For success catching fish when fly fishing, exact fly placement is very important to entice the fish to bite. Often, standing on the bank won’t do. With a pair of the best fly fishing waders on or in your backpack, you have the flexibility and protection you need to get into the water when it becomes necessary to get to the spot just beyond your reach where schools of fish hang out, find the space you need for backcasting when the bank has obstacles or be able to cast precisely if you’re a beginner fly angler. A dependable set of fishing waders is a very important accessory for every fly fisherman or women.
We know you would rather be wading in the water and catching fish than wading through hundreds of wader options. To help you find the best pair of waders easily and quickly so you can get to the fun part, we have done the hard work, identified and reviewed the top 10 best chest waders for fly fishing. We’ve also outlined the most important factors to consider to ensure you make a smart choice. No matter what budget you have, you should be able to find a great set of fly waders among these top rated picks. Check them out below.
Ready to get started? Let’s go.
How To Choose The Best Fly Fishing Wader – Buying Guide
A nice pair of fishing waders can make you more effective at catching fish and make your fly fishing excursions more pleasurable. However, a bad set can ruin a fly fishing day. This’s why it is important to choose the pair of fly fishing waders to buy carefully.
There are all kinds of fly fishing waders made from various materials and equipped with different features. So how do you figure out what type and style of waders will serve you best?
Below, we’ve explained the different wader types, styles and features you’ll come across when wading through the world of waders and the factors to consider to ensure you pick the best pair that will provide the kind of protection and comfort you need based on your fishing style, season, climate, terrain and water conditions and will serve you well on the water for a long time.
Your place of fishing is the main factor that will determine what type and style of fly fishing waders you need.
The weather/climate and water temperature will determine whether you need insulated neoprene waders or breathable waders. The kind of terrain your fishing environment has will determine whether you need bootfoot or stockingfoot waders.
How deep the water is will determine whether you need waist level or chest high fly waders. If you have to hike through thick brush to get to your place of fishing, you will need tough waders that won’t tear easily. If you will be casting flies in saltwater bodies, you need tough waders for saltwater fishing that can resist corrosion and abrasion.
If you are a traveling fly angler and fish in all kinds of places, you will need a versatile set of fly waders or two sets to suit the different fishing environments you’ll find yourself angling in.
So before you go wader shopping, think about the conditions at your favorite fly fishing spot(s) so you can choose the best fly fishing waders that will enhance your fly fishing experience.
The second factor to consider when choosing a pair of fly fishing waders is the kind of weather/climate conditions you will be fishing in. This will depend on where and when you’ll be fishing.
If you’re going to be fishing in icy cold water on winter cold days, you will need heavy-duty neoprene waders that have the insulation you need to stay warm when the weather is extremely cold.
When fishing in hot weather where the water temperature is comfortable, a light, breathable set of waders without insulation will do. Where the air temperature is warm and the water is cold but not freezing cold, you can go with a thicker set of breathable waders to keep you warm and comfortable.
If you fish all seasons and in all kinds of climates, you can choose thick breathable waders that are designed to keep you warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s warm. When the water is very cold, you can always wear a thick pair of socks, fleece pants and top underneath the waders.
If the weather conditions in your places of fly fishing vary widely, you may need two sets of fly fishing waders: breathable waders for warm to mildly cold weather and neoprene waders for winter weather and freezing water.
The material is the most important feature to consider when choosing a set of waders from among the best fly fishing waders. Paying attention to the fabric will ensure you choose a pair of waders that gives you the protection and comfort you need depending on your fishing environment, weather/climate, and water temperature.
Most fly waders you will come across are constructed using nylon and PVC and laminated with a breathable layer or a breathable polyester fabric with a waterproof coating or neoprene. High-end fly fishing waders are constructed using high-tech breathable waterproof fabrics such as Simm’s GORE-TEX, Patagonia’s H2No, and Snowbee’s Vapour-Tec.
If you fly fish in warm weather, warm water, tropical climates, or in the spring and summer, you need breathable waders. The fabric used in their construction features a waterproof yet breathable laminate membrane that has extremely tiny holes through which water vapor molecules from evaporating sweat can pass through but liquid water molecules can’t pass through to get into the waders.
They keep you dry, cool and comfortable when fishing in warm and hot conditions. They are also thinner and lightweight making them comfortable to walk in and packable. However, they offer minimal insulation in cold conditions.
If you fish all year long or in different climates, a versatile set of breathable waders will serve you in all seasons and climates. Its ability to wick away sweat will keep you cool in warm and hot conditions and you can add layers of insulation underneath when it’s cold. Alternatively, you can invest in two sets of waders to suit different conditions.
If you’ll be fishing in extremely cold water, cold climates and in the winter, you need neoprene waders made from the same material wetsuits for divers are made from. These offer excellent insulation and do a great job at keeping you warm in near-freezing or freezing conditions. Neoprene waders will ensure you don’t freeze especially when you’re standing immobile in cold water for prolonged durations.
Neoprene is available in various thicknesses – 3.5mm, 5mm, and 7mm. 3.5mm is the typical thickness used in the construction of waders to provide insulation without compromising mobility.
Neoprene has excellent durability and floatability. It is also hard to tear and easy to patch in case of leaks. Its downsides are that it lacks breathability and sweat-wicking ability. In warm or hot conditions, neoprene waders will overheat and cause condensation to accumulate inside the waders. It is also cumbersome to move in or pack.
Nylon/PVC waders are made from heavy duty nylon fabric with a PVC coating to effectively keep water out and a breathable laminate for ventilation. They are affordable, robust and hold up well when exposed to rugged terrain and thick brush. They are lighter in weight and more comfortable than neoprene waders but lack the insulation required when fly fishing in very cold conditions.
The best fly fishing waders are lightweight, which makes them comfortable to move in water, easier to put on and take off and easy to pack for transport. Heavy waders weigh an angler down making it hard to move in the water, are difficult to take off and take up a lot of storage space.
Breathable waders are the best here, as they’re thin and lightweight. When you need insulation form extreme cold, you will have to give up some lightness. A 3.55 thick neoprene fabric is ideal to keep you warm in cold water without limiting your mobility.
There are two types of fly fishing waders according to their foot design: bootfoot and stockingfoot waders. The best design for you will depend on your fishing style, your fly fishing terrain, how frequently you need to wade and your personal preference.
Bootfoot waders have a pair of waterproof rubber or PVC wading boots built into the foot part of the waders. Their simplicity makes bootfoot fly fishing waders the go-to when you don’t need to wade long distances, where the wading conditions are easy such as when fly fishing in gentle streams, and when you only need a simple, affordable pair of waders for wading occasionally.
Their advantages are that they’re cheaper than stockingfoot waders and don’t require you to purchase a pair of wading boots separately. The boots usually have built-in insulation and their looser fit leaves room for heavy socks for warmer feet when fishing in cold conditions. And you won’t find yourself in a situation where you left your wading shoes at home.
The disadvantages of bootfoot waders are that the integrated boot is usually just a basic pair of boots that won’t provide the kind of secure fit and support that’s essential when wading for long distances and over difficult terrain. They are also inflexible since you can’t remove the boots, difficult to pack, and it can be hard to find a good fit as waders are sized based on foot leg length, not foot size.
If you decide to go with a bootfoot design, ensure you get a set with a sturdy pair of boots and a slip-resistant sole for safety. Rubber soles suit a range of terrains. Studded or cleated soles give you good traction on muddy surfaces.
Avid anglers prefer the more expensive but more versatile stockingfoot fly waders. These have a stocking or socks welded into the foot part of the wader. The sock or stocking is usually made from neoprene. You need to have or purchase a pair of wading boots separately to wear over them. They’re the best fly fishing wader design for regular use and for wading in deeper waters and difficult terrain.
Their advantages are that while more expensive, they’re versatile as you can pair them with a variety of wading footwear. You can wear a pair of wading boots with a better fit, superior ankle and heel support and a slip-resistant sole so you have more secure footing when wading in slippery and rocky surfaces. The neoprene stockingfoot keeps your feet warm. They are also lightweight and pack smaller.
When purchasing waders, determining what size to order can be a big headache, especially with bootfoot waders.
Proper fit in waders is neither too tight nor too loose. The fit should be slightly loose but without extra materials. This relaxed fit will allow freedom of movement, provide an allowance for sitting or kneeling without stressing the seams, and offer room for insulating layers underneath where necessary.
Such a fit is comfortable and enhances your fly fishing experience. It is also essential for wading safety and to ensure your set of waders lasts long. A poorly fitting set of waders can ruin an excursion.
It is very important to ensure you order the right size of waders that will fit well. The best way to identify what size will fit you best is to know your measurements and then check the manufacturer’s size chart to find out the size whose dimensions match your own.
It’s also a good idea to go through the user reviews for an idea on the kind of fit a wading outfit offers. You can also contact the seller for more information on what size you should order based on your measurements.
There are different styles of fly fishing waders according to their height level. The depth of the water you’ll be wading in will determine what height you need.
High waders extend from your foot to your hip where they attach to your belt. They keep you dry from your legs to your hips and are a good style to wear when leisure fishing in shallow, slow-moving waters such as streams and creeks on warm days. However, they are risky to wade in as they can easily fill with water. You have to pay keen attention to the water depth and presence of waves when wading in them.
Waist High Waders
Waist high waders extend from your foot to your waist, just like a pair of pants. They’ll keep your lower body up to your waist dry and are sufficient when fishing in shallower waters where there are no waves. These are the safest to wear as there is no risk of them filling up with water in case of an accidental dunk into the water.
Chest waders reach up to your chest. The design is similar to that of overalls with over the shoulder buckle fastenings and clippings at the chest. This is the most common wader height and all the best fly fishing waders reviewed above are chest high.
Offering waterproof protection up to the chest, they’re the ultimate in versatility as you can wear them in a wider range of environments, from shallow waters to deeper levels.
They also usually have a wait belt as a security feature to prevent water from getting into the waders in case of an accidental fall or wave.
You definitely want to spend your money on a high-quality pair of fly waders that will hold up well and serve you for a long time. Not one that will start leaking during the first few days of use.
If you’re able and willing to spend as much as it takes to get the highest quality fly fishing waders, you can never go wrong with reputable waders such as Orvis breathable waders, Hodgman fishing waders or waders by Patagonia, Cabelas and Simms among others.
If you’re on a budget, you can still get a quality pair by paying attention to the quality of materials, construction, and sealing. Substandard materials and poor quality stitching will be susceptible to tearing and leaking.
In addition to being waterproof and insulated or breathable, the best fly fishing waders usually have some other features that enhance their durability, enhance wading safety or offer convenience while in the water. Such features include:
Reinforced knees and seat: The knee and seat area suffer the most abuse and extra layers of cushioning in these areas will enhance the durability of your waders.
Integrated gravel guards: Built-in gravel cuffs cover the top of wading boots to prevent small debris such as sand and gravel from getting in. These abrasive particles can be uncomfortable for you and destructive to your boots.
Pockets: Fly fishing waders with conveniently placed chest pockets offer an easily accessible storage space for the tools you need when in the water. Some even have an inside flip-out pocket where you can keep your phone away from exposure to water. Another great feature is insulated hand warmer pockets to keep your hands warm.
Waist belt: The best chest waders for fly fishing have a wading belt. This is a security feature that prevents water from flowing into your waders and making it hard to wade back to the bank if you were to slip and fall into the water or get hit by a wave.
Straps and buckles: It’s important that a set of fly waders has buckles and straps that are high quality, function as they should and that are easy to adjust.
Color: There are some beliefs that bright colors will attract fish and colors that blend in with the environment will not spook the fish giving the fly fisherman the advantage of surprise. However, there is no proof that this is the case. Color is a matter of personal style and preference.
Q: What Are The Advantages of a Fly Fishing Wader?
When fly fishing, it often becomes necessary to get into the water. A fly angler equipped with a fly fishing wader enjoys some advantages that wouldn’t be possible without a waterproof wading set. It is an indispensable accessory that keeps fly fishers dry, warm, comfortable and protected when in the water.
A fly fishing wader gives a fly fisher flexibility and effectiveness enabling them to get to hard to access areas and cast their fly where the fish are.
In extremely cold fishing conditions, fly fishing waders keep the cold water off the skin and prevent hypothermia, trench foot and other health complications that can arise from the combination of cold water, cold weather, and immobility.
It also acts as a shield keeping bacteria, organisms, irritants and other unknown dangers that may be lurking in the water from coming into contact with the skin.
A fly fishing wader enables a fly angler to withstand the elements and spend more time in the water, cast flies more effectively and catch more fish. This way, the tool contributes to a more productive and enjoyable fly fishing excursion.
Q: Do I Need Fly Fishing Waders?
When it comes to acquiring fly fishing gear, it is very easy to go overboard and acquire a lot of items that aren’t necessary. This is why it is important to ask yourself whether a set of fly fishing waders is worth spending your money on.
While a set of waders is needed in most situations where you need to get into the water when fly fishing, it isn’t always necessary to have. To help you decide whether you actually need this accessory, here is a list of the situations where fly fishing waders are needed and where they aren’t needed:
You Need Fly Fishing Waders in the Following Situations:
When fishing in extremely cold water, weather or climate, a fly fishing wading outfit is a must-have.
When and where the water is cold and you risk hypothermia by standing unprotected for a prolonged duration.
When you’re fishing in the fall, spring, or winter.
When you’re casting flies to entice cold water species such as salmon.
When the air temperature is cool and you spend most of your fishing excursion in the water.
When the water is cold and you will be spending a significant amount of time in the water, you need waders regardless of how warm the air temperature is.
When you want to maximize your flexibility in terms of where you can cast your flies.
You Don’t Need Fly Fishing Waders in the Following Situations:
When fishing in warm weather, tropical climates or summer days where the water is also warm and you don’t need protection from anything in the water. In this case, wet wading without waders will be comfortable and pleasurable.
When the weather is comfortably warm and the water is shallow and cold but not freezing cold, your wading boot and insulated socks will be sufficient at keeping your feet warm.
If you always fish from a boat, from the shores or fish tiny streams and never need to get into the water.
Q: How To Clean My Fishing Waders?
After a long, successful fishing day, the last thing you want to do once you get home is take on any kind of chore. However, it is very important to take a moment to clean, dry and store your fishing waders properly so they will be in good and functioning condition when you need them next. Here is how to clean your fishing waders:
After every wading excursion, make sure to rinse your waders thoroughly with fresh water to remove any residues or saltwater and then dry the inside and outside thoroughly.
After two or three trips, give your fishing waders a thorough cleaning. The best way to clean fishing waders and preserve their quality is to hand wash them using cold water and a mild detergent such as powdered detergent or a specialty cleaner for waterproof materials. Don’t use bleach or softeners. It is also important to follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions.
Rinse your fishing waders thoroughly using clean freshwater to remove any soap residue.
Once in a while, apply a waterproofing and breathability treatment to keep your fishing waders in good working condition.
Turn the waders inside out and hand them to air dry in a well-ventilated room away from direct sunlight or heat. Once the interior is completely dry, dry the outside. Don’t toss them in a dryer, as the high heat will ruin the watertight seams and seals.
Ensure all the parts including the bootfoot or neoprene stockingfoot are completely dry before storage. This is because trapped moisture allows mold to grow and weaken the material and seams.
Store your fishing waders in a cool, dry and dark place away from harsh UV rays and rodents.
Globo Surf Overview
Fishing waders are a great invention that gives fly anglers the comfort and protection they need to get into the water and cast their flies more effectively. It is well worth it to spend more money to get top quality waders but no matter what your budget is, you can get a great pair of fly waders that will serve you well in the water.
If you fish in warm weather and mildly cold water, breathable waders will keep you cool, dry and comfortable while in the water. If you fish in icy cold water and weather, you need a neoprene wading outfit that will keep you warm and dry so you can stay in the water for as long as you want.
The best chest waders for fly fishing reviewed are top rated for their quality, performance, and value for money. As long as you pick the best fly fishing waders for your fishing conditions, you’re ready to delve into the water, catch more fish and have more fun. Remember to always practice safe wading.
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Do you own any of the above fly fishing waders? How’s their performance on the water? We would love to hear your experience. Share with us in the comment box below.