We’ve seen a lot of unexpected weather in Colorado as of late. Rivers have stayed marginally above normal as a result, and I’ve kept my waders on. Some carping conditions have been decent for wet wading, and I’ve taken advantage of the fact, but it’s been more of a chest wader game outside of the urban environs.
During the last few weeks that all changed. With midday thunderstorms tapering off and warm, sunny conditions replacing them, I took the opportunity to test my first set of rubber-soled boots and finally attempt to tear a pair of outdoor pants to shreds. The boots are a lesser known brand (to fly fishing folks who don’t have gray hair, or still have hair), Weinbrenner, which came highly recommended by my friends at Discount Fishing Tackle, and the pants are the RailRiders Extremes that were sent to me a few months back. They turned out to be the perfect wet wading combination, at least for me. Here’s why…
Weinbrenner Wading Boots
These boots were hiked several miles across uneven terrain, with wool socks and Chota neoprene gravel guards – not once did I note any slippage between either the boots and the ground or them and my feet. One scary part about moving streamside in felt – along grassy banks they loose grip quick – these rubber treads stuck just fine. And they fit as good at the end of the day as they did at the start – in other words, they did not pack out, at least not enough to notice.
In the water I started off much more tentatively. Rubber doesn’t grip on rocks like felt (no matter what the Madison Avenue hired guns say), and these soles weren’t much different. What surprised me, however, was how I found myself wading by days end. To sum it up: like a ballerina, sans the tutu. I was bounding through streams with extremely firm footing, and I’m attributing the feel not to the sole but to the outstanding support built into the Weinbrenners.
The soles on these boots are extremely stiff, and the upper is similarly built. It’s not surprising coming from a manufacturer whose core is work (i.e. construction) boots. You can’t really flex these boots with your hands, and on the feet the torquing wasn’t much different. Further, the toes on the boots are reinforced with what Weinbrenner calls plastic impregnated “shark-skin” leather, and they had an almost steel-toed feel to them. While doing my pirouettes I also found myself kicking small rocks aside as I moved, much like I had with the old Simms Freestones.
The only beef I (could possibly) have with these boots is the weight. I don’t have exact figures, but they feel quite a bit heavier on the feet than I’m used too – then again, I’ve been wearing Korkers and they’re really light by comparison. Nevertheless, the level of support more than makes up for it, and whether it be Weinbrenners or another brand, I’m going for durability and support over whizbang features and fancy marketing in my wading boots from here on out.
The boots still need a trip to the (self proclaimed, based on first person injury level) treacherous wading conditions of the Blue River, where I’ve proven I can slip regardless of how few sips of the flask are taken, but I’m giving them a big thumbs up for the first outing. I pre-fitted these boots with the Versace-designed waders I picked up a few months back, so I’m well prepared for testing in heavier flows too. Stay tuned for a carnival of excitement (or at least a real-life remake of Humpty Dumpty) to follow.
RailRiders Extreme Adventure Pants
I’ve worn the RailRiders Extreme Adventure pants on three separate fishing trips (two carp runs and now a trout day), so the Full Monty is coming your way. My initial reaction with the pants was one of being impressed – there are reinforcements everywhere, and the toughness is doubly so in the knee, crotch, and back end. I loved the velcro straps at the ankles, and the large belt loops (I tend to rip belt loops when things get exciting, even on the water). Thankfully, initial reaction means squat. So I squatted some more.
In mucky conditions (i.e. carp ponds) the pants performed as expected, but they cleaned up extraordinarily. After beating around town in them (i.e. trying to pick up women in Whole Foods, unsuccessfully as usual) and taking them into the puke water twice, they were machine washed on the “grungy fly fishing bum wannabe” setting. A dozen or so tumble dries later they still looked brand new.
On the trout water, conditions less closely resembled my urban haunts, with thorny bushes to bash, rough thicket to trudge through, and slimy rocks to kneel on when making stealthy casts. So I bashed, trudged, and knelt. The pants themselves held up nicely – not a single rip, tear or even scuff anywhere. Further, I didn’t feel any of the wild stuff tearing me up – it was almost like wearing waders, just without out the risk of promoting leaks in them. Rinse and repeat, and then through the drying cycle; they still look and feel like they just came out of the package, so the Whole Foods gals will have to suffer a little more.
I do have one complaint about the pants, and that’s the front button. It’s rigged less than traditionally, with a two-slotted button held in place by a small piece of rectangular nylon fabric versus four holes and simple thread. The fabric piece is starting to show some wear, so either I need to loose some serious el-bees to relieve the stress, or I’m going to be using thread for something other than tying flies really soon.
This combo has instantly become my go-to wet wading getup. I’ve got stable footing in a firm, supportive set of boots, and the rubber gives me intermediate-range hiking capacity without need for weekly resoling as well as piece-of-mind regarding the spread of invasives. The pants give my legs the protection I need, ensuring I’ll continue to knock those fish out with my American thighs without the need for carrying a dozen bandages and a bottle of Betadine.
MG signing off (to do some more wet wading)
CREDITS: Photo courtesy of Landeen Photography.
EDITOR’S NOTE: I was perusing the Weinbrenner website post-outing and noticed there were several models on clearance and no listings for rubber-soled models. So I called them to find out what was up, and got back a disconcerting response. According to management, knockoffs from China have forced them to pare down their line – at least from first impression I find that a crying shame, and will probably buy another pair of Weinbrenners before they disappear. Also, purported rising rubber prices have made them rethink the non-felt offering. With felt going the way of the horse and buggy regardless of whether it makes sense or not, what certainly doesn’t make sense is discontinuing rubber altogether. I’d simply raise prices a little bit – goodness knows the fly fishing business is used to that!