Tag Archives: Product Review

2015 Fishwest Wader Showdown

As fly fishermen, we know (and have experienced firsthand) the parity that exists between fly rods. By and large, you get what you pay for when it comes to rods. Given the parity that exists between rods, we here at Fishwest were curious to see if the same parity exists between waders.

So we decided to do a mini-shootout of waders. We took a pair of Orvis Silver Sonic Convertible waders ($279), Redington SonicDry Waders ($399.95), and Simms G3 Waders ($499.95) to see how they compared at their respective price points.

We rated the waders on a scale of 1-10 in 3 categories: breathability, durability, and aesthetics. After all, waders are meant to be worn and we all want to look good out on the water.

Photo Credit: Preston
Photo Credit: Preston Lange

Obviously, these ratings are subjective and they’re just our opinion. However, we’re not just shop guys or writers – we’re fishermen too. I spend around 250 days a year on the water, while JC works the Fishwest shop in Sandy and spends plenty of time out on the water himself. We know what anglers look for in a pair of waders and think that we made some objective judgements.

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at how the waders fared in their respective categories.

Orvis Silver Sonic Convertible (Spencer’s Review)

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Breathability – 10/10

The SS waders are very light and they breathe exceptionally well. I wore them for 10 straight hours, hiking over 3 miles in 70 degree heat, and they didn’t get me nearly as sweaty as I’d imagined they would have.

I did notice that water tends to bead off these waders, meaning they’re water repellent as well as water resistant.

I wore the waders in pretty cold runoff water, hiking around at high elevation, and they did a good job of letting my legs breathe so I didn’t freeze too badly.

Durability – 9/10

I’ve had these waders for a solid month, and they look brand-new. The neoprene booties have a thick rubber lining along the seams, which is absolutely brilliant engineering on Orvis’ part. The rubber lining will reduce wear along the neoprene seams, the most common place for neoprene to leak.

The only knock I have in terms of durability relates to how thin the material is. While I’m sure it’s a material that will stand the test of time (if these waders last two seasons that’s a win in my book – I’m pretty rough on my gear) it’s thin enough that a well-placed branch could tear a nice hole.

Aesthetics – 9/10

These waders look great. They’re colored in the classic Orvis green and gray, and the waders match the blank color of the Superfine Glass rods, for the fashionably astute angler.

The waders come with “anatomically correct” neoprene booties (and attached gravel guards, of course) according to the Orvis website. I do have to say, I’ve noticed a HUGE difference in fit and comfort in these neoprene booties compared to the Redington SonicDry Waders.

I do enjoy the green Sonic logo on the left leg, and the large Orvis logo across the front. I do think Orvis could get a bit more creative, though, which is why I knocked off one point.

Average Score: 9.3/10

Redington SonicDry (Spencer’s Review)

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Breathability – 9/10

These waders are made from Redington’s patented 37.5 active particle technology. It’s supposed to dry up to five times faster than similar materials, as well as breathe better and be lighter.

Truth be told, these waders do dry quickly, but the Silver Sonic waders dry faster. However, the SonicDry waders fit a bit more snug along the leg, and it seems to me that they breathe a bit better when walking longer distances than the Silver Sonic waders.

Durability – 4/10

This is the big knock I have against the SonicDry wader. The material is a rouger nylon than most waders – it’s almost abrasive. In theory, that’s a great thing because it reduces the likelihood of the waders tearing on a stray branch. However, the welded seams on these waders (the same as on the Silver Sonics) started splitting after only 7 months of moderate-to-heavy use. While I know that waders aren’t supposed to last forever, having the seams split after less than one full season on them isn’t good.

To make matters worse, because of the abrasive fabric, the traditional Aquaseal doesn’t hold to the fabric as well as it should, and I’ve had to apply it three times before getting a seal on the seams that holds water.

All in all, Redington should have some way to fix this issue, and until they do, I’d stay away from the SonicDry waders if you walk longer distances in them, as I tend to do.

Aesthetics – 10/10

These waders do look nice. The two-tone coloration has a certain flair to it, they fit very tightly, and I like the look of the thicker wading belt. If you were to buy waders purely based on how they look (let’s be honest, fly fishermen are more vain than we’ll ever admit) then these would be the ones.

Total: 7.6/10

Simms G3 Guide Stockingfoot (JC’s Review)

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Breathability: 9.5 / 10

All I need to say is Gore-Tex. The Gore-Tex Pro Shell material is both lightweight breathable. The G3 waders use a combination of both 5 layer and 3 layer fabrics to make up the body of the wader. I (JC) have found this combination keeps me dry and comfortable no matter the season.  The 5 layer from the thighs down can get a little hot during the summer months depending on the situation, otherwise it is pretty close to perfect.

Durability: 9.5 / 10

People who come into the shop always ask me if these waders are worth the $499.95 that Simms is asking for these waders. My answer is always the same. These waders are worth every penny based on how long they will last. I put my waders through the angling ringer of thorns, sticker bushes, and drift boats and sure, they do spring a leak from time to time but that is nothing a little Aquaseal can’t fix. I retired my last pair of Simms guide waders with 7 seasons of heavy wear and tear on them and they could have lasted longer. Bottom line is that Simms built these puppies to last, and they most certainly do.

Aesthetics: 10/10

Simms hit a homerun with these in the looks department. Features like the left and right articulated feet as well as built in gravel guards are just two of the things that set these apart from other waders in our test. The fleece lined hand warmer pocket is also perfect for those days when the temp drops.

Total: 9.7 / 10

The Simms G3 Stockingfoot won this shootout, but narrowly over Orvis. For the budget conscious angler, the Orvis Silver Sonic Convertible Waders are a great buy, and in all reality they should last a solid 2-3 seasons, at the very least.

Either of these waders would be a great pair – it’s just up to you to decide which one you like better.

New For 2015: Introducing The Sage Accel

The folks in Bainbridge are at it again. This time with the new Sage Accel. This rod replaces the VXP and VXP spey rods in the Sage lineup. These rods feature the ever popular Generation 5 technology. I for one am quite excited to get my hands on one to see what they are all about. Stay tuned for my thoughts on this rod in the future. In the meantime see what the folks over at Sage have to say about one of their latest rods.

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One of the greatest benefits currently pushing the limits of rod technology is that it gives us vital insights to rod design using previous technologies. Case in point: our new fast action ACCEL family of single and two-handed rods. Created using our responsive Generation 5 technology, our all-new ACCEL benefits from key insights garnered through the development of Konnetic Technology. It’s like going back in time to bet on your favorite sports team with the score in hand—you’ve got a winner and you know it.

The already responsive Generation 5 technology was made more so with improvements to the carbon fiber alignment and resin application that help give the ACCEL its impressive loading and recovery qualities. Combining power and finesse with elegance, the ACCEL is a finely crafted fishing tool with innovative features that belie its more value conscious origins. From its bright and alluring Emerald blank to its newly-designed rod seat featuring subtle details like a matt black Stealth finish and laser engraved logo, the ACCEL is a classic representation of the Sage DNA that it embodies. The ACCEL is true casting performance and value without compromise.

Accel2Features:

  • All Water
  • Generation 5 Technology
  • Medium-Fast Action
  • Emerald blank color
  • Olive Green thread wraps with Garnet and Black trim wraps
  • Fuji ceramic stripper guides
  • Hard chromed snake guides and tip-top
  • Freshwater 3-6 weights: ( Rosewood Insert & Stealth Black Aluminum Uplocking Reel Seat + Snub-nose, Half-Wells cork handle)
  • Saltwater 6-9 weights (Stealth Black anodized up-locking reel seat + Snub-nose, half-wells cork handle)
  • Black rod bag with Emerald colored logo
  • Leaf Green ballistic nylon  tube with divided liner

Fishwest 5wt ”Showdown” – Part Three: The Winston BIIIx

FWF05FWDCFW_lgRL Winston out of the bustling metropolis of Twin Bridges, Montana has been producing exceptional fly rods since the 1930’s. The great minds at Winston are known for many technological innovations within the fly fishing industry. One of the most important technological innovations to come out of the Winston factory is the in the last 20 years is the introduction of Boron/Graphite composite blanks. Winston introduced the first series of Boron rods in 1998 and have continued to improve on that design ever since. The Boron III or B3X for short is the latest in a long line of rods to feature this technology and this is the rod we are going to talk about today.

unnamed (3)Morgan: Out of all the rods we tested, the Winston Boron IIIX is definitely the softest which was a nice change from some of the stiffer rods we tested. Although the B3X was the softest, it is by no means a slower action rod. With the continued use of Winston’s Boron technology, the rod has the backbone to cast a wide variety of flies. Even with the use of Boron in the butt section of this rod, it’s still more of a medium-fast action rod which is why this rod did so well at close range. Aesthetically, the B3X is very pleasing. I think this is a classy looking rod with deep red accents throughout the emerald green blank. There are a couple different reel seat options; and anodized aluminum and a burled elder reel are both available depending on what weight rod you go with.

30ft- At 30ft this rod had the most delicate presentations out of all the rods we’ve tested. This rod loads well at close range and delivers flies with a smooth and delicate action. You can visibly see how smoothly and how deep the rod loads as you cast. At this casting distance, the rod does the work. It’s not necessary to force anything or quickly or aggressively cast. This rod is lively on its own, you just have to point it in the right direction.

unnamed (1)50ft- Casting the B3X at 50ft was a blast. Feeling the rod load deeper into the lower sections and then having my cast complimented by the stiffer Boron section was great. The stiffer sections also allowed 40 or 50ft of line to be picked up and re-cast without a ton of false casts but the presentations are still deadly accurate and delicate at greater distances. This rod really shined at this distance.

70ft- This rod doesn’t have the backbone for huge hero casts but it still managed casting 70ft pretty well. The action of this rod isn’t nearly as fast as the others in our test but the stiffer butt section with the Boron technology still allowed for 70ft casts, just not when the wind picked up. How often are we casting dry flies 70ft anyway in the Rocky Mountain west? Even at these long distances the casts were straight and accurate.

unnamedEditors Note: I (JC) own this rod and fish it rigorously. Therefore I go into this review with a little personal bias associated with this rod line due to all the great memories and awesome fish I have caught while throwing the B3X. However I try to remain as objective and unbiased as I possibly can be while writing this. As with any review take what I have to say with a grain of salt and check each of these rods out for yourself.

Out of the gate you will notice one thing about this rod. This rod is brimming with style all to itself. The deep “Winston” emerald green blank coupled with hand inscribed lettering and red accent wraps give this rod a touch of elegance that is hard to beat. This rod is available in both a four piece configuration as well as a five piece for the traveling angler.

unnamed (4)Casting this rod is a pleasure. At 30 feet and in this rod is excellent. The rod itself loads extremely smoothly and well at this distance.  Even though this rod lays casts down smoothly at this distance you can tell this rod has plenty in the tank in order to manage longer casts, more adverse conditions, or heavier flies.

This rod casting around 50 feet is a breeze! Even in a stiff breeze! Delivering dries at these distances is quite easy with tight accurate loops. The stiffer butt section allows anglers to cast at greater distances with minimal effort with just about any fly selection. The stiffer butt section also gives anglers the opportunity to pick up larger amounts of line and with one false cast be right back into the fray.  Bottom line is that this rod also performs quite well out of a boat in just about any conditions.

unnamed (5)At 70 + feet is where this rod struggled. This rod doesn’t have nearly the backbone that some of the other rods in our test do. That isn’t to say that this rod cannot deliver flies at this distance, it most certainly can however just like the Radian the fly selection will be limited. Also if the wind picks up you can do one thing…. Just forget about it. What this rod lacks in back bone for hero casts it certainly makes up for in other qualities necessary to performing well in situations for trout. We have to remember that we are fishing for trout. A 70ft cast while trout fishing is unheard of in my mind, However I could be wrong…

Overall this rod does it all! If you would like to throw a nymph rig in the morning, go ahead! If you find yourself in the middle of an afternoon hatch by all means fish that hatch!  Lastly if you want to hit the brush filled banks with terrestrials hoping for a couple fish to explode on that poor twitching fly please feel free. What I am trying to get at is quite simple. This rod is a great all around choice for western trout. This rod series is hard to beat and definitely has become my go to 5 weight trout rod.

Stay tuned for our next installment to our “Fishwest 5wt Showdown” where we take a look at the Helios series of rods by The Orvis Company.

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Product Spotlight: The Orvis Guide Sling Pack

A good day fishing means that I need to be prepared for a majority of situations and have the right gear. That probably means that I need some snacks, a light jacket, some form of lunch, multiple waters, and my flies/leaders/tippet/misc ect. Finding the right pack for this type of job has been difficult for me to say the least.

A majority of the time a pack was either too cumbersome or bursting at the seams to fish with for the day. This meant that a majority of the time I found myself hiking back to my car at some point during the day to retrieve something that I had to leave behind.

Sling PackThis all changed when I was introduced to the Orvis Guide Sling Pack. This pack allows me to spend a whole day fishing either solo or playing Sherpa for friends without feeling weighed down. This pack has plenty of room. The sweetest thing about this pack is the simplicity and layout of the pack. The pack has three areas of storage. The largest zippered pocket can easily hold plenty of gear/provisions for the day.

On any given day you can find my pack filled with 4-5 boxes chalked full of flies ranging from a large C&F design streamer box to others containing various nymphs and dry fly offerings. Couple that with a couple, some snacks & lunch and 95 % of the time I am set for the day.

Sling Pack The two other storage areas on this pack are much smaller but are perfect for the smaller essentials like Leaders, Indicators, Split Shot and Dry Shake just to name a few. Of course this pack can be configured to suit the needs of any angler and the configuration of my pack will vary from outing to outing based on where and what species I may be targeting that particular day.

The great part of the pack is that gear access is a piece of cake. Simply undo the removable third strap around the chest and swing the main strap around your chest and all your gear is at your fingertips. Using the simple two straps and provided tippet holder keeps your entire tippet arsenal neat and tidy out of the way. The cherry on top is the main torso strap features a magnetic hemo holster and it also has many places for other accessories and tools.

Sling-InstructionsThe minimalist fisherman will not like this pack and it doesn’t have much in terms of organization. Just three simple pockets for all the gear needed for a day. Also some anglers may find a problem with the fact that this pack can only be worn over the right shoulder. Some may argue that the main strap may hinder the casting stroke. Being a left handed caster I cannot comment on whether or not this argument has validity.

With that being said, I feel this pack is the right tool for angler in any situation. To covering ground looking Pike & Musky to wading for trout this pack truly does it all! Don’t take my word for it though. Check it out by clicking HERE.

Gear Up For Fall: Simms Rogue Fleece Hoody Review

Simms Rogue Fleece HoodyThe leaves have changed and the temps have dropped which means one thing is certain. Winter will be here in the blink of an eye. Finding the right jacket or pullover for the variance in the ever changing Utah weather landscape can be difficult at best. Having a jacket that is too light and you find yourself freezing, on the flip side a jacket that is too warm can be just as detrimental to your angling opportunities.

The Rogue Fleece Hoody has been in my arsenal since this time last fall and I can say with the utmost confidence that it is a favorite of mine.  Since I picked this jacket up I have used it fishing on many occasions.  This jacket has kept a smile on my face a lot lately. From fall pike fishing in 40-50 degrees to snow flurries where the thermometer barely touches 30 and the pesky ice forms on rod guides..

The reasons I like this jacket are simple. First off this jacket will not break the bank.  It is a nice lightweight piece that is water resistant and it is nice and warm. This is not a piece I would trust if the temps drop even further but overall for this time of year when the weather can be as unpredictable as the fishing I would say with a good base layer this Hoody will stand up to just about anything.

Downsides are few and far between with the Rogue Fleece however the sizing on this piece is pretty hard to decipher. This jacket runs huge and the variances in sizes are quite noticeable.

Pros:

  • Lightweight design with DWR treatment (Durable Waterproof Repellant). The jacket holds up well in light rain and other types of moisture (No taped seams so this jacket is not waterproof by any means)
  • Overall usefulness – Great for all seasons – fall , early winter , spring
  • Hand warmer pockets – Essential for coldweather fishing
  • Zippered chest pocket – good for fly box, keys , snacks…really whatever you please.
  • Makes an excellent layering piece
  • Price tag of $99.95 – One of the greatest values in the Simms lineup.

Cons:

  • Sizing- The sizing on this jacket is a little bit on the larger end.  (Plan on one size smaller than normal.)

 I honestly cannot say enough good things about this piece. It has definitely become a personal favorite as well as a favorite of all the shop staff here at Fishwest.  It is no secret that the staff here have a great deal of respect and admiration for Simms products and it is easy to see why. Simms has outdone itslef this time with the Rogue Fleece.  If you find yourself in need of a jacket for fall / early winter fishing or even just a jacket that is good for a “kick around” jacket certainly consider the Rogue Fleece Hoody.

You can check it out by clicking HERE.