Why I adhere to a strict Hip Waders only Policy: Temptation

by Rebecca on October 31, 2009

in Fly Fishing

The Trusted Hip Waders

~The Trusted Hip Waders~

Ask a thousand people how they want to die and 995 people will say, “peacefully in my sleep” as the preferred method of departure. From that predictable point the various ways one can bite the bullet are endless. Each individual harbors personal death preferences and for me, death by drowning is extremely low on my desired ways of walking toward the light.

When I first started fly fishing I wore the full blown chest waders because that’s what you do when you become a fly fisher-er-man-woman-whatever. Despite the fact a touch of girly came out in me and I thought those overall waders made my ass look like the state of Texas, I did love the river freedoms they afforded. I went from a dirt bank dweller to a water rat with no boundaries.

The problem, for me, or maybe I should label it for what it was—the temptation—with chest waders was the ability to wade out to that one spot. You know the one, that if you can just get to there you can roll cast back to the bank, around the hanging tree and to that one rising trout. I’m sure this is a me thing and others don’t suffer from such temptations. The sort of fishing weakness that leaves a good set of common sense guidelines back at the truck.  It didn’t take long to figure out I wasn’t Jesus and couldn’t actually defy water, command water, and I certainly couldn’t walk on water.

I discovered that unlike my Fly Fishing Mentor or other more stout guys around, weighing in at a buck 35 (that’s right, I wrote my weight, I’m also tall, but weight is the only measurements I’m parting with today) doesn’t exactly weigh me down like everyone else if there’s any sort of current. I’m sure there’s some physics involved here, a mathematical formula that would explain why Rebecca + River divided by Wade Depth x Current=Certain Death Swirl.

I had my fair share of ‘oh shit, I’m gonna die’  moments. It didn’t take that long to put two and two together to realize my personal red zone. The threshold between safety and danger Will Robinson !! was my hip area. I can wade all day long with water swooshing between my legs, but take those one or two temptation steps into a current that puts my hips under water and it’s like a freight train pushing against me and underwater arms pulling me out for a lets talk about dead meeting.

The breaking point was on the S.F. of the Boise River. A beautiful June afternoon when the river was still high ( I know! I know! No lectures nessassary, I swear, I learned my lesson) and the fish were rising all around me. Temptation was doing a good job of luring me into the red zone or maybe it wasn’t temptation that time. I think I’d rather blame the trout that was rising behind a rock and I couldn’t get a good drift into his honey hole. I blame the fish (written like a true addict, push blame) for those few extra steps that would have lined my fly up just right. Two extra steps, freight train pushing against my stomach and whooosh…..sucked out into the current and down the river.

Obviously I lived, but not without getting spit back out on the wrong side of the river, drenched, frozen, exhausted, stranded and hyperventilating like a fish tossed on the riverbank. Two hours. Two long ass hours I laid on the other side of the river sunning myself and pondering the meaning of life. Rescue came in the form of two Fly guys, one black lab and a drift boat. Mortification would be an understatement here, but I took the safe passage, quietly said my grateful Thank You and went home.

The next day I did what anyone who has a second chance at life should do. I admitted my weaknesses in the face of temptation, embraced my responsibility and made the step to remove the catalyst of my downfall. If you’re an alcoholic, you remove the booze, if you’re a smoker, you throw away the cigarettes, if you’re a gambler you stay away from casinos. I was consistantly guilty of  stepping one foot too far while wading, so I threw away the chest waders and purchased a set of hip waders. I call that restriction by choice removal.

Step 1)  
My name is Rebecca and I am weak,
full of temptations and a textbook 
addict in the face of Trout pursuit.

P.S. I have not participated in a single death swirl since my hip wader purchase. When I’m not wearing waders, I adhere to a strict 4 inches above the knee rule. Clearly I’m back in the ‘die peacefully in my sleep’ fold.


{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

MelNo Gravatar October 31, 2009 at 1:21 pm

Great post, Rebecca! I am short in stature so deep wading had always been a fear and an un-realistic option. I, too, took a tumble. (actually more than once) Our waters are sometimes unforgiving to even the strongest, most athletic of any of us. Good choice on waders and be safe my friend.


Kentucky JimNo Gravatar October 31, 2009 at 5:17 pm

Nice First step, Rebecca. I never took a tumble until I got my wading staff. I fish the Kern in the southern Sierra. It’s a dangerous river, and has killed a lot of people. When it’s up, I don’t go near it.

Now, second step would be?


JohnNo Gravatar October 31, 2009 at 6:49 pm

Thats a scary situation and I am sure it’s easily remembered everytime you step in, glad to see you made it out to tell about it. My grandad took a similar spill when I was a young boy and even to this date I remember him crawling out of that cement. I guess I am partial to full waders only for the layering in the cooler months. I found the best middle ground in my opinion to the hipper/full issue are the Simms headwaters pant, excellent for our conditions here being I mostly stream and creek fish and the water is marginal for the most part. Awsome post, I hope many read it and learn.

Ps.. Texas is a great state, God bless the Republic!..lmao :) ~


RebeccaNo Gravatar October 31, 2009 at 8:02 pm

Mel, John & Jim ~
Thank you for your words today. I’d like to think we’ve all taken a few spills and tumbles (comfort in numbers, i.e. I can’t be the only one!) and learned our lessons…the cold wet way.
Safe wading everyone and tight lines.


BAD FISHNo Gravatar November 1, 2009 at 2:10 pm

My girlfriend recently made the same decision, thankfully without falling in to prompt it… Oddly enough she no longer has a problem with me taking hero shots of her. With chest waders it was a different story. Hmmm, Very curious. Ohwell at least it gets her on the water more often and I don’t have to needlessly fret.


trout whispererNo Gravatar November 2, 2009 at 7:17 am

at your age……you stick with hip boots….if you live long enough you’ll come back to to the big peoples waders….two nice things about going down river in chest waders is first, the amount of air they trap and bob me back to the surface…2ndly they have more padding for bouncing off rocks…..you crack me up……take care of your wet socks……and if you ever come to terms with your fishing identity(fisherman, fisherwoman, or woman who fishes) drop me a line……you made my monday sister..if i stop laughing i may go back to work….tw


Kristine ShreveNo Gravatar November 2, 2009 at 10:06 am

What good advice. Too many people who participate in outdoor pursuits have died because they weren’t quite careful enough. I’m glad you’ve had the sense to realize your temptation and have acted accordingly.


The Hunter's WifeNo Gravatar November 2, 2009 at 10:23 am

And that right there would have scared me right out of the water for good. Thankfully you were safe.


RobNo Gravatar November 4, 2009 at 11:15 am


When i was 14, my dad and i were snag salmon fishing on the St Lawrence River in upstate NY. It was my first time out with new waders. i ended up having to be dragged out by my dad when i mistepped and slid on the rocks. Let me just tell you, it was damn near impossible to get back up….


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