Open Fan Letter to Simms

As a general rule, I don't review fly fishing gear or vendors of said gear. But with every rule comes exceptions. And a recent experience with Simms is what I'm talking about. Now, I've always heard second-hand about how Simms goes the extra river-mile to make their customers happy. Usually these remarks came from fly shop owners who sold Simms, or guides who got the "guide-price" on their product. Me, I'm just a regular-Joe who fishes.

Now, my story: I've owned 2 pairs of Gore-Tex waders. Both made my Simms. First pair purchased in the late 90's (aka, "the classic"). That > 10 year old pair still has some juice left and serves as my back-up. That's the kind of wear and reliability I've come to know with their gear. That is until I purchased my second pair a couple of years ago. I don't care to mention the model, because that's not the point.

Early this Spring, I discovered a major leak in the upper left leg. Of course, I didn't have my old classics packed in the truck, and of course, the water temp was running around 48 degrees. So I did a quick test with rubbing-alcohol just below the waist area were the ice cubes seemed to be forming and nothing major jumped out. So, off they went to the Simms repair-shop.

A week goes by, and a voice mail message at home from a dude called John at Simms. "Hey, we got your waders, and found some issues... please call back to discuss." Call back the next day, and first pleasant surprize - I get John on the first try. A laid-back, but professional guy this John. He runs down the problem with me. A couple of pin-holes and a faulty seam along the inside of the left-leg.

The waders can be repaired, but John sensed I was worried about the seam failing again. (I worry like that.) "OK," he says, "Definitely want to make you happy." So, as another option he puts an offer to upgrade to a new pair of waders on the table. (I'm thinking it pays to worry.) For a small marginal cost, I choose to receive the new, worry-free pair of Simms waders.

The experience, however, was worth far more than just the offer of the upgrade. I must have spend an hour on the phone with John that morning. As guys who enjoy fishing wild places, and NHL playoff hockey we covered way more ground than just how to fix a pair of leaky waders. In the end we exchanged contact info, and I left John with an invitation to call me up if he finds himself in Nor Cal looking to fish for some wild rainbows. Up until talking with John, I never had a true sense of what folks were talking about with Simms.

On the back of my new Simms Wader Registration card, it says:

We strive to satisfy each and every Simms customer and appreciate your continued support and feedback.

I know that's not just company PR/BS.

Michael Carl