We review the new Simms Flyweight Waders and Guide Classic Wading Jacket, meant for the serious walking angler.
With the introduction of the new Simms Flyweight Waders, the serious wading fisherman (or a novice looking for functional gear) can stay out longer, walk further, and have a better opportunity to catch fish than ever before. The Guide Classic Wading Jacket lives up to its nickname as the "wet-weather workhorse," and is perfectly compatible with the Flyweight Waders.
I gave this combo a test over the course of the late spring and summer fishing seasons, and wanted to share my thoughts as we approach the cooler weather of fall.
Flyfishing enthusiasts will appreciate the lightweight, versatile waders, fitted with the best ever wader mobility of a pro-level neoprene stocking foot chest wader. Traditional fishing fans will be even more enthused by the Flyweight Collection's breathability and light feel on the legs. These are made for just about any angler who wants something that will stand up to use, the elements, and some serious fishing.
Let's take a look at the specs Simms has measured and determined for their new products, and address a few of my thoughts as to their performance, fit, and comfort. I've known Simms has been putting together great fishing gear for over 40 years and counting, but this was my first significant experience with their equipment. I walked away steadily impressed, and here's why.
Look at the Simms Flyweight Stockingfoot Waders
At first glance, the Flyweight Waders don't look like your typical pair of waders, thanks in large part to the HEXGRID pattern on the chest, which is actually a product of 5.11 Tactical and their multi-directional modular tactical gear attachment system. The chest pocket array includes that HEXGRID load bearing system as well as a dual-access dump pocket and zippered stash pocket behind, making them even more efficient.
The GORE-TEX Pro Stretch crotch panels and zippered side gussets create a great fit for any user that can be customized: you can go with an open, relaxed fit or a more athletic fit option for rigorous fishing. They are made to move with the fisherman instead of against them, and really seem like they'd give each individual a relaxed custom fit. For me, it was exceptional.
Each neoprene stocking foot has the new Hex Air Gravel Guards to eliminate stream grit from entering your boots. It also makes them pretty easy to pack. The waders are completely designed for full compatibility with all of the Simms Flyweight pods and accessories, which are made exclusively by the company in Bozeman, Montana. The shell is a 420/1000D CORDURA nylon laminate with a 2X PU coating and DWR.
Simms Guide Classic Wading Jacket
First launched back in March, 2021, the Guide Classic Wading Jacket has a three-point adjustable storm hood, which is pretty advanced as far as hoods go, and an extended collar to shed rain. I haven't tested it in a torrential downpour, but it sure seems like it'll do the job. There's also a a hook and loop front patch (for drying flies or holding lures), a center back D-ring for your landing net, two decent-sized chest pockets for standard fly boxes and an interior zippered chest pocket for the rest of the stuff you'll need.
This wading jacket comes in every basic size from small all the way up to an amazing 4XL, but it still features a waist length hemline that pairs up nicely with the Flyweight Waders. Believe it or not, the drawstring securing mechanism actually made me feel safer in the water, knowing I was keeping water from filling in even as I waded chest-deep.
Probably best of all are the hand warmer pockets that are located high behind the chest pockets. They're backed with brush tricot for some real warmth, priceless when you're fishing in cold weather.
Using the Simms Flyweight Waders
I'll be honest: most of the time I'm not too protective of my outdoor gear. I go through a pair of lightweight waders just about every two years, and sometimes I only get one season out of them. I'm no different than many ardent anglers in that I use my gear like its made of stainless steel and not some kind of fabric, and I don't hesitate to walk through high weeds, under overhanging limbs, and right into the briars.
A "short walk" upstream in the early spring for me is as least two miles to get to my preferred starting point, and then I'll fight the current walking upstream all the way back. In March, this means walking into water that is not only cold, but still can have ice chunks floating in it. But hey, when the steelhead begin to run, there's no stopping them.
I wore these waders and this jacket on several of these short walks, and though I did give them a little more protective attention than any other fishing outerwear I've owned, I still believe this is the most durable, heavy duty wading system I've ever come across.
The Simms Flyweights are the lightest, strongest waders for the weight that I've used up to this point, and it seems as though I've tried them all. I brush-busted to get where it was that I wanted to go without a hitch, but I certainly don't recommend doing it to your own pair.
I've been waiting for years for someone to come up with a decent-sized chest pocket inside of the waders. I've dreamed of one with a zipper and enough room for my cell phone, truck keys, and room to spare. Simms has finally granted my wish!
I fished easily and without a hint of stiffness. I used an over-the-shoulder tackle bag to carry lures, fishing pliers, and other essential gear, but I had a seriously comfortable experience because these waders are so form-fitting.
Not only that, but I wore them out on Lake Ontario in 38 degree water in the video below in my float tube for some great early season brown trout action. Sure, I had to wear my quilted, insulated wading pants and a pair of alpaca socks underneath, but I was completely comfortable and fished for over an hour offshore. The neoprene stocking foot booties fit very well inside of my swim fins, but my feet did get cold due to the fact that the thick socks made everything so tight.
For safety's sake, I had on my PFD, but I still wouldn't recommend this type of fishing so early in the year when water temperatures can be quite dangerous.
The Dark Stone color is good for any time of year, and my pair absolutely fit like a glove. It does come with an included wading belt which is especially essential for wading higher, more turbid waters. If I had my say I would stick to the simple stretching belt I've used for years. The Simms model is more than adequate, but with the buckle system, it is more difficult to make adjustments on the fly. My old style belt is a simple tug-and-plug away from being immediately tighter, which I've grown accustomed to. That's really my only gripe about these fantastic Flyweight Waders.
Using the Guide Classic Jacket
At first the Guide Classic Jacket felt a little stiff, but I think it was my unfamiliarity with the fabric. It's 3-layer GORE-TEX and 70 Denier, 100% nylon with a DWR/100% nylon tricot backer, and the notion of "stiffness" went out the window after I wore it a while.
We don't always have the need for a wading jacket every single time out, but they're great to have. As I like to say, I'd rather be looking at it than looking for it. I loved the two good-sized velcro pockets on the chest and included bungee for the fishing tool of your choice. There's also an interior zip-up pocket to protect the more vital items, such as your phone.
It fits tight at the waist which I personally love, making it less likely to snag on surrounding branches or underbrush. Once you zip it up tight and put up the hood, you will not be affected by rain or wind whatsoever. It just rolls right off the surface.
Fly fishermen will love the front patch for drying flies and the center back D-ring for hanging a landing net, but I used it for my spoons and stickbaits and it worked great. The cuffs are built to hold out rain and wind-driven water from reaching your arms.
If camouflage weren't such a concern, I'd say this waders and jacket system could serve a waterfowl hunter well in the early season. It's that sturdy and strong, even though it's not the intended use.
I feel like I have a set up for my fishing adventures for years to come, and
Final Thoughts About the Simms Flyweight Waders and Guide Classic Jacket
Simms has been known to produce some the most rugged and dependable waders ever used by the fishing public. From their headquarters in Bozeman, Montana, they've stayed on the cutting edge of the fishing gear industry.
As far as durability goes, their gear is built to last. And if it doesn't, their warranty program covers replacements for any leaks in the first 60 days, and complementary repairs for the first year.
Since fishermen have become more and more demanding in regards to gear expectations, it pays for manufacturers to dig deeper into their process to get the most out of what they build and sell.
It seems that Simms has realized that and applied it to this new gear.