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Picking out a pair of the best fly fishing waders for your next fishing trip isn’t as easy as it should be. I mean, they’re waterproof pants with attached boots, right?
How hard can it be?
Turns out there’s a lot to know about waders. Picking out a good pair of waders doesn’t have to be difficult.
Choosing between sizes, types of waterproof materials, and various manufacturer’s warranties can be easy.
So in this article I’m going to help you avoid some common mistakes in choosing waders. We’ll talk about what separates the good waders from the mediocre waders.
Best Fly Fishing Waders
|Caddis Men's 2-Tone Chest Wader||Hodgman Caster Chest Waders||Ouzong Cleated Chest Waders|
|Rating:||4.2 / 5.0||4.2 / 5.0||4.5 / 5.0|
Quick Answer: The 5 Best Rated Fishing Waders For 2021
- Caddis Men’s 2-Tone Chest Wader
- Hodgman Caster Neoprene Cleated Chest Waders
- Allen Black River Bootfoot Hip Waders
- Frogg Toggs Pilot II Waist Waders
- Ouzong Cleated Chest Waders
Our reviews of the top fly fishing waders with a buyers guide below will help you choose the pair of waders for you. Let’s get into it!
Fly Fishing Wader Reviews
- Choose your own boots to wear
- Feet are double taped glued and stitched
- Chest high waders
- Waterproof breathable fabric
These waterproof breathable chest waders are our Editor’s Choice for the best fly fishing waders and are ready to hit the rivers and streams with your own choice of footwear.
Instead of an integrated rubber boot, you can use your own choice of boots! They’re also one of the most well-reviewed chest waders on our list.
Like any waterproof breathable fabrics, these waders shine during hot summer days.
CaddisDry membrane fabrics allow moisture vapor to escape while keeping the river water on the right side of your waders.
By far the biggest feature I like about these waders is that you can wear your own boots. Don’t worry, the waders include waterproof “socks” so water can’t get into the waders through your shoes.
This means you’ll want to buy some wading boots to go with them, but there are several advantages to this.
Wading boots will fit better than rubber wader boots. By choosing your own wading boot you can select the size and type of sole that makes the most sense for you.
Of course it will be a bit more expensive in the long run but it’s a more tailored experience overall.
Best For: A custom fit experience with breathable chest waders.
- 3mm insulated neoprene
- Integrated waterproof boots
- 200g Thinsulate rubber boot
- Chest-high waders
I had to make sure that our list included at least one set of insulated waders.
Luckily Hodgman makes some good ones and you can choose these waders in several thicknesses to pick the insulation you need for cold days in the river.
Neoprene waders make a good addition to anyone’s kit because they’re perfect for early spring or late fall fishing. 3mm waders like these will handle the cooler waters as seasons change.
However, they aren’t going to be warm enough to handle late season temperatures. For extreme temperatures you’ll want something in the 6+mm range.
I love the reinforced knees patches so you don’t have to worry about kneeling to work on a fish, or stumbling and tearing the neoprene.
I would like to have seen an included wading belt, so make sure you wear your own when using these.
There is a fleece hand warmer pocket and several D rings for attaching gear. These are nice touches on a wader meant for cold weather. Well done, Hodgman.
Best For: Anglers looking for the best fishing waders for cooler temps so you can stay in the rivers longer.
- Integrated rubber boots
- Two-ply uppers are waterproof
- Attaches to a standard belt
Of course any decent list of fly fishing waders has to include at least one option of each type of wader, right? So here’s my top pick for the best hip waders for fly fishing.
The best part is that they’re quite affordable compared to most chest waders!
Hip waders make perfect options for going light and fast. When the streams are low and slow hip waders can be the perfect companion.
I like that there are adjustable thigh straps. These cinch down around your upper leg and help keep the waders in place while moving. One recommendation I do have is to wear a sturdy belt.
The last thing you want to do is tighten your waders down and get in the stream, only to have them pulled off because your belt broke.
To make these waders a little more versatile, try wearing insulative leggings and thicker socks in early and late season temps.
Best For: Lightweight waders that won’t overheat you during summer fishing in shallow waters.
- Choose your own boots to wear
- Waist high waders
- Zippered waist pockets
These stockingfoot waders are made to deal with deeper waters while keeping you cool.
They’re waist high waders with the option to wear any wading boots you want so you can pick out just the perfect fit of waders and boots you need.
If you need more protection than hip waders can give, step up to these. They’re not as high as chest waders, but they look and feel like normal pants.
Don’t be fooled however, they’re fully featured waterproof waders.
The 4mm neoprene booties are made to be worn inside a boot of your choosing. See our guide to fly fishing wading boots if you need help deciding.
While this adds extra expense, it also allows you to pick out exactly the gear you want for each trip.
I like that the waders are made from 4-ply waterproof nylon construction. This is reinforced in the knee area so you know they’re going to last through some serious use.
Best For: Deeper waters in warm temperatures where chest waders aren’t quite needed.
- Chest high waders
- 35% lighter weight vs rubber waders
- Integrated rubber boots
- Available in 5 sizes
Last up is a pair of chest waders that’s ready to get you in the water at an affordable price. These waders are well loved by users and keep things simple in exchange for a cost that won’t break your wallet.
Of course that means you can use the extra dough to buy more flies!
If you’re getting ready to buy some waders, consider how much cash you want to throw down. As I mentioned earlier, breathable waders are expensive and aren’t always necessary.
So why not look for something that has only what you need?
That’s what I like about these waders. They are waterproof chest waders made from lightweight waterproof nylon. There’s an integrated wading belt and a chest pocket. Honestly, what else do you really need?
I would say these make perfect choices for summer time fly fishing in deep, fast waters. The lightweight material will keep you relatively cool.
They’re also a great all around affordable choice for beginners who want something that can cover all the bases during pleasant weather.
Best For: Anglers looking to save a little dough but also want the best chest waders at a very reasonable price!
How to Choose the Best Fly Fishing Waders – Buyers Guide
- Is There a One-Wader Quiver?
- Types of Waders
- Wader Safety
- Wader Materials
- Wader Sizing
- Final Thoughts
Is There a One-Wader Quiver?
In many outdoor sports the mythological one-item quiver is like the Fountain of Youth. People will go to great lengths to find that one item that works in all situations for all people.
It turns out that it doesn’t exist and you’ll waste a lot of time searching.
No matter what, you’ll end up eventually needing more than one wader for fly fishing. Seasonal changes, water depth changes, the river you’re fishing, and the type of fish you’re casting for will all change the wader that’s right for that situation.
Now, don’t get me wrong…
If you’re just getting started, you don’t need to buy three different waders right out of the gate.
Types of Waders
Are wonderful options for staying lightweight, cool, and mobile. Hip waders buckle on to your belt and cover everything up to the crotch.
They’re great for small, shallow streams.
With hip waders the main advantages are their smaller, lighter weight compared to larger waders. During hot summer days it’s nice to not have any more bulky, hot waders on than is absolutely necessary.
Larger waders can also become cumbersome and tiresome to walk in.
Blend the lightweight, smaller nature of hip waders with the advantages of larger waders. This type of wader will protect and cover you up to the belt-line.
During summer months when temperatures run high but you need to get into deeper waters, consider waist waders. They’re less cumbersome than chest high waders yet more protective than hip waders.
They are of course, are the largest and most protective wader. They can handle deeper waters with ease but they have several large drawbacks.
Waders are inherently waterproof and heavy. This makes them hot and tiring to wear. With chest waders in the summer things can quickly become swampy inside even if you don’t tip your waders (tipping means to get them filled with river water on accident).
Chest waders help with deeper waters and can protect against deep pools. They’re ideal for cold, rainy, nasty weather but suffer during the summer.
There’s an easy way to learn wader safety and there’s a way to get yourself killed learning to use waders. I will always remember my father’s stories as a boy about falling in the swamp while duck hunting and nearly drowning in his waders.
Don’t make that mistake.
No matter where you’re going, plan to have waders that are 4-6” higher than the water level you’re entering.
When wearing chest waders, be sure to wear and use a wading belt. Wading belts prevent water from filling the inside of chest waders. This can happen if you fall or step into a massive underwater hole and can be very dangerous.
Once you know what type of wader you want – hip, waist, or chest – you’ll now have to select a material. Each type of wader is made in all of the following materials and each material has some advantages and disadvantages.
Insulated / Neoprene Waders
Are made for cold water conditions when you’re the only person on the river. They’re usually made from neoprene but insulated waders can be made in other ways.
Neoprene waders come in varying thicknesses, just like wetsuits. The thicker the material, the warmer it will be. Manufacturers often also have a comfortable temperature range listed on insulated waders.
Be aware that large, thick waders can start to feel clumsy and awkward. When you get into really thick and warm waders such as those from 6-8mm thick you may experience unwanted buoyancy which can be awkward and dangerous.
Waterproof Breathable Waders
Like other waterproof breathable fabrics are made from fancy membrane materials.
Gore-Tex is the most famous example of waterproof breathable fabric but today nearly every manufacturer has some variant of waterproof breathable fabric that can often be just as good or better than name brands.
I’ve never been a huge fan of waterproof breathable materials, but they do allow some moisture to escape. Keep in mind, however, that sweat and moisture can only escape from areas that are above water.
This can mean that the benefits of breathable fabrics may be largely useless when you’re submerged in the waders.
Are usually quite affordable, durable, and effective. Almost every type of wader has some amount of rubber used in the construction – namely in the boots.
These are usually made of sturdy rubber or PVC combinations. Hip waders can sometimes be found made entirely of rubber but usually full size waders avoid rubber because it’s heavy and uncomfortable.
Are simply waterproof fabric waders. They’re inexpensive and effective at their jobs. I would advise most new anglers to start with these due to the inherent drawbacks of breathable waders and their relatively higher cost.
Non-breathable waders are just the thing you need to get the job done at a price that makes sense.
Sizing your waders can be a bit tricky. Not only do you need to get the foot measurement right (we all know how hard shoe sizing can be), but you also need to get the inseam and waist measurement.
For hip waders this isn’t as important because they don’t come up over the waist. Waist waders and chest waders, however, need to account for user height and size.
Aside from carefully consulting the manufacturer’s sizing chart, consider pouring over reviews by other readers. Most sites feature reviews where users can leave feedback about the sizing vs expected sizing of waders. Take note and order appropriately.
There’s no doubt that fly fishing waders run the gamut and offer almost anything you could want. It’s up to you to decide what you really need.
While I like waders that feature footies that allow you to wear your own wading boots, they can be more expensive. Some may want a no nonsense pair of waders that won’t cost a lot.
Both are options on our list and I would urge anyone to consider the whole spectrum as you search for the best fly fishing waders for yourself.
Remember that waders come in three sizes from hip waders and waist waders, to full size chest waders. It’s hard to pick just one for all conditions and season, but instead think about where you commonly fish.
Then you’ll be one step closer to narrowing down that perfect pair of fly fishing waders.
How We Researched
To come up with the top fishing waders we researched a variety of sources for reviews such as REI, Dicks Sporting Goods and Bass Pro Shops along with our own personal experience.
We also consulted online magazines for product research and reviews to get as much unbiased information as we could. To help weed out fake reviews we used Fakespot.com to make sure we only looked at genuine reviews.
With so much quality gear available, we had to narrow it down based on what we felt were the best options for the price. The author, Casey Fiedler has been an avid fisherman for decades and leads fishing trips into the backcountry.
To help narrow down the selection our authors used their personal experience along with recommendations from charter captains and tour guides.
After extensive research, we came up with our list to help you choose the right one for you.
I hope this guide was helpful for finding a good pair of fly fishing waders to fit your needs. If you want to comment or recommend a pair of waders I didn’t include, please use my contact form to get in touch.
Have fun and good luck!