only wear leakers from October to May; the summer is for wading in shorts. I prefer this wet wading. It's easy and comfortable, and you know you're going to get wet, so there is no disappointment.

Of all the different categories of leaks, the worst is the head leak; it can be devastating to your positive fishing attitude. This is how it starts: After taking off your waders one day, you discover your sock is wet. Not really soaked, but dampish — definitely a small seeping leak. It's interesting that you fished all day and hadn't noticed. Returning home, you find and repair the leak.

In a few days, you're on the river again, concentrating on a size-20 blue wing in bad light, when you realize your foot is cold and soaking wet. Darn it. Now it's more leaker repair. But you're sure you fixed it. How can it still be leaking? The vest comes off, then the boot, then the waders — all while the trout are boiling like crazy — and your sock is dry. The only leak is between your ears, maddening.

Small, dry fly-fishing when done correctly requires the angler's full mental focus. Your entire universe is a tiny dot 30 feet away swirling in the current. The last thing you need is wader anxiety.

When you get your new waders, they will come with a repair kit and care recommendations; this is the leaker manufacturer's stab at humor. The warranty will state that if you should happen to use these waders in water for fishing, the warranty is pretty much out the window. The care recommendations are not very practical for trout bums, either; it assumes your waders will have time to dry out before you attempt a repair job. Here's a tip: I put mine in the dryer, but not for long or they get somewhat crispy.
The repair kit included with your $400 waders is really helpful: two little patches and a tiny tube — one squeeze — of sealer goop. What do I expect?

Oh, and Jerry: Why do they call them a pair of leakers? You only get one.

And now I will tell you that my $400 waders lasted exactly 63 days until they started going bad, and by 90 days they were shot. Tragic but funny. The very best waders I have found come from L.L. Bean — my first pair has more than 300 days without a leak. I retired them to my garage hall of fame leaker exhibit and still use them for clients. My second pair of Mr. Beans are still in play.

Trout Bums, a column authored alternately by Randal Sumner and Mark Littleton, appears on the first Tuesday of each month. Sumner owns Blue Skies Guide Service on the Yakima River. Littleton, who also lives in Yakima, has been an avid fly-fisherman for more than 25 years. They can be reached at

Article Courtesy of the Seatle Times at

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