I received these breathable fly fishing waders and boots towards the end of last year and have been testing them out over the winter whilst teaching casting on the river Thames near Maidenhead. Though I’d hoped to give them a trial in a Scottish salmon river the Thames has a good flow, and combined with some heavy floods this year and conditions cold enough to freeze the line in the rod rings, they’ve been tested pretty well!
As a woman fisherman I have had problems with chest waders in the past because the size and proportions of waders are generally geared up for men. This often means that the top of the wader comes to just the level where significant rubbing of the delicate areas at the front of the chest (we all know which bits these are) can become a real problem over a full day, even when layered up for the cold.
These women’s waders reach a height where that is not a problem and the material is soft enough that they would probably be OK anyway, so with a younger body where most things sit a bit higher you’d be fine too.
The other main problem with men’s fit waders is around the nether regions, most ladies being larger round the hip area, we need a little more room and these are amply big enough. I have the extra large size, and while I am not hugely fat there is a little room for me to still grow into, (not that I plan to!) or wear a lot of layers for the cold. I have as yet not had the opportunity to wear them on a hot day and while they’ve performed well in cool conditions I’ve no doubt their breathability would cope with higher temperatures.
The seaming and detail finish is good and so far I have not had any leaks. The triple layering in the lower half of the leg gives good insulation and so far I have not felt cold through my trousers and socks until I have been in the water for a few hours. (I have not felt the need for thermal fleece leggings so far, though I am sure this would be different if I had been in a freezing Scottish river. It is a little disconcerting at first where the triple layering at the bottom half of the wader seems to trap air to begin with, but this displaces quite quickly.
The boots that go with the waders are really comfortable and lightweight and whereas in the past I dreaded all the walking I had to do in a day guiding or instructing, this year the walking will be something of a pleasure. It is hard to get wading boots for ladies that are not way too big and clumpy – these are just the job. I know that in a high fast current it may be desirable to feel the weightier style of boot as an anchor, but in those circumstances I am not that comfortable anyway and would opt for ease and comfort, perhaps at the expense of catching fish, but peace of mind to me is preferable. For that kind of scenario I would pack weightier boots, wear a PFDuse a wading staff and, just to be sure, take a good friend who would be prepared to fish me out if need be!
The felt soles have proven to be fine on grass and are a good standard for rocky river beds. Felt of course is not meant for silt and mud and where you encounter algae and moss you’d need to fit studs to the boots.
On the problems front I have had difficulty with bending over to fasten the boots and with climbing over styles when the braces are tightened over the shoulders properly; there isn’t length enough from the crotch over the butt to the top. I wonder if this is even a solvable issue, as the amount of fabric needed would make the waders sag at the back with the resulting danger of looking like an overgrown toddler dragging around a nappy full of sand. Also while wearing the waders I’ve found that the belt loops are too low down so I have to wear the supplied belt out of the loops so it sits correctly on my waist.
These last points are minor and in the greater scheme of things I am impressed and enjoy wearing the Chena River waders, they look and feel good, and the small embroidered details give enough of a girly look without giving the impression of little ladies out trying to be one of the big boys and not quite succeeding.
This season is already up and running and looks like being very busy one. I’m looking forward to putting these waders through the rigurs of the rest of the season.