These aren't your grandpa's fishing boots. Not by a long-shot. For decades, the technology of keeping your legs dry didn't change much. Waders were heavy and cumbersome, plus they smelled like the inside of a radial tire and got worse after a long day.
The folks at Simms have changed all that, leading the industry from a factory in Bozeman, Montana, the only place in America that still makes waders.
Comparing Simms' newest waders to grandpa's rubber pants is like comparing a scuba tank to diving with a garden hose in your mouth: They both carry air, but the scuba tank opens up a lot more possibilities.
Crawl into a pair of Simms' top-of-the-line waders and you can kick up your heels. You could probably dance. Big pockets mean you don't need to wear a vest. There's a retractable cord to hold your forceps, the suspenders can't twist and you'll even find a brace of lined pockets where you can warm your chilly fingers. With five layers of breathable Gore-Tex you'll stay dry even if you have to scramble through the brambles (though you still should avoid the prickly pear). And since they have a waterproof zipper, a man can even answer nature's call without removing half his clothing, no small improvement if you're fishing in ugly weather. "The best part is you don't have to get undressed any more to take a leak," noted a reviewer from the online fishing forum troutpredator.com. Then, in the video, he turned his back and showed how it's done.
Still, even with all those improvements, the price tag can be daunting: up to $700. Add a pair of top-shelf wading boots and the damages to your debit card will approach $1,000. But some serious anglers and guides say it's money well spent.
"You get your money's worth in one outing," Oregon guide Brian Marz said of Simms waders.
Andrew Puls, a guide at Sweetwater Fly Shop in Livingston, has owned a pair—the $500 model—for two and a half years. He said he's sold on them.
"I have yet to patch a leak in them," Puls said. "They're pretty much bulletproof. They keep you dry, take heavy abuse and are very comfortable."
Puls spends about 100 days a year in his waders and doesn't baby them.
"I'm hell on my gear," he said. "I buy it to use."
Simms leads the industry, especially with the top-end gear designed for use in all sorts of conditions. One corporate goal is to expand the fishing season, to make it possible to stay comfortable and dry when somebody in lesser gear has called it a day.
Waders alone won't accomplish that, so the company also offers a long list of gear, from Gore-Tex hats to layer-able fleece garments. If you're aiming for bonefish instead of trout, Simms will clad you in shirts, pants and even arm protectors (imagine sleeves without a shirt) treated to provide a sun protection factor of up to 50.