Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Thoughts on Wader Repair/Simms Rant

As a poor, dirtbag of a steelhead bum I tend to abuse my gear pretty hard. Of all the gear though, it seems waders bear the brunt of this abuse most intensely. Obviously they are going to have a limited lifespan, but I have a hard time getting a pair to last a single season. For the last three years I've been wearing Bailey's waders and they've held up reasonably well. One pair lasted an entire year, the next came delaminated after a few months, but the company made good on the warranty and sent me a brand new pair. Well that pair is finally near the end of its natural life so last month in preparation for the Northcountry trip I went looking for a new pair.

Time was short and the shop I went into here in Van happened to be a Simms dealer so I thought I would give them a second chance. The first pair of simms I had didn't hold up as long as I would've liked, but I tend to attribute that to the fact of how hard I use them. Anyways, I dropped around $250 for a pair of freestones. Not simms top end wader, but the material felt pretty durable and I figured for 250 clams I would at least get something that kept me dry. Apparently I was mistaken. By my second day of fishing the seams on the right leg were already failing in three places and at the end of the day I was wringing out my socks. With subfreezing mornings the norm this time of year, leaky waders were definitely a bummer and I did my best to patch the leaks with aquaseal each night. By the fourth day of the trip both legs were getting leaky faster than I could keep up with the patching.

What the fuck? Tbone calls Simms Sieves and I can see his point. Has the company gotten so lost in its own marketing and bs that is lost sight of its made in the USA, high quality roots? Or maybe they just design their products for cheese dicks with a 6 figure salary who fish 10 times a year and prefer to cast standing in the front of a guides driftboat rather than walk and earn their fish? Either way, thats the last pair of Sieves I'll be buying. Now I'm stuck without a pair of good waders midfall, waiting on Simms warranty department to give me my money back. Worst of all, I'll only be getting store credit for my troubles and since they're an exclusive simms dealer I don't exactly have the greatest selection to choose from. I'll probably end up spending another 100 dollars to upgrade to an overpriced pair of "guide" waders just so I dont get wet another 5 days after getting the new pair. It all seems like such a waste. A brand new pair of breathable waders, sent back, presumably thrown in the garbage just because of the inferior workmanship and product design of a company which has seems the have more interest in full page adds in fish porn rags than in building a pair of waders that will keep a hardworking fishbum dry.

The only brightspot is that with all those leaks I've gotten pretty handy at patching waders and finding holes. I've been using a trick that Tbone showed me and its definitely the best way I've found yet for locating holes. Get a flashlight or headlamp, turn out the lights and slide the beam of light along the inside of the wader looking for thin spots or punctures. Its foolproof, quick and easy. Once the hole is found circle it with a premanent marker and apply aquaseal liberally.


  1. I have nothing but a quality experience with Simms over the years. I also go through a pair of waders about every year, but that is what happens when you fish as much as we do. Though you probably get out far more then me. I have owned two pairs that just plan fell apart, but they were always good to replace them outright. Stick with them, they will take care of you.

  2. I agree with Mike. All waders leak, and it sounds like you just got a pair that were a lemon. I've got several years out of the higher end Simms waders I have owned, and even last year when I ripped them and told them it was my fault they fixed them up no questions asked.

  3. I've also had pretty good luck with Simms, though they still wear out a bit faster than I'd like, given the price. After wearing out a pair of G3s after almost two years, I decided to give patagonia a try, mainly because I like what patagonia does for conservation.

    Big mistake. Went through three pairs of "Guidewaters" in about five months. The most amount of fishing days I got on any one pair before the seam blew out was about a dozen. After returning 3 pairs I got sick of all the waste and just asked for my money back. Back to Simms now, and they've been bombproof so far.

    My favorite trick for finding leaks is rubbing alcohol. Fill a spray bottle with it, take your waders outside, turn 'em inside out and spray with the alcohol. Wait about 20 seconds and all the holes will turn black, mark with a sharpee and aquaseal. This trick doesn't work with the patagonia waders either, since the H2NO is a dark grey you can't spot the leaks (though flashlight trick would probably work for those).

  4. dan bailey's have consistently proven to be the most durable in my experience. simms are mostly good, but there are plenty of lemons in the mix. patagonia is the company i want to support, but like spencer, i've paid the price for supporting. three pairs in less than a year, and the third pair hasn't been replaced because i can't get the new ones yet. full of leaks, including slow seeping through the booties since the first week.

    unless things have changed at dan bailey, you can count on those waders to hold up best.

  5. Sounds like the DB's are the way to go and this isn't the first time I've heard this. I have patagonia's that look like they have an odd camo pattern on them from countless tubes of aquaseal. Nothing lasts forever but dropping that ammount of cash would lead me to believe I might stay dry for atleast a month not the case!! It seems like the more you pay the more they leak!! I think I'll winter up with some DB's.

  6. I'm going on three months waiting for my Dan Bailey wader replacement to be returned. I was told it "could be another month" and I was surprised to see brand new boxes of waders delivered to my local fly shop. Four months for waders is ridiculous and customer service hasn't been helpful. Years ago, they were great. I'm going on year three with my SIMMS waders and no problems at all. I fish 150-200 a year. I like the Dan Bailey's in hot weather but won't buy from them again after this experience.

  7. You are right on about Simms in my experience. They have NOT stood behind their warranty. I had a pair which cost over $700.00. They were boot foots. Withing a year the seams started leaking like crazy. Sent back to Simms for my warranty repair. Simms says they were worn out from the inside and would not guarantee the repairs. First time out in the "repaired" waders and they leak like....sieves. Less than one year at $700.00...Think I'll go back to my $50.00 Prolines.