Zen and the art of wader maintenance

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Ybsong, Nov 25, 2012.

  1. I've never spent much on my gear. I like to use the excuse that I want my skill to catch fish not my gear. But the reality is that I'm just a cheap bastard. I've been an avid (which translates to going out once or twice a week) fly fisherman, and in the past four years, I'm on my second pair of waders. In both cases, I got the $120 pair, which usually ends up being about the second cheapest pair of waders on the rack. And in both cases, they worked great for about a year, but slowly but surely, moisture starts finding its way in through the boots and seams. So I go through a regular process of finding weak spots and using Aquaseal liberally. It's not a horrible process, but I certainly would rather use that time to fish or tie, than fix my waders. I fish a lot of salt and am meticulous about rinsing afterwards.

    So my question for those who have gone through the gambit of wader levels, and are now using the high end versions: How often are you fixing your waders after a year or two of rigorous use? For me, buying the $400 waders would only be worth it if they ended up bullet proof for 4+ years (meaning not having to patch seams and weak spots during that time). Otherwise, I could just buy a new pair of the cheap ones every year (or two). There's no question the high end waders use better materials and have more layers. You can feel the quality just picking them up. But my question is, what are they like after four years?

    Of course the other strategy would be go mid-level and get a pair in the $200-$250 range. Which typically translates to the top end of the lesser brands. Or the entry level of the high end labels. Any recommendations between these two options?

    For the high end waders, I'm considering the Redington Sonic Pros, which cost about $375. Any opinions on those, or other waders in that price range would be appreciated.

    Thanks, ybs
  2. Over the years I've purchased a number of waders. Bush whacking through blackberry bushes to reach steelhead streams takes its toll.

    I've only been marginally successful when it comes to fixing leaks and sooner or later, the seams start to leak.

    I once had a pair of high end waders (Simms) but had a problem and did not like their service.

    Nowadays, I figure that the waders are going to eventually leak so I may as well buy the less expensive Cabela's and replace them when they start leaking. I can buy many pairs of the Cabela's waders for the price of one pair of upper end waders.

    Ultimately, I've ended up with Bailey's but hardly ever fish a river these days and stick primarily to stillwaters so the bush whacking is no longer a concern.

    So you can either pay a lot for one pair and hope the company repairs them at a reasonable price each time they leak or you can pay for multiple pairs of the less expensive waders and toss them when they ultimately start leaking.

    Ed Call likes this.
  3. I average around 6-10 weeks of heavy use before seams leak. Brand and price point are irrelevant. Talking breathables...Being in Canada means we are paying considerably more here for the same product..and back and forth shipping for warranty service. So you get good at finding and dealing with leaks. Having said that Simms G4 Pros are tough to beat..even if they leak almost as fast as the others, but overall do tend to last quite a while before they completely wear out.
  4. Not sure if my response qualifies cuz I've never bought high end waders, except maybe the current set of Redington Sonic Pros sent to me as a replacement for the previous not-so-high-end version that leaked out of the box. I've gone through two sets of D Baileys and would buy them again. Unfortunately I don't fish twice a week, so my waders would be lucky to get 50 days a year and generally less. I've got a set of Patagonia that was in the que ahead of the Redingtons, but I couldn't wait to try the zip fronts.

    As for maintenance, I don't maintain waders. I use them. When they get a leak, and they do, I patch them with Aquaseal. When the inside surface of the legs is more Aquaseal than untreated fabric, I figure they've had their day, and I retire them.

    Brady Burmeister and Ed Call like this.
  5. Sounds like the consensus thus far is waders are going to reach leaky stage at a similar rate. High end waders might buy a little more time, but that extra time is likely not worth the extra cost. Or in other words, cost goes up exponentially, whereas waterproof-ness does not. That was the nature of my question, and I'm glad my cheapness has some empirical justification.
  6. Like anything else, you get what you pay for. I bought a pair of Orvis Guide model waders a few years ago, I thought $279 was ridiculous. They actually lasted about 4 years, but I was a business owner, I did not get a lot of opportunity to fish. Maybe once a month. I since sold the business, moved to eastern WA and became an employee, and it's all good. I still work a lot, but do have lots more time for fishing. Yes, finally! I stepped up and replaced the Orvis waders with Simms G3s. Hmmm... two years and they start to leak. Not much, but there was a very small leak in one leg. I never did any maintenance on them other than just hanging them in the garage to dry. So, I washed the waders, let them dry and then did the isopropyl leak check as directed by the Simms website. Worked like a champ. I sealed the leaks with Aqua Seal and then treated them with Revivex. They are now leak free. Then, a good deal arose on this website from a great guy back east (thanks Sam) on a once worn set of G4s. So I now have primary and back up waders. I should be set for awhile... But, I have learned that periodic maintenance does pay and will prolong the life of the waders. Just like anything else, the better you take care of something, the longer it will last.
  7. There are two kinds of waders. Those that leak, and those that will leak. I fish far too little. The less expensive options did not hold up well for me. Constant patching was the norm. I got a nice pair of Orvis waders and enjoyed two full years of fishing before a leak, then another year with a few patches. When they were done I for some Simms and liked their durability as well or more.
  8. Why not buy the Orvis waders for $259? It is their technology that Redington uses. Silver Sonic link.
  9. This is too good to pass up!
    First, I'll throw out the disclaimer. Having switched from "the" hi end waders to Bailey's years ago, I feel DB has a superior product. So OK, I'm a little biased in that respect. Whatever you get, go stitch-less. Orvis & Redington, as well as DB now offer welded seam waders. Now for the kicker. Cut the booties off your old worn out hi end waders, slit the legs up the back and convert them into chaps. This will protect your new waders while bushwhacking through the blackberries. A fitting end, I think, for the worn out, "hi end" waders :D
  10. I'm another vote for cheap/patch/replace. Let me tell you that when a 300+ lb man goes ass over tea kettle while stadling a barbed wire fence...no wader is going to survive :)

    I was able to patch a complete crotch blowout (see above) with old sinking line ("thread"), needle and healthy dose of aquaseal. Maybe the sonics wont leak, but im betting against that.
    GAT likes this.
  11. As far as waders, and durability go... the best waders I have found for the money are the Cabelas Premium dry Plus Guide Pants. Which I have recently discovered, are no longer available. I have been a guide in Colorado for the past 6 years, been fly fishing for over 20, and lived within 10 -15 minutes of some of the best fishing in the state. On average, I put in 160 + days on the water each year. These waders have always lasted me at least four years of HARD use, and good maintenance, befor the pin holes started appearing. multiple layers of construction, and a roomier fit were the key in my opinion. The roomier fit made for much easier movement, and sitting. How many times have you seen guys struggling to sit down because their waders are too small, and too tight? That is the biggest issue when it comes to durability in my opinion. the seams start wearing, and leaking before anything. I have suggested this to clients, and friends over the years, and they all agreed after finding a better fit, that the waders, no matter what brand, held up longer. Research the product, and quit trying to wear skinny jeans when your body isn't meant for them. Find the right fit, and right brand for you.
    David Dalan and Gary Knowels like this.
  12. Another Vote for Dan Baileys. Going on 5 years and no leaks.
  13. I know I need to get out a lot more but I'm starting my 5th season on the chest high version. Maybe that's why Cabela's discontinued that line :rolleyes: ? In the 2nd season I lost 55 lbs and two chest and pant sizes, but they weren't leaking so I didn't replace them and I get what Mitchell is saying about a roomy fit. I bushwhack quite a bit fishing small streams and was always careful getting into Devil's Club, and now carry a good pair of garden shears. I have been thinking of upgrading to an 11" - 14" Goluk. I also wear knee pads on the outside of my waders making it comfortable to kneel on the bank or in the stream to reduce my silhouette while providing protection and I am also quick to unstow my Black Diamond Trail Pole wading staff on tricky ground to maintain a secure footing.

    Sent from my Droid RAZR Maxx using Tapatalk 2
  14. How the hell anyone could type all of that on a cell phone, blows me away.

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