Gear Guide: Best Fly Fishing Waders
There are two approaches to fly fishing waders. The first involves purchasing a cheap pair and wondering why they leak after a month of fishing. The second requires a financial invest equal to the price of a high quality rod for a durable and comfortable pair of waders that come with a warranty and great customer service. Of course there is some middle ground but we tend to take an all or none approach.
What to look for in Fly Waders
Comfort, comfort, comfort!! (And style). My general rule when shopping for any type of clothing is, if I’m not comfortable in it, I won’t wear it. Well, all the more so in the case of waders! I simply don’t want to be standing in a river or lake, or bay, or any body of water for too long if I’m not comfortable with the waders I’m wearing. But of course, I want them to look decent, and be practical too! So, here we go!
5 Factors to consider when buying your first, or hundredth pair of waders for fly fishing:
1. Breathability – you want to go for a synthetic material, preferably gore-tex or dri-plus in warmer climates, and neoprene for cold weather or water. Avoid nylon and rubber waders altogether!
2. Footing – go for a stockingfoot wader as opposed to a bootfoot wader (see stockingfoot vs bootfoot section below)
3. Weight – lighter is better
4. Insulation – unless you’re doing your fly fishing in freezing or near freezing conditions you DO NOT need an insulated wader.
5. Manufacturer – go for one of the big names, this is not the piece of gear to sell yourself short on to save a few dollars. Orvis, Patagonia, Cabela’s, and Simms are good, solid, established manufacturers for waders.
Selecting a pair of waders requires you to examine your typical style of fishing. If you bush whack, hike, crawl and bust your knees against boulders, make the investment. If you primarily use waders for stationary fishing in cold weather, go with a thick pair of neoprene. If you fish in the summer and use waders only when necessary, you can skimp a little. You can also go with hip or waist waders if you focus on small streams and avoid pushing through deep waters. Read on to learn more about fly fishing waders and to read our wader reviews
Fly Wader Manufacturers
Adamsbuilt is a great company with excellent fly fishing gear. They offer everything from rods to waders and we have had the opportunity to test a number of their products. The design options tend to compare to more expensive models without the high price tag.
Guide Weld Wader –
This is their top model and we have put it to the test. Read our full review.
LaCross is a quality brand with waders designed for hunting. Their neoprene models are better than the Columbia and Remington models and they are build for cold weather. We have used these waders while battling chilling winds and winter temperatures at Pyramid Lake in Nevada. The waders are comfortable and insulating.
Simple, durable and comfortable. Like SIMMS, we have put these waders through the ringer and they will out perform the majority of the other brands out there. This is why they are near the top of the list. Patagonia does not offer several different models like SIMMS but that only means you can come to a quick decision. Patagonia is a great company and their loyal following is evidence of support in the outdoor community.
Patagonia waders are comfortable and durable.
Simms waders are more than waterproof suits. The waders serve multiple functions and they are very durable. They also make up the highest end of the wader market. The G3 and G4 models are designed for fishing and comfort as they have multiple pockets, hand warming pockets and a pouch for gear. The company also makes mid range model waders and some very attractive waist high models. Click the header to read our SIMMS fly fishing waders reviews.
G3 Waders – The G3’s are a solid choice with a lighter price tag than the G4’s. We really put these through some abuse.
G4 Waders – This is the top of the line and we have worn them out for more than a year.
Fly Fishing Wader Accessories
Breathable Fishing Waders
Breathable fishing waders are the most common choice for fly fisherman. Although there are instances when a pair of thick neoprene waders are invaluable, breathable is the top choice. If you want to learn more about breathable waders and how they work, click the header.
Duck Hunting Waders
Why do we have duck hunting waders on a fly fishing site? Because they are great for a variety of fly fishing situations and we also, well, duck hunt. Click the header to read about the our duck hunting/ fly fishing waders reviews and their dual use capacity.
Storing and transporting a wet pair of waders requires a special kind of duffel bag. The best bags will also store your wading boots. There are several bags available that we have reviewed on this site. Click the header to read more about our fly fishing waders wader duffel bags.
No angler should enter the water without a wader belt. In some instances you may want to wear two belts. The belt is a safety measure that prevents water from completely filling the waders if you take a fall. Anglers who wade aggressively can strap one belt around the waist and another around the chest to really the slow the entry of water into the waders.
Even the best pair of waders will eventually spring a leak. If you simply grab a tube of aqua seal and start smearing it around, the problem is unlikely to become fixed and it may become much worse. Follow our guide to properly repair your waders or use the included instructions and repair kit from your manufacturer.
Types of Fishing Wader Material
Neoprene: I would only recommend these if you now you’ll be fishing where it’s cold (weather, water, or especially both). If that isn’t the case for you, don’t buy neoprene waders. Why not? Because they aren’t breathable and they will become warm or even hot for you unless you’re truly in a cold climate. If you will be in the cold, and you know that, a Neoprene wader is a great choice. If you’re in the market for a Neoprene wader be aware that there are different thicknesses for these waders, the thicker they are the more suitable for really cold conditions.
Ahhhh, my favorite type of wader. If you’ve been fishing for a long time you likely remember when these didn’t exist. Fishing in warm climates with waders before breathable waders were available was sticky, smelly, and uncomfortable. Not anymore!
Breathable waders keep the water out AND allow the angler’s sweat and body heat to escape. Now you can spend a full day in the water while staying comfortable and dry throughout. MY favorite material is gore-tex, but it is also the most expensive. I’m of the mindset though, that if you’re going to be fishing in waders, it’s worth it to have at least one pair that you know is reliable. The goal really should be not to even notice the wader, you want it to be as fitted, comfortable, breathable, and not noticeable as possible. It’s worth it to spend a little more to ensure you’ve got the best wader for you.
Choosing a Stockingfoot vs Bootfoot
You may be surprised by our recommendation here, asking yourself ‘why shouldn’t I get a bootfoot wader? If I buy a stockingfoot wader don’t I also have to buy boots to go over them?’
Here are the reasons we recommend stockingfoot waders:
1. All around comfort. Don’t believe us? Try them on for yourself!
2. Easier to get on and off.
3. Easier to pack. Trust us on this one, there’s something odd about trying to fold up a pair of pants that has two big boots attached to the end of it.
4. Versatility, in certain conditions, you don’t need to put the boots on at all, but with bootfoot, that option never exists.
5. Changing boots. If you’re foot size changes, or a boot gets snagged and rips, or anything else happens to damage the boot or cause you to need to replace them for any reason…maybe it’s just a new style you like! You don’t have to replace the whole wader. You can just go buy new boots!
Hip Waders and Wading Pants
If you know you’ll be fishing in shallow water (water that doesn’t come past mid-thigh), you may opt for a hip wader or a wading pants. They are by and large more comfortable and very easy to get on and off.
Wading pants look and feel like pants, they are light and comfortable, and they’ll keep you dry. If you know you’ll be fishing almost exclusively in shallow water, hip waders or wading pants are a great investment.
One last thing on waders, I want to re-emphasize that it is worth it with this piece of gear to buy from the professionals. Typically, if you go to a Wal-Mart type store it won’t be long before you run into leaks, rips, or just general wear on your wader. Invest in a good, solid pair from a legitimate source and you should have many long, dry days in the water.