When I was first introduced to fly fishing by my father, I wasn’t allowed to step foot into a river, lake, or stream. Looking back on it now, I see this was mostly a safety concern for my father and it makes perfect sense not to allow an eight year old to dive head first into a river. Thus, fly fishing during my formative years under my father’s tutelage was spent learning to cast, tie and observe from a stream side perspective until he felt I was skilled enough to step into the trout’s natural habitat. As you can imagine, it was quite a joyous occasion when I received my first pair of waders for my 14th birthday. Nothing flashy; just some hunter green Cabella’s stocking foot neoprene waders. I don’t remember them being overly comfortable, but I was so excited to get into the river that I wasn’t about to complain. The waders were accompanied by an Orvis 2 piece, 5-weight fly rod, and I was one happy fly fisherman. Both the rod and the waders served their purpose and lasted me the next 15 years of my fly fishing adventures (with some help from a wader repair kit here and there).
One of the first things I did when I got a steady job was to buy some new fly fishing equipment. My family always respected Orvis for their high quality products and great customer service. However, since this was to be my first waders purchase with my own money, I poured over fishing journals, websites, blogs and magazines to try to educate myself on the different types of waders available. My primary concern revolved around my frequent travel and I wanted something I could easily pack in my carry-on bag. The trade off to portability always seemed to be less durability, less breathability, a huge mark-up on the price or just less quality overall. I also knew I wanted to get stocking foot waders again, and I hoped to make a purchase that would stand the test of time like my old waders did.
After plenty of research, I finally set my sights on the “Pack & Travel Waders with SonicSeam Technology”. I talked to a couple Orvis representatives who wore these waders themselves and they stated confidently: “once you buy these, you’ll never want another pair of waders.” I kind of balked at that quote because they not only worked for the company, but I knew they were trying to sell me a product. I thought about it some more and I figured: “well, if I don’t like them, I can always send them right back to Orvis and let them know what I think.”
I ordered the waders right before the spring steelhead run in Minnesota began. They arrived on time and my wife accepted the package and cleverly added a bow before setting it out for me to find after work. I tried the waders on immediately to make sure they fit. This is one of the areas where Orvis always excels: their online fitting chart made choosing my size without trying them on easy and reliable. So of course, they fit perfectly. Before my steelheading adventure was to begin, the next stop was the Kinnickinnic River in Wisconsin for some spring creek trout fishing. I also convinced my fishing buddy to purchase the SonicSeam waders, and we were both “getting our feet wet” with them for the first time. I can say without reservation that the waders performed admirably. They were easy to put on, and I’ve never felt warmer inside a pair of waders. It’s true what they say about the “sonic seam” technology. They’re easy to fold and pack up because there are no seams, and they don’t leak for the same reason. I was impressed with the maneuverability they provided. They didn’t feel stiff like some waders feel until they are broken in. After having had the same pair of waders for the last 15 years, it was like night and day.
The part I hate most about using waders is taking them off at the end of the day. I’m usually a bit tired by that point, and taking them off always means an end to the day’s adventures. They slipped off effortlessly and the mud and dirt seemed to almost slide right off them. Don’t get me wrong, they still needed their proper cleaning, but they also wouldn’t destroy the back of my friend’s SUV if I just tossed them in the back. After cleaning them according to the recommended instructions with the machine wash setting on my washer, they looked brand new.
About a week later, they got their ultimate test under the grueling conditions of a post-winter steelhead run on the North Shore of Minnesota. They held up great under turbulent conditions with rain, sleet and high wind. They remained breathable while keeping me nice and dry. The stocking foot left plenty of room for thick thermal socks. I never felt underprepared and the little chest pocket kept my phone out of the rain (it was also in its own waterproof bag).
The only part I haven’t mentioned is that the SonicSeam waders barely take up any room when they’re packed. At just a little over 2 lbs and tightly packed, it makes my travel plans so much easier. Now I can bring them with me even when I’m not sure if I’ll be fishing.
I couldn’t have asked for a better pair of waders and my friend feels the same way. I’ve had them for two seasons now and they perform like the day I first bought them. I have enjoyed these waders so much, I bought a pair for my brother just this year, and he’ll be stepping into them for the first time in about a month. I have no doubt he will be singing praises and become a convert to the new SonicSeam technology as I have.