All about Bozeman's most famous fishing company.
Say the name “Simms” and many people conjure images of former New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms. But if you’re one of the select few who’d rather spend your Sunday afternoons and Monday nights out on the Madison River casting elk-hair caddis to rising trout the size of footballs, you likely associate Simms with fishing gear. And not just any old gear—we’re talking bomber fishing equipment, the diggity dank, the Mercedes Benz of the fishing world.
Simms has made a name for itself around the globe by making tough, reliable fishing gear for all conditions. The Simms staff are devoted fly fishers themselves, so they truly understand that some of the best fishing takes place on the nastiest days. That’s why they make gear that keeps you dry and comfortable at all times, no matter what the weather or environment throws at you. And that, of course, is what keeps you where you really want to be—on the water.
Simms first hit the scene back in the early 1980s when professional fishing guide John Simms of Jackson Hole teamed up with Life-Link International to create premium fishing waders and accessories. In 1993, K.C. Walsh acquired the company from Life-Link and moved the entire operation to Bozeman, centrally locating the business among the teeming trout waters of Southwest Montana. It was in 1993 that Simms introduced their breathable Gore-Tex waders and changed the fly-fishing world with their innovative design. It wasn’t long before professional guides the world over started buying Simms waders en masse.
This tremendous success allowed Simms to expand their operation. In addition to waders and wading boots, Simms now makes fishing vests, technical outerwear, underwear, luggage, packs, and accessories. All told, they make nearly 150 different products, all designed specifically with the angler in mind. They also make gender-specific products catered toward the growing number of female anglers. The Women’s G3 Guide Waders feature a built-in belt that adjusts to provide the perfect fit and accommodate layering on those nippy days.
To ensure the highest quality, Simms manufactures all their waders in the United States. While other major fishing waders are manufactured overseas, Simms’ entire process—from research and design, to production, to the final inspection before shipping—is done right here in Bozeman. After a tour of the production facilities it’s apparent that Simms has the labor-intensive process of making waders down to an art. And good art can’t be rushed—from start to finish, it takes several days and the cooperation of at least 22 members of the production team to complete a pair of waders. Before being shipped out to eager anglers all over the world, the waders are thoroughly inspected and filled with water to test for leaks. The rest of the Simms line, while manufactured elsewhere, filters through Bozeman to allow for the same level of quality control. It’s no wonder Simms backs their products with an exceptional warranty and repair program.
I bucked up and bought a pair of Simms waders about three years ago. They quickly became my favorite piece of gear. I’ve put them through hell and high water and they have yet to let me drown. They always keep me comfortable, whether I’m hiking deep into the Bear Trap Canyon under the hot summer sun, wading the chilly waters of the Missouri River in February, or hitch-hiking home in the bed of a pickup after locking my keys in the car. My waders even saved me from hypothermia one night while camping up the Boulder River. I’d carefully navigated down the bank to fish an ice-cold beer out of the water in plain clothes. When I turned back towards the fire, beer in hand, my feet slipped and I flopped over backwards into the frigid spring runoff. I scampered back to the fire where my friends greeted me with hearty laughter. But to me, this was no laughing matter—I was completely soaked, freezing cold, and not to mention embarrassed. I hadn’t even brought a change of clothes. Luckily, I had my waders, and after swapping them out with my drenched clothing, I was warm and dry once again.
So take it from me—whether you’re a novice angler, professional fishing guide, or devout Bozeman trout bum, the goods from Simms will help keep you dry and happy on all your fishing adventures.
Simms Fishing Products is located off Jackrabbit Lane in Four Corners. For more information, stop by or visit simmsfishing.com.