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Home Fly Fishing Gear How to Choose the Right Waders

How to Choose the Right Waders


How to Choose a Pair of Fly Fishing Waders


Stocking Foot Chest Waders





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     Any angler who chooses to pursue the age old art of fly fishing will inevitably discover that fly fishing tends to be a gear intensive sport. However, fly fishing gear can be divided into two different categories consisting of gear which is absolutely essential such as a fly rod, a fly reel, a fly line, a leader, a selection of flies and, a container to hold and organize them and, non-essential but, extremely helpful, gear such as a fly fishing vest outfitted with all of the various accessories fly fishermen find useful and, a pair of waders and wading boots. However, the quality of a fly fisherman’s gear can either enhance or degrade their experience and thus, it is very important that fly fisherman understand that there are different types of waders for different purposes made from different materials so that, when choosing a pair of waders, they can choose both the type of waders and the material that best suits their individual needs. But, shopping for a new pair of waders can be a somewhat confusing process due to all of the different brands on the market today as well as the wide range of price points which run the gamut from the excessively expensive to the very inexpensive. Thus, for some fly fishermen, the price of the waders that they choose becomes a status symbol just like the fly rods and reels that they purchase. But, for the average fly fisherman who is simply looking for the best product to meet their needs, the process of choosing a single pair of waders from among the plethora of brands, types, and materials can be somewhat confusing due to the wide range of choices. Therefore, below you will find all of the information that you need to enable you to choose a pair of waders that meets your individual needs.


The different types of waders –

     So, first of all, anglers need to be aware that waders are divided into two categories consisting of boot-foot waders and stocking-foot waders and each has both advantages and disadvantages. Thus, as the name implies, boot-foot waders have a wading boot that is permanently attached to the bottom of each leg while, stocking-foot waders have a neoprene bootie attached to the bottom of each leg. Therefore, an angler must purchase a separate pair of wading boots to wear over the neoprene bootie. But, in the case of boot-foot waders, the boot is necessarily designed to slip onto, and off of, an angler’s foot without the need for laces and thus, boot-foot waders tend to fit somewhat loosely on an angler’s foot which many experienced fly fishermen find disconcerting because their feet tend to slide around somewhat inside of the boot and thus, they provide less secure footing and balance when wading on rocky stream bottoms. Consequently, most experienced fly fishermen have a distinct preference for stocking-foot waders over boot-foot waders because, not only does the neoprene bootie provide insulation for an angler’s foot, they require a separate pair of wading boots to be worn over the neoprene bootie which are then secured using laces or Velcro straps and thus, they fit an angler’s foot much more tightly which, in turn, provides much more secure footing when wading in rocky streams. However, it should also be noted that because boot-foot waders are often frowned upon by experienced fly fisherman, they are often significantly less expensive than stocking-foot waders even though stocking-foot waders require a separate pair of wading boots. Therefore, some fly fishermen who only fly fish occasionally choose boot-foot waders over stocking-foot wades due to their cheaper cost while, avid fly fishermen almost always choose stocking-foot waders despite their greater expense.


The different wader heights –

     Next, anglers need to be aware that waders are available in three different heights which consist of hip waders, waist waders and, chest waders and, there again, each type of wader has both advantages and disadvantages. For instance, as the name implies, hip waders are the shortest of the three types of wades since they only extend from an angler’s ankles to their hips and thus, they resemble a pair of pants legs that are held up by a single strap on each leg that attaches to the angler’s belt. Therefore, they are the coolest of the three types of waders to wear in warm weather but, due to their short height, they prevent an angler from wading in water deeper than the middle of their thighs. Next, there are waist waders which resemble a complete pair of pants in that they extend from an angler’s ankles to their waist and thus, while they are cooler to wear than chest waders, they too prevent an angler from wading in water much deeper than their crotch. Last, there are chest waders which resemble a pair of overalls in that they extend from an angler’s ankles to their chest and thus, although they are the warmest type of wader to wear, they also enable an angler to wade in water that is well above their waist in order to reach those distant trout lies.


The different types of wader materials –

     Furthermore, anglers need to be aware that waders are generally made from one of two different materials consisting of neoprene rubber and fabrics such as nylon to which a breathable membrane has been laminated and each material has both advantages and disadvantages as well. For instance, neoprene is a very stretchy material and thus, neoprene waders provide anglers with greater freedom of movement than breathable waders do. In addition, neoprene is a wonderfully insulative material and thus, it is an excellent choice for fly fishing during the winter months when the water is extremely cold. But, because neoprene does not “breathe”, it does not allow an angler’s perspiration to escape and thus, neoprene waders can cause your pants or long underwear to feel moist after even a short period of wear and, they can become excessively hot unless an angler is constantly immersed in very cold water. Breathable waders on the other hand, do not stretch and thus, they can feel somewhat restrictive when climbing over obstacles such as fallen trees or boulders and, because the outer layer of fabric to which the breathable membrane is laminated is relatively thin, they have very little insulative qualities. But, at the same time, both the outer layer of fabric and the breathable membrane allow an angler’s perspiration to escape and thus, breathable waders do not cause an angler’s clothing to become moist. Consequently, breathable waders are the type of waders most often chosen by experienced fly fishermen.


     Furthermore, it should be noted that neoprene waders are available in different thicknesses and, breathable waders are available in different fabric deniers. For instance, neoprene waders are often available in thicknesses ranging from 2.5 mm to 5 mm and, breathable waders are generally available in a lightweight fabric, a medium weight fabric and, a heavy duty fabric. Therefore, different thicknesses of neoprene waders are chosen depending on the amount of insulation an angler needs while, different deniers of breathable waders are chosen depending on the level of durability an angler needs. Thus, in the case of neoprene waders, the thinner the neoprene is, the cooler the waders will be to wear and, the thicker it is, the warmer they will be to wear while, in the case of breathable waders, the thinner the fabric is, the less durable it will be and, the thicker it is, the more durable it will be. Consequently, different thicknesses of neoprene waders are chosen according to both the ambient air temperature as well as the ambient water temperature and thus, while the thinnest neoprene waders are suitable for somewhat warm weather and warmer water temperatures, the thickest neoprene waders are best suited for winter weather and extremely cold water temperatures. On the other hand, while it is true that the thinner breathable waders are, the cooler they are and, the thicker they are, the warmer they are, the fact is that breathable waders of any denier provide an angler with very little insulation and thus, different deniers of breathable waders are chosen according to the level of wear that they will need to endure.


Wader quality –

     Last but not least is the issue of the quality of the waders that an angler chooses because a good quality pair of waders can enhance an angler’s experience whereas, a cheap pair of waders can detract from it. For instance, inexpensive waders are often made from inferior materials and often employ inferior manufacturing techniques in order to reduce the cost of manufacturing them. But, inferior materials are more prone to failure than high quality materials and thus, not only do they tend to show signs of wear much more quickly, inferior materials are less durable than higher quality materials and therefore, they are more prone to tear when traversing rough terrain. Plus, inferior manufacturing techniques often cause inexpensive waders to develop leaks much more quickly than high quality waders. Therefore, some of the most trusted brands of high quality waders are Simms and Orvis while Cabela’s, Fishpond, Patagonia, and Chota tend to represent the middle of the quality range with Hodgman and Herter’s representing the least expensive range.


Wader safety –

     One last aspect of choosing a pair of warders that should be mentioned is that of wader safety. Therefore, anglers should be aware that water weighs eight pounds per gallon and thus, if an angler falls into a stream while wearing a pair of waders, they can fill with water and thus, weigh the angler down to the point where they are unable to reach the surface to breath. Therefore, while hip waders are both convenient and cool to wear, they present the highest degree of danger to an angler because the tops of the legs are often designed to fit loosely around an angler’s thighs in order to accommodate anglers of different statures which makes it very easy for them to fill with water when submerged too deeply. On the other hand, both waist waders and chest waders generally include a nylon wader belt that can be cinched tightly around the angler’s waist which prevents water from flowing into the legs of the waders and thus, weighing an angler down in the event of a fall. Consequently, waist waders are generally the safest type of waders to wear because, even when wearing a wader belt, the chest cavity of chest waders can fill with water in the event of a fall.


Wader care and maintenance –

     Although wader care and maintenance have nothing to do with choosing a pair of fly fishing waders, it is an aspect that should be mentioned nonetheless. Thus, it is important to note that regardless of which type, height, or material you choose, all waders should be turned inside out and allowed to sit for a couple of days after use to prevent them from acquiring an odor similar to that of a gym locker room. In addition, even if you choose the best quality waders on the market, if you use them long enough, they are likely to eventually acquire a leak and, if you wear them while fishing in rough terrain, they may acquire a tear. Fortunately, there is a quick fix for both problems called Aquaseal which is a flexible, waterproof, glue that is specifically designed for wader repair. Thus, to reseal leaky seams, all you need to do is turn your waders inside out and then smear a bit of Aquaseal along the entire length all of the seams and then allow it to dry before using your waders again. Also, in the event that you happen to tear a hole in your waders, most breathable wader manufactures provide a small piece of wader material along with the waders to serve as a patch which can be cut to size and then adhered to the outside of the waders using Aquaseal and, it can also be used to reseal the edges of a tear in neoprene waders. So, when choosing a pair of waders, it is very important that an angler carefully consider all of the above mentioned aspects of the different types of waders as well as the different types of wader materials in addition to the quality and durability of the waders that they choose in order to choose the brand, type, material, and quality that best suits their individual needs.


Waders that we recommend that you consider –

     Please note that there are so many different wader manufacturers on the market today who produce so many different models in both men’s and women’s waders, it is simply not feasible to review all of them here. Also, most experienced fly fishermen tend to have a distinct preference for stocking foot waders over boot foot waders for the reasons mentioned above. Therefore, below you will find a selection of the best wader brands on the market with models ranging in price from moderate to relatively inexpensive that will serve to enhance, rather than detract from, your fly fishing experience by providing you good durability without breaking the bank.

  • · Simms Freestone Breathable Stockingfoot Chest Waders – Although Simms waders are commonly considered the best of the best, some of their models are excessively expensive. Fortunately, their Freestone chest waders have a more moderate price but are still an excellent choice for the average fly fisherman. Featuring a Toray lining rather than Gore-Tex lining, they are made from QuadraLam fabric which is  

  • · Simms Freestone Breathable Stockingfoot Pant – Similar to the Freestone chest waders listed above, the Simms Freestone breathable stocking foot pant waders provide anglers an excellent option when fly fishing in warmer weather. Also featuring a Toray lining rather than Gore-Tex lining, they too are made from QuadraLam fabric which is ntegrated waistband that provides on-demand adjustability and their hourglass stockingfoot pattern eliminates excess bulk for a streamlined fit inside your wading boots and,  

  • · Orvis Silver Sonic Convertible Top Breathable Stockingfoot Chest Waders – Described by Orvis as “the most versatile welded waders on the market today”, the Orvis Silver Sonic series waders are equal in quality to the Simms Freestone waders listed above.  

  • · Orvis Encounter Breathable Stockingfoot Chest Waders – Described by Orvis as the  

  • · Cabela’s Premium Breathable Stockingfoot Chest Waders – Well known by outdoorsmen around the world as a premium outdoor outfitter, Cabela’s products are top quality and their premium, breatheable, stockingfoot waders are no exception. Featuring

  • · Cabela’s Premium Breathable Stockingfoot Waist Waders – Like the Cablea’s premium chest waders listed above, the Cabela’s premium waist waders feature






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