There’s a new wader in town; goes by the name SubZero. Redington SubZero.
The SubZero designation of course refers to the fact that they’re made for fishing in the frigid waters of winter; not because they will keep you properly chilled as I originally thought. After having cleared up that confusion, I decided to head east of the Cascades and put the Redingtons to the test.
Although the sun shone brightly on the Yakima River on this particular day, looks were deceiving. In the direct sunlight the air temperature may have registered somewhere in the high 30’s, however the sun was low in the sky and there was ample shade. The banks were covered with snow and ice and the water temperature hovered at 36F. So tell me—if neither the water nor the air temperature was at or below 32F, why were the guides in my rod icing up? Why did my line gather ice as I stripped streamers unsuccessfully for a few hours? Why did my fingertips sting? Because it was cold. Why did I whine? Because I’m a whimp.
About the waders: I’ll admit I had some hesitations initially, namely with regard to the neoprene lowers. Would the added bulk be a negative factor, and would they make my butt look big? Thankfully the answer to both questions is no. Of course you notice a bit more substance due to the 3 millimeter neoprene where it’s needed most when the water is cold: the legs and seat. But even with fleece liner pants I didn’t feel overly bulky. I wear a medium size in waders and the fit was just right. The neoprene lowers are also clad in an abrasion-resistant type of “burly” coating. The breathable uppers feature 4 layers of toughness. These waders are very stout; obviously built to stand up to the worst that the elements can throw at you.
On this trip I had expected to hike in about a mile to fish the water I sought. Unfortunately a locked gate and “No Trespassing” sign (neither of which existed the last time I fished this area) put the kibosh on those plans. I was really hoping to see how well the SubZeros performed when a bit of aerobic activity was involved. My concern was that as the core temperature rose during a rigorous hike, the waders would be too warm. I cannot speak to that, but I will also say that winter fishing doesn’t typically involve nearly the hiking as does summer fishing. Besides, hiking in the snow with felt-soled boots isn’t a lot of fun anyway because felt tends to attract snow like flies to a rib roast. So in all reality I am glad I didn’t have to hike a mile. I fished another stretch of easily-accessed river that isn’t nearly as picturesque.
And there, standing thigh-deep in the river, the added insulation of the neoprene lowers was very evident. Proper layering under breathable waders generally does a pretty good job of staving off the cold, but the SubZeros take that up a notch. The 5 millimeter booties further add to the comfort level (compared to the standard 3 millimeter neoprene booties on most other waders). I layered my feet as I always do when fishing in the winter: one pair of poly-pro liner socks under standard wool socks. I find that if I try to add more bulk than that it’s counter-productive. You have to leave some wiggle room for the old toes or they will turn to blocks of ice. My feet generally get a bit chilly over the course of a winter wading trip, but not so on this day.
My favorite aspect of the SubZeros is the handwarmer pocket. Oh my. This thing is something to behold. Fleece-lined with 100 grams of RediLayer™ insulation, this pocket is like a little wood stove for the frozen fingers. I can’t say enough about this feature.
Inside the waders is a flip-out pocket that would make Batman proud. With mesh pocket, forcep dock, hypalon retractor dock and additional zippered pocket for extra storage. I didn’t employ the use of this feature on this initial voyage, opting instead to carry my standard waist pack with all my goodies. That’s just how I roll, but the flip-out pocket affords the added option of keeping the bare necessities where you need them.
My conclusion is that the Redington SubZero waders are the ultimate in cold water protection when wading the winter months. Another area where I can see these waders really shining is with float tube/bellyboat angler types. With a good portion their legs in the water for extended periods of time, the added insulation below the waist seem well-suited to that task. That being said, I long for the more moderate days of Spring so I can put the SubZeros away and break out the Sonic Pros.
I can’t believe a wader manufacturer hadn’t designed a wader like this prior to now. The merits of neoprene waders need no explanation (maximum insulation), nor do the drawbacks (can be too warm). The Redington SubZero waders appear to offer the best of both worlds, at a price that’s very reasonable by today’s standards: $299.95. Now, if only they had a full length zipper…
Check out the Redington website for more information.
Oh, one more thing—did I mention the handwarmer pocket?
The refrigerator in our last house was a Sub-Zero. It was an expensive, built-in unit, but it did a great job of keeping the beer (and food) evenly chilled year-round. So when I was offered an opportunity to try out a pair of Sub-Zero waders you can understand my hesitation: why would anyone want an expensive pair of refrigerated waders? I understand that it can get downright hot when fishing during the summer months, but that’s when it’s time to put the waders away and do a little wet wading, right? Summer is, for me anyway, an opportunity to get those pasty white legs of winter a little color. If you get a little hot, just wade a little deeper; problem solved. Refrigerated waders seem to me a niche item that I have zero interest in. I’m not likely to shell out any amount of money on a pair of refrigerated waders; just doesn’t make sense to m—
Oh, got it. The waders aren’t actually refrigerated?
Apparently I’ve got my Sub Zero brands confused. These new waders are from Redington, and are called SubZero for the opposite reason of the well-known refrigerator brand. The marketing folks at Redginton assert that their new waders will keep you warm when fishing in sub-zero temperatures. Right then, that changes everything.
I’m going to have to take these waders our for a spin. Fortunately there’s no shortage of cold weather, so stay tuned.
If you’re anything like me (I apologize because I wouldn’t wish this on anyone), then you’re aware that there is at least one multiple fly fishing film event that takes place each year. Bad timing usually prevents me from being able to attend, I think. Confusion may have something to do with it as well. A few years ago I went. Back then I think there was only one multiple fly fishing film event. At least I don’t remember there being two. It seems like things were simpler back then.
Whatever the case may have been at one time in the past, the fact of the matter is that now we have two multiple fly fishing film events:
The International Fly Fishing Film Tour, known as F3T.
We also have the Fly Fishing Film Festival, known as IF4.
I think for me the confusion began with the acronyms. FWIW, after a while all acronyms in the world today start to muddy the waters. I’ll be honest–when the second fly fishing film event came to be I didn’t even realize it was a second organization. Now I don’t even remember which was the first, original group. It’s probably not worth fretting over anyway.
But as a public service to those of you who may be like me (short, middle-aged and confused), just remember: there are two multiple fly fishing film events making the rounds this time of year. I’ll be going to at least one, possibly both although I’m not sure.
Here are the schedules for each:
Sorry, please disregard the last one. I was confused.
It’s a familiar sight from my typical spot in the back of a boat on a steelhead river: in the bow is my son, Schpanky, with a rod bent sharply under the weight and pull of a winter steelhead.
And that is exactly what I saw on my last fishing trip of the old year.
We planned a half-day float with my buddy, Derek Young, on a local river that, while it does contain steelhead, is not generally a very productive river for steelhead on the fly. I fish it a few times each year, swinging flies from the bank. I go there simply because it’s close to home. But I never go with the expectation of catching fish.
And in that regard I have yet to be disappointed.
This was my first time floating this section of the Snoqualmie from Plum Landing to Fall City. The weather would prove far better than expected, with the steady deluge of the previous day not on the menu for this last Friday before Christmas. In fact, later in the day the sun would make an honest appearance—something not common during what had been a particularly wet month.
Schpanky’s Redington Torrent 8 weight was rigged as the meat-getter of the day. In addition to Bloody Mary fixin’s, Derek had packed an old Fenwick glass 7 weight and would be tossing streamers. I opted to swing the old Spey rod (translation: not catch steelhead). Schpanky was not unfamiliar with the task that lie before him; he’s done this type of fishing a few times before on Olympic Peninsula rivers such as the Hoh and Bogachiel: rubber rafts, bobbers, and beads (oh, my!). The Snoqualmie is a big river. Not a lot of gradient. Lots of places for comparatively few steelhead to hide. Mostly these are hatchery fish destined for the Tokul Creek natal cement ponds.
From my perch in the back of Derek’s boat, I spied a large rock off the starboard bow of the Streamtech Salmonfly. “Put it behind that rock, boy,” I expertly instructed the lad to do. The rest is best told in pictures.
While Schpanky did a fine job of playing the fish, Derek’s expert oarsmanship ensured that we would anchor in slow water while I athletically lept from the boat and successfully landed the fish; a 7 pound, dime-bright hatchery hen that would be on the smoker in less than 48 hours. It was a great day to spend fishing out the old year, but it also marked the end of the hand-holding. Neither the best seat in the boat nor the first crack at the best water will be offered up to the boy from here on out. He’s out-caught the old man 4-1 the last 3 times we’ve chased steel.
The coddling has got to stop. Happy New Year, all.