What Are The Best Waders For Fly Fishing

How To Choose The Best Waders For Fly Fishing?

Do You Need Waders?

Before purchasing waders it is always a good idea to determine if you actually need them. By and large, most anglers do…or at least eventually will.

However, some anglers, depending on how or where they fish, might be able to get away without purchasing them.. The following situations are where an angler likely can avoid purchasing waders:

What are the best waders for fly fishing? This will all depend on where and when you are fishing. If it is warm you can get by with waist waders or breathable chest waders. If it is cold then you might want to get a good pair of neoprene chest waders.

Warm Weather AND Warm Water:

When fishing in warm weather and the water is warm, anglers sometimes avoid using waders. Indeed, in warm weather where the water is warm, going without waders can be the most enjoyable way to fish.

This is unless the angler needs the protection a wader provides. This can be such as to prevent getting stung by something or to avoid picking up leeches.

Fishing In Warm Weather & Shallow, Cold Water (sometimes)

Yes, it is possible to wade fish in colder water when the weather is warm, although the tactic I describe next does limit an anglers flexibility. Here are some things that you will need to do it.

Buy yourself a high-quality wading boot with excellent traction. Also, get yourself a pair of quality neoprene wet socks that are thick and designed for very cold water.

The use of wet socks is required for this method to work. What happens is that the neoprene socks will trap the water around the foot and keep the feet toasty warm.

This sort of functions as a heated sock. I discovered that if I can keep my feet warm I am warm all over.

I can wade comfortably in the water down to around 50 degrees. This is provided I don’t wade in water that is deeper than mid-thigh level.

If I wade in water deeper than that (waist level), I immediately start to freeze and that’s not much fun.

This can happen even on a nice, warm, summer day. Needless to say, the air temperature needs to be warm outside for this tactic to work, too.

An Angler That Only Fishes From a Boat:

If an angler only fishes from a boat, there’s no reason to buy waders. Since many boat anglers do wade fish from shore at times.

To stay warm during that time just use the tactic that I described above to fish in colder water. I use this method a lot during the summer months and it works very well.

After reading about the three methods above where anglers can avoid using waders. There may be many new anglers might be tempted to “shelve” the idea of buying waders altogether. And you know what, it isn’t a terrible idea.

However, by not purchasing waders, an angler does limit their flexibility in terms of where they can fish. This is especially so in Montana, where warm days are rare and fleeting and the water is often frigid cold.

Even during the summer, most Montana rivers are very cold since they are fed from snowmelt and mountain lakes.

If an angler doesn’t mind limiting their flexibility, the purchase of waders can be avoided, or deferred for a while.

The Different Types of Waders:

There are three different types of waders that are available on the market today. The different kinds of fishing waders available are the Bootfoot Wader, the Stockingfoot Wader, and the Hip-Wader.

Bootfoot Waders:

Bootfoot waders are waders that extend from the foot of the angler up to the angler’s chest. On these fishing waders, the boot is permanently attached to the wader.

Having the boot attached to the wader allows the angler to not having to buy separate wading boots. The boot foot waders are heavier in overall weight since the boot is attached.

They are bulkier, and also somewhat more difficult to get into than other fly fishing wader types. They also lack the ability to take off the boots and use them separately.

Stockingfoot Waders:     

Stockingfoot waders, by comparison, they don’t have the attached boot found on boot foot waders. Instead, these waders have neoprene socks on the foot of the waders. Fishing wading boots bought separately, are then put on over this neoprene sock.

Like a boot foot wader, stockingfoot waders go from the foot of the angler up to the chest. There are some varieties that now extend only to waist level.

Since a boot is not hooked to the wader, stockingfoot waders can pack up smaller and are lighter. Once you add the weight/bulk of separate wading boots into the equation, they are usually more than with boot foot waders.

Stockingfoot waders are generally easier to get off and on than boot foot waders This is one of the reasons that these types of fishing waders are so popular.

Stockingfoot waders do have one benefit over boot foot waders, however. Since the boots are separate, and conditions are “right” and you can fish without waders.

The odds are you will still want to use your wading boots due to their superb traction. With a boot foot wader, the fisherman is out of luck since the boots are permanently attached.

Another advantage of a stocking foot wader is that the boots aren’t permanently affixed it is a simple matter to upgrade. If your boot sizes changes or the boots develop “problems.” you can get different ones or fix them. With a boot foot wader, if something is wrong with the boot the entire wader is trashed.

Hip Waders:

HipWaders are designed for wading shallow, slower moving waters. These fishing waders, some of which have boots attached and others that do not. These extend from the foot of the angler up and stop at the upper leg of the angler.

Hip waders are handy when you know you’ll be fishing very shallow water and the weather is chilly outside. Hip waders can be used in shallow water if the angler just doesn’t want to get wet using a “wader free” fishing method.

Wading pants are similar to hip waders. However, they fit more like a “pant” than a “wader.” They look exactly like pants and fit just like them, too. Similar to
hip waders, wading pants are meant to be used for wading shallower water (below waist level). Wading pants are very comfortable and quite light. And they are an excellent choice for anglers who won’t be venturing into the deep water.

Neoprene Waders:

Neoprene Waders
Neoprene Waders

Neoprene waders are mostly used today when you are fly fishing in cold weather and colder water. The reason neoprene waders excel in these types of conditions is that different thickness layers of neoprene are available.

The thicker the neoprene is the better it is for cold weather. Neoprene fishing waders run from a 3mm thickness (for warmer weather fly fishing) to a 5mm thickness ( for cold water).

The problem with neoprene waders is that, like nylon waders, they are not breathable. Thus, during warmer weather, neoprene fishing waders can become uncomfortable for the angler wearing them.

Additionally, these types of fly fishing waders are not breathable, so anglers can get left with condensation in their waders. Although the insulating properties of neoprene go a long way in keeping the angler warm despite this.

If you plan to fly fishing in very cold water or in cold weather, neoprene waders are an excellent choice. Otherwise, go with the newer, breathable type of waders

My Favorite Fly Fishing Waders:

My favorite fly fishing waders are neoprene stocking foot waders. The reason that this is my favorite is that I do most of my fly fishing from a float tube. Let me tell you when you set in the water all day from the waist down you can get chilly.

I have sat in my belly boat as they were called back in the day even in 90 degree days. I almost froze my hind end off. It is so bad that I wet my shirt and hat to stay cool on the top while I freeze on the bottom.

Dean Jensen

I started fly fishing in 1972 and I have learned quite a bit about this wonderful sport called fly fishing and I want to share some of the things that I have learned.

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