Seal Skinz Product Testing Report

Nick Clayton

WFF Supporter
With the south sound forecast calling for heavy rains and flood warnings @dustinchromers @bart morrow and I decided to take one for the WFF team and get out on the water and perform some serious product testing on these magical wet wading socks.

It was the perfect day for testing due to the fact that it rained pretty much all day. And by pretty much all day I mean from the time we met at the launch till the time we went our separate ways near dark, the rain barely let up. We had five or six 5-10 minute windows where the rain stopped, or at least slowed to manageable levels, but for the rest of the day it was an absolute downpour.

In order to provide a fair basis for comparison we elected to each wear different socks/shoes/boots. I opted for the standard brown Romeos with a single pair of Merino wool socks. Bart wore his standard boat shoes with what I’m sure were socks made of recycled burlap sacks, dirty hippy that he is :) And Chromers opted for a pair of Romeos worn with a pair of Seal Skinz. I am pretty sure he also had a pair of Filson wool socks under those that he picked up on sale for 59.99 at their annual Black Friday sale.

We met at a south sound boat launch, went over our plan for the day of field testing, and quickly got the boat in the water. At the last second we decided we may as well throw some fly gear in the boat in the off chance that we were able to get through our extensive testing program early enough that we could spend a few minutes casting flies. This proved to be a very good idea, but more on that a bit later.


We also took the opportunity to test several different brands/styles of rain gear, figuring if we were gonna go through such intense effort just to field test socks we may as well take full advantage and work on the rain gear side of things too. Don’t anyone say we haven’t done our best to contribute to this great forum!

I opted for the always popular Coleman rain pants that I picked up at Walmart for a few bucks early this morning after I couldn’t find my usual Columbia pants. Conveniently these pants came in a slate grey color that matched my Grundens rain coat so well that I’m sure @Swimmy would have given me a hearty high five had he been there to see how dapper I looked in my matching oufit.

Bart chose to go with another brand of light rain pants, two different Simms Goretex jackets, and his standard deck shoes/ankle socks combo

Mr. Chromers arrived equipped with a brand of rain coat/pants that I was not familiar with, and while both the top and bottom were blue in color, they were not matching blues. I did not have the heart to tell him what a distraction his unmatched outfit was, but it was definitely on my mind all day.

We got on the water around 8:30 or so and took out a little after 4. Lest anyone accuse us of not putting in the proper amount of time for our testing we wanted to make sure we spent the bulk of the day out in the rain. After pulling the boat and stowing our gear we met at the parking lot for the grand “unveiling” as we stripped off our outer layers to determine just how wet we were underneath.

I’ll spare you the boring details of our rigorous testing procedure and just skip to the results as I know that’s what most folks are looking for…..

After a solid 8 hours of fishing the results were as follows:


Bart- Soaked to the bone. Wet toes, wet legs, wet upper body…. Wet wet wet. Oh, and cold too. Very cold.


Nick- Soaked to the bone. Wet toes, wet legs, fairly wet upper body, wet cigarettes, wet lighter, wet cell phone, wet buff, wet hat, wet everything. Very cold.


Chromers- Wet, but not soaked to the bone. Damp legs, fairly dry upper body, dry neck by virtue of his amazing hat, and most importantly SLIGHTLY less damp feet than Bart and me. Clearly the Seal Skinz had worked as advertised. His feet were much drier than mine in my Merino socks and were definitely drier than Bart in his deck shoes and ankle socks. After some discussion we learned that while his feet were not as wet as ours, they were indeed wet… BUT, he reported that his piggies were toasty warm inside the comfort of that glorious layer of Seal Skin.


It's abundantly clear to me after this intense day of testing that I have been missing out on one of the greatest pleasures in life for all the years I’ve spent fishing in nasty weather; dry tootsies! I was quite envious of Chromer’s warm feet as I was driving home with feeling slowly returning to my legs starting from my toes. When that familiar burning sensation started to kick in from the truck heater blasting on my feet, I told myself right then and there that today would be the last time I ever endured such misery. I mean why should a man fish with wet and cold feet when the solution is as easy as a Paypal transaction and a couple days waiting time for shipping. I will suffer no longer. I’m going on 40 years old, I don’t need that sort of abuse in my life.


In the end the Seal Skinz were the clear-cut winner. Chromer’s slightly less wet feet than Bart and I was just the proof we were looking for, and just the sort of information we were hoping to provide this forum. Since Patrick never bothered to come back and provide a full review of his Seal Skinz we here at WFF have all just been in limbo since. Desperately wanting what we couldn’t have…..First hand field testing results! I mean a pair of Seal Skinz is quite a financial investment and one that is hard to make without hearing how these things work after all. I’m here to tell ya, if slightly less moisture on your feet during an all-day downpour is your goal, Seal Skinz flat out provide. You can be sure that I’ll be starting a Gofundme campaign in the very near future so that I can add a pair of these wonderful socks to my wet weather fishing arsenal.


Now, earlier I mentioned throwing some fishing gear in the boat and that proving to be a good idea, and that was no lie. We decided the best way to truly field test these great products was to test them out in the environment they were designed for, however since there were no small creeks for us to dance and prance across, we figured the best thing we could do in the name of quality product testing was to just act like it was any other day of fishing and put them through the rigors of Puget Sound fly fishing.

So that’s what we did, we fished. We fished a lot. All day long we fished. And it was very solid fishing.

From the first cast of the day where I promptly stuck a beautiful colored cutthroat, there was much fish catching going on. DC, who is at heart a diehard river guy who doesn’t have a ton of time fly fishing in these salt waters, adjusted to this new-to-him style of fishing extremely quickly. After farming his first few fish due to trout sets and minor nuances, he soon settled down and went to work on our Puget Sound fish. He hooked and/or landed a very good number of fish today. Resident coho and cutthroat both were regretting their decision to investigate the squimp pattern he fished all day. He taught many of these fish a lesson they won’t soon forget…. Don’t eat that pink, shrimpy looking thing! He was hooking so many fish that several times I stole an up-close glance at his fly just to verify he hadn't swapped the squimp pattern for some hevi beads as he was roping mini chromers at an alarming level. I was not quite prepared for this coastal dude to show up on MY home waters and put on such a clinic, but that was exactly what happened. It was a thing of beauty. From his varied retrieval methods and ability to read and adapt to what the fish wanted, to his text book strip setting and fish fighting ability, dude was to our Puget Sound fish what I am to the local buffets…. Mean!

We all three caught a lot of fish, but I believe when it came to the coho in particular Chromers and his Seal Skinz were ahead of Bart and I by a good margin, and after putting some interesting details together I think I have a theory that explains his success… Resident coho don’t like being wet any more than we do! We all noticed throughout the day that every time we had one of those 5-10-minute windows of no rain the coho would suddenly start rising/jumping all over the place, and we would promptly start catching them. As soon as the rain started back up again, the fish would vanish. It was bizarre. This routine happened often enough that we all three were able to notice the obvious preference of these fish to the dry weather. They wanted nothing to do with the rain. With that aversion to moisture in mind it’s clear that they would much rather be caught by the guy whose feet were slightly less damp than the others on the boat. I would have never guessed that about these fish, but the evidence is quite strong to support this theory.


It rained so hard and for so long that we essentially did next to no fly changing. It was just such a miserable experience to change flies that we couldn’t be bothered to do so. We all fished the dubbing brush squimp flies I’ve been tying the last month, and luckily for us these flies were everything the fish wanted. Sea run cutthroat and rezzies fell victim to these flies countless times. Tied a bit different than Mark Mercer’s fantastic original version, the rubber legs and flash material that makes up the dubbing brush for the collar give the fly movement that I can’t really even explain. Sexy is the word that was used most often on the boat today. They are just unbelievably sexy in the water. The other thing they are is durable. I won’t begin to guess at the total number of fish the three of us brought to the boat today, but it was a pretty impressive number, and these flies held up unbelievably well. The wire dubbing brush seems to provide a whole new level of durability. I’ve been quite impressed.

Luckily, since it was such an unenjoyable chore to change out flies, the fish were glad to gobble up these flies, and were quite aggressive all-day long. We found large schools of resident coho in several locations, as well as smaller pods of fish cruising here and there that were happy to jump on our bright pink flies. The cutthroat were just as happy to eat them as well. We fished a few other flies early on before the rain really got going, and while they did elicit a few strikes they were clearly not as into other stuff as they were the squimps. Not that I ever complain when fish are anxious to eat such a great, easy to tie little pattern!

We saw tons of jumpers and if we could get a cast in their vicinity we were nearly always rewarded with multiple takes. Missed fish were not a big deal as all it generally took to receive another grab was a few more strips. They weren’t terribly picky. We did get quite a few grabs on the drop between strips, and adjusted our retrieve once we started noticing (I believe it was Chromers who first mentioned this), but all the standard retrieves were producing well. Fast, erratic strips with lots of pauses was the clear winner.


We didn’t land anything too huge, but we did see a good number of larger fish jumping with the schools throughout the day, and we got to witness a very large cutthroat try to eat Chromer’s fly on back-to-back casts however he unfortunately missed the hook both times. This was a VERY nice cutthroat. I won’t take a guess at his length, but I would be ecstatic to shake hands with such a fish any day of the year. What was most interesting about that fish, and is something I’ve never personally encountered, was that this fish was part of a large “school” of cutthroat. I’ve seen large concentrations of fish in a general area, but I’ve never see a true school of cutthroat. There was probably 30 fish and we could see them quite clearly from the vantage point of the boat, and they were most definitely schooled up. What was most interesting though was watching that large fish. It was, it seemed almost herding and bullying the smaller fish at the same time. Reminded me of a dominant bull elk in a herd. When our flies would come into the school, which was only maybe 20’ from the boat, the smaller fish would dart after them, but that big bruiser would act like he was trying to chase the smaller fish from our flies. Almost as if he didn’t really want to eat our flies himself but he damn sure didn’t want any lesser fish to eat them either. It was fascinating to watch and one of the coolest things I’ve witnessed while fishing on the sound. I’ve never seen such behavior before. I stuck the Gopro under the water to try to capture this scene however upon a quick look at the video it appears the water was a bit too murky for anything too exciting on camera.


We fished type 7 Airflo Beach lines from start to finish, not even considering changing lines in those miserable conditions, not that there was any need. Strong currents flowed nearly all day and the fast sinking shooting heads were once again the perfect tool for this type of fishing out of a boat. I started the day fishing my beloved Scott Meridian 6 wt, however that didn’t last long as fairly early in the day I was making a cast when we all heard that sickening crack that can only mean one thing…. Rod snapped right below the first ferrule mid cast. I’m sure I banged it with a heavy fly, or as it was tossed in and out of my truck a million and one times and weakened the graphite. The rod will be repaired by Scott under warranty of course, so I didn’t cry about the rod breaking, but I was disappointed I didn’t get to fish my favorite rod the rest of the day.

This wasn’t all bad though as this gave me a chance to spend more time fishing an Echo 3s and the more I fish that rod the more I am impressed. Just an absolutely wonderful fishing tool. Anyone looking for a top quality mid-priced rod for Puget Sound fishing would be doing themselves a huge disservice by not checking these rods out. Chromers also was fishing an Echo rod, however his was a bit more unique as it was a 10’ 4” OHS 6 wt. I was not familiar with this rod but got to fish it a bit later in the day and it was a joy to fish. While not the cannon that I’m used to in the Meridian, once I adjusted my stroke to the slower rod I was laying out plenty of line. Chromers was able to throw a 6 wt Beach Line a country mile with that thing with minimal effort. The extra length was very nice for keeping line over our heads while casting from the small boat, and I imagine it would excel at single hand spey casts and such when fishing in tight quarters on a beach at high tide. I caught a handful of fish on this rod while testing it out and it was not at all over gunned. A 15” src felt great on that stick. It’s called the OHS for One Handed Spey, and it’s a really cool rod. With all the talk of two handers and commando heads in the salt forum lately I’m surprised I haven’t seen this one mentioned more often. I’ve decided that I’ll be adding one to the arsenal very soon, specifically for the ability to cast one hand over head as I prefer, but still have the ability to spey cast as needed. I think it will make a real nice tool for the beach. If that sort of thing interests you at all I highly recommend taking a look at this one.


All joking aside it was truly a great day on the water. Miserable conditions, but great fishing and great company. Mr. Chromers was a hell of a good fisherman, hell of a good guy, and a hell of a lot of fun to fish with. I’m extremely glad he decided to come out and see what this fishery is all about, and I have a feeling it won’t be the last time we get him out on the sound. After the fun day we had I doubt we’d have to twist his arm too hard to come back out again. It was a lot of fun to get to show off our fishery to someone who has so much fishing experience yet hadn’t had the pleasure of much Sound fishing. We all enjoy showing off our favorite things, and this Puget Sound fishery is one of my favorite things in the world so it’s always a treat to show it off to cool folks who appreciate it for what it is every bit as much as I do. As we commented several times throughout the day as we were hooking fish after fish, if you can’t have fun doing this then you probably need to reevaluate your definition of fun.

Aside from the rain and snapped rod, the only other downfall was the crowds. We were pretty damn upset to see a boat come by us, figuring we were gonna get low holed yet again on this insanely crowded fishery, but we discovered it was just a tribal boat slowly cruising by the area. Phew! Close call. Would have ruined my streak of days of not seeing another angler on the saltwater!


I got home and took the hottest, most amazing shower of my life and was finally able to get feeling back in my toes after ten minutes or so of standing in that scalding hot water. As feeling returned and I could feel the ache in my feet I knew I could never go through this again. My feet will never, EVER go without the wonderful, slightly less damp feeling that those Seal Skinz provide. If anyone has a hookup for where I should order these, please let me know ASAP!



Was a pretty lousy day for taking pics. Luckily I had my waterproof camera and Gopro so I did get a few pics and some great video. I didn't dare pull my phone out today.


First cast fish..... First of many today.

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Squimp definitely got it done today

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Nothing huge today but all beautiful, feisty fish. This fish is eyeballing that squimp like he's not too happy with his decision to eat it.

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We had countless encounters with these chrome bright fish. This one had some interesting marks.

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Skipper got in on the action. Too bad he doesn't look like he's enjoying himself at all.


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Recent slide. Sure wouldn't want to have been anywhere near this one when it came down.


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And a short video clip of the first large school of coho we encountered this morning. So much fun!


 
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Jim Ficklin

Genuine Montana Fossil
So . . . blue repels water better than gray?

You fellas had a grand, albeit damp, day - thanks for sharing. It rained here yesterday also, but between my sweats, Cabelas fleece slippers & a toasty pellet stove, the dog & I both stayed warm & dry. My Nikon D500 "how-to" book didn't even get wet . . .
 

rotato

Active Member
Nice work fellas!
I feel like a wimp.
I didn't want anything to do with tha rain yesterday.
On a slightly damp day I wear full foul weather gear and extra tuffs.
You guys took one for science
 

dustinchromers

Active Member
I'll report in later with some additional thoughts but the two main themes are the seal skins work wonders and any wetness could likely be attributed to sweat as the fishing was fast and furious. Quite frankly I wad tested physically. My right hand is cut from stripping and the left still frozen in a claw like position, I can't even type well. I have to say that yesterday was about the most fun I've had with a fly rod in ages. I was blown away at the quality of the fishing, company, and solitude. Truly what fly fishing should be. I give a hearty full endorsement for Nick, Bart, and South Sound Skiffs as a first class ultra fun program. I can't wait to try it again. Very grateful to experience such awesome fishing with folks who have it very dialed in.
 

Nick Clayton

WFF Supporter
Nice work fellas!
I feel like a wimp.
I didn't want anything to do with tha rain yesterday.
On a slightly damp day I wear full foul weather gear and extra tuffs.
You guys took one for science


It was insanely wet yesterday That was easily one of the wettest days, start to finish, that I've spent on the water in a good long time. I was wearing a Grundens Dark and Stormy jacket and it was the first time I had worn it in such conditions. I was quite impressed with how it held up, but by the end of the day I was definitely damp in the sleeves and such. Great jacket. I honestly can't think of any rain gear I've used short of full on heavy type commercial Grundens bibs and such, which is extremely uncomfortable while fly fishing in a small boat, that would have kept me any drier.
 

jasmillo

WFF Supporter
Anybody else get more excited about the boat show this week after reading this report.

I start perusing boattrader.com every time a @bart morrow related report is posted. Great report, great day (outside of the rain) to be on the water. In the end, great fishing always makes the cold and wet worth it!
 

Stonefish

Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater....Know Grizzler
Nice report Nick.
It is a shame it is so crowded out there. Seeing one other boat can certainly ruin someone's day.
Add in the weather and I'm glad to hear you guys survived, considering how dangerous fishing can be. ;)
Glad to hear DC enjoyed the saltchuck.
SF
 
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