Choosing Waders and Wading Boots
Most veteran anglers have a love/hate relationship with their waders. When they’re warm and dry at the end of a long day, life is pretty good. When their waders leak and are cold and soaking wet, there is nothing worse.
Choosing the Right Waders
Waders are not required to go fly fishing. In many parts of the world the fishing season stays warm. If you have a hardy soul and are planning to fish only during the warmest months of the year, or in the tropics, you may not need waders. Not having waders will greatly limit your opportunities to fish during the spring and fall. Even in the summer time, wading rivers during the morning or evening hours can be pretty chilly. If you’re planning to take your fly fishing addiction to the next level, live in an area where it doesn’t stay warm, or want to fish all year, waders are a must have. The current wader technology allows anglers to be very comfortable and spend time fishing year-around. Some of the best fishing of the year can happen during the cold days of early spring or late fall, without waders you are stuck at home.
You’ll need to decide whether or not you are going to buy waders. Part of the fun of fly fishing is simply wading around in a river or lake, and getting close to where you think the fish are living. It does not make sense to buy cheaply made waders. Likely, they’ll leak right out of the box. They also will not be breathable and will essentially be like wearing a big, poorly fitting plastic bag. At $100 – $250 you can buy a basic, nice fitting, breathable pair of waders that will last you several years.
In theory, waders create a waterproof barrier between you and the water. If you’ve not worn waders before, imagine wearing a waterproof pair of overalls, except with waterproof neoprene socks sewn into the bottom. Historically, waders were made out of rubber, plastic and neoprene. Each evolution was better than the last, but the major difference between those technologies and today’s wader is the fact that they are breathable. Non-breathable waders are like wearing a giant plastic bag. Breathable waders have really changed the game entirely, making anglers more comfortable on the water, and giving them the freedom to fish all day in extreme conditions. We’re firm believers that there is no such thing as “bad weather” only “bad gear”.
Choosing the Right Wading Boots
Whether or not you choose to purchase waders, wading boots are important for both comfort and safety. The bottom of rivers and lakes can be incredibly slippery. The combination of rocks, algae, silt, and mud can make for treacherous wading. Wading boots are designed with different types of soles to give you traction. They can be worn with or without waders, so if you’re only going to purchase one or the other, get a solid pair of boots first.
You can think of wading boots like the traction tires or chains for your car. They give you extra grip when you’re walking on slippery rocks, sandy beaches, or mossy banks. They’ll also provide you with added support for your ankle. Unlike normal boots, wading boots are designed to drain water after you get out. They also may be specially designed with a reinforced toe, sole, or heel box.
Wading boots fit over the top of stocking foot waders. They do not necessarily have to be worn with wadersn however. When it’s warm out, you can simply buy a neoprene sock liner, and slip your wading boots over the top to fish without your waders.