Driftless Trout Anglers

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trapper  
#1 Posted : Wednesday, October 21, 2015 5:11:16 PM(UTC)
trapper
Rank: Super Fly

Joined: 3/24/2010(UTC)
Posts: 2,168
Location: West Fork

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Was thanked: 25 time(s) in 21 post(s)
With a full season fishing the wisco Driftless, along with a few trips to Iowa, I offer this report.

I recieved a pair of LL Bean fly weight waders in the mail in March($100 full retail) These China made waders offer a free replacement just like most LL Bean products they sell.
They are light and not hot to wear. I kinda take good care of them, not getting sand and dirt on the booties when putting them on or taking them off.I bought the large size that fits me just fine. For those who have never met me, I am slightly over six feet tall and around 200 pounds.

I would highly recommend them to anyone looking for a good cheap wader. I have not had a single issue with them all year. I burned a hole in mine and the repair kit seems to work good.

I am not overly impressed with the Orvis Encounter wading boots($112 full retail). They seem heavy,don't flex much, but still look good. I do like the Vibram soles alot. They grip good while entering or exiting the stream banks and offer traction on the spring creek streams that I frequent.

Hindsight; I should of maybe spent another $70 for boots and that may happen next year.

Anyone else care to chime in?
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Trouts  
#2 Posted : Wednesday, October 21, 2015 5:32:36 PM(UTC)
Trouts
Rank: Dragon Fly

Joined: 1/23/2011(UTC)
Posts: 236
Location: Minneapolis

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I also have that same pair of waders and could not be happier with them. I had the seams go out on the booties and LL Bean replaced them with no questions asked.

As far as boots, I have worn the Simms guide boots the last 2 seasons and they have been the best pair I have ever had. My wife has the Simms freestones and really likes those. I got the guide series because I have one bum ankle and liked the higher support. They are expensive, but I'm sure they will last another season. I was going through at least one pair of boots a season before these. They have been by far the most comfortable and supportive wading boots I have had. Not having sore feet and a sore back at the end of the day is worth its weight in gold. Just my 2 cents.
“If the trout are lost, smash the state. More than any other fish, trout are dependent upon the ambience in which they are caught… At the first signs of deterioration, this otherwise vigorous fish just politely quits, as if to say, ‘If that’s how you want it…’”
Skimmer  
#3 Posted : Wednesday, October 21, 2015 7:30:27 PM(UTC)
Skimmer
Rank: Caddis Fly

Joined: 2/25/2015(UTC)
Posts: 224
Location: WI

Was thanked: 1 time(s) in 1 post(s)
My Proline "Wigeon" duck hunting waders finally gave in a few days ago. They cost $150 retail. I certainly got my monies worth out of them I'm far from gentle and got roughly 2.5 years out of them, with several patches. I figure I have close to 200 days in them hunting, trout fishing, steelhead fishing, and putting in piers. I picked up a new pair from work the other night.

Trout fishing waders I bought Redington "Sonic Pro" I got a deal through work but I think they retail at $200 something. So far I love them, light, breathable and offer better pockets and storage then the $150 or below class waders. Boots I really need an upgrade, I've just been using a pair of Patagonia hiking shoes I accidentally bought online one size to large. They actually work great but Id like better ankle support for when I've tipped back a few tall boys and trip over a rock. I don't wanna break an ankle.
Gerrber  
#4 Posted : Wednesday, October 21, 2015 7:52:22 PM(UTC)
Gerrber
Rank: Midge

Joined: 6/8/2015(UTC)
Posts: 48
Location: Caseys Breakfast pizza/St.Paul

I bought a pair of Simms Vapor boots, supposedly their lightweight, long hike model. I have about 100 hours in them so far and couldn't be happier, very lightweight, stable, and comfy on long walks. They beat the tar out of the Korkers boots I use for work. A few online reviews I read prior to purchase brought up durability, so far I've beat them up pretty good and haven't seen much wear or tear.
lightningo2  
#5 Posted : Wednesday, October 21, 2015 8:25:22 PM(UTC)
lightningo2
Rank: May Fly

Joined: 1/11/2012(UTC)
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Location: Wausau

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I have a pair of Cabelas SBT pro waders and I did originally pay just over two hundred bucks for them. They are lightweight and I have walked through the thickest stuff the Driftless can throw at a person.We have fished hard at home and in the Driftless for 4 years and those waders have held up like Kevlar.Not one leak!! I have a pair of Simms boots that also have held up to many miles of streams and bushwacking. I will be purchasing another pair of boots soon as the Vibram soles are worn to the point of doing the slippery boot dance entering the stream.
DanE  
#6 Posted : Thursday, October 22, 2015 6:35:34 AM(UTC)
DanE
Rank: Dragon Fly

Joined: 9/18/2014(UTC)
Posts: 1,238
Location: Prairie Du Sac, WI

trapper wrote:
With a full season fishing the wisco Driftless, along with a few trips to Iowa, I offer this report.

I recieved a pair of LL Bean fly weight waders in the mail in March($100 full retail) These China made waders offer a free replacement just like most LL Bean products they sell.
They are light and not hot to wear. I kinda take good care of them, not getting sand and dirt on the booties when putting them on or taking them off.I bought the large size that fits me just fine. For those who have never met me, I am slightly over six feet tall and around 200 pounds.

I would highly recommend them to anyone looking for a good cheap wader. I have not had a single issue with them all year. I burned a hole in mine and the repair kit seems to work good.

I am not overly impressed with the Orvis Encounter wading boots($112 full retail). They seem heavy,don't flex much, but still look good. I do like the Vibram soles alot. They grip good while entering or exiting the stream banks and offer traction on the spring creek streams that I frequent.

Hindsight; I should of maybe spent another $70 for boots and that may happen next year.

Anyone else care to chime in?


I have not worn the Encounter, but I agree, you should have spent the extra $70 and bought the Simms Vapor. Worked awesome for me all year. ThumpUp
Cmac  
#7 Posted : Thursday, October 22, 2015 6:36:50 AM(UTC)
Cmac
Rank: Dragon Fly

Joined: 2/18/2014(UTC)
Posts: 533
Location: Mt. Prospect, IL

Trap.....you've seen my Frogg Togg pant waders( $80 )...they look like I was hit with buckshot...several times. Four or five seasons on hard use, some extreme bushwacking with Jay Thurston, resulted in numerous punctures, barbwire tears, and bramble holes. All successfully repaired with Liquid Stitch....found at craft stores, mucho cheaper than aquaseal or the like. Goes on as white, thick goo,hardens to a clear, rubbery seal that hasn't failed yet. Work's on seams also. I just might be ready to file these and get a new pair......wife likes me in pants waders....keeps me from venturing into really deep trouble !!!!!
galleon2  
#8 Posted : Thursday, October 22, 2015 7:16:03 AM(UTC)
galleon2
Rank: Midge

Joined: 11/24/2014(UTC)
Posts: 38

I cannot seem to find all of the leaks in my Frog Toggs. Nearly half a tube of Shoe Goo later, and I feel like I'm playing whack-a-mole with the leaks. Fix the leaky left leg and the right leg gives me trouble. Fix the right, back to the left leaking etc. I'm going to go with Trapper's method: LL Bean - due to the worry free lifetime warranty.

Here is my LL Bean warranty story.

I had a pair of LL Bean neoprene bootfoot in camo for duck hunting. One cold spring day I was going to go fishing for the first time all year. I threw the waders in the back of the truck and caught a sharp acidic ammonia like whiff. Deep down I knew what it was but couldn't place my finger on it. Every once in a while on the drive to the stream I would catch the same whiff but couldn't place it.

In an excited rush once I got streamside, I took them out of the back and put them on. First foot fine, and then another strong whiff. Second foot to the bottom, and my feet feel unsettling lively wiggles in the boot. NO!!!! I rip them off, and empty a mama mouse and about 20 babies. I hold the waders up and the mice have eaten the neoprene into swiss cheese. Needless to say I wet wade that day.

I sent them back to LL Bean and on the return form there is a box I check: not waterproof. True enough I guess. They sent me new ones no questions asked. I'm going to go back to them for the same warranty on the breathables.
William Schlafer  
#9 Posted : Thursday, October 22, 2015 12:56:36 PM(UTC)
William Schlafer
Rank: Super Fly

Joined: 7/24/2011(UTC)
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I've just finished my fifth year using Cabelas hip waders. I've owned three pair over that span, but I got them on sale for less than the $50 list price every time. Considering the low cost, I could almost replace them every year. The last pair I bought were re-branded Herters Hip Waders that are identical to the (now no longer available) Cabelas brand, with the exception of the price: now $65.

I went with hip waders because frankly, I can't find either full chest waders, or pants style waders that fit me. I am, shall we say, a bit husky. RollEyes

I looked into some custom order pants style waders from Simms, but the cost would've blown out my entire years budget for fishing. So that was a non-starter.

The only gripe I have with the Herters (besides the higher cost) is a narrow ankle opening. If you have wide feet and fat calves/ankles like me, you really have to squeeze to get your feet into the booties. And, like almost all stocking foot waders I've read or heard about, the booties run about two foot sizes too large, leaving a bit of extra material to fit into the wading boot. I tried ordering a smaller size wader with smaller booties, but those were too tight on the legs.

UserPostedImage

I've been averaging 25-30 fishing trips a year with these and have never had a leak. A few seams on the booties got a bit ragged on the Cabelas branded ones, which I patched with Aqua Seal as a preventative measure. While really durable, these tend to get a bit hot in warmer weather. I've learned that rolling them down when not wading greatly increases the overall comfort level. Another drawback is that they tend to collect bugs and debris that fall down into the waders when walking through high weeds. But the heavier material really protects the legs well and stands up to brush and barb wire fence assaults.

I've paired these waders with Simms Freestone boots which have really held up well over the last three seasons. It took a few outings to get them loosened up, but they really protect your ankles and feet from anything you might encounter. My backup Cabelas boots feel wimpy by comparison. The tread on the Freestones looks a bit weak, but I've never had a problem slipping on rocks or getting a good grip walking the banks. Wish I would've gotten these a couple seasons earlier and not wasted my money on cheaper boots. I've tried on the new Simms Vapor boots in the store, and they are really comfortable too.

UserPostedImage


-Bill

Edited by user Thursday, October 22, 2015 1:00:17 PM(UTC)  | Reason: added text

“You'll never look back on your life and wish you had spent more time in the office." -- Brian Trautman, Captain SV Delos
Jimbern  
#10 Posted : Saturday, October 24, 2015 8:03:48 AM(UTC)
Jimbern
Rank: Stone Fly

Joined: 2/25/2012(UTC)
Posts: 155
Man
Location: Oak Park, IL

Sure you serious, Bill? Those are 3 season old Simms? They could pass military inspection.

Here are 3-season old Korker Metalheads.

UserPostedImage

I'm going to replace them before next season, so I'm interested in reviews of a better boot for $200.

In case anyone is interested— a quick review of Korkers.

Love:
Boa lacing system. Although, like standard laces (and your computer hard drive), they will eventually fail so you have to monitor the condition of the wire or a wire break will strand you without proper footwear. Buy and carry a Boa replacement set ($10).

Interchangeable soles. Never had one fall off as others report.


Indifferent:
Fit. A little wide for my narrow foot.
A little heavy when wet (more likely I'm just getting old and can't slog 8-10 hours without a nap anymore).
Customer service— just "OK"


Irritating:
this is my second pair and the first was replaced after 2 seasons by Korkers based on my complaint that they don't hold up to abrasion as you can see in the photo.

Korkers made some improvements with the Whitehorse model, so I'm not counting them out.
I hope I can get a recommendation from others for my next upgrade.



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