In this tackle review Fishtec’s Ceri Thomas shares his thoughts on a fly fishing wader he has been using over the past few weeks – the Airflo Super-Tuff.
I’ve always been a bit dubious about using non-breathable bootfoot chest waders, especially for river work. However, since the start of the season (March the 3rd) I have been testing the Super Tuff waders from Airflo on both river and stillwater, and guess what? They have been pretty good so far.
It started as a convenience thing – bootfoot’s are extremely quick and easy to take on and off, ideal for short lunch time sessions where time is at a premium. Another factor has been the brutally cold spring. With snow on the banks and sub zero temperatures, the last thing I wanted to do was lace up wading boots and go through the tedious process of taking them off again when wet, with even colder, numb hands. So a set of bootfoot’s was the simple answer.
Super Tuff are made of a thick, heavy duty PVC material. A bit like the old ocean waders that were once renowned for their reliability. What struck me was their suppleness – they are not heavy to wear and slip on and off like a glove. The wader appears to be very well put together, with comfortable and easily adjustable shoulder straps. There is an inner pocket and a drawstring should you wish to close the top up.
The waders have extra thick knee pad reinforcements, which I have found ideal for scrambling out of the river in tight spaces without putting holes in them. In terms of accidental damage, they have been pretty bomb proof, almost like a suit of armour. They have been perfect for tramping though bramble thickets, knotwood groves and sliding across steep urban river banks riddled with broken glass and rusty beer tins – terrain that can make mincemeat of a lightweight wader in a short space of time.
A worry was that the grip on treacherous river stones would be inadequate. Thankfully, the Super-Tuff boots are fitted with pre-installed tungsten studs and a heavily cleated tread, which makes a huge difference. In fact the grip was nearly as good as felt boots fitted with studs and I was able to wade in confidence over some really nasty bottom types. Walking the banks was easy and I haven’t slipped on wet grassy banks once.
One thing bootfoot waders don’t offer is much support for the ankle or protection from uneven, sharp rocks around your toes. I got round this to some extent by wearing a set of neoprene socks which really improved the comfort level. The waders are quite roomy in the foot, which allows you to fit a pair of these in, or you could wear an extra pair of woolen socks.
I found the Super-Tuff were really handy for keeping on ‘stand by’ in the car- I’m one for quickly throwing anything into the boot, and being PVC these don’t retain any excess water meaning my car doesn’t smell of damp after a day. There is no risk of the wader developing mildew and they are essentially maintenance free.
Having done a lot of walking in them I haven’t found the lack of breathability to be an issue, although it’s been a bit on the chilly side weather wise. They are not as warm as neoprene and are therefore less likely to make you break into a sweat. Compared to breathable’s they definitely provide more of a barrier against cold water, making you feel less chilled whilst in the river. Overall they have been utterly reliable so far, so I’m going to continue using them until the really warm weather kicks in. Which being Wales, could be another few months.
Priced at £79.99, Airflo Super-Tuff waders are available here.