This article was published under the heading “Feet on the Ground” by Fly Fishing and Fly Tying monthly, August 2020.

I remember seeing an advert for a pair of wading boots one time. It was in a magazine, this one maybe, a few years ago. The details have receded a little into the mist but I remember clearly enough that the advert featured a picture of a particular brand of boots worn by some guy who happened to find himself in some kind of social setting, maybe a cocktail bar or somewhere similar. You couldn´t see who was wearing the boots because the picture spanned only the distance between knee-level and the floor. The guy wearing the boots was not alone in the photo. Just in front of him and facing towards him was a pair of slender and shapely legs supported on elegant stiletto heels. 

If we are to ignore the possibility that wader boot man was chatting to his cross-dressing fishing buddy, there is an even more ludicrous idea the advertisers were trying to get us to swallow: the idea that wearing the correct brand of wading boots makes you a big hit with attractive women! The subliminal message is that stiletto woman is beguiled by wading boot man and enthralled by mesmerising tales of his exploits on the river. We are encouraged to imagine that this woman, breathless, is being seduced by his talk of fly hatches and of fish weaving in the current or rising to sip flies from the surface or of mysterious distant rivers flooding or clearing. And then, when she gets to hearing about the trout and grayling he has been catching, it is all she can do to manage to prevent herself from collapsing in excitement! “Who is this mysterious fisherman?” she asks herself, as she feels her heart racing uncontrollably. He really is like no other man she has ever met…… 

And those boots!

I´ll tell you something. When I saw this advert I laughed so much I nearly fell off my chair. I might even have wet myself although I’m not sure anymore because, like I said, this all happened some years back and the details are fuzzy. But I do remember being fully aware back then then, as I’m sure you are now, that women are not in the market for any of this kind of fishing baloney, however hard we might try to peddle it. 

Does that scene of having an attractive woman cozying up to you as you down a pint or two in after a day on the river ring true to you? Of course not! We might delude ourselves into imagining we have some kind of innate charisma. We might all imagine ourselves to be Paul MacLean, the character played by Brad Pitt in “A River Runs Through It” but women are too smart to be duped so easily. You should never underestimate women. They are a hell of a lot smarter than all those thick fish we struggle to catch and you know how hard we have to work to out-think them!

No. Don´t let these advertising folk fill you with false hopes. Wading boots are there to keep you attached to the river bottom and prevent you ending up on your arse, or from being swept down the river and eventually out to sea. You might get a few seasons out of a decent pair. If they are tough enough, spiky thorns or barbed wire fences or craggy rocks won´t trouble you. If they are flexible and lightweight they will keep blisters at bay and allow you to squelch your way over mud and grass happily for hours at a time. And if they dry fast they will shed weight quickly and maybe be a little more resistant to rotting.

But if you think wading boots are going to turn you into a babe magnet, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Fish break your heart often enough so don´t get your hopes up. There is only so much emotional trauma that we can be expected to withstand. Surely the fact that you contrive to spend every waking hour on the riverbank is proof enough that women have absolutely no interest in you. But don´t beat yourself up about it. It is the same for all of us. Women are sophisticated creatures. It’s just the way they are made. They sense intuitively that fly fishermen are complete no-hopers and give them a wide berth, as I´m sure you will have noticed. So do yourself a favour and face up to reality. These boots were made for walking. Don´t let those advertising people tell you any different.

The FFFT illustration that was added to the article. Hats off to the artist who does a fine job in watercolours.
For shallow wading in the Guadalhorce I select one of the rather high-end fashion items shown above. You may have seen similar footwear in major fashion shows in Paris or Milan. In order to protect myself from unwanted advances by women when wearing these things I make sure that I remain out of view of women at all times. Happily, on the Guadalhorce this is quite an easy outcome to achieve.
For deeper water other options may need to be considered!