Waders, while not necessary, should be an essential part of your gear when float tube fishing. They are great for protecting you from hypothermia, will keep creepy crawlers like leeches from using you for lunch and will certainly help keep your legs free from abrasions.
Neoprene-style waders are your most durable and come in different thicknesses. Some types are insulated with other materials to help you retain body heat in colder areas. Stocking foot chest waders generally give you the best protection.
When it comes to buying waders, the best way is to head down to your local fly shop or sporting goods store and try them on before you buy. This gives you a tried and true method for getting the best fit and function.
Not all anglers, however, have the convenience of a sporting goods store so shopping for waders online, is an option albeit a bit more challenging and involved.
Here are a few things you should consider when choosing a wader type and how to get a proper fit.
You plan on using the waders how often?
If you will use them only once or twice a year, then buying a high end pair will not give you the best value for the dollar. On the other hand, if you plan on quitting your career for full on fishing, then make the investment and get the best.
Where will you use your waders?
The type of wader, its style and wader material will vary between open river fishing, high mountain creeks, silty or mossy lakes and in fresh or saltwater.
How do you plan to use your waders?
Will you need to hike to your fishing spot where back weight is an issue? Will you be scrambling over and abrasive objects like jagged rocks?
Wader Material Options
Waders come in a variety of materials, each designed for a purpose. They come in neoprene, rubber, Gore-tex and treated canvas. Here are some of the pros and cons of each material type:
NEOPRENE – This is generally the most popular type and is the same type of material that wetsuits are made from. Thicknesses range from around 3.5 to 5 millimeters or more. The greater the thickness the higher insulation, weight and durability values. Repairs are are fairly easy with the patches or with leak-stopping products. They are warm, however, and may make you sweat.
RUBBER – Speaking of sweat, rubber waders are heavier than neoprene, are stiffer when moving and less comfortable. They do not breathe meaning that when you sweat, it has nowhere to go. They are 100 percent waterproof and a value alternative to neoprene.
BREATHABLE – The breathable type wader is a lightweight and comfortable option to the other three. They are a popular option because they can wick away sweat — this means you aren’t damp at the end of the day. An investment in a pair of breathable waders means you prefer a higher comfort level and lighter weight not found in other wading materials. These are not, however, designed for cold weather unless you layer up.
CANVAS – This type has similar characteristics to rubber, but with added toughness and puncture resistance. They can also be stiffer, warmer and a bit heavier, depending on how well they are insulated. Typically, canvas waders will last longer than waders made from rubber, neoprene or breathable materials.
Hip, pant and chest wader options are your answers to how and where you will be using them:
Pant waders that fit like a pair of pants with a waterproof stocking foot are not as warm as chest high waders but are good for most situations. They do restrict you to a water depth slightly less than waist high but are a solid choice for those who spend a lot of time sitting in a boat or pontoon with little time in and out of the water. It is easier hiking over rocks and boulders in pant waders versus chest waders.
Chest waders are the most widely known and the most versatile. Some varieties convert from chest to pant. For deep and cold water fishing, chest waders are the best.
Stocking foot versus Boot foot Waders
Bootfoots have a few advantages over stockingfoot waders. The most obvious benefit is that you don’t have to put on waders and then lace up your wading boots (nor do you have to buy wading boots). You just slip into them and go. The other benefit is they are extremely warm. Their drawback, however, is that they are heavier and bulkier than standard stockingfoot waders and boots. If you do a lot of moving and hiking when fishing, bootfoot waders may not be the best choice for you.
Choosing the right Wader size
When buying waders online, size will be your single most important consideration. Choosing the correct size ensures comfort while wearing them as well as determines the lifecycle of the wader itself. If you buy too large, this will cause added wear over time because there may be too many material folds. Select a size too small and this will cause added stress to seams causing them to wear out sooner.
A good rule of thumb is your initial sizing for an online purchase should come from the manufacturer’s sizing chart. They understand their product and will provide accurate sizing recommendations. If a manufacturer’s size chart is not available on sites such as Amazon, then it is worth the extra click or two to search out that manufacturer for this information.
The three (3) most important measurements you should consider are:
- Largest measurement in inches around your chest, hips and waist
- Your inseam measurement from crotch to floor
- Your shoe size
The whole point to owning a pair of waders is to keep you comfortable and dry — without that, you may experience a miserable day on the water. Choose your size and wader material carefully and remember to factor in your preferred fishing location and season. This will ensure your focus remains where it should be… on the catch of the day.