More than 49 million Americans participated in flyfishing in 2017. Whether you were one of them, or you’re just now thinking about starting out, you might have some questions about which type of gear is best — specifically in regard to heavy duty waders. When it comes to flyfishing, not just any pair of outdoor boots will do. To help clear up some of the misconceptions, here is everything you need to know about choosing wading boots.
Choosing Your Height
When choosing the height of your heavy duty waders, consider the types of conditions you’ll be casting in. How deep will the water be? Is it fast-moving or slow? Three heights that you can choose from include:
- Hip Waders
The shortest waterproof waders available, these are perfect for shallow areas with slow-moving currents. Capable of keeping you dry up to the knee or lower thigh, these can also be worn when hunting in muddy conditions or launching boats.
- Waist High Waders
Similar to a pair of pants, this offers more coverage than the above option and is good for slightly deeper streams where the water might reach mid-thigh. These also allow for unrestricted motion in regards to the upper half of your body, allowing you to cast without being weighed down.
- Chest Waders
The option with the most coverage, these offer versatility in waters that can reach chest level. These are great for fishing in deeper areas, or when fishing in a new location where the drop-off points are unknown. They also offer more protection from harsher weather conditions. With this option, a wading belt should also be worn, to prevent flooding in the suit.
When choosing heavy duty waders, the material type is also important. Three of the most common include:
Great for cold temperatures, this option is thicker and can provide excellent insulation and durability. While thicknesses vary, 3mm is good for general fishing and 5mm will serve you best in cold environments.
The most waterproof option, this type of wader is resilient to most punctures and tears, at the cost of little breathability. While many hip waders are made from this material, other options are usually a combination for this reason. Wader made from this material is best in shallow rough waters.
- Breathable Options
Most commonly made from polyester and nylon, these are the most versatile and lightweight option. Best on warmer days, they can allow for perspiration and moisture evaporation, while still holding back exterior water. These can also be used in colder climates, provided extra insulation is provided underneath.
Styles of Heavy Duty Waders
Bootfoot and stockingfoot waders are two options for anglers to consider.
Bootfoot comes with the boots sewen right into the waders, because of this you don’t have to worry about purchasing a separate pair. These have the benefit of keeping debris out, though they are often heavier as a trade-off. In this option, you can choose from cleated, rubber, or felt soles. Rubber is best for muddy conditions, cleated is used for traction and maneuvering, and felt is good for providing stability and traction on slick surfaces.
Stockingfoot options are designed for separate boots. The stocking itself helps keep feet warm and dry, while you can choose your own pair of boots depending on what you need. As a lighter option, these are often chosen by anglers who need to hike to their casting spots.
If you’re looking to get into flyfishing, or you’re just looking to upgrade your gear, that is basics of all the options available. While no option is necessarily superior to the other, what you decide will depend on where you’re fishing, the conditions, and what feels most comfortable to you.