Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Wet Wading 101: How To Wet Wade Comfortably

It's Wet Wading Season

I hate waders. I don't understand how we are living in the 21st century where we have the technology to send a set of individuals to space but we can't seem to make waders that don't leak. It doesn't matter if they are expensive or manufactured by big names like Simms, Redington, Patagonia, or Orvis, if it can leak it eventually will.

Thankfully I live in the warm state of California where I can avoid wearing waders for half the year, in comes wet wading. Wet wading is my preferred method of wading because not only is it is a good way to beat the heat, it also gives you a more "intimate" feel with nature.

Wet wading can be as simple as wearing your favorite pair of shorts and sandals but wet wading comfortably can be slightly more complicated.




What is wet wading comfortably?
Trout are a cold-water species that like to live in very specific parts of a river, stream, or creek. The ability to maneuver around the water whether it is hiking, wading, bushwhacking, rock-climbing, or boulder hopping without freezing your butt off will make you a more productive angler. Getting into the right position at the right angle can make all the difference. Wet wading allows you to do all of these things at the expense of getting a little wet. Being comfortable while you are wet is critical in both safety and enjoyment. 

Wet wading is more commonly practiced in warm waters like ponds, lakes, and creeks. Although you don't have to worry too much about cold water temperatures, wet wading comfortably in warmer waters means avoiding toe biting bugs and sunburns, the true banes of the summer.

To get the best experience wet wading comfortably you will need a few things:

1. A good pair of sandals or wading boots
2. Neoprene socks
3. Polypropylene socks
4. A pair of polarized sunglasses
5. Sunscreen
6. Kneepads
7. A fishing vest
8. A waterproof phone case.

Neoprene and Polypropylene Socks

Polypropylene socks
This will be your first and most important layer. Polypropylene socks act as a liner that helps prevent your skin from chaffing when wearing neoprene socks. Long distance hikers will often wear polypropylene socks as they help add a layer of protection against the elements, wick away moisture, and prevent blisters. Ending an awesome day on the water with itchy, red, and irritated skin is not fun so make sure you pick up a pair of these socks either online ot your local outdoor store.



Neoprene socks
This will be your second layer. Neoprene is a synthetic material that is commonly used for making wetsuits as they provide excellent insulation against the cold. Neoprene socks were made specifically for wet wading and helps keep the users feet warm when wading in cold water. I find that the best time to wet wade in neoprene socks is when the water temperature is around 50° - 65° and the air temperature is above 80°.

Personally when my feet get cold my whole body begins to get cold. Neoprene socks are a great inexpensive piece of gear that can help you stay warm and fish without waders.
There are several different thicknesses of neoprene socks that are available. Although the difference is barely noticeable when wet wading, the thicker neoprene will keep you the warmest and is the most durable.
Neoprene socks will also help keep critters like toe biting beetles and leeches off your feet.

My favorite brand of neoprene and polypropylene socks are made by Cabelas. They take a bit of time to arrive since we don't have a Cabelas out here in California but they are the best fitting and most inexpensive wet wading socks I've owned.

Wading Boots or Sandals
This will be your third and final layer. Comfort is key for this layer, the more comfortable your footwear the better. I personally wear either a pair of Keen's sandals or my wading boots depending on where I'm fishing. Rocks, pebbles, sticks, and plants will often find their way into your footwear regardless of what you wear.

I personally prefer sandals as I find them to be lighter and more comfortable than boots. The downside of sandals is that stuff tends to get wedged in-between your feet and shoes more often than with boots. Be careful in sandals because your feet tend to get banged up a bit more around rocks.

Sunglasses and Hat

Polarized Sunglasses
A good pair of polarized sunglasses is a fly fishing essential. Not only will a pair of polarized sunglasses help you see through the water they will also protect you from the sun and a bad cast.

My Favorite Summer Sunscreen

Sunscreen
Skin cancer is a very real threat that is preventable by simply applying on sunscreen. I keep a small tube in my pack and apply every couple of hours.

The sun is a powerful aging agent. If you don't want to be turned into a human prune by the time you're retired, slab on some of that SPF 50 sunscreen.
Sunscreen can also prevent the embarrassing raccoon tan line from wearing sunglasses all day.

Kneepads or Shinguards
Before I discovered kneepads and shinguards I would come home after a long days worth of wet wading with bloody and scratched up knees and shins. It wasn't until I watched a fly fishing competition video where anglers were using kneepads to help them kneel comfortably while nymphing that I decided to try a pair. Best idea ever.

Bushwhacking without protection has left me with scarred shins that could have easily been prevented with a pair of cheap kneepads. With kneepads I've been able to avoid attacks from blackberry thorns, yellow star thistles, ticks, and jagged branches. Although you don't necessary need them, I highly recommend a good pair of kneepads or shinguards.



Fishing Vest
I like to wear a vest when wet wading. This allows me to keep my gear higher up which helps prevent them from getting too wet.
A vest with a few zipper pockets will keep your phone and keys dry and secured. 

Waterproof Phone Case
Taking photos while wet wading can be pretty tough. The best options are to either buy a waterproof bag, a flexible tripod, or a waterproof phone case.
I like to use a waterproof case because it takes up less space and is less of a hassle to take out and put back. A waterproof case can also help you keep your phone alive if it slips out of your hand. Don't cheap out on this one or else you'll regret it.

Fully Geared and Ready To Go

Wet wading is a great way to beat the heat. Although there are tons of different ways to do it, this is my favorite method. Summer time is here and the best way to celebrate it is by spending sometime in the water.


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