Fly fishing waders are an absolute necessity for many anglers, especially those looking to fish all year round. They’re able to keep us comfortable on even the most miserable days out on the water. Those challenging days are when the fish seem to want to bite, so it’s best to be prepared for all scenarios. I’ve been saved on numerous occasions by my waders, so I recommend them for everyone.
Best Fly Fishing Waders: quick picks
While debates can get heated about the best fly fishing waders, there are a few companies and brands that stand out far above the rest!
The Simms G4Z waders are impressive. Everything from the advanced strap system to the fly patch on your chest prove that Simms covered all of their bases with these waders.
The Simms Tributary waders are going to be your best value. For around $200, you’re getting the quality of Simms waders while keeping a simplistic design. One large waterproof pocket on the front is going to hold everything you need.
No, these aren’t a pair of pants you could wear to dinner! They’re the same material as the Simms Freestone wader, but don’t cover your chest. Wear your favorite pair of wading boots with them, and you can hike up to any mountain stream you want!
Best fishing waders: detailed reviews
It’s hard to argue with the quality of Simms waders. The Freestone model from Simms are some of the best chest waders you can purchase. They’re breathable, mobile, and work great for all types of weather. They have a 4-layered design, so you don’t have to worry about the quality and durability you’re going to receive with these. They are stocking foot waders, so you’re going to have to purchase a pair of wading boots to go with them. For around $400, you’re making a large investment, but they’re going to be well worth it.
- 2 Fleece Lined Hand Warmer Pockets- After you’ve handled a fish and your hands are cold, stick them here to warm up!
- Zippered Front- The zippered front allows you to turn these into wading pants fairly quickly.
- Waterproof Chest Pocket- The waterproof chest pocket allows you to store valuables or fly boxes.
The G3 waders from Simms are some of their longest running waders on the market. The beauty of these waders is that you have a 4-layer lower portion and a 3-layer upper portion. This design is going to keep your chest a bit cooler and keep your legs warm regardless of the water temperature. Combine this design with the neoprene booties, and you’ll never be cold! These chest waders are comfortable, have a nice fit and allow anglers to spend time both in and out of the water and stay comfortable. You’re going to spend $600 on these waders. Plus, you’ll need wading boots! For the investment, you’ll get years of use out of them.
- Micro Fleece Lined Chest Pocket- This pocket is going to keep you warm on those cold winter or spring days.
- Tippet Tender Pocket- The upper portion of these waders have a place for anglers to store their tippet.
- Integrated Webbing- This webbing on the make makes it easier for anglers to store a net!
If you’re fishing in colder weather, the Orvis Pro waders are a great option for you. Orvis uses a 4-layer fabric shell on the upper portion and a 5-layer Cordura fabric shell on the lower portion of the waders. Also, you’ll find that the storage options on these waders are fairly significant to other waders in its class! They are stocking foot waders with built in gravel guards. If you’re looking for a pair of waders that’s going to keep you comfortable in almost every extreme situation, these are it! For $600, you’re paying for that piece of mind, but you’ll be thankful.
- Fly Patch- The small fly patch on the front of these waders are great for quick changes.
- Fleece Lined Pockets- They are comfortable and won’t get in your way.
- Removable Ortholite Knee Pads- If you’re kneeling in especially rough areas, the knee pads are going to protect the fabric and give you a bit more comfort.
For a company that specializes in outdoor gear, you’ll find that the Patagonia Swiftcurrent waders are very high quality. They’re more of a mid-weight wader, so they’re not going to be too hot on those warm summer days, but still keep you comfortable in the dead of winter. They still have neoprene booties, so don’t worry about your feet! They’re a more simplistic design, and are created more as a multi-purpose set of waders! Take them on any outdoor excursion you have, and you’ll be good. For $500, you’re paying a hefty price, but the quality is hard to dispute.
- EZ-Lock Suspender system- These suspenders allow you to move from chest waders to waist waders easily.
- Interior Waterproof Pocket- Most companies only put waterproof pockets on the exterior. Patagonia gives you both interior and exterior.
- Large external chest pocket- This pocket is perfect for fly boxes.
If you need more of a heavy-duty option from Patagonia, the Swiftcurrent Expedition Zippered waders are a great choice. The neoprene booties and 4-layer upper and lower layers are going to keep you warm in even the most inclement weather. However, these are still breathable waders that can work on warm weather days. If style is a preference for you, the Expedition zippered waders look great. They dark blue and grey two tone look is unique and sharp. These are some of the highest priced waders on the list coming in at $750!
- Waterproof Front Zipper- The front zipper is easily lowered to help in emergency situations or to keep you cool.
- Handwarmer pockets- These pockets are easy to access and they can zip so nothing gets caught.
- EZ-Lock Suspender System- the EZ-Lock suspenders allow for adjusting the waders from chest to waist high waders.
In terms of affordable and quality waders, you don’t have to look further than Redington. It’s hard to find better waders for the money. The Redington Escape model are perfect waders for fly fishing. They’re simplistic, but still work extremely well. If you’re fishing in extremely cold weather, you may want to choose a different model. They have a 3-layer upper and 4-layer lower. So, they’re great for milder temperatures. You can hike comfortably in these waders and spend plenty of time in the water! For only $250, you’re getting a great deal. Purchase a set of wading boots to go with them, and you’re in good shape.
- Waterproof Chest Pocket- the large waterproof chest pocket is a great storage area.
- Internal Pocket- store your valuables in the internal pocket.
- 4mm Boots- The boots are plenty warm for those extremely cold tailwaters.
If you’re looking for a step up from the Redington Escape model, enter the Sonic pro waders. These are breathable stocking foot chest waders. Similar to the Escape model, the Sonic Pro is more of a minimalist design. However, the entire wader is made out of 4-layer material to keep both your upper and lower body warm. For around $380, you’re getting a great set of waders for half the price of many top end waders from other companies.
- Added Knee Protection- Redington added knee protection for anglers who move around and cover ground.
- Waterproof Chest Pocket- These stocking foot waders have a great chest pocket for you to store everything you need.
- Gravel Guards- The easy to operate gravel guards are going to keep you comfortable as you walk!
If you’re interested in what Simms can do when they pour their resources into something, go ahead and purchase the Simms G4Z waders. These waders have a 30layer Gore Tex Pro Shell upper layer and 4-layer Gor-Tex lower shell. If you’re a fly fishing guide, these waders may be a great option for you. They have every possible feature that you would need to spend day after day on the water. Plus, they’re durable. These waders are $900, so be aware of the hefty price tag. A nice set of wading boots with these will give you the best waders money can buy.
- 2 Zippered Chest Pocket- the zippered chest pockets are massive and have a great amount of storage.
- Made in the USA- Most waders are not made in the USA, but these are made in Bozeman, MT.
- The adjustable spacer air-mesh suspender system is the most comfortable on the market.
Similar to the Clearwater rod combo from Orvis, the Clearwater waders are a great entry to intermediate level set of waders. These hav a 30k waterproofness rating with an 8k breathability rating. This is a solid design for a set of waders. Orvis makes high quality fly fishing gear, so you don’t have to doubt their design. For a reasonable price of $229, you’re getting an Orvis product that’s going to last.
- Opposing Side Release Buckles- If you want them to turn into waist waders, you can.
- Kangaroo Style Handwarming Pocket- If it’s a cold day, slide your hands in this pocket. The fleece will help.
- Modern Fit- These are a comfortable modern fit that aren’t as boxy as traditional waders.
Many anglers complain that Simms gear is not affordable. While they make some of the best waders, you’re going to pay for the quality. Thankfully, they created a set that are more affordable. The features are limited, but the Simms quality is guaranteed. You get the 3-layer upper and 4-layer lower that is great for milder fishing excursions. They’re a traditional stocking foot chest wader! For only $200, you’re receiving a reliable set of waders.
- Fleece Lined Hand Warming Pocket- the Tributary model still has the fleece for your hands.
- External Chest Pocket- the external chest pocket is large enough for a couple fly boxes.
- Internal Pocket- The small interior pocket is perfect for holding your keys and phone.
Fly Fishing waders buying guide
Fly Fishing Wader materials
When you’re looking to purchase a set of waders, it’s important to understand the materials available to you. Depending on where you fish and the type of weather you encounter, you’re going to want a different material!
Nylon/Polyester (GORE-TEX, Toray etc)
Nylon and polyester waders are the highest quality fishing wader. They’re breathable and lightweight, but will still keep you warm in those harsh conditions. If you find yourself fishing all four seasons, then you’re going to want nylon/polyester material. You can hike in it and not feel as if you’re overheating on a warmer day!
Neoprene waders are heavier and extremely warm. If you’re the type who is fishing in extremely cold weather and want some true protection, a set of neoprene waders is a great option. If you wear these on a warm day, you likely won’t last long! You’ll start sweating as soon as you move.
Rubber waders are another option for those cold weather areas. Be aware that rubber does not breathe well. Yes, you’ll be warm, but you will likely be sweating. Be aware before you make your purchase!
Fly Fishing Wader types
There are several different types of waders you can purchase. Each type of wader has its own specific purpose! If you aren’t quite sure what style of wader you should use, pay attention to the following information and you’ll get a better idea of what is right for you.
Stockingfoot waders are generally the preferred option for most fly anglers. These are waders that do not have built in boots. With these, you’ll need a set of wading boots! These boots can easily add another hundred dollars to the purchase. However, you are able to purchase them in your exact size.
Stockingfoot are made more of nylon/polyester material that is completely waterproof. Usually, these waders are fairly breathable and they’re able to be warn all year round regardless of the weather. You can move well in these both in and out of the water. It doesn’t matter if you need to hike a few miles or move through the forest, they’re more comfortable.
The neoprene booties on these waders are usually 3mm or 4mm thick. They keep your feet warm regardless of the temperatures! However, if you’re fishing in especially cold water, it’s smart to wear a set of warm socks. You’ll likely wear socks either way, but you may need more layers depending on where you’re fishing.
You can find neoprene waders that are stockingfoot, but it’s more rare.
Boot foot waders are waders that have a wading boot built into them. These boots generally have a rubber bottom, so you don’t have to worry about any felt regulations. Bootfoot waders are often made entirely of neoprene, so they’re great for extremely cold weather areas. As a result, they’re a bit more bulky and not as easy to maneuver in as stocking foot waders.
When neoprene boot foot waders get wet, they get a bit heavier than stocking foot nylon waders.
If you do find boot foot waders that are not neoprene, they’re generally made of a PVC material. This material is not breathable in the slightest, so keep that in mind.
Boot foot waders are usually not able to be purchased in our exact size! Odds are, you’re having to force your foot into something that’s too small or a little too big. Another downside is that these are not as easy to pack. If you’re traveling, expect your waders to take up a decent amount of room.
Once you choose the style of wader you want (stocking foot or boot foot), you have to choose the length of wader you want. For fishing, many will choose a chest wader. These waders will stretch up to your chest, so you can wade well above your waist without worrying about getting cold or uncomfortable! Also, chest waders will likely come with a wading belt, so if you do fall in, your legs will likely not fill with water.
If you know you’re going to be fishing in all types of weather, purchase chest waders.
Thigh waders are a bit more cumbersome than chest waders. Thigh waders hook into your belt straps and only go up to your mid-thigh. If you are going to be working through knee-height water, you can get away with thigh waders.
However, they’re not nearly as comfortable as chest waders!
Wading pants are becoming more and more common in the world of fishing. These are great if you’re needing to walk long distances on warm days. Essentially, they’re waist waders. You don’t have to deal with the added heat that chest waders add. You’ll have neoprene booties that require a wading boot, but they’re a bit more comfortable than chest waders. Fly fishing companies like Simms sell these.
Wader Size Chart
Every company you purchase waders from have their own size charts. Whether it be Simms, Patagonia, Orvis or Redington, make sure you take a look at their size chart before you make your purchase! Thankfully, you can get fairly specific with the size you need.
Wader storage and care tips
While it’s tempting to take off your waders, throw them in the storage bag and not worry about them until the next time you go fishing, that can damage them! The best thing you can do for your waders is dry them after each use. This is going to keep them in great shape.
Also, if you have a particularly long day on the water in dirt and mud, it’s good to give your waders a good rinse. This will get rid of the oils from your skin and any materials you picked up along your walks.
A good wash with soap and water before and after each fishing season will keep everything in top shape.
Fly Fishing Wader FAQs and Buyers’ Guide
There are numerous questions you can ask yourself before you purchase a set of waders. Research is always a good thing to do before you decide.
What should you look at when comparing fly fishing waders?
When you’re comparing fly fishing waders, make sure you know the type of fishing you’re going to be doing before you decide.
Price / Warranty
Most quality waders are going to cost several hundred dollars! Since they’re a large investment, you want to check each company’s warranty! Companies like Simms and Orvis offer fairly substantial warranties. If anything is defective on the waders, they’ll replace them for a small fee. This isn’t the case with every company, so make sure you do your research.
While waders aren’t necessarily a stylish piece of attire, it’s important they fit well. You don’t want waders that constrict your movements, but waders that are too boxy can get hung up on branches and eventually tear. An athletic fit that allows you to layer underneath are your best bet.
Breathability is a big deal when it comes to waders. Often, we find ourselves fishing cold water in decently warm temperatures. This leads to several uncomfortable hours in the heat of the day. Make sure the waders you purchase are able to breathe. It’s going to allow you to stay on the water for as long as you want.
Durability and fishing equipment don’t always go hand-in-hand. As much as we would like our gear to last, things happen and it breaks. A set of high quality waders, however, should last your 5 to 10 seasons. Having peace of mind that your waders won’t have holes is necessary to be successful on the water!
The necessary features you want on your waders are waterproof pockets, fleece lined pockets and adjustable straps. These are going to allow you to customize your setup exactly how you want it.
Why are breathable GORE-TEX waders best?
Breathable gore-text waders are the best because they can keep you warm and cool at the same time. These take the sweat away from your body, but don’t allow any unnecessary water in to you make you cold. Also, the fabric is lightweight so you’re able to maneuver your way through heavy current and longer hikes.
How do you repair waders?
Repairing waders doesn’t have to be overly complicated. If you get a hole in them, a wader repair kit is easy enough to use! Some glue and the repair material will make for a quick fix. Make sure you put the material on the inside and outside of the material.
To seal the seams, purchase Aquaseal directly to the inside of the wader on the seam. This is going to seal the seam and not allow for any water to get through! Make sure you let the sealant dry for 8-12 hours before you use them.