That Sinking Feeling...
There I was waist deep in the Deveron and I suddenly felt a cold left foot and as I waded a bit deeper a wet right knee.
Damn! I had just walked down a track which had gorse and a few brambles along the side of it and in places I had had to push them out of the way. I must have managed to get a few pin pricks in them.
Ach well, I’ve had these waders for 4 seasons so I suppose they really don’t owe me anything, after all they get used about 60 days a year from the depths of winter to the heights of summer and have travelled far and wide in the process. As long as I don’t get too wet this week I will get a new pair in the sales.
Or so I had planned.
Upon returning home I started looking for a new pair of breathable waders and asked a few of my fishing pals what they would recommend. One suggested waders at £400+ “great waders never let me down” others recommended cheap waders as “you can just chuck them away.”
Not a lot of great advice as I really didn’t fancy spending £400 + on waders. With my luck I’d catch them on a barbed wire fence and the thought of “disposable waders” however cheap again left me feeling cold if not wet.
I then received a rather surprising email from a chap who suggested I get them re-sealed and re-taped and “they’d be a good as new – if not better!”. Curiosity getting the better of me I emailed back for more information and the short and sweet reply was “look up Diver Dave.”
So onto the web I went typing Diver Dave into Google with some trepidation as to what I was going to be presented with but lo and behold! There is such a person and what a diamond he is too.
For the last few years he has been repairing angler’s waders. For many years prior to this Dave was a diver, running his own business. A large part of the business was dry suit repair, as they are very expensive and only last about 5-10 years. However like most anglers he found himself replacing my waders every second season.
With a flash of inspiration Dave decided to attempt to pressure test the wader’s using the same technique used for dry suits, and then to repair them to dive suit standards. He found that waders all leaked in the same places, and that the problem was always the manufacturing technique, they were simply not made to last, the seams, particularly in the crotch and feet being the common leak points. He then compared the seams of dive suits and waders and found that the taping was very poor, however this was an easy fix
What he does is pressure test leaky waders using compressed air at a set pressure so to find all the leaks without damaging the wader material and do a bubble check on them. The advantage of this is that they find weak points as well as leaks, so we repair problems before they occur. Then they use a glue right (at consistency of water) and paint this on, 4 coats thinly painted on to breathables, and 6+ on neoprenes.
All repairs are made in the inside, so your waders look ok when being worn. This actually makes sense, as this is where the tape is. They use a much wider seam than the manufacturers and it really lasts, it is stronger than the wader material. Once dry they then re-pressure test, to ensure that they are 100% air tight, and re repair if necessary. Pin holes, tears and the like are repaired in the same way.
So off my waders went and a week or so later they arrived back by courier looking exactly as they had done however, having since receiving them back been out grayling fishing I can say with 100% certainty that they are as good as new and 100% watertight again.
So you may all be wondering if this is all worth the effort and hassle? I sent off a pair of Vision waders which cost me £240 new, the cost of repairing these was £45 or roughly the price of cheap “disposable” waders and 1/10th the cost of a new pair of Simms. Dave also occasionally has a stock of warranty repaired waders for sale too.