Quality fishing waders allow you to get out into the water – closer to the fish. And once you’re out there, you can explore and position yourself for success much easier than from the bank. Bottom line… buying the best set of waders you can afford will create better fishing opportunities on almost any body of water.
If you are fly fishing, sometimes you need waders just to cast your fly. This is especially helpful for beginners who are inexperienced casters. Since some waterways are lined with thick brush and tangled overhanging branches, waders become an invaluable tool for the fly fisher, enabling him (or her) to get out away from the bank where backcasting is a bit less stressful.
Waders also help you get out into deeper water, especially helpful when fishing a shallow-bottom lake. There is also an element of fun and adventure that fishing with waders adds to the experience. Scrambling around in a rocky stream or crossing over to more remote and less fished territory add to the experience.
However, choosing the best waders for fly fishing can be a confusing venture. Most anglers want to spend their time outdoors on the water catching fish, not sifting through online reviews and catalog descriptions. But don’t worry, we’ve done the hard work for you by compiling this handy guide to all things related to fly fishing waders.
Choosing the Best Waders
Let’s explore the important features to look for in a quality and dependable set of fly fishing waders.
Gone are the days when stepping into a fly fishing waders was like stepping into a thick, heavy rubber suit. In the “good ole days” waders might have kept you safe from the water you waded into, but they didn’t necessarily keep you dry.
It wasn’t uncommon to emerge from the stream or river you’d been fishing wet, smelly, and with prune-textured skin because rubber waders were heavy and non-breathable. Wearing rubber waders is something akin to torture.
Thankfully, technology has come a long way to rescue the modern angler from the instruments of torture our grandfathers called “waders.” Today’s waders are breathable and comfortable. The right quality wader will make you feel like you’re wearing your favorite pair of pants.
Neoprene is the material used to make wetsuits for divers. It is completely waterproof, but not breathable. Waders made of neoprene are a great choice if you plan to use them in saltwater. Also, a wise choice if you plan to fish in cold water, neoprene waders help insulate the body from chilly temperatures with the potential to lower your core body temperature.
Neoprene waders are sturdy and durable, but are not particularly easy to pack, nor are they as comfortable as breathable waders. Keep this in mind if you plan to take your waders on a long trip or expect to wear them for long periods of time.
If you’ll be fishing in warm spring or summer waters, lighter waders made of breathable material are the more practical choice. Suitable for hot days, breathable waders won’t have you sweating puddles inside of your waders as you fish. Breathable waders are also more flexible and comfortable making them a sensible choice for all-day fishing excursions.
Boot foot or Stocking Foot
There are two basic wader designs – boot foot and stocking foot. Boot foot waders aren’t as well-suited to fishing as their breathable counterparts. And, for the most part, you’ll find that boot foot waders are geared more toward the hunting market. They’re more affordable, but for us the drawbacks just don’t justify the price savings.
Boot foot Waders
Some anglers prefer this simple design. If you like the ease of slipping on a boot and you don’t plan to wade over rocky unstable stream beds boot foot waders are an agreeable choice. Be aware, however, that this type of wader fits loosely around the ankle just like rubber rain boots. They provide little to no ankle support and can make fishing over rough stony bottoms a treacherous endeavor.
With stockingfoot waders, you can add the stability and support of a quality pair of wading boots. All you have to do is slip them on over your waders. With this dynamic pair, you’ll enjoy the breathable, waterproof comfort of waders and the support and traction wading shoes or boots.
One of the toughest obstacles to conquer in any search for fishing waders is budget. While it is possible to get adequate fly fishing waders for around the $100 mark, in the world of waders it is true that you get what you pay for. Investing in a more expensive wader will get you more than fancy added features like extra pockets and better shoulder straps. Quality and durability come with a price tag.
If you will be wearing your waders as you hike through brush or fish rivers with sharp rocks, invest some extra money in quality. There’s nothing like a ripped wader to ruin an otherwise perfectly good fishing trip. Likewise, if you are an avid angler who will be wearing your waders frequently, the extra initial investment in durability will save you money in the long run.
Best of the Affordable Waders
Adamsbuilt Truckee River Wader
These premium waders come with a surprisingly affordable price tag. With features, you would expect to see on a higher-end wader, including four-layer reinforced knees and seat, lined hand-warming pockets, and soft microfiber lining, the Adamsbuilt Truckee River Wader is lightweight, comfortable, and made with a high-grade membrane that is breathable and waterproof. At this price, these waders feel like a steal.
With adjustable suspenders and an integrated quick-release belt, these waders hold up well in strong currents as well as rocky river beds. For added protection, Adamsbuilt has even incorporated the DuPont Teflon DWR and Ultra Fresh Antimicrobial Treatment technology into the construction of these waders as an added barrier to water-related parasites, diseases, and infections.
Redington Crosswater Stockingfoot Breathable Fly Fishing Waders
Waterproof, durable, and functional these Redington fly fishing waders allow you to wade into fly fishing without dipping into the retirement fund. 100 percent triple-layer nylon fabric with high-density neoprene booties, these ergonomically designed waders are some of the most affordable on the market.
The seams are reinforced with stitching, tape, and glue for added strength and protection. Also, included in the design are attached gravel guards, a wading belt, and a convenient flip out pocket with a guaranteed waterproof zipper.
Hodgman Caster Neoprene Cleated Bootfoot Chest Wader
Neoprene waders are a fitting choice when you plan on fly fishing colder water, and these Hodgman Caster waders are proven to keep you warm and dry in even the most unforgiving conditions. The attached boots are 200 gram Thinsulate rubber with sturdy cleated outsoles and cozy wool felt insoles.
It can be difficult to find neoprene waders at such an inexpensive price, so these cleated bootfoot chest waders are a genuine deal. With durable seams, flexible construction, and extra insulation these fly fishing waders could easily double for frosty winter duck hunting.
Frogg Toggs Hellbender Stout Stockingfoot Wader
Made from four-ply breathable material, these stockingfoot waders feature a sturdy nylon outer layer for extra durability. This is a welcome feature for fly anglers who need to march through thick brush on the way to their favorite fishing spot. Frogg Toggs has even added an extra layer of protection in the knee and shin areas and neoprene booties all designed to help prevent tears and leaks.
Bonus features include an adjustable wading belt with reinforced belt loops and gravel guards with lack hooks. Frogg Toggs Hellbender waders provide quality comfort and performance for the casual angler at a price that won’t break the bank.
Orvis Silver Sonic Convertible-top Waders
If you want to stay comfortably dry while fly fishing, you can’t beat the quality and dependability of the Orvis Silver Sonic Convertible Waders. Orvis uses welded construction, eliminating thread a stitch holes while double reinforcing seams. Hard-wearing, breathable, and comfortable, these are the perfect everyday waders for the serious angler.
The attached gravel guards feature a quick drain panel and the flip out waterproof interior pocket is the perfect place to keep your cell phone, camera, or fishing license safe and dry.
The innovative suspension system allows you to easily convert these chest waders to waist-high without needing to remove or adjust the suspenders. That’s a treat for cooler fishing on a summer sun gets high.