Review - Inspect a Wexford
If you want to look good on the river bank, Gary Cullum suggests you take a good look at the Wexford leather boots from Dubarry of Ireland.
It’s the first time the world-renowned manufacturer has launched a boot especially for men. And the Wexford is multi-functional - providing a swanky look in the country, and a hard-wearing and robust response as a work-horse.
Dubarry says it is suitable for all outdoor pursuits including gardening (well that’s not for me), walking ( wot, exercise?) and, yes, fishing - ah, now that’s better. And which of course is why I bought mine. They aren’t cheap at £325, but they will provide a lifetime of loyal and robust service.
I’ve had mine a while ( indeed they cost around £75 less at RRP when I acquired mine), and I have had excellent use from them, enough to claim that they are now tried and thoroughly field-tested. And they still look like new with a minimum of after use care. They would have really looked the part for a day on the halcyon waters of the River Test had I opted for bank work rather than chesties on my last visit.
But actually I lie, the Dubarry’s that day, albeit it not Wexfords, did look good - a small group of like-minded friends and fishers gathered by the Grosvenor Hotel in Stockbridge on the Wiltshire/Hampshire borders to share a beer on the way to the hallowed trout stream - and we fished the following day just below Stockbridge on the equally wonderful Bossington Beats.
What did look good were the Dubarry boots worn that late summer’s day by Bertie, whose guests a number of us were. Thanks Bertie. Did the boots help him catch more fish? Probably not, but they kept his feet 100 per cent dry and cool (thanks to the Goretex breathable lining), even when ‘wading’ on the gravel shallows at the top end of the fishery by the summer house.
It was a wonderful day, the sinews of my little two piece 8ft five weight Barder cane straining (but not overstraining) to a good bag of wonderfully conditioned brownies - I had four in total, the best just over four pounds, and all taken on the dry fly, and all of which were returned to provide sport for other anglers. And I had a fine brace of rainbows, the biggest a cracking fish of five and three-quarter pounds that ran me a merry dance on an Edward Barder tied Daddy Long Legs, several of which the master rod builder kindly gave me in advance of the visit.
Indeed it was a killing pattern - as was also predicted by the knowledgeable assistant in Robjents, the Stockbridge shop that has a gorgeous traditional feel to it, unlike the branded Orvis shop across the road. If you share my traditional values you will know what I mean.
But I digress. That was the day I saw my first pair of Dubarry Boots. I knew the name of course, but not the quality of workmanship. Bertie’s old pair were battered and bruised, and showing the scars of almost two decades of hunting and fishing, and keeping up with his fine brace of labby gun dogs in the Cheshire hillside.
He swore by them. I swore I’d get a pair. And as luck and co-incidence would have it when I searched the web for stockists upon my return from the chalk stream of all chalk streams, Dubarry had just that week launched the Wexford - the first boot specifically for men.
It is a knee high boot, with full length outside zips, hand-crafted from water resistant Dry-Fast-Dry Soft (that’s a trademark I guess) breathable leathers. With a push button strap fastener at the top of the zip to hold it in place when closed, the Wexford is both sturdy and practical, even in deep mud.
I haven’t been in deep mud in mine (yet), but I have been calf deep in silty margins and almost up to the knee in the Rivers Gade, Bulbourne, Lea and my local clubwater gravel pits.
As an aside, and at the risk of sounding like Ronnie Corbett in his armchair or the great Billy Connolly, two chalk and cheese characters who have the knack of going off at tangents in front of a live audience and returning to the exact spot they left twenty minutes later I must tell you this. It’s something I have not personally witnessed but I am told that the Dubarry salesmen at the CLA Game Fair and other country shows, strut their stuff all day long in up-market ‘paddling pools’ to convince even the most sceptical among us that these boots are made for walking. And getting wet. They are 100 per cent waterproof. And 100 per cent dry.
I say dry and I mean that, and not just because of the conditions on the outside of the leather. My trusty Hunter wellies are superb, handcrafted and leather lined, and admittedly they cost £100 less. But on a full day roving the river banks, the feet do sweat a little, leaving them (and my socks) a trifle damp - and that makes for cold feet in near zero temperatures, the sort of weather we used to have before the daffodils were in full bloom at the back end of January!
And, as I found, when I walked several miles with Bertie on the Bossington Beats (the sweat that is, not the daffodils for it was late summer). But not so with my Wexfords which feature an insulated Goretex lining that wicks away moisture from the foot ensuring I remain dry and comfortable whatever the weather conditions. It even makes them rather cool....in more ways than one, on warm days as well as cold!
And one of the features of the Wexford is Dubarry’s new hard-wearing, durable rubber outsole providing maximum grip, especially on a muddy and somewhat slippery bank.
And grip is something my old DAM felt-soled neoprene waders don’t give me - just ask all my friends and business acquaintances who have had to provide me with their mobile telephone numbers yet again. What’s he on about now, I hear you ask?
Well, while chubbing on a flooded Upper Great Ouse with fishing partner Barbel Dave ‘North of Bedford’ (don’t you just hate that phrase?) last autumn, I slipped on the bank while wearing those dam (and DAM) waders. I was on the phone to a printer at the time, the one business call I had to make before enjoying my day away from the office.
Whoa...over I went and, it seemed at the time in slow motion, up went my phone, spinning high and dropping, just out of my reach, into six feet of marginal spate water. Boy did I know what it it must feel like as a women to lose your hangbag. My life was in that phone. But again I digress, something I’m prone to do in my easily distracted middle years.
Another Wexford waterproof feature is that behind the full length zip is a concealed leather bellow within the side of the boot, offering adjustable leg width and affording maximum foot entry. Now that’s important and I know you’ll sympathise here. It enables me, the end of day weary angler, to remove my boots withy ease. How many times have you struggled in the car park at the end of a long day, perching on the edge of the car, to remove your boots, wellies or waders. Through fatigue, and a tight fit.
Not only is the Wexford bellow a great idea, but that expanded gusset, for that’s what it is, provides extra leg room when wearing thermals, trousers and extra thick full knee length socks without restricting movement in the calf.
I know I’ll never need another pair of these knee length boots, unless health remains fully on my side and I am still casting a fly or trotting a stick or Avon float when I am well past 75
The Dubarry Wexford, £325 rrp, is available in sizes 7-12 including half sizes (and that’s great for a bloke like me who takes an eight. I don’t need to shuffle about in a nine, even with thick socks when an eight and a half is perfect).