Waders and leaking.

Anyone who has taken the time to read the Welcome page of the Unaccomplished Angler knows that I don’t do gear reviews, per se. Well, like so many fishermen are prone to do, I lied. That being said, bar none the single best gear acquisition I’ve made in recent years would have to be my Dan Bailey waders (the Monomaster being a close second). I’d purchased another brand of breathable waders less than a year before seeing these modern marvels in one of the multiple magazines I prescribe to (‘prescribe’ is not a typo), and I knew right away I had to have a pair. Now one might think it a foolish waste of money to buy an expensive pair of waders when a perfectly good and much less expensive pair of waders hangs in the garage. But before you judge me too harshly, let me remind you that behaviors regarding anything related to fly fishing do not fall under the category of “rational.” No, I did not need them. But I wanted them. That’s all the justification I required as I waxed and polished my credit card and marched confidently into All About the Fly to make pa2807741the purchase.

At this point I ran into an unexpected logjam: After 42 years I was shocked to find that most men are taller than me. There were size L and XL to choose from, but they didn’t have my size (apparently they don’t keep children’s waders in stock). Luckily they could order me a pair, and within a week I had a pair of size medium Dan Bailey EZ Zip Guide Waders that fit like a loose-fitting glove. Reminiscent of a little kid with a brand new pair of Ked’s sneakers, I was so enthused that I wore them home from the shop. On the way I stopped at the local grocery store to pick up a few things for dinner, and the cashier apparently really liked my new waders too, because she kept staring at them. Who could blame her – they’re really quite something to behold. But don’t take my word for it – read what the manufacturer has this to say about the merits of the EZ-Zips:

“…a front access RIRI waterproof zipper for exceptional ease on and off, plus the convenience of the zipper for adjusting to vent air for your maximum comfort…Many fishermen roll down the upper portion of traditionally designed waders to cool off or for shallow water wading. Just zip down the zipper and your upper body will cool off.”

This all sounds quite impressive, but I bought them not for the ease of getting them on or off, or for the ability to quickly cool my upper body. No, I bought them for the matter of liquid.

Fishing is all about liquid: From the water in which we stand when wading, which is the same water that floats our boat, to the great amounts of water that falls from the sky in the form of cold rain upon the hoods of insane anglers who find themselves fishing during the winter months when sanepa280775 anglers are huddled around a crackling fire reading books about summer trout fishing. But fishing is also about other liquids – the liquids that float our kidneys: The coffee we drink in the morning as we’re driving to the lake, or for those unenlightened souls who never acquired the taste for grown-up caffeine, the Coke they have with breakfast in camp before hitting the river. During the cold months we may take a break from not catching fish to sit in the cab of a truck with the engine running to thaw our toes and pour a hot cup of something from our thermos. When it’s hot, we may drink water or some variety of other bottled/canned beverages to keep ourselves properly hydrated, or to perhaps drown our sorrows when the fish repeatedly refuse our offerings.

Suffice it to say, beverages factor prominently into the lives of anglers, and what goes in, must come out. And unless you’re body is not functioning properly, sooner or later anglers must relieve themselves. If an angler is of the female gender, the act of relieving oneself is not a simple endeavor and that’s all I’m going to say about that. But if you’re a guy, the task at hand (no pun intended) can be as easy as standing up and letting things flow. However, much of the time we anglers find ourselves swathed in layers of clothing that make the simple act of relieving ourselves a bit more labor intensive. Let’s assume, for the sake of this example, that the fisherman (and it’s OK in this case to say fisherman because I’m referring of course to the men in the listening audience) is wearing the following gear/clothing: Long johns, fleece pants, a fleece jacket and a few other cumbersome layers to restrict upper body movement, waders, and a gore-tex jacket. Maybe some gloves, too. With this laundry list it’s safe to conclude that it’s a cold day. It’s probably raining or perhaps even snowing, and if it isn’t, there’s likely a cold winter breeze blowing. You’re standing thigh-deep in a frigid river, and suddenly your bladder reminds you of the 3 cups of coffee you ingested 2 hours ago. Now, barring a catheter or Adult Depends (which I have considered, mind you), you’ve got two choices: Ignore it or deal with it. If you choose to the former, that’s your decision and you must pay the consequences. But if you’re like me you must deal with the situation, so let’s assume that to be the course of action.

pa280777Now most guys don’t relieve themselves at the first hint of a full bladder–we file the urge away for as long as we can (it’s the same instinct that prevents us from stopping and asking for directions). Afterall, if you don’t maximize the amount of time that your fly is in the water, your chances of catching a fish are greatly diminished, and the odds of catching fish are stacked against you in the first place. So, by the time you admit to yourself that you must do something about the growing discomfort low in your abdomen, you realize you have a problem. Glancing over your shoulder towards shore, you become painfully aware of just how long it’s going to take before you can actually do something about it. You’re 30 feet from the river’s edge. Beyond that it’s another 15 yards of gravel bar before the privacy of some bushes. The current is strong enough that you must choose your steps carefully so as not to loose your footing: A tumble in the icy water would quickly put an end to your day of not catching fish and leave you soaked, which is exactly what you are trying to avoid by getting to shore as quickly as possible. The going is slow, but you make it to water’s edge. Your bladder is barking at you to hurry it up, so you quicken your steps over the gravel bar. You don’t dare break into a run because each step is a careful orchestration of muscle control: Using the right ones while not relaxing certain others. Finally you reach the safety of the bushes, locate a suitable branch on which to lean your fly rod, and commence to disrobe.

The first possible task at hand may be that of removing your gloves. Admittedly, gloves worn while fishing are cumbersome so let’s assume you’re not wearing any, which expedites your mission. Next, you must embark on the adventure of unzipping your rain jacket. With numb fingers (because you weren’t wearing any gloves) this sort of simple dexterity becomes considerably more difficult and the unthinkable happens: The storm flap gets caught in the teeth of the zipper. Now you’ve nearly got a crisis on your hands. To avoid me rambling on unnecessarily, let’s jump ahead to the point at which the train has been backed off the tracks: You successfully remove the jacket and drop it to the ground with careless regard for the exact location. You are now without a waterproof barrier and instantly become aware of this as the driving rain begins to soak your undergarments. The waders must now be lowered to at least waist level (preferably slightly below). Like a stonefly nymph struggling to shed it’s shuck you wriggle and writhe as you attempt to get a hold of the farmer john straps, wasting yet more precious time. Finally the waders are down, followed, hopefully of course, by the fleece pants, long johns and perhaps your favorite Spiderman boxers.This is the point at which you realize just how cold your hands are, and you give forth an audible, high-pitched gasp. The wind reveals its Arctic origins as it bites at your exposed nether regions with a ferocity that takes your breath away. The old bladder is way past panic mode when you finally relax certain muscles and let things flow. “Aaahhhhh….SH#T—!!!“ In your frenzied scramble to remove all layers of clothing, you failed to acknowledge the one Cardinal Rule that all men learn as boys: Don’t pee into the wind. You remember this an instant too late, and in an attempt to minimize the damage you pivot abruptly, sending a stream of heavily pressurized bodily fluid in a wide arch which partially misses your rain jacket that was haphazardly dropped on the ground without regard for certain logistics. With the wind now pounding your backside and the rain drenching you from above, you must wait impatiently for the flow to subside. Those three cups of coffee seem to have transformed into a 3 quarts, and by the time you’ve drained the holding tank, Mother Nature has done a pretty good job of beating the crap out of you.

Now, had you been sporting a pair of the Dan Bailey EZ Zip Guide Waders, all that would’ve been required would have been for you to unzip your jacket, (calmly, I might add because of the confidence that comes from knowing you have plenty of time), then lower the zipper on your waders and, well…you get the idea.

Cooling? Ease of ingress and egress? Riiiiight. If I were in charge of marketing for Dan Bailey I’d have named these the EZ Pee Guy Waders. I suppose there’s a reason I’m not in charge of marketing for them, or any other company.

At any rate, I give these waders two thumbs up. I’ve had them for 4 years (which means I am no longer 42) and they’ve never leaked.

But I have.



  1. Schpanky

    Funny, why do I feel as if someone just put my hand in hot water while I was sleeping… excuse me for a sec! haha

    • admin

      Schpanky-What I want to know, young man, is how can you be submitting these comments when you should be in first period? Does your teacher know you’re reading the Unaccomplished Angler? Who is your first period teacher, anyway- is it Armstrong? He should read the Unaccomplished Angler.

  2. Marck

    In the mad dash scramble to the shoreline you forgot one thing. With 32 degrees and 20mph wind with windchill of 22
    shrinkage will occur by the second. In the old style wader you have wader bunching with that temp you can reach over the bunch.

    • admin

      Marck (I assume not your real name): I am a gentleman angler and chose to take the high ground and veer away from the matters of shrinkage and turtles.
      But thanks for weighing in on this important matter.

  3. Rebecca

    You know, I should have a slight amount of sympathy here for you here, so for a brief moment I’ll try to forget I’m a gal with the… pants all the way to the ankles entire ass exposure issues I must endure.
    After reading your highly entertaining entry I can see why those waders were a not needed, but must purchase. It also explains the little dance guys display as they are rushing up the river bank and standing next to the twig tree that hardly shields them from anything. At this point, I hardly even raise an eyebrow anymore.
    Now, if those waders had a full frontal down the middle and up the back feature, I might even get excited~

    • admin

      Rebecca, Interesting you note that guys will seek out the smallest Charlie Brown Christmas Tree to pee behind. You should realize, however, that they’re not trying to conceal themselves, rather they are marking territory. ANd you should contact Dan Bailey and submit a request for a set of women’s waders. You might be just the catalyst needed for them to develop a sub-brand: Dawn Bailey?
      EZ Pee Gal Waders. See why I’m not in marketing?

  4. Al

    Maybe that cashier was staring at the fluorescent crotch, or was that a hunting season accessory. Not that I have your father’s bladder or anything, but I’ve been contemplating just such a piece of kit for exactly that same reasons.

    • admin

      Brother of mine,

      Mom always dressed us alike until we were 18, so why not continue the tradition? With my gear review in hand, you can buy with confidence.

  5. Rebecca

    LOL you have just confirmed my suspicions about marking territory.
    There should be a female friendly set of waders….oh wait, I already have a set…my hip waders 🙂

    • admin

      Rebecca, the only way to rid the world of territorial marking is to have all men neutered. And if you did that then we’d just walk around in khakis and cardigan sweaters with passive smiles on our faces and no gumption. Probably rid the rivers of all fishing mans, too, leaving plenty of room for the fishin’ gals.

  6. Joann Sturza McNamara

    I will say, such fun reading. I might fish with you Kirk. You would find something amazing and humorous to write about watching this cup of 46 year old woman fight the rod! Anyway, the only reason I posted was to tell you it looks like you are taking a “Leak” in the behind shot picture. Do you have cookies like the DVD’s? Did I win something. LOL Unfortunately, I am getting too much like my dad and I think I am hillarious!

    • admin

      Welcome aboard, Sturza. Glad you chimed in. I have no doubt you could manhandle whatever fish put a bend in your rod. Age is no excuse, and besides, 46 is young.
      Astute observation re: the photo. Everyone can be thankful the photo was taken from behind ; ) I’ll send you a sticker for your car window, how’s that?

  7. yuhina

    Hey Kirk,

    Just came across your blog by accident! What a great read and great site! Keep up the great work! Mark

    • admin


      Glad you stumbled in for a visit- come back often (you can subscribe for email notifications if you want). You’ll notice that I had added your site to my blogroll long before you found me here ; )
      Good to hear from you- thanks for commenting.

  8. yuhina

    ha…. Kirk

    I owe you once! I will be the first one to buy your next new book! : ) I promise!

    I try to add your site on my auto-updated section, but there are some weird thing happen… I will try it again.
    Take care and looking forward to read your post!!

  9. Ken

    Thanks for the laugh Kirk. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve done that dance and waited just a second too long!

    Looking forward to your book. Will it be out in time for Christmas?

    • admin

      Ken, thanks for the confession- I think we’ve all been there, and anyone who says they haven’t is either lying or has impressive discipline! As for a book,
      I haven’t got one planned–I can’t imagine anyone would actually pay to read what I write! Unless you’re referring to my kid’s books, which are already published.

  10. Nerveracker

    Kirk, man, you nailed it… YES! we mark our territory! YES we do the pee pee dance.
    The absolute BEST or worst is/was… Late October, you’re standing waist deep in the already cold water, you’ve gotta pee REALLY bad. Your fingers and toes are numb (which you should have gotten out of the water @ 30 minutes ago peed and sat in the car to warm up some) You’re getting ready to start that pee pee dance/slick rock hobble/nearly falling down jaunt across the river to finally go pee… AND WHAM!!!!! Fish on!!!! The fish decides that it’s gonna grab it while your stripping/reeling up to go pee. You’re fishing a 6 wt for trout and hang into a summer steelhead @ 8 lbs on a 4x tippet. Lemme just say this.. After @ another 15 minutes, nearly throwing my rod in the river to go pee (with the fish on the other end) Thankfully for youth, (34) a bladder of steel (starting to rust some now) and a large surge of adrenaline (my first steelhead EVER and first on a fly rod only been fly fishing @ 6 weeks at the time.) I got the fish to my feet, and almost had my hands on it (no net) and she popped off. I then immediately found my favorite “Charlie Brown Christmas Tree” and found some much needed relief!
    I enjoyed your blog, I got some real good laughs out of it! Keep it up! I’ll be snooping around

    • admin

      Dave, thanks for joining in the discussion. Obviously you are an Accomplished Angler to get steelface on your line as you prep to pee. Conversely, I would strip my line in and retrieve nothing but my fly before heading for the Charlie Brown tree ; ) Great job landing an 8 pounder on trout setup- musta been a fun fight! Keep checking back for more (hopefully) laughs, at my expense. Kirk

  11. Ken

    Hi Kirk,
    Yes I was referring to your kids books. Do you have another one in the pipeline? I have 3 boys between the ages of 5 and 10 and think your books are a great way to introduce kids to fly fishing. Many thanks.

    • admin

      Ken, I’ve actually written two more in the series, but haven’t finished illustrating. Not sure when they’ll be published, but hopefully in the next year or so. I’ll let you know! Thanks for the interest! Kirk

  12. Nerveracker

    HAHA. Thanks Kirk! Actually the real accomplishment came later that day when I hooked and actually landed the biggest freshwater gamefish for me. Was another big steelhead, this one was over 30″ and @ 12 lbs on the same setup, minus doing the pee pee dance! (took @ 30 minutes to land that big hen) I dunno if I’d consider myself an accomplished angler, but I’d say I was “fishy” that day. The planets must have been aligned just right and the fishing gods were definitely smiling down on me! Gotta love those days… albeit few and VERY far between. My days on the river sound very similar to yours.

    • admin


      Ever dog deserves his day. I’m glad to hear you had yours. A 30″ 12 pounder will keep a bend in the rod for a good long while. What river? I had mine as well, last winter, fishing for steelhead. But I’ll cover that in next week’s blog. I’d hate to give it away here- gotta keep you coming back ; )

  13. Nerveracker

    haha I heard that! Those and most all my other fish have come from the McKenzie River here in Oregon. Since that day, I’ve hung 3 others and all 3 have popped off. I took my newly “adopted” dad (my friend’s dad) to my fishin’ hole and he hung into one a couple of weeks ago, another 6lb steelhead. My facebook page has pics of some of the trout I’ve caught. I wish I’d had a camera that day. Sadly no pics of the “steelface” http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=792637247&ref=search&sid=792637247.1019192655..1


  14. nerveracker

    Maybe next summer you and Marck can come down for a few days and I’ll be happy to take you guys on a few floats down the ‘Kenzie and hook up with some McKenzie “redsides” and maybe a steelie or 2 (the steelhead action heats up real good @ July/August in the lower ‘Kenzie). If ya wanna, just lemme know when!


    • admin

      That would be cool, but the last guy I would bring with me is Marck because he’d bogart all the fish ; ) I’ll file this away for next year- thanks!

  15. ruth

    I am a newbie and my mind is boggled at how many kinds and brands of waders there are..How do I know what I want and not what they try to sell me?

    • Admin

      There are many choices, for sure. And most of the brands make good waders. If you were to ask me for a recommendation, I’d say pick something from Orvis, Patagonia, Simms, Redington or Dan Bailey that fits your budget and needs. Breathable, stocking foot waders are very versatile. Make sure they allow for free movement with heavy under layers including wool socks. Then get some good boots to go with them.

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