Fishing waders are incredible tools for anglers. They allow us to get directly in the water on rivers, streams, lakes, and even the ocean, to reach spots that we couldn’t reach from shore. They also allow us to fish cold water in the spring, fall, and winter that would otherwise not be possible if you were wading in shorts and water shoes, allowing us to take advantage of seasonal fish migrations for species like salmon, trout, and others.
There are a wide variety of waders on the market. Some better than others, and not all fishing waders are created equally. In this post, we will take a look at these different types and designs, when you should use waders, and more.
Most Durable Fishing Waders
Caddis Extreme 5-ply Waders
The Caddis extreme is a boot foot style of waders that has 5 layers for ultimate waterproofing and abrasion resistance.
To give the wader even more durability, they have reinforced key areas like the knees and seat. While adding fabric gravel guards. All seams of the Caddis extreme are glued, tape, and stitched, to ensure that no leaking occurs. Even after heavy use in field conditions.
The soles of the boots are neoprene and are also taped inside and out, and the waders come with a wading belt and a repair kit is also provided.
Fly Fishing Waders
The Sonic-Pro by Redington is a stockingfoot wader that features heavily tested and angler-approved sonic welded seams for the ultimate waterproof and durable seam. This is a wader that has 4 layers of waterproof and breathable materials.
One thing that the Redington Sonic-pro has that is a major perk for many fly fisherman is the number of pockets for storage. The Sonic-Pro has a large water-resistant chest pocket, flip-out pocket with zipper, and mesh tippet pocket at your disposal, allowing you to organize your flies, tippet, and items like never before on a pair of waders.
The Sonic-Pro also has two-sided fleece handwarmer pockets to keep your hands nice and toasty while fishing in the early spring, late fall, or winter.
Highest Quality Fishing Waders
Simms Freestone Wader
The Simms Freestone waders are some of the finest waders on the market with the highest quality in material and construction.
The Freestone waders are stockingfoot waders that feature multi-layer Toray quadralam technology, a technology developed for fishing waders specifically. The quadralam fabric technology has a micro-porous waterproof coating and it utilizes 2-layer coated fabric along with a single membrane layer and a tricot backer to offer improved durability.
All four layers of the freestone waders materials and construction are breathable and waterproof.
The waders have gravel guards above the stockings to cover your boot laces help keep out and sand, gravel, or silt from getting in your boots.
The freestone wader also features a large from pocket for holding anything you need to bring with you, They even has hand-warming pockets for those colder days on the water.
Best Value Fishing Waders
Hodgman Caster Neoprene Waders
The Hodgman Caster is a boot foot style wader constructed of neoprene and compared to the higher-end brands, these waders are incredibly affordable.
Just because they are cheaper than other high-end waders doesn’t mean they aren’t reliable. Many anglers and duck hunters use these waders to take advantage or their low cost and reliability.
The Caster features a top entry pocket along with fleece-lined pockets, and for extra durability, Reinforced double-layer knees.
The boots come with 200 grams of Thinsulate insulation to keep your toes warm in cold water, and high-quality and very durable shoulder straps.
Surf Fishing Waders
Compass 360 Deadfall Waders
The Compass 360 Deadfall wader is a stockingfoot wader that is constructed with a water-resistant and breathable, 4-layer fabric and a Durable Water Resistance (DWR) coating. It also has double reinforced knees and shins to enhance its waterproofing and durability.
The booties are constructed from high-quality neoprene. They include gravel guards, and the wader also comes with a large zippered front pocket to store items. Compass even added in a wading belt with quick release, and the waders feature elastic shoulder straps for easy adjustment.
Womens Fishing Waders
Dark Lightning Fly Fishing Waders
The dark lightning fishing boot foot wader is made from a nylon reinforced PVC material, which is incredibly waterproof. All of the seams on these waders are taped for added leak protection and areas that see more wear are double tape for even more reliability.
The waders features adjustable suspenders with quick release buckles along with a chest pocket to store necessary items and flies.
Best Fishing Waders for Kids
Magreel Kids Chest Wader
The Magreel chest wader for kids is very lightweight making it easy for kids to wear for long periods of time, as well as being durable with two layers of construction to withstand the punishment that kids can dish out.
The boots are made from PVC and feature anti-slip and wear-resistant construction. Thickened soles will protect the child’s feet from s sharp rocks in the riverbed, branches, or other sharp items. All the while providing all-around protection from leaks.
When Should you Use Waders?
Waders will generally be used by anglers to reach areas while fishing that they simply cannot reach from shore, or even by boat Some anglers simply don’t own a boat, in which case waders can be especially useful.
A large amount of the rivers, streams, and creeks also cut through private property, with little to no access to the public. Private property owners do not own the water itself. So many anglers can use waders, and find public access points like boat launches, bridges, and other areas to access these bodies of water. The wade upstream and downstream as far as they want or can depending on water depths.
You should use waders whenever you need to access these bodies of water and can’t do so with a boat. Even if you do have a boat, waders have certain advantages. Current can take a boat downriver quickly. Not allowing you to effectively fish most of the river. With waders you move at walking speed, and you can stop whenever you like to cast to fish-holding structure as many times as you like.
Using a small fishing boat or canoe in conjunction with waders can also be incredibly effective. Stopping the boat and beaching it onshore or using an anchor, and then getting out to wade on particularly productive stretches of the river is a great way to make use of your valuable fishing time.
Fishing Wader Materials
The majority of fishing waders can be broken down into two types of materials used in their construction, neoprene waders, and breathable waders.
Neoprene waders are generally used by anglers who fish in colder weather and cold water temperatures. The reason neoprene excels in these conditions due to its being available in various thicknesses and the insulating properties of neoprene, the same insulating properties are the reason divers use them when diving.
These neoprene waders do have drawbacks though, they aren’t breathable like the other main type of fishing waders. This means that in the summer months or during warm weather anglers can get very hot and sweaty. This can lead to condensation in the waders when you sweat.
If you are fishing in very cold weather or cold water, neoprene waders will be a good choice,. For the rest of the year, breathable waders will be the better option.
Breathable waders are made from a variety of materials and compounds. One of the more popular materials used today is Gore-Tex. Gore-Tex is designed to keep the water out, but still allow the angler’s body heat and sweat to escape.
Using materials like Gore-Tex will keep you to stay warm or cool, comfortable, and dry during a full day on the water.
While Breathable waders that feature materials like Gore-Tex are typically better overall than neoprene waders. They are also much more expensive, but as the old adage goes, “you get what you pay for.”
Types of Fishing Waders
There are a few different design types that are popular among anglers. All have pros and cons and are something you should consider based on your needs.
Stockingfoot waders do not have a boot built into the wader. Instead, have a neoprene stocking foot attached to the legs. These waders like boot foot waders usually reach to the anglers’ upper chest, but in recent years lower cut waders that end at waist height.
Stockingfoot waders require wading boots to be purchased separately in most cases. Most companies that offer stockingfoot waders have a pair of boots to match. These stockingfoot waders can be used without boots in the right conditions, but it is not advised. Most anglers would prefer to always use the boots due to their excellent traction on the river bottom. They are constructed similar to hiking boots in many cases.
Stockingfoot waders also have an advantage when it comes to not having the boot permanently attached. The boots can be swapped for different types, such as felt bottom boots or standard rubber sole boots. When they wear out you can simply buy a new pair of boots, instead of replacing the entire pair of waders.
Bootfoot waders are waders that have the boots permanently attached to the waders themselves, the opposite of stockingfoot waders. Having bootfoot waders eliminates the need to buy wading boots separately, but this choice brings with it a few cons.
Bootfoot waders are much heavier and bulkier than their stockingfoot counterparts. They also are more difficult to get into, as well as typically being much less comfortable than the stockingfoot type.
While many anglers use Bootfoot waders, they are the standard for other outdoor activities like waterfowl hunting and are commonly constructed of neoprene for cold weather use.
Wading Pants and Hip Waders
Hip waders are used for slower-moving and shallow water fishing situations and come both in boot foot and stockingfoot styles. They are typically used by anglers who fish only in shallow water. As the waders only come up to the anglers’ hips or upper legs instead of the upper chest.
Wading pants are similar to hip waders with the exception of going higher up the body to the anglers’ beltline, just like a standard pair of pants. Wading pants, like hip waders are made for shallow water fishing conditions and are very light and comfortable.
These wading pants are very easy to get into and out of. It is basically the same as putting on a pair of jeans.
What to Look for When Purchasing Fishing Waders
The first major recommendation when looking to buy waders is to find the lightest waders you can. Light means comfortable, and if you have spent a day wearing neoprene waders in warm weather and have walked miles in or out of the water, and compared it to light breathable waders. You will notice a huge difference, not only in comfort but in fatigue.
Secondly, do not make exceptions when it comes to quality. With quality comes to price, but a high-end pair of waders will last for years if taken care of properly. While inferior quality waders might last a couple of seasons, but in the end, you start noticing leaks, ripping seams, and the degradation of materials.
While it may not be necessary to buy waders costing in excess of 400 dollars or more. Be sure that whatever pair you do buy they are made by a quality brand. Like Cabelas, Patagonia, Orvis, or my personal favorite brand, Simms.
Be sure the wader type you choose will fit all of your wading needs. Whether it is in shallow water which is suited to wading pants or hip waders, or deeper water. In our opinion, you can never go wrong with chest waders in either shallower or deeper water and can be used for both.
Selecting a quality wader is also important so that you don’t have issues with leaks, or defects and you can use them for years of fishing.