You know you need a new set of waders when you can hang them open side up from a tree over the garden, fill them with water and use them as a sprinkler. This is the point I am at with my old waders.
Those old neoprene pants, which have served me well for many seasons of trout fishing and duck hunting, are now holier than the Pope.
All this is to say, as much as I hate to admit it, I need a new set of waders.
This pains me. Mostly because a new pair of waders of the quality I need are expensive. Sure, I could convince myself to spend that kind of money, if I amortized the cost over 20 years. But deep down, I know it’s about more than mere money. Lately, I have come to the realization that I have a deep, sentimental attachment to that old pair of waders. I’d rather not throw them aside.
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Even so, we are not on good terms. To be completely honest, I have not spoken to them since the end of last duck season. On that day, I got a little angry at them for letting too much frigid water in. Crazy, huh? Especially, after all we’ve been through.
The good news is I’ve had a winter to think about our relationship. And in that time, I came to realize that those waders just might have good reason to be mad at me too. Plenty of reasons actually.
Being an angler’s or hunter’s set of waders is not an easy job. Heck, if reincarnation actually existed, I would never want to come back as a pair.
Waders, after all, are designed to keep fluid out. Which also means that they are pretty good at keeping fluid in. This can be an issue when you are chest deep in water and casting a fly when a moose cow and calf swim around the corner.
And though some waders are made of “breathable” material, they don’t let out nearly enough air to make conditions inside them hospitable to any form of life, especially if you had beans and wieners the night before.
We don’t just torture our waders on the inside, either. We abuse them on the outside too. We think nothing of wading or walking in them through areas with sharp jagged rocks and pointed sticks or ice. And we don’t think twice about throwing them in the back of our vehicles among all sorts of abrasive, corrosive, or sharp things. Few of us clean them properly or let them dry out the way they should either.
So, is it any wonders they go sour on us? Literally.
The point is that the relationship an angler or hunter has with their waders is not a one-way street. If truth be told, we get way more out of the bargain than our waders do.
They keep up warm and dry and protect us from things like leeches, hellgrammites and barbed wire. We just show them our worst side every time we meet.
This got me thinking that I should probably appreciate my old waders a little more and maybe even try to fix the relationship.
So, later this afternoon, I’m going to the basement to spend a little time with my old waders. We’ll reminisce about the good times, have a few laughs, and work on our relationship. Hopefully, it’s not too late to patch things up.