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Artistic view of a Male Pteronarcys californica (Pteronarcyidae) (Giant Salmonfly) Stonefly Adult from the Gallatin River in Montana
Pteronarcys californica

The giant Salmonflies of the Western mountains are legendary for their proclivity to elicit consistent dry-fly action and ferocious strikes.

Lateral view of a Male Baetidae (Blue-Winged Olive) Mayfly Dun from Mystery Creek #308 in Washington
This dun emerged from a mature nymph on my desk. Unfortunately its wings didn't perfectly dry out.
27" brown trout, my largest ever. It was the sub-dominant fish in its pool. After this, I hooked the bigger one, but I couldn't land it.
Troutnut is a project started in 2003 by salmonid ecologist Jason "Troutnut" Neuswanger to help anglers and fly tyers unabashedly embrace the entomological side of the sport. Learn more about Troutnut or support the project for an enhanced experience here.

Troutnut's profile picture
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2758
Troutnut on Jun 20, 2009June 20th, 2009, 9:14 pm EDT
EDIT 4/23/2015 -- I see this topic got bumped. It's originally from 2009. I've had better luck with breathables more recently, especially Simms and Orvis Silver Sonic. Unmodified old post below.

Most waders on the market right now are labeled as "soft," "comfortable," "breathable," etc. I see all of those things as code words for "pay $300 to wet wade." I'm normally totally in favor of new technology, but in the case of waders it seems the industry has gone crazy. In order to make "breathable" waders from which a little bit of sweat can evaporate, they're all making expensive, flimsy crap that leaks like a sieve if it passes within 10 feet of a rose bush or an especially ambitious mosquito. As if that weren't enough, every time we get into these sieves we get to try to stick two oversized nylon socks into two wet, suctiony, sand-filled boots, and then tie our cold, wet, sandy bootlaces.

I've had it with this crap, and the six pairs (Orvis, Simms, Hodgman) that never lasted me more than half a season each. Now I'm trying to find a good new pair of non-breathable, tough-as-nails canvas waders with boots built right onto them. The closer they are to chest-high Xtratuffs, the better. It doesn't seem like many people are making those anymore.

A quick search online has me looking at Hodgman Wadewells. Anyone have experience with those, or any others you'd recommend?
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
Wiflyfisher's profile picture

Posts: 622
Wiflyfisher on Jun 21, 2009June 21st, 2009, 2:19 am EDT
Softhackle's profile picture
Wellsville, NY

Posts: 540
Softhackle on Jun 21, 2009June 21st, 2009, 5:42 am EDT
I don't know about you, but I wore waders like those Hodgman's for years and years and hated them. Big, bulking, clumsy, sweaty. After getting my first pair of "breathable" waders from Cabela's it was like a revelation. Light weight, easy on the body, comfortable, not clumsy or heavy. I am on my second pair and going strong. I guess you are HARD on your waders. I have a pair of the Three Forks from Cabela's I purchased for my Grandson. They're a little tougher, not as heavy and may wear better for you.

"I have the highest respect for the skilled wet-fly fisherman, as he has mastered an art of very great difficulty." Edward R. Hewitt

Flymphs, Soft-hackles and Spiders: http://www.troutnut.com/libstudio/FS&S/index.html
NW PA - Pennsylvania's Glacial Pothole Wonderland

Posts: 398
RleeP on Jun 22, 2009June 22nd, 2009, 12:21 pm EDT
Json: If you're looking for durability, the Cabelas 3 Forks Wiflyfisher linked to are by far the best wader for the price. They're tougher than my Dad's Aunt Ernie (who once shot and cooked a crow to see what it tasted like) and that's tough. At 400+ denier nylon, they can take a lot of scraping and direct hits from branches and the like.

They aren't particularly comfortable and are a bit like wearing a suit of mail and they aren't made at all for hot weather wading.

Over the years, they've had seepage problems along the seams and in the boot/wader connection, but this is supposedly much better now and at the price, you can afford some extra Aquaseal to keep them going, if needed

But they're about as tough and unwussy as waders today get and at 60 bucks a pop, they're a deal and exactly the ticket for the brush busting angler. In fact, I know a pretty fair number of swamp-tromping, beaver spike-dodging duck guys who wear them with cleated shoes and love them.

Don't get the bootfoot though. The felts are glued, not stitched and tend to get sucked off the bottom of the boot over time. Not that this is any different than a lot of the lower end wading shoes out there
Falsifly's profile picture
Hayward, WI.

Posts: 660
Falsifly on Jun 23, 2009June 23rd, 2009, 7:17 am EDT
I for one love my “soft,” “comfortable”, ‘breathable,” etc. waders. However, having never fished the wilderness of Alaska, where the rose bush can attack from 10 feet and the ambitious mosquito can drill holes in boiler plate, I suggest you visit this site:


You should be able to find something that will protect your expensive fishing gear and may prove invaluable should the bears take a shining to you.
When asked what I just caught that monster on I showed him. He put on his magnifiers and said, "I can't believe they can see that."
Troutnut's profile picture
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2758
Troutnut on Jun 23, 2009June 23rd, 2009, 10:06 am EDT
Falsifly makes a good point. It is tempting to just patch up my breathable waders, and wear something like this over them:

However, I've found that, even while resting quietly in an otherwise empty vacuum chamber, breathable waders tend to spontaneously crack wide open at the seams, not unlike a steamed clam. It may be that they glimpsed a twig through the window and it frightened them into surrender.

I think I will give the Cabelas Three Forks a try... sounds like just what I'm looking for. I would rather get a little sweaty over the course of the day than carry a few pounds of water with me in each boot.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
Aaron7_8's profile picture
Helena Montana

Posts: 115
Aaron7_8 on Jun 27, 2009June 27th, 2009, 3:04 pm EDT
I had a pair of hodgman waders, with the boots attached. In my experience they lasted a year and were more punture resistant, however they weighed more with no water in them thand the lighter weight model that I have now.
On the other hand trying to actually fish and travel the bank in the boot attached model was nearly impossible, specially for someone as clumsy as myself.
Portage, PA

Posts: 437
Lastchance on Jul 2, 2009July 2nd, 2009, 10:47 am EDT
I've had nothing but great service from my Hodgman stockingfoot waders. I fish between 50 to 75 times a year and I've gotten at least 3 years out of each pair. I'll be buying another pair shortly. They only cost about $100.
Posts: 21
Delablobbo on Aug 24, 2009August 24th, 2009, 4:43 pm EDT
You're looking for the old Hodgman Wadewells, which I believe you can still buy. I owned a pair and liked them, despite the weight. The real downside to these waders is when they encounter dampness and ozone. The rubber cracks, and the waders become a colander. You don't find this out until the first day of fishing season. They're good, cheap waders, but you really have to take care of them.
Brookykillr's profile picture
green bay wi

Posts: 1
Brookykillr on Apr 17, 2015April 17th, 2015, 6:39 pm EDT
I hear ya brother.

I wonder if most of these guys endorsing the plastic pants have ever heard of something called brush.

I wondered if these hi-tech waders were any good. By the looks of them I wasn't too impressed.

About ten years ago I had a pair of heavy denier nylon waders. They lasted about a year and half. They also were almost impossible to patch

Canvas are the toughest but I have had mixed luck with them too.

I've seen canvas last 5+ years also seem them junk in a year. This maybe because they were sitting on the shelf for 5 years.

David R. Rastall
PaulRoberts's profile picture

Posts: 1776
PaulRoberts on Apr 17, 2015April 17th, 2015, 9:40 pm EDT
I used Cabela's... heavy duty... Ironsides... Iron Maiden... whatever they called them Cordura trapper's waterfolwers waders they were. Don't know if they still make them. They weighed a ton but you could roll around on beaver willow cuttings and survive.
Long Island, NY

Posts: 5
Stewart711 on Apr 22, 2015April 22nd, 2015, 3:15 pm EDT
Jason I hear you talking!

I've still got my 1990 canvas/rubber Red Ball boot foot waders. The elastic shoulder straps gave out and have been replaced with rope. The boot padding torn out but never a single leak. Used 365 days a year, clamming, on knees digging steamers, duck'n, goose'n, launching boat Oh! and fly fishing. You are right about the breathables, no matter what you pay they seem to leak at the mere sight of a rose bush. I don't want to go back to horse hair line, but give me my red ball's back. They are used as an interim pair as soon as the new ones leak which is about 1 to 1 1/2 yr no matter how much I spend. I wanted to write Simms and see if they could bring that technology back. After spending hundreds per pair I just buy junk and just throw them out.

Oh! the big dollar breatheables were only ever used for fly fishing.

Wbranch's profile picture
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2635
Wbranch on Apr 23, 2015April 23rd, 2015, 3:43 pm EDT
Me and my buds used to wear the Hodgman canvas waders with the rubber boots for decades and then in the late eighties to mid 1990's we really got into the Red Ball Lightweights. They were nylon and quite inexpensive. They were my first stockingfoot wader and when we went to Montana we always brought two pairs with us. Here is a picture of my best bud and I in May of 1994. I know the date because it is one of the first days out on the river after recovering from four months of chemotherapy and two major surgeries to get past the testicular cancer I learned I had in September 0f 1993.

I still have the shirt and the Hardy reel but everything else is gone. He called me today and told me one of our friends was in Honesdale, PA today and it snowed 2".

Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
Posts: 1
Carol on Jun 24, 2015June 24th, 2015, 5:17 pm EDT
I have a sz 9 pair of Stearns 3-ply canvas men's chest
waders with lug soles, lg. inside pocket, insulated boots
For sale. Worn once. Price $40.00 plus shipping if applicable.
Email: carolmorin45@gmail.com

West Chester,PA

Posts: 8
AFISHN on Jul 15, 2015July 15th, 2015, 12:12 pm EDT
I use breathable hips and chest waders and love them,especially Hodgeman's.When I know I'm going through nasty stuff with my hippers,I wear chaps,and I have the same hippers for 10 years with no issues....just saying
"..when i'm not AFISHN,I'm a huntin'... "

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