Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Leaky Wader Repair

Author John Gierach titled his compilation fly-fishing short story anthology, "Death, Taxes, and Leaky Waders" so I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised at all last November when I nearly froze off the lower half of my body going underneath a bridge at Montauk.

But let's back up. I started fly-fishing around late 2011/early 2012. My first time out, Emily and I went camping at Bennett Spring. I woke up bright and early to get a good spot at opening bell. I set up near the top of the damn and waited for the sun to come up and the bell to ring. However, I soon realized my perfect spot was, to use a technical term, pretty sucky. Seemed every other fisherman in the park was wading right into the water. I was marooned on the shore. I had no idea waders would be a useful investment. (I ended up getting skunked that trip. Probably had more to do with the giant flies I was using, and less to do with the lack of waders.)

My old boot-foot waders
My waders, in their prime.
Fast forward to Christmas 2012, and I received a pair of waders from my mom. (I realize now that I get a lot of fishing stuff from my mom at Christmas.) Since then, I've been able to find all the best spots on the water, and have only been dunked a handful of times, usually in front of large crowds and my wife and family. The Johnson Shut-Ins incident comes quickly to mind.

All dunkings aside, I really love my waders. They're snug and comfortable and (usually) do a great job of keeping me dry and getting me to where I need to go on the river. Which is why I was especially sad when as soon as I got into stomach-high water in Montauk, I was instantly soaked. Luckily, this happened in the final minutes of the final day of fishing. Most of the weekend had been spent drifting dry flies in shallow parts of the park (and playing a lot of Settlers of Catan with our friends Matt and Lauren). However, it did make for a miserable car ride back to the cabin.

The low-water bridge at Montauk
Where it happened. . .

After getting home and drying my gear, I found the problem. There was a very long tear on the interior of my waders along the main central seam. It was a few inches long. The waders offered no protection once I got up to the top of my inseam; an area I'm pretty dedicated to keep dry and un-frozen. I'm not sure how it happened, but I imagine it had to do with the awkward way I would have to bend over to grab dropped flies off of the ground. My waders don't provide a great deal of flexibility. They're downright awful for yoga.

I researched online a bit about how to fix the seam tear. There were a lot of homemade solutions and concoctions, but the one product I saw come up time and time again for this sort of thing was Shoe Goo.

Shoe Goo
Shoe Goo employee reading this: Please feel free to send me free samples.

Now, I can't stop using this stuff. Not only did I use it on my waders, but I've used it to fix a ceramic compost pot lid, my dog's raincoat, and surprise surprise, my shoes. It's powerful stuff and comes in a large 3.7 fl oz. tube. If memory serves, it was only about $7.00 for the tube. Now I don't want to admit where I got it, but I found it at a nationwide drugstore chain that is a competitor to my employer. They shall remain nameless.

A patched wader seam
My waders' inseam - post-repair.
I used it by applying thin layers and allowing each layer to dry. The area of the waders that I covered was much larger than the tear itself. I haven't been able to do a proper field-test yet to try out my waders in chest-deep water, but they appear to be repaired completely and water-proof. I guess time will tell though. The water-proof will be in the pudding (I'm very sorry). Either way I'm going to add a tube of Shoe Goo to my camping and fishing gear for sure.

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