It wasn’t all that long ago that I had absolutely no clue what I was doing. I still don’t really know what I’m doing, on a broad scale, but as far as fishing goes I’m figuring a few things out.
I used to be the guy fishing in camo neoprene waders and slaying fish anyways. Not that waders have much to do with it. Eventually we figured out that I liked fly fishing more than duck hunting so we picked up some Cableas breathable waders and lug sole wading boots in preparation for a late summer trip to the driftless area. Even southern Minnesota is too hot for insulated waders.
That was three or four years ago. A lot has changed between now and then. We’ve got a new president, five new iphones have come out, and the Cubs won the world series. One thing hasn’t changed: those cheap wading boots. It’s incredible how long something can last when the design is to simple to truly screw up.
For the past three and a half years those boots carried me across the country. Starting with the Driftless Area, and the local Ozark classics. From there they stumbled around in the Appalachians and walked Colorado’s famous Frying Pan and Roaring Fork River. Eventually finding their way to dozens of streams, rivers, and lakes in Utah. They’ve seen a couple trips to the salt and eight different states.
Recently the use and abuse caught up with them. In early March, when they were getting used everyday, they began to fall a part. Before they completely disintegrated I used some fifty pound mono to sew them back together. They held up for another four months until eventually a little piece of plastic in the sole wore its way up through not just the boot but a new pair of waders. At that point I had to bench them. The leather exterior had nearly completely flaked off anyway, but as far as I could tell the fabric mesh would have lasted at least another month.
In a sense I’m proud of those beat up boots. They are the most visible representation of my hard work that I have. Anyone who looks at those boots knows why they look they way they do, and it's not for a lack of use. Like a beat up old truck. The door ding on your rear panel from some idiot at Walmart isn’t nearly as cool as a softball size dent in the tailgate from a poorly placed tree on some mountain road. Of course it might cost more. But, wasn’t it worth more?
When people see me pull out and put on those boots they think I either know what I’m doing or at the very least I fish enough to get lucky every now and then. I’m fine with either; they both sound great.