Wading boots are a vital bit of gear for any river angler – get the wrong wading boots and you can easily waste your money!
In this long term review, Fishtec marketing director Tim Hughes sheds light on the new Hodgman Vion H-Lock wading boots after three months of hard use.
With nearly 100 salmon fishing days each year, a decent wading boot is an essential piece of fishing tackle for me, with reliability and comfort being crucial. I have tried numerous brands on the market over the years with mixed results – some have been brilliant and others have simply not made the cut!
Without exaggeration the rivers I fish in Mid Wales have some of the worst wading conditions known to man. Anyone who has fished the Usk or Upper Wye will be familiar with slippery bedrock gutters, lethal sharp rocks, glass smooth boulders and steep, obstacle ridden banks. So any wading boot that isn’t built to take sustained, serious fishing pressure is not going to last long with me.
I had been on the look out for a fresh set of boots for the start of my season, so naturally seeing US giant Hodgman enter the UK scene I became curious about their extensive range of premium wading gear.
Hodgman have been established in America since 1838 and are very well regarded on the other side of the pond. They are I believe the oldest established manufacturer of waders and boots in the world, but have only recently become available to British anglers. After speaking to the guys at Hodgman UK, I was further assured of the quality and pedigree of their products, so I decided to give a set of their boots a shot for my 2017 fishing campaign.
I opted for a pair of their flagship Vion ‘H-Lock’ interchangeable sole wading boots – some info on these on the video below.
Once they arrived my first impressions of the Hodgman Vion H-Lock were of a sturdy, no-nonsense boot with quality uppers and eyelets. They felt nice and solid but were also lightweight. These boots came supplied with two interchangeable soles – one felt, the other a sticky rubber known as ‘Wadetech’. I also added a studded rubber sole variant that is available as an accessory.
The way to change these soles is quite different to others on the market – they swivel on a central pivot, meaning the soles are quick and easy to take off. With this design there is no danger of losing the sole or of it coming adrift whilst you are fishing. They lock extremely securely allowing you to fish with confidence.
On the river I immediately began to appreciate the comfortable feel of them. The boots are neoprene lined, so are very pleasant to walk distances in, plus easy to slip on and off. They are also contoured nicely allowing for a comfortable fit around the foot. Speaking of fit, unlike most other brands there is no need to ‘size up’ with Hodgman boots. Simply order your regular shoe size and you are good to go – with plenty of room for wader stocking feet.
I found the rubber studded sole to be excellent on the treacherous bedrock sheets that the River Wye is infamous for. Grippy both in the river and on the bank, the ankle support was also first class.
One thing I particularity loved was the water draining function of the sole. The motion of your walking forces the water out through specially engineered channels beneath the sole, therefore reducing weight from excess water retention very quickly.
In the three months to date of hard fishing spent in the Vion’s, I have yet to see any signs of wear. For me three months is probably equivalent to a few seasons worth of a ‘regular’ anglers fishing – for example the other day I went fishing at 4.00 am before work, then straight after work the same day until 9.30pm, followed up with a 12 hour full shift on the weekend. If the water is on i fish -simple as that!
To conclude, these are some serious wading boots, without doubt the best boots I’ve ever used – and I’ve used a lot ! As a tackle essential these are worth every penny, especially if you are a hardcore fly fisher that spends every free minute on the water. I have a feeling these boots will be in service for a good few years to come, so I will keep you updated on how long they actually last me.
A full range of Hodgman Fly Fishing waders, boots and outwear are available here.