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If you wear anything to keep waterproof, be it waders or a dry suit, and you spend any time fishing, chances are at some point there will be a hole that will make for a miserable discovery. Breathable dry gear is expensive–a couple hundred bucks each for waders and dry tops, and much more for dry suits. Fortunately holes and small tears are easily repaired, and can bring new life to something you might otherwise shove aside and replace.
Most of what is needed to fix up your old waders
My gear had some hard abuse over the last few years. It’s now at the point that whatever I wear, be it my dry suit, waders or dry pants, I end up with wet feet. It was time to get my suit patched up and ready for some cold winter fishing action.
Chances are, you have almost everything needed to repair your waders or dry suit. The most important thing you will need to pick up is Aquaseal. Aquaseal is available at most outdoor stores, and certainly any kayak shop. This is what will be filling in small pinholes in the suit, or adhering patches over larger holes. Aquaseal sells in a small tube for a few bucks, and there is enough for many repairs. Between my dry suit, dry pants, dry top and waders, I haven’t even used half a tube. Aquaseal is also used for rubber gasket replacement, should that become necessary.
Aquaseal is the only thing you will probably have to go out and buy.
Other things you will need is a light source. Flashlights work great, but I couldn’t find the one right in front of my face until I was done. Small fluorescent fixtures are good too, but are cumbersome. Don’t use halogen or incandescent lights which will get hot and cause even more problems for you. You’ll also need marker to keep track of holes you find, and if you know you have tears and holes over 1/4″ long, you’ll need some patch material (eVent, GoreTex, etc). Dry suits usually come with a small patch, but check your local kayak shop if you don’t have anything suitable.
That light would be a tell-tale sign of a hole in my dry suit.
Starting off, you need clean gear. Check out the article from last spring to see how to clean your breathable fabrics properly. With everything clean and dry, turn your suit inside out. Reaching into arms and legs, scan around with the flashlight. Holes will begin shining through, if they are there, and use the marker to circle these areas.
Here are couple very small pinholes that probably came from errant hooks or rockfish spines
Depending on what you found when running the light through the suit will dictate where to go from here. I had a couple holes that were patch worthy, though small. Patches are best made round, so there are no sharp corners that can promote snagging. I chose to use a quarter to shape my patching, but you might need something larger. Patches should extend about 1/2″ around holes and tears. Using the quarter as a guide, I traced cirgles around the holes in the suit I was patching and another circle in the patch material can cut it out. If you have a large tear to patch, you might need something like a fishing line spool, or bigger, to make sure you cover the whole area.
Right-side out, I’ve taped up the hole so the Aquaseal won’t leak through.
Now, turn the suit right-side out. We need to tape the outside of the suit. If you have a hole, the tape will keep the Aquaseal from leeching through and gluing the other side of the suit. If you have a tear, make sure the tape is holding the suit together as closely as possible. Painters tape is the best option for this, as the tape will not stick to the suit. It will remove cleanly and easily when the time comes. With things taped up, we can turn the suit inside out again.
Here I’ve got the area I am going to patch traced out and my patches cut.
It’s time to clean, yet again, all the spots that require repair. This time all we need is some rubbing alcohol. A rag or cotton ball will be fine. If there was anything left behind from the earlier wash, the alcohol will help take care of it. The alcohol also will not affect the Aquaseal. Lay the patch out on a piece of cardboard and spread a thin layer of Aquaseal over the whole patch. One the suit, apply more Aquaseal over the area that the patch is going to cover. Make sure that the whole area is covered with Aquaseal and even a little bit beyond the area you marked. This will help bond the edges of the patch. Once the glue is on both pieces, line up your patch and press it into place. When in place, cover it with a piece of wax paper and then use a large book or other heavy object to help press it into place. Leave it like this at least over night. Twelve hours is ideal.
Patch glued into place. I got so into gluing the inside of the suit, the patch is backwards. It’ll still work.
In the morning, remove the book and wax paper, turn the suit right-side out, remove the tape and inspect the patch job. Chances are your suit is good to go fishing. If at all possible, though, try to give the Aquaseal another twelve hours to finish curing.
Big books for weight.
If you have smaller pinholes that don’t require patching, or if you needed to clean up the outside of your patch job, all you need is the Aquaseal and a small disposable paint brush. As with the patch job, we need to clean the area with alcohol before proceeding. Once clean, brush on the Aquaseal over the area, and extending beyond any pinholes and abrasions. This time, since nothing is being glued, just keep the area flat and allow to dry overnight. Aquaseal dries clear and is abrasion resistant, so it can be used on the outside of your waders as well. This helps make sure you have created a good waterproof barrier to keep you dry once again.
Tiny pinholes or areas that just looked thin through the light can just be coated with Aquaseal with no patching needed.
Repairing your waders and other dry gear is not hard work, though it can be time consuming. But, in the end, I think it is well worth doing. It will keep your dryer, warmer and safer when on the water doing some fishing.
Tags: Gear · Safety
Continuing on with Steelhead fly tying with flies inspired by John P. Newbury’s Time Machine Fly Box, I bring on the Signal Light.
The Signal Light is one of a group of flies that were named after features of or around the Deschutes River and tied by Randall Kaufmann. It is also one of the few in the series that would “normally” have a marabou wing. That doesn’t mean that you can’t have a hairwing Signal Light though. Like all of these flies, they are open to interpretation and some meddling. The important points of the Signal Light is that have a body made of 1/4 Red, 1/4 Green and 1/4 Black, from butt to collar. You can use dubbing, floss, chenille, yarn or whatever else you have to come up with the colors. Here are a few of the Signal Lights that I put together.
This Signal Light has a red and chartreuse butt section, followed by a body of black UV Ice Dub. The collar is purple schlappen and black deer hair wing. I’d consider this one a bit more for summer-time as it should ride very shallow in the water.
To contrast, this Signal Light would be more for winter use. The butt section is orange UV Ice Dub and a green chenille. Again the body is black UV Ice dub. This thicker body hides a few wraps of .020 lead-free wire for a little bit extra weight. The collar is purple schlappen and the wing of deer hair over a few strands of copper Krystal Flash. If I were to do this again, I’d make it with a marabou wing instead.
To really mix things up, here’s an Intruder style fly, inspired by the Signal Light. There are a lot of materials in these, but from front to back: orange UV Ice Dub, red Saddle Hackle, chartreuse Saddle Hackle, black UV Ice Dub, orange UV Ice Dub, red Saddle Hackle, chartreuse Saddle Hackle, black Marabou, purple Marabou, purple Holoflash. The hook point will be removed and a trailer hook slipped on the loop of Tufline in the rear.
Very often there will be a tail coming off the flies, and I would have used purple hackle fibers or even purple Fluoro Fiber. Why I didn’t manage to tie any up with tails, I’m not sure. When I buy more hooks and tie up more, I’ll make sure to include tails.
November 20th, 2013 · 2 Comments
The Purple Peril is another steelhead staple and was originally designed by Ken McLeod. I’d go out on a limb and say that it’s probably at it’s best in early fall, but it’s worth swinging the Purple Peril any time of the year. I didn’t tie up a single traditional variation of the Purple Peril, but one is at last fairly close. The fly usually sports a purple hackle fiber tail, purple wool yard body with silver tinsle, purple saddle collar, and a natural squirrel tail wing.
This is fairly close to the original. I have a bit of natural squirrel tail, but, for some reason, went with a natural bucktail wing. I used purple Fluoro Fiber for the tail and purple UV Ice Dub for the body. At the collar I tied in a few purple Sili Legs under the purple schlappen collar.
Trying something completely different, I kept with the Fluoro Fiber tail and switched up the body with several strands of purple flashabou. The first collar is made up of purple crosscut rabbit and purple schlappen. The wing is black bucktail.
Again, more variations of the a common theme. I’m pretty fond of both and can’t wait to swing them.
Continuing on with flies inspired by John P Newbury’s Time Machine Fly Box, here’s the Brad’s Brat. Now, I just love the name of this fly alone. I’m not sure what I like to say more – Green Butt Skunk or Brad’s Brat. I suppose I like the way Brad’s Brat just rolls so well, while I like the looks none steelhead anglers give me when I say Green Butt Skunk.
Anyways. The Brad’s Brat is another year-round PacNW Steelhead favorite. Swing it. Any time. It’s another that also has more variations rivers it’s been fished on. From what I understand, the original has a yellow yarn butt section, followed by a red yard forward body section. Over the years, that yellow butt section has turned orange, but the fly remains very productive. Materials vary, of course, and I don’t reckon many tie the original wool yarn patterns much anymore (and I’m sure I’m wrong, I just don’t see it). The wing and tail are also made of two colors, White and Orange. I’ve seen plenty of variation here too–some say the white is on top in the tail, and under on the wing. Others say the opposite. What I do know, is that the fly has been around since 1937, and was created by Eli Bradner for the Stillaguamish River in Washington. It has seen, I’m sure, every other river in the PacNW in the last 75+ years.
Here’s are a few of my Brad’s Brat Examples:
This is what I’d consider a fairly traditional variation of the Brad’s Brat. While I don’t have yarns to work with. I did use tightly dubbed yellow butt section, followed by a red peacock hurl forward section. The tail is a bit different with just red saddle hackle barbs. Yellow hen makes up the collar under the white and orange bucktail wing.
Again, I’d call this a traditional style variation. Yellow and Orange hackles provide the tail, orange floss for the butt, followed by red floss for the body. Orange saddle hackle came again in the collar under the with and orange bucktail wing.
This one I’m not even sure about. Yes, it has the yellow butt section again, then there’s the big red hackle tips hanging behind it. The body section is red floss again, but this time with a red saddle palmered (poorly) over that. Brown hen was then over wrapped as a collar, and the bucktail wing remains the same.
This, I think, is one of the coolest Brad’s Brats. At least it’s the coolest of what I’ve tied. Yellow and orange saddle hackle barbs for the tail section. The butt is UV Ice Dub, in Orange. The red body section is Red UV Polar Chenille, which mimics a good soft hackle. The collar is mallard flank and it’s topped, again, with the same white and orange bucktail wing. I tossed in a couple pieces of Pearl Krystal Flash into the wing too.
Finally, this is something different. Red is a color I don’t pick out for a lot of materials. What you’ve seen in the previous pics is representative of all the red-colored material that I have on hand. Except for red beads, which came in for this final Brads Brat. The tail is back to red saddle hackle barbs. The butt is, again, Orange UV Ice Dub. The body is made up of five glass beads. Under those glass beads is a layer of silver holographic flashabou to help lend some brightness. The collar is red saddle hackle, while the wing is made up of a pair of White and Blaze Orange Marabou feathers. All in all, I like where this variation is going, and when I get around to picking up more material, I’ll be playing with it some more.
I haven’t been fishing near as much as I’d like. It’s not lost though. When I haven’t been fishing, I have been tying flies. I’m hopeful I’ll be spending much of winter on the Sandy, floating on the kayak, stopping to put the spey rod together and throwing around big giant intruders and whatnot.
The fly tying I’ve been doing, however, hasn’t been big winter steelhead flies. Instead I’ve been inspired by John P. Newbury’s “Time Machine Fly Box” project over at www.flyfishnw.com. He started with a list of 12 essential classic steelhead flies and I decided to do the same. Now, John is an experienced and talented fly tier. My flies will look nothing like his. He is pretty awesome, and I definitely suggest opening his website in a new tab if you haven’t already. Even if you don’t fly fish, you will be amazed by why he does. I’ve only been doing this a little bit. I also have the unemployed-stay-at-home-dad income to deal with, so I’ve been using materials on hand, and running out of plenty of things as I go.
Anyways. I figure I’ll start highlighting some of these as I go.
I’m going to start off with my favorite: The Green Butt Skunk. This fly is extremely popular, year round. It catches fish. The Green Butt Skunk was originated by Dan Callahan on the North Umpqua River, and has gone on to win over every other river in the PacNW. It even made mention on the 90s TV show Twin Peaks.
This is a fairly traditional variation of the Green Butt Skunk. It has a red hackle tail, green chenille butt, black UV ice dub body, black saddle and mallard flank collar, and finished with a white bucktail wing. Somehow I managed to forget the ribbing on my wet Skunks.
This is much like the previous version, but probably better suited for winter use. The only differences is the absence of the mallard collar and I went with a white rabbit strip wing. I think it looks great.
I like the pattern so much, I even tied up a couple good skating flies for next summer
The first variation was the Green Butt Skuddler. It combines the Green Butt Skunk with a Muddler Minnow style head. It has a tinsel tag, red hackle tail, green floss butt, black UV dubbed body, black saddle collar, grizzly hackle tip wings, and black muddler-style deer hair head. I think it’ll be killer.
This wake-style fly should really wake up some steelhead when skating. I used a black deer hair tail, green floss butt, black floss body with ribbing, then a spot of red deer hair followed by a head of black deer hair. I’m really excited to give this a go after the spring thaw.