February2012

Redington Sonic Pro Zip Waders: A Review

When the box arrived from Bainbridge Island-based Redington, I was immediately excited because I knew the contents were a pair of Sonic Pro Waders. I resisted the temptation to put them on right away, instead opting to take my time; give them a good inspection first.

I liked what I saw.

Redington Sonic Pro Waders (front)

The waterproof, breathable material is supple where it needs to be (3 layers), extra thick and reinforced (5 layers) appropriately where it should be: in the knees, legs and seat. Anywhere there’s a seam, one thing you won’t find is stitching. This is by virtue of the Sonic Welding process which uses sound to replace needles and thread.  I held my ear close to the seams and was unable to hear anything. That being said, I admittedly have some hearing loss so I don’t doubt Redington’s claims. It sure makes good common sense to eliminate needles and stitching when fabricating something that will be submerged. And this process also creates perfectly flat seams, reducing wear spots. I won’t take up your time with all the details, but if you’re really curious about the technical features of the waders, read about it HERE. By the way, Redington has a real nicely designed website, so check it out. There’s a lot of helpful information for the new angler just getting started.

Redington Sonic Pro Waders (back)

I am no stranger to zippered waders, having purchased a pair of Dan Bailey EZ Zip Guide Waders several years ago. When I purchased the Dan Baileys, they were really the only viable option for those wanting a quality pair of waders featuring a full-length zipper. Since then, the virtues of a full-length zipper have been obviously embraced by others in the industry, as evidenced by Redington’s entry into the category. I lowered the RiRi® zipper (standard for most zippered waders), which makes getting into the waders a snap. No doubt ingress and egress are what the designers had in mind when designing these. The zipper also adds to the convenience of engaging in certain other activities, though I am sure that this added benefit is likely nothing more than an unintentional side-benefit. Sorry, ladies–it really is easier being a guy.

High density, ergonomically shaped neoprene booties and gravel guards with molded, anti-foul lace hooks are featured to provide comfort and durability. The waders come with an adjustable, neoprene wading belt and feature belt loops to keep it in place. I actually like the fact that the belt isn’t permanently integrated into the waders because I wear a fanny waist pack that serves as both a wading belt and as lower back support. Having an integrated belt would just cause bulk and interference.

External front pockets

Internal pocket, perfect for similar-sized items.

On the front are two vertical, laser-cut exterior pockets with YKK water resistant zippers which measure approximately 7″ H x 6″ W; plenty big enough for a standard size fly box. On the inside of the waders is a slightly smaller pocket suitable for a wallet and digital point-and-shoot, or similar sized items. There are zippered hand-warmer pockets on the outside, lined with micro fleece for warming the fingers. These are essential if you’re known to stand in a river in the middle of winter from time to time, as I’m known to do. Often times I question my judgment in doing so. The zippered closure on the hand-warmer pockets may initially seem unnecessary, but during the months when you do not need to warm your hands, the zip closure allows you to secure any items you may wish to place in the pockets. Two discreet but much-appreciated D-rings, for attaching things that require attachment loops, are featured at the top edge of the waders.

After pouring over the features mentioned thus far, I unclipped the suspenders and slipped into the waders (which was easy, due to the full-length zipper, BTW). Upon reaching back to grab and fasten the suspenders, I thought I might have had the straps twisted. This was easily confirmed by another ingenious feature: Redington has fashioned the suspender clips so that you can only fasten them properly.  The receiver clip on the right front of the waders is a male connector; the same clip on the left side is female. The strap clips are female and male, accordingly.  If your mind is in the gutter this may sound sorta kinky, but truth be told it’s actually a really nice little design feature. This may not seem like such a stroke of genius until you’ve put a pair of suspenders on and inadvertently criss-crossed the straps.

Apparently I need to hit the gym.

After I had the suspenders adjusted and the zipper secured in the up position, I pulled the inner drawstring tight to snug-up the top of the waders. The only thing I’d like to see changed with regard to this feature would be to have two separate drawstrings (one for each side). By the time I got the waders cinched snug, there was a fair amount of excess drawstring hanging down. Not a big deal, and I suppose if you’ve got a stouter chest than I do this won’t be an issue. Maybe this is an indication that I need to spend some time in the gym, on the bench press. Low reps. Heavy weight. Many sets.

Once the waders were in donned and adjusted, the next thing I did was, of course, a vanity test. A brief glance in the full-length mirror revealed that these waders don’t make my arse look any bigger than any other pair of waders. Butt However form is secondary to function, so next up was a quick mobility test: some deep squats and lunges that revealed plenty of room and flex, even with fleece pants underneath. This flexibility is due to articulated seams and less bulk due to the lack of stitched seams. Then I took off at a sprint down the hallway and bounded up the flight of stairs, taking two at a time. Now you may be rolling your eyes at my antics, but this sort of physical agility test can easily be required while beating through the brush, up and down slopes, en route to and from the river–particularly when being chased by a bear, bison or other large animal. Remember, one needn’t be particularly fast–just faster than your fishing buddy. I am confident the Redington waders will not in any way interfere with my ability to outrun Marck when we’re fishing the Firehole River in Yellowstone again this year.

If you are looking for a pair of stout, high-quality waders with, among other nice features, a full length zipper, the Redington Sonic Pros look to be an excellent choice.  At $379, they are not cheap, but they’re considerably lower-priced than other waders in the class, which will leave you feeling confident that you made a smart choice. I anticipate enjoying these for many years, and hope to have a chance to get them out in the water soon. I’ll report back after their first field test. If they do happen to spring a leak, I have to wonder–will I hear the telltale hissing sound similar to when a tire, or one’s fishing raft, springs a leak?

Get it?  Sonic welded…using sound? Never mind.

Wow, tough crowd.


My pforepfathers knew some pfamous pfolks

The Werner Castle, Akron Ohio

Undoubtedly there are many people in the world who have actual claims to greatness, to fame and fortune: people who hail from families that, by birthright, have a certain lineage that includes the social elite. The Kennedy and Rockefeller families come to mind. My family does not. However, things might have been very different had my great, great grandfather, who built a publishing empire of sorts, not been sued by Encyclopedia Britannica over alleged copyright violations. He won the lawsuits, but the legal fees left him nearly broke, and thus ended The Werner Printing and Lithograph Company and any hopes of fame and fortune for future generations of this Werner family.  In previous entries on this blog I’ve made clear here and here that I do not hail from the other Werner families that have attained fame and fortune for various corporations bearing my last name the same last name as me.

But there was a time. Because of his esteemed position in society, my great, great grandfather personally knew the likes of Queen Victoria and Buffalo Bill Cody. He was said to have made a personal loan to his friend, Frank A. Seiberling, to help Seiberling start a certain business in Akron, Ohio (the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company). He could have asked for a small stake in the company, but he did not. Things could have turned out very differently had he done so.

There’s actually quite a bit of historical reference material written about him because of the impact he had on Akron’s early industry. I find it ironic that the day on which I discovered this article in the  Akron & Summit County blog was also the 82nd anniversary of my great, great grandfather’s death. If you’re remotely curious, I wrote about my great, great grandfather, P.E. Werner, here.

Old photos reveal some pfascinating pfacts

Family histories are full of ups and downs, but who we are today is what really matters. And while it makes no sense to live in the past, it’s fun to research the olden days. To that end I was recently going through old photos that have been stored in my dad’s basement for decades. I’d seen many of these photos before, but this time I spent a greater amount of time and interest looking through them and writing down dates.  With my dad present, I was able to hear some interesting stories behind some of the photos. One photo in particular caught my attention. My grandfather, Albert Richard Werner, is seen when he was a young man in his 20’s wearing his Akron University letterman’s sweater. He’s holding a respectably-sized pike (or perhaps a muskie) that he caught on a fishing trip somewhere in the proximity of Akron, Ohio. I don’t know that my grandfather was what one would consider an avid angler, but he obviously fished occasionally, as evidenced by this photo.

Albert R. Werner, varsity angler (1924)

As we looked through the photos my dad told me a story that had been passed down to him from his father: On a particular fishing trip, my grandfather and a buddy encountered mechanical problems with their powerboat, and they were essentially stranded in the middle of a lake. My grandfather had to dive into the water to perform some sort of makeshift repairs the prop of the boat belonging to his buddy, Bill Pfleuger.

Yes, that Pfleuger– the name behind the well-known fishing tackle. I’ve never given much thought to the Pfleuger brand, although I know many regard highly the Medalist fly reels. Curious about my grandfather’s fishing buddy, I did a little internet sleuthing and found ample reference to a William S. Pfleuger, whose father Earnest A. Pfleuger started the famous company. The Bill Pfleuger in question would have been born around 1903– a generation younger than William S.Pfleuger. I wasn’t able to find any information, but perhaps a descendant will read this and contact me. Who knows, maybe one of the unidentified young men in some of the photos I have is their ancestor. Stranger things have happened.

 

It’s amusing to think that if things had turned out differently for my forefathers this blog might have been titled, “The Accomplished Angler.” Such is not the case, and that’s all fine and dandy. We cannot change the past and it’s best to let bygones be bygones. That being said I will not soon be going out to purchase a set of Encyclopedia Britannica, but I am tempted to seek out a vintage Medalist. After all, my grandfather fished with a Pflueger. Maybe I should, too.

I think my forefathers would approve of both decisions.

Owl’s finest hour

I don’t know if this is really the best work Owl Jones has ever produced or if I’m still feeling a little guilty about boycotting his website a few months ago. Either way, it’s worth a watch. It would take a cold-hearted individual not to get a little choked-up  to see Owl so overcome by emotion.

Owl Jones loves him some trouts...especially the brown trout.

Trout Love: The Dating Video from Owl Jones on Vimeo.

 

 

An indescribable day of fishing

Last week I talked about the emotional fishing hangover that followed a recent trip. The trip in question was a day of fishing so diverse–so complex–that it’s difficult to sum it up accurately with a single title. The antics of the day varied as widely as the weather, which was cold and wet early in the day. In the afternoon, the clouds lifted and the day warmed comfortably. As the weather improved, adult behavior went the other direction.

Roe and sand shrimp for those inclined

This entry could be titled, “Roe, Roe, Roe Your Boat” but that would be a bit misleading, as it suggests we fished with bait. Some of those aboard the two boats may gotten their fingers dirty, but I’ll not name names. I will state proudly that I did not. Being a puritan fly angler, it was bad enough that I was forced to use a spinning setup. At least I opted only to fish yarn egg patterns (Team Synthetic!).

 

Shooting Fish in a Mighty Big Barrel

Another theme for the day might well have been “Shooting Fish in a Barrel” because fishing was rather, well, productive. The total catch among 9 fishermen was 27 steelhead. Unfortunately we were only able to remove 6 hatchery brats from the system, with the remaining fish being native wild unclipped. All were fine Clearwater River steelhead (and one fair-hooked sucker), and the overwhelming majority of these fish were caught before we broke for lunch.

 

Skunkapotamus?

Perspectives vary, however, and if you were to ask one of those onboard if the day were akin to shooting fish in a barrel, Boane he would have answered that it was a “mighty big barrel.” As we exited the boats after 8 hours on the water, high-fiving and whooping it up in fine celebratory fashion, this fish-deprived angler was overheard using the term “Skunkapotamus” to describe the day.

 

"Comrade, does this hat make me look taller?"

Yet another title could very easily have been “Fireball and Russian Dwarves” due to the scent of cinnamon that hung in the air and the presence of a particular fur hat purchased in eastern Europe by one of those onboard. Was it my hat?  Niet, although I may have worn it for a period of time.

Rubbers: one size fits all. Or, not.

“Mooseknuckle and Rubber Pants” would also be a fitting headline for the day. When you take a man who is 6’8″ and shoehorn his arse into a pair of rubber rain pants intended to fit a considerably shorter man, the results are self-explanatory. But when it comes to angling attire, it’s function over form that matters and waterproof pants were essential on this damp day that was at times downright wet. Large Albacore wasn’t the only one glad for the rubber pants, as a fair amount of entertainment was had at his expense.

 

First Fish and Biggest Fish (debatable)

“Fishermen are so Damn Competitive” was another theme that applied to the day. Before we boarded the boats everyone tossed 10 bucks into two cups: one pot for the First Fish caught; the other for the Biggest Fish. I was privileged to witness the First Fish being caught as it was landed by one of my boat mates. Bryan (not his real name) is a seemingly easy-going guy who is soft-spoken and laid-back. But turn your back on him for a second and he’s throwing elbows and jockeying for the best fishing position in the boat. No matter, it was good to get the skunk off the boat early. Around mid-morning yours truly landed an athletically-built fish in the 37-38″ range, as declared by the guide himself. This handsome B-Run Clearwater steelhead was the biggest fish caught should have been taken the Big Fish award. However, the prize was awarded to another fish that was lethargic and out of shape. No amount of formal protesting on my part could sway the panel of corrupt judges. I won. You know it. And I hope you all can sleep at night knowing that I was robbed. In all reality, everyone got a blue ribbon (in fact several, thanks to Pabst).

The unsung Big Fish of the day.

Suffice it to say that on this day, where the weather changed dramatically, fishing went from hot to slow, and behavioral antics ran the full gamut, there’s just no way to sum it all up in a manner that’s nice and tidy. What it was, was a great day shared with great friends.

 

 

 

I’d like to take a moment to individually thank everyone on the trip: Jawn, thanks for the over-the-top generous hospitality and for putting the trip together (I’ll send you a bill for my share of the gas that was required to get there); Lenrod, much appreciation for getting us there and back through freezing rain and Wenatchee rush hour traffic, and not stopping to harvest road kill; The Brothers Albacore, thanks for the fun and for being so damn tall (and Large Albacore–my neck still hurts and we’re still friends); Micro, thanks for letting me sport your pelt hat for a while, and sorry about that whole P.O.T.Y. thing 30 years ago (get over it already); Bryan, thanks for getting the skunk off the boat early so we could just enjoy fishing without the pressure; Boane, sorry, man. It happens to men your age (try baking soda and hydrogen peroxide to get the stink out); Red Pig, you were missed this year–do not miss next year.

If the guys at Hells Canyon Sport Fishing will have us again, I’ll see you next year, boys. Bring on the 3rd annual Clearwater River Debauchery!