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> > So who's making a decent canvas wader right now?

TroutnutJune 21st, 2009, 1:14 am
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2737
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
WiflyfisherJune 21st, 2009, 6:19 am

Posts: 663
Besides having an expensive pair of Simm's breathable waders I have a pair of Cabela's Three Forks. I use them a lot in NW Wisconsin for fishing because of brush, etc...
John S.
SofthackleJune 21st, 2009, 9:42 am
Site Editor
Wellsville, NY

Posts: 540
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:
RleePJune 22nd, 2009, 4:21 pm
NW PA - Pennsylvania's Glacial Pothole Wonderland

Posts: 398
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
FalsiflyJune 23rd, 2009, 11:17 am
Hayward, WI.

Posts: 661
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."
TroutnutJune 23rd, 2009, 2:06 pm
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2737
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_8June 27th, 2009, 7:04 pm
Helena Montana

Posts: 115
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.
LastchanceJuly 2nd, 2009, 2:47 pm
Portage, PA

Posts: 437
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.
DelablobboAugust 24th, 2009, 8:43 pm
Posts: 21You'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.
BrookykillrApril 17th, 2015, 10:39 pm
green bay wi

Posts: 1
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
PaulRobertsApril 18th, 2015, 1:40 am

Posts: 1776
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.
Stewart711April 22nd, 2015, 7:15 pm
Long Island, NY

Posts: 5
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.

WbranchApril 23rd, 2015, 7:43 pm
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2733
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.
CarolJune 24th, 2015, 9:17 pm
Posts: 1I 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.

AFISHNJuly 15th, 2015, 4:12 pm
West Chester,PA

Posts: 8
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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