Waders that help you catch fish!

How would you like a pair of clever waders? Boots that can tell you exactly the best spot in the river in which to wet a line?

That’s just what one Dutch scientist has come up with, waders that measure the water temperature to give a real time picture of where’s best to fish.

Here we take a look at how these waders ever came to be, and whether they’ll actually benefit you…

The science

Close up of a river underwater pebbles

Image source: Igor Kolos
Water exchange in rivers is a complex subject.

The researcher is interested in hyporheic exchange – the study of water exchange in rivers. It used to be thought that groundwater entered rivers gradually along their length.

But now scientists have realised that instead, there are specific spots where upwellings of groundwater pass into the stream, and places where river water seeps into the ground.

Why fishermen?

Depth of field fly fisherman  with focused fly in river

Image source: Annette Shaff
So where do fisherman enter the equation?

But they needed to capture more information, and that’s where anglers come in. After talking to a fly fisherman friend, the scientist realised that here was a potential goldmine of information. Who better to collect water temperature data than people who spend all day wading about in the river? Fly fishing enthusiasts.

So the scientist fitted a temperature sensor to the heel of a pair of waders. The sensor relays information to a smartphone in a dry pocket. In turn the phone streams the information to the cloud, from where scientists back at the lab can analyse it.

Because groundwater is usually a lot colder than the surrounding river water, a wading angler can help detect cool groundwater upwellings, helping scientists build a water exchange map of a river.

The information is invaluable to scientists, helping them to understand how river systems work, and it’s gold for fishermen too. Some species love cold water swims, while others prefer a slightly warmer temperature – a real win win situation.

A win win situation

Man fly fishing in iceland

Image source: J. Helgason
Good news for scientists and fishermen alike.

By getting anglers to wear the smart waders, scientists hope to profile many more stretches of river they wouldn’t otherwise have the time or money to investigate. In return, anglers will be collecting valuable angling information they can store and share.

In time, scientists hope to fit other sensors to the boots in order to capture even more useful info. Data on river salinity, and nitrogen and dissolved carbon levels could all be gathered by anglers wearing smart waders.

The information captured would provide scientists with a wealth of accurate data about the health of rivers and would also act as a real time pollution alert.

Sounds good! When can I buy them?

The waders are still at the early prototype stage so you can’t buy them in the shops yet. But if this Dutch scientist has anything to do with it, we’ll all be wearing smart waders soon.

The only  “fly” in the ointment for us it that we wonder how sporting it is to know exactly where the fish are hiding. Fly fishing is after all an art, not a science.