Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Gear review: Redington Sonic-Pro Zip Front waders (his & hers edition)

It's taken us awhile to get around to it, but we've finally spent enough time in our Redington Sonic-Pro Zip Front waders to write an actual review. It seems that a lot of folks in the fly fishing blogosphere were either given Sonic-Pros for review or bought them and found them worthy of a review or recommendation. You can find a number of reviews for the men's Sonic-Pro Zip Fronts here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and I'm sure there are others out there that I've missed. (Please don't take offense if I've left you out, just leave a comment below and I'll gladly include your review in the list.) There are only two other blogger reviews of the women's version that I am aware of- found here and here. To my knowledge, this is the first and only blog review to discuss both "his & hers" together. We try to be original around here. You gotta do something to stand out from the crowd.

Kelly and I don't wear waders as often as your average Rocky Mountain fly fishers. In our part of the world, waders are a necessity for two things: frigid tailwater trout fisheries (see Norfork River in Arkansas) and winter wading. For close to eight months out of the year, we're wet wading. In light of that information, it's probably no surprise that I'm not really a fan of waders at all. Sure, they're a part of the official unofficial uniform of fly fishers around the globe... and you have to a fancy name brand pair to look the part, right?

Honestly, I've never been too concerned about my waders, because I don't spend the majority of my fly fishing time wearing them. Prior to receiving our Sonic-Pros, both Kelly and I have worn White River Fly Shop waders by Bass Pro. For our purposes, these have worked out just fine. In fact, I've had my pair for over five years and they've never sprung a leak. Kelly also has a pair of neoprene waders from Bass Pro for cold weather, because she's a little less cold tolerant than I am. I should also mention that Kelly routinely wears Cabela's Three Forks waders for her field work collecting stream macroinvertebrates. I've also previously owned a pair of L.L. Bean Flyweight waders, but truthfully that was over a decade ago. So, my history with waders is pretty simple. I'm not a huge fan. I'd rather wet wade. I've never owned a pair of Simms waders. I've spent my rather limited fly fishing budget elsewhere.

Redington Sonic-Pros go well with superhero spandex

No mistaking, they're the real deal from Redington

You might be saying to yourself, "this guy isn't qualified to write this review"... and I would say, "hold your horses." I personally believe that I'm all the more qualified because I don't really enjoy my time spent in waders and I don't have any preconceived notions about what makes a quality pair of waders. I won't be comparing the Sonic-Pros to Simms or any other high end competitors. My points of reference are knowingly inferior, and in reality I have no basis to compare direct competition. What I can do is give an honest review of how these waders fit, how they performed, and how comfortable they are in the process.

Good for fishing and playing with snakes

As for fit, Redington has some really specific sizing charts. I know I've never seen any other waders that offer as many size options to give you a near custom fit.

If you can't find your size, you must be pretty special.

I'm not a very big or tall guy so I chose the men's "M Short." My inseam is 30"... right between the "M Short" and "M." It was a tough decision, and I could have easily gone with the standard "M" (to err on the side of caution- a little too long would be OK, right?), but I really wanted to find out how close to a perfect fit these waders could be. It turns out they were pretty darn close to perfect. They may be about a half inch short, but I'd rather have that than too much length in the legs bunching up and annoying me.

With a few less sizing choices for the ladies, Kelly chose the "M." Hers turned out with a pretty nice fit as well. To say Kelly was impressed with the fit would be a bit of an understatement. She was actually quite delighted and exclaimed something that can't be put into print here. They simply fit that much better than any waders she has ever put on. It was easy for me to see from her reaction and from her modeling them for the first time, these waders really were properly designed for women.

So, how did they do in the water?

The obvious first question is "did the zipper leak?"... and the answer is simply "no, it didn't." It actually works. The only water that got in was when I slipped and fell in the river... no waders can save you from that situation. Maybe I need a dry suit?

Did I use the zipper? Yes, it has its obvious benefits when you need to relieve yourself or get to something in your pants pocket... and it just makes putting them on a whole lot easier.

I think my favorite features of the waders, aside from the overall comfort, are the pockets. Although I've never had any other waders with multiple pockets like these, these seem pretty well placed and were just the right size for the small items I put in them- a small fly box, fishing license in a waterproof bag, a couple of tippet spools, and a spare leader. What more do you need, right? The hand warmer pockets are nice too, but I can't say it's been cold enough to really need those around these parts.

Towards the end of our day on the water, Kelly and I took a short hike up a feeder stream to see if we could find any salamanders. We didn't really see much in the form of tailed amphibians, but we did find a cold Northern Water Snake (Nerodia sipedon sipedon) that emerged from the leaf litter after I stepped along. Our little climb up the waterfalls and rocks to look for critters really showed how comfortable and flexible these waders are. We had to climb over quite a few obstacles, and I didn't feel at all hindered by them. The only thing clunky were my wading boots, and wading boots always seem a bit clunky to me.

Did I mention that these waders were comfortable? Well, they are. At some point, I kinda forgot I was wearing them, and that is exactly the feeling I would look for in a pair of waders. I'm still not a fan of wearing waders in general, but if I must, I want them to be Sonic-Pros.

I think Kelly would certainly agree, but (as I mentioned before) her honest review wasn't fit to be put into print here. Even a well-fitted pair of women's specific waders can't make her act like a lady.

For more details and product specifications, please check out the Redington website.

*These Redington Sonic-Pro Zip Front waders were provided courtesy of Redington for the purpose of this review. The Naturalist's Angle is in no way affiliated with Redington and this gear review represents an independent unbiased opinion of quality and performance.*


  1. Jay
    I have been looking at the Redington waders, and really like the product. My current pair of waders have some leaks in the foot section at the top and I have patched them as much as I can but still get water. I am going to have to make a decision soon on some new waders. I am a big Redington fan. I now own 3 of their fly rods and a couple of there Drift Fly Reels. Thanks for sharing

    1. Bill,
      I know I didn't get too in depth with this review, but the "sonic-welded" seams are part of what make these waders so comfortable. From what I have read in other reviews, where the review was more abusive than when we were, the seams are pretty durable- no review I have read has had any issue with them. Everybody just says they're flatter and better than traditional sewn seams. I think if you were to buy a pair you would be very pleased.