In March of this year, Simms launched the all-new CX Jacket and Bib, a collection built for the grind that revels in the shine. Based in Minnesota, Chad Smith is a competitive angler who has worked with Simms for years. His passion for fishing as well as his profession keeps him on the water regardless of the conditions. Over the years, Chad has logged more time than most in virtually every jacket and bib combo Simms has ever released. While he loves all of his Simms suits, most recently, he’s been happily rockin’ CX. We recently caught up with Chad to get his first impressions and see what he’s liking most about the next evolution in technical outerwear.
Simms: I remember finding you on social media many years ago. You stood out because you were super young, an obvious fan of the Simms brand, and clearly obsessed with competitive bass fishing. At the time, we were brand new in the bass world – that’s why we initially reached out. Back then, were you new to Simms or had you been using it for a while?
Smith: No, I had been using Simms for some time even before you guys first reached out. I guess when I first started using Simms, I was in middle school. I went into Cabelas with a local guy I fished with who was teaching me the ropes of the tournament game. I just remember seeing the original Pro Dry and thinking that it was the coolest looking jacket I had ever seen in my life. I saw the price tag and knew I couldn’t afford it. But, the guy I was with made the comment “Yeah, pretty expensive, but that’s what you pay if you want the very best”. Right then and there, I knew I wanted the best, and I knew eventually, I’d earn that jacket. It really gave me something to strive for.
Simms: Obviously, you made good on the deal you made with yourself. What were you wearing prior to getting into that first Simms suit?
Smith: At the time, I was fishing opens and I was honestly just wearing whatever. As a result, I had spent far too much time being cold and wet. Finally, I came to the realization that if I truly wanted to do this, and compete, and make fishing my living, there was just going to be necessary business expenses associated with my chosen career path. And yes, obviously, I did end up getting the suit, and honestly, in a strange kind of way, getting that suit made me feel like I had arrived, that I did it – in a lot of ways, it was an eye-opener and made me internally say, ok – so I’m a professional angler now.
Simms: Pretend you aren’t talking to a Simms guy and don’t sugarcoat your answer. How important is good rain gear?
Smith: In all honesty, in my opinion, rain gear is one of the most important pieces of equipment you can have. Seriously, I find myself in terrible conditions all the time. Whether it’s warm and wet, or cold and wet – just being wet will inevitably take its toll on your mental and physical game. Being comfortable is everything. And, not just because I’m talking to a Simms guy, I’d just add that once I started acquiring more Simms gear and actually using the right stuff for the right situation, my life got way better. It really wasn’t until I started using Simms that I realized just how important good gear is.
Simms: Outside of the obvious [being comfortable], why do you think using the best gear makes such a difference?
Smith: Rods, reels, line, clothing – it doesn’t matter, when you use the best, you are setting yourself up for success because you’re enhancing the overall experience. Using gear that you know isn’t going to fail allows you to enjoy your time on the water more. It keeps you so much more engaged and not just in the fishing aspect, it keeps you so engaged in everything else and for me being a competitive angler, those details are often the difference between getting a good bag or not.
Simms: So since getting that first suit, you’ve really been through virtually every single suit we’ve ever launched. Can you walk us through that progression?
Smith: Sure. As you know, I first became acquainted with Simms via the Pro Dry Jacket and Bib, and have used literally every iteration of it. Same with the Challenger Jacket and Bib. So yeah, I’ve been in all of them and I’ve put all of them through every scenario you could possibly imagine. I mean it when I say, they are all great. For me, and all other professional anglers, you’ve got to have spares of everything and while they are all designed to accomplish the same goal, I’d say that there are nuances about all of the suits that I particularly like for different reasons. But in terms of what’s new, the CX Jacket and Bib is really standing out. I mean, at first glance, the suit just looks sick. Stylistically, it’s killer. But in terms of performance, it’s really got that technical Simms DNA from the fit to all of the built-in fishy features.
Simms: With the CX suit being so new, have you had the opportunity to put it through its paces in rough conditions?
Smith: Oh yeah. I’ve had it in the rain several times already and it’s been performing great. Honestly, as much as I loved the idea of stretch material, I was pretty skeptical of how it would perform in the rain and boat spray. So far, I’ve been totally blown away. I just didn’t think a stretch material could wick water like that. Correct me if I’m wrong, but that material is brand new for you guys, right?
Simms: Yes, that’s our C-FLEX3 fabric, it’s a proprietary fabric that we brought in specifically for the CX suit. Other than wicking properties, did you have any other concerns regarding us using a stretch fabric?
Smith: For sure. One of the things I’ve always loved about the Pro Dry suit is how light it is. I was pretty certain that a stretch material, even if it would perform was going to be much thicker and heavier by nature. But, my skepticism was once again squashed. So far, I’m feeling like the CX suit is every bit as lightweight as the Pro Dry. And because of the stretch and how light it is, I’d say that it’s the most comfortable suit I’ve ever worn.
Simms: I know you’ve only had limited time in the suit, but are there any other features that are standing out thus far?
Smith: Really, really, really loving the TruZip pocket. I’ve always liked this zipper and was stoked to see it incorporated into the new CX Jacket and Bib. It’s so nice to have a fully submersible pocket that’s accessible for small essentials that I want to keep dry and to be confident that they will stay dry. Again, it’s just one more thing I don’t have to think/worry about in a tournament. I also really like that it’s a horizontal pocket as opposed to a vertical orientation. Just makes it super easy to drop things in.
Simms: Having owned all three suits, are there scenarios when you’d grab one over another? I guess does it makes sense to have a quiver of rain suits that like you said earlier, all perform the same task but also have subtle differences?
Smith: I’d say so for sure. You know, like I said earlier, for one thing, it’s critical to have spares of everything. I think for cooler days, I might run a Challenger Suit because it is slightly heavier. For days where I’m confident I’m going to be dealing with the elements all day long, chances are I’m going to reach for a Pro Dry. In terms of CX, I just love the comfort and mobility it offers. People don’t realize how much you move when you’re fishing a tournament and battling the clock. You’re just constantly up, down, over here, over there – you’re just always moving. But really, the CX suit is so new, I’m just stoked to use it as much as possible. It looks great, it fits great, and it fishes great. So for now, that’s the suit I find myself grabbing most often. I’m just already so familiar with what the Pro Dry and Challenger can do, I’m trying to get that same knowledge based on the CX suit.
Simms: So in the relatively short period of time you’ve been in the CX suit, what is the biggest takeaway so far?
Smith: Well so far, I truly haven’t gotten wet wearing it, but it’s a rain jacket so that’s somewhat expected. I’d also say that I’ve learned that it’s also a great protector against the wind. But, what I would say outside of those key characteristics, it’s got to be the comfort. That stretch is absolutely amazing. It’s interesting because the stretch is pretty subtle to the touch but believe me, when you’re wearing it, you really feel the advantage and comfort.