Small Stream Trout fishing in Michigan

Happiness is a new pair of waders…

that don’t leak. I finally upgraded or at least that’s my hope. I dipped my last waders in the goop tank one too many times. Leaks were springing through multiple layers of congealed rubber patch and there was no telling which patch was failing. Every trip meant a soaked sock and leg and by the time I was done camping the clothesline full of wet jeans was bending trees inward.

I was scientific this time picking out waders. It started with a Cabella’s weekly ad showing their Premium Dry-Plus waders on sale, reg $159.99 down to $111.99. Premium Dry-Plus? The name alone was enough to start me dreaming. As a perpetual cheapskate/knowledge buyer I looked the Cabella waders up online for reviews and like all reviews online the comments were all over the place. Troutnot said they leaked after one season, EZdrifter said they were short on the rise, and RussRuss said the feet were to small. Overall they rated 4.6 out 5 stars so most anglers were very happy. But still that was not enough to make me beeline directly to the local store.

The invisible man tries on waders

The invisible man tries on waders

As a knowledge buyer I mapped out a trip to every wader selling store in the area starting with Gander Mountain, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Dunham’s and finally over to Cabella’s. If there was a better deal out there I planned to find it before committing.

Gander didn’t even have waders on display. I asked a teller and he pointed at some boxes on the wall by the shoes and after a quick look I headed to the main aisle to leave where I found, surprisingly, a bunch of boxed waders under a 50% off sign. The waders were odd sizes of a brand I never heard of marked down from $300 to $150. Nothing my size and nothing ultralight, which is a must.

From there I went to Dicks Sporting Goods and they did have a wader display. The store samples were tiny reproductions of the actual waders and the store clerk joked about how they were originally made for the Munchkins on Wizard of Oz. Then he got serious and asked me if I fished cold rivers. I told him that’s all there is in Michigan. He sort of excused himself after that, probably figuring I knew more about waders than he did. Unfortunately nothing was on sale and they also had no ultra light waders. So I ran over to Dunham’s with a 20% off anything coupon I had cleverly printed out right before leaving home. Dunham’s had a half dozen waders tucked in the corner of a standing shelf and nothing my size. So it was time to check out Cabellas.

If you have never been to Cabellas it’s better than a trip to the Museum of Natural History. They have some of the best taxidermy in the world on a centrally located fake mountain with smaller displays dispersed throughout the store. A mountain lion taking down a young elk. Wolves. Bears. Caribou, you name it. And they have waders, a whole section dedicated to the art of wading. Prices from $89 up to $400 plus. Camouflage waders, rubber waders, neoprene waders, heavy duty ultra-light waders, entry level waders. Wading socks. Wading boots. Hip waders. It took ten minutes just to find the waders in the ad. They were down to the last pair of size large Premium Dry-Plus waders and after quick check to make sure they were not short in the rise and the foot size was OK I was so caught up in the moment I splurged for the $111.99 and didn’t look back.

With a little luck they won’t leak on opening day. See the post Waders 101 from a few years back for some general advice on what to look for and why ultra-lights make sense.

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