Finding Wader Leaks
Sooner or later your waders are going to leak. Finding the holes is the hardest part of fixing them. Here's how to do it.
t starts with a cold sensation. Sometimes it's around the knees, sometimes on the side of the foot, and sometimes it only happens when you wade more than crotch deep. "Uh-oh," you say. "Another leak in the waders."
Leaky waders are one of the inevitabilities of fly fishing. Sooner or later you're going to have to find those leaks and fix them. Unless the holes are large and obvious--which they usually aren't--it's the finding, not the fixing, that's the hard part.
I've tried all of these leak-finding tactics on my Simms Gore-Tex waders. The rubbing alcohol/spray bottle approach worked best for me. The flashlight-in-a-closet strategy is okay, but not as effective as rubbing alcohol. The other two tactics have only worked for me when the holes are big.
Leaks in the feet and seams can be problematic. You void Simms warranty if you put Aquaseal on a seam. Simms suggests sending the waders back to them if you have a serious tear or problem with the feet or seams. Feet can be replaced for about $50 for both feet. Seam repair is free if the waders are still on warranty.
The best strategy for foot leaks is prevention: wear gravel guards and you'll significantly extend the life of your wader's feet.
Also, turn your waders inside-out after using them and let the insides dry thoroughly. When the inside is dry, reverse the waders and dry the outside. Don't store them until they're thoroughly dry inside and out. Store in a cool, dry space out of the light.
Can you repair breathable waders forever? 'Fraid not. Rocks live forever, but Gore-Tex and other breathable fabrics will eventually wear out.
Scott Richmond is Westfly's creator and Executive Director. He is the author of eight books on Oregon fly fishing, including Fishing Oregon's Deschutes River (second edition).
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