How Do I Pick A Pair Of Fly-Fishing Waders?

An angler adjusts the straps on their waders.

Fishing waders can be as varied as any other piece of clothing. Since there are no standard measurements, a Medium from one brand often fits different than a Medium offered by another. That’s why buying waders without trying them on first, or without having any experience with a certain brand, could mean trouble. And in this case, trouble is a pair of waders that don’t fit right, are uncomfortable, and inhibit basic motions like kneeling and bending over.

To Select a Pair of Waders:

1. Try them on first.

  • This is an absolute must, especially if this is the first pair of waders you’ve bought.

2. When trying on waders, wear the layers you’ll wear when fishing.

  • If you do a lot of winter fishing, wear all the socks, sweatpants and thermals you’ll need. But leave some extra room to wiggle your toes and keep things circulating.
  • Bring your wading boots and try them on at the same time. This will let you see if the boots fit over the wader’s neoprene booties.

3. Know that well-known brands offer a wider range of sizes.

  • Instead of just Small, Medium, and Large, these companies offer sizes like Medium-Short or Large-King. These accommodate your specific body size and fit more comfortably.
  • Try to get as close as possible to your actual measurements for waist size, chest size, and foot size. The closer your waders are to your own size, the easier it will be for you to move around.

Neoprene or Breathable?

Neoprene is thick insulating material commonly found in wetsuits to provides warmth in cold water. The application is the same for neoprene waders. The fabric’s thick-walled material provides insulation for your body and helps anglers in extremely cold temperatures withstand hours in the water. With the right neoprene waders on, you can stay warm and dry through blizzards and arctic-like temperatures.

Breathable waders are made from a thinner waterproof material, closer to a rain jacket than a wetsuit. They’re preferred by most anglers because they’re versatile. You can layer for cold weather and in turn keep it light in summer months so you don’t over sweat or get too clammy. But stay away from cotton base layers as they do not allow your body to breath and you will build up perspiration and therefor dampness under your waders.

Breathable waders are beneficial because they let out some of your body heat and keep you dry and cool. This is great in warmer weather. In these conditions, neoprene waders can become sweaty and clammy. You’d be sweating a ton in neoprene waders in early August or in a high Wyoming sun.

Boot Foot or Stocking Foot?

  • Boot-foot waders have a rubber boot connected at the bottom that covers a range of foot sizes. These waders are a good for people who stay put in a spot, wear thicker socks for colder water, and like having a simplified fishing experience. A lot of surfcasting and beach fisherman like boot foot waders to minimize all the sand that tends to collect in laces and gravel guards. Some people may also be allergic to neoprene, so a boot foot wader allows them to fish and be dry.
  • Stocking foot waders have neoprene booties covers a range of foot sizes. You can fit these into in a wading boot matching your specific shoe size. Stocking foot waders allow you to be more precise in your boot selection and sizing.

If you hike a lot or love to move around the water, a stocking foot wader is right up your alley. That way you can get just the right wading boot to suit your needs for ankle support and comfort.

Whichever style, brand, and size wader you settle on, you should feel confident to wade, scramble and hike to your heart’s desire in them. Watch out for thorns, brambles, barbed wire and pucker brush. They’re all the enemy of waders. Those tiny pin pricks eventually add up and you may find that you’re getting damp and wet instead of staying dry and comfortable.

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