The Beginner’s Guide to Fishing Waders

One of the major parts to angler’s fishing wardrobe is pair of waders to keep you dry and warm. There are many, many different manufacturers of fishing waders. So how do you choose the right ones? Well, there are a few things you need to consider before you buy. First off you several different styles and types of materials. Let’s take a closer look at the different kinds.

Breathable Waders

Breathable waders have been the most popular since the mid 2000’s. In the beginning, materials weren’t very durable, and the waders didn’t last very long. One of the most popular brands at the time was Bare and Simms fly fishing gear. The Bare waders were notoriously leaky and thankfully they have exited the breathable wader game! Breathable waders are generally lightweight and much more comfortable to wear when hiking. However, comfort comes at a cost. Durability and price are the biggest hurdles to overcome with these waders. A basic entry level pair of Simms Freestone waders will set you back around $400 CAD. Aside from Simms waders, Patagonia is the other major player on the market and are backed with an awesome warranty. You can’t really go wrong with either one of these brands. One online retailer we recommend is Sea-Run Fly & Tackle.

 These days Simms waders like the Simms Classic Guides waders, Simms G3 waders and G4 are all made from Gore-Tex. The nice thing about Gore-Tex is you can find leaks by spraying them with isopropanol alcohol and then applying Aquaseal to the holes. Patagonia waders are made from a similar breathable waterproof polyester microfiber. The Patagonia Swiftcurrent and Swiftcurrent Expedition are the favourites. The Middle Fork waders are a good for entry level anglers.

Be sure to get the proper fit as your waders will get wear marks if they are too big or if they are too small it will stress the seams. Keep in mind that all breathable waders will eventually leak.

Here’s a list of some of the popular breathable wader manufacturers:

  • Simms
  • Patagonia
  • Dryft
  • Orvis
  • Redington

Base Layers for Breathable Waders

One of the keys to maximizing your comfort when wearing breathable waders is to make sure you have the proper base layers. You’ll want to choose your base layers for weather conditions. When it’s cold you should go with a fleece pant and when it’s warm out you should go with a polyester long john. You should never wear cotton such as sweatpants or jeans under your breathable waders because they won’t wick away moisture from your skin. Do not wear shorts under your waders.

Neoprene Waders

Neoprene waders were all the rage of the 80’s and 90’s with brands such as Simms, Bare and Seatux being the mainstays. Neoprene waders are still made today and come in several different thicknesses such as 3mm, 4mm and 5mm. The thicker the material the warmer you will be. One of the major cons of neoprene is that it doesn’t breathe. Although they are warm, once you start to sweat the moisture can’t escape, leaving you wet and cold. Neoprene is great if you are sitting in a boat all day. Neoprene’s are more durable than breathable waders for sure.

Nylon, PVC, Rubber Waders

Nylon and rubber waders are really a thing of the past. Even though they are completely functional they lack the comfort and breathability that modern day waders offer. These waders do provide durability and again if you’re sitting or standing in a stationary position all day they might just work fine for you. But if you are wading and covering a lot of kilometers of river then you might want to consider going with a breathable pair.

Wader Care

Wader care is something that is commonly overlooked but shouldn’t be because they are expensive and if you want to get your monies worth than you need to take care of them properly. Always hang your waders to dry. Don’t leave them balled up in bin because they will get moldy. Not only do they start to take on an unpleasant odor, but the material will also begin to prematurely breakdown. Another thing is you should do is make sure wash you waders as per the instructions provided by the manufacturer. This will help to extend the life and keep them functioning the way they were intended for longer.

A Final Word

Good waders are important. Breathable waders are the way to go but you must acknowledge the risks. You’re going to pay a lot and they probably won’t last as long as you hope they will. If you go with a pair of Gore-Tex waders then you can easily repair them at home. When the seams start to leak it’s time to buy a new pair. Waders play an important role in your angling ensemble.