"Entry level" breathable waders

So, my 3-year old neoprene Hodgmans finally sprung a leak, and I got a freezing cold leg last weekend. I now have a good reason to convert to breathables. I know I'll hear, "buy the best you can afford", but I'm not a big spender when it comes to anything. So, I've come down to Cabela's Premium Dry Plus and the Frogg Toggs Hellbender. Anyone have experience with either of these? I do much more fishing in the salt right now, but I'm anticipating a move which will make river access much more likely. Just wondering if anyone out there has some good info on these specific models.


Jake Bannon

nymphs for steelhead....
Dan Baily lightweights, got a pair not to long ago and they are very nice for the price ($200). I know a buddy and he is going on year 6 with his with no leaks, as long as you treat them nicely you will be set. Rumer has it they have a fantastic warrenty and service as well.

Thanks Jake, but $200 is more than I plan to spend right now. I'm a budget fly fisherman; I know, I know: how the hell is that possible? I don't know.

Old Man

Just an Old Man
Try the Dan Bailey's Bare Bones. When I bought mine three years ago they were about $130. Still no leaks, but then again I don't wear them much here. No need for waders unless you are wading in cold, fast, running water. Here in Montana I can hit the other bank from shore. Unless I'm fishing the bigger rivers.


Jake Bannon

nymphs for steelhead....
Do some online research and try to find some closeouts or major sales. I researched probley 10min and found mine on a cloesout, regularly $200 on sale for $100....no tax or shipping :thumb: I like to buy localy and support a few local shops and all but when your on a budget (like myself) you cant pass up on good deals.


Active Member
Jon, I bought Dan Bailey breathable waders on some closeout on the web three years ago and they're still going strong. I think I paid around $80.00. I'm on a budget too.
I'd take the mileage thing with a grain of salt (no offense to anyone). Let's say your waders made it 4 years before taking on water...how many trips is that? wading, float tube, or ?, stickerbushes? how often? over logs? how often? barbed wire? how often? how much hiking? how do your waders fit? are you thick in the legs? does a lot of the material bunch up because you're skinny? any rowing? how much? what finally caused the leak? did you get too close to a cigarette?...a burn hole goes through $399 G3's the same way it goes through $69 Hodgemans. Anyhow, worth keeping in mind that prices are also driven by features, benefits, etc. that aren't related to longevity per se.

Jon, at least from your post, if you had your neo's 3 yrs b4 first leak that's a good indication you're not beating them up much. From everything you mentioned I'd pop $4.99 for a tube of aquaseal and off you go. If your priority is to get into breathables (do that if you fish often enough) then like others have said, I'd go midrange and find something on sale...midrange being 200's at msrp. Orvis is good at middle price point but there are 3 or 4 good alternatives as well. IMO you'll get a lot of bang out of that step up so if it's out of budget at the moment I'd do the aquaseal and just wait. It won't keep you from fishing so who gives a crap...

Old Man

Just an Old Man
Hodgeman breathables
I've had two pair of Hodgeman's. They both leaked in the same place. The crotch. :( It sure isn't much fun when you get in water as deep as your boys and the next thing you know is that they are wet and cold. :mad: I'd vote against Hodgeman's.


Ethan G.

I do science.. on fish..
I'd go with Dan Bailey's. It's a great product and they back it up with customer service that rivals Patagonia and Simms. Plus, the Bare Bones are only $129 or something like that.
Dan Bailey's Bare Bones. $130.
Six years since my first steelhead. Bought my fist pair from a shop on the deschutes, Or. then. At 100+ outings per year on all rivers starting with S, plus salt water. Bought a second pair three years ago. Stupid oldman thought it was the same pair all six. Mind you, 100 plus so 600 times works out to 43 cents to stay dry, or less each time I fished. I treated them like they were force fields that could stop a .45 round.

I just bought my third pair. I could get a rod blank with money spent on top of the line paraphernalia. If I didn't need it to fish.

Edit: I guess if you facter aquaseal it might be 50 cents. I have 2 quarters.
In my experience, the cheaper ones seem to do as well as the expensive ones. My fishing partner always buys the more expensive, and his waders always start leaking quicker than mine. He's probably more aggressive than me, but he's now convinced that expense doesn't me much when it comes to waders. You could get a less expensive wader that leaks the first time out and it could happen with an expensive wader. I think buying a wader is like rolling the dice.