Waders & Apparel
The “wader makers,” as the crew has been dubbed by Simms, have been hard at it again—and their efforts paid off with another best wader award at IFTD. The company’s latest dry-leg innovation is the Headwater Pro ($400). Built using a three-layer Gore-Tex pro shell fabric, the front and back leg seams offer improved articulation and reduce abrasion issues, there’s a pass-through hand-warmer pocket behind a chest storage pocket, and molly webbing for gear. There are also built-in belt loops and adjustable 1½-inch elastic suspenders with opposing buckles for a snug fit. If you prefer to fish sans waders, Simms’s new Riprap Shoe ($100) is a low-top wet wading shoe that uses the company’s Right Angle Footbed technology to create proper foot biomechanics (i.e., a more comfortable shoe). They are available with either felt or rubber soles, though the rubber outsole on both can be fitted with studs. The high-abrasion synthetic and hydrophobic upper has a bungie-lacing enclosure intended to keep debris out.
Like Simms, Redington beefed up its wader selection with the Sonic-Pro HDZ ($500). Built with the same four-layer breathable materials as the (also new) Sonic-Pro HD ($400) and welded (rather than taped) at the seams, the HDZ as well as the HD also has a fleece-lined hand-warmer pocket, water-resistant storage zippers, integrated tool dock, and slim wading belt. The largest difference between the Sonic-Pro models is that the HDZ also has a waterproof TIZIP zipper for ease and comfort on the water.
Korkers, a company that continues to push the envelope of wading boot design, pushed a little further again for 2017 and created the HatchBack ($240 to $260), a rear-entry boot with a BOA-assisted closure system. Available in sizes 7 to 15, the HatchBack has added support around the Achilles tendon and ankle; also included is the company’s patented Internal Drainage System to rapidly drain water. Korkers assembles each pair with its Protected Stitching process that recesses seams into molded grooves for reduced abrasion and wear.
Hodgman, a company that’s seen a resurgence in the last three years, spent some time upgrading its wader and wading boot selection for both men and women. Its new H4 ($180) wader has a breathable four-layer seat and legs with no inside leg seam, breathable three-layer upper for moisture vapor transfer, stitched and taped waterproof seams, mesh zippered chest pocket for tippet and leaders, micro-fleece-lined hand pockets, and a flip-out internal storage pocket. For the Women’s H4 ($180) wader, the winner of the IFTD award for best women’s waders, designer Tori Tomlin worked with a network of avid female anglers to develop something tailored for a woman’s figure and foot, and then used the same materials as the men’s version to construct something specifically for female anglers. When it comes to boots, Hodgman designed a dual-locking, interchangeable system so anglers can swap out different treads. Once engaged, the sole doesn’t come off unless both the front and rear locks are disengaged simultaneously. To remove, lift a tab at the front of the boot and rotate the sole. At the same time, press the button on the rear of the shoe to release the rear lock. The H-Lok system is on three different boot models, the H5 ($150 to $170), the Aesis ($180 to $200), and the Vion ($200 to $220).
Since its inception, 12wt. has been about one thing: creating the most functional, high-performance, comfortable, and, above all, protective fly fishing clothing possible. This year, it’s created the OCEANwt Hoodie ($64), a long-sleeve hooded shirt (for maximum UV coverage) made from double-weave polyester and textured stretch nylon that provides excellent protection from harmful rays. Additionally, the seam construction and sleeve design ensure comfort by helping to wick moisture away.
Under Armour (UA) has also created a new selection of garments intended to protect anglers from the sun, and keep them cool at the same time, called CoolSwitch ($55). According to the company, the key is a “crystal” pattern ingrained in the material that works together with other cooling elements in the fabric to pull away heat—it’s supposedly the same technology used in NASA space suits. CoolSwitch shirts also have a built-in UPF 30+ rating and are treated with ArmourBlock, UA’s anti-odor application.
On the reverse end of the weather spectrum, if you like the idea of having a jacket to protect you from the elements but hate the notion of haphazardly packing a heavy coat up and down the river, consider the new Minimalist Wading Jacket ($200) from Patagonia. Made with 100 percent recycled nylon ripstop fabric coated with a durable repellent (DWR), this jacket is breathable, packable, has a fully adjustable hood and cuffs, bungee waist, two upper fly box pockets, and plastic zippers that aren’t saltwater corrodible.