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Wade Right In: A Guide to Choosing The Right Fishing Waders

By Charlie Robinton 5/4/2017 10 minutes

Waders are incredibly important, and have a massive say on whether you have a great day of fishing, or spend the day soaked with boots full of mud and water. Before you head out to buy a pair of waders, first ask yourself “how do I choose the right pair of waders?” This article will offer insights to different types of waders and footwear in order to help you get the most out of your days on the water.

Choosing the Right Type of Waders For You

Each type of wader has its own advantages and disadvantages. While some waders will be best for deeper rivers and colder climates, others are a great choice for small streams, and warmer months.

Hip waders
Hip waders are typically the least expensive and most convenient type of waders on the market. If you prefer to fish in warmer climates and stay in more shallow water and streams, and if you like the idea of a boot and wader all in one, this may be the best choice for you. Hip waders are a pair of wading boots with a waterproof fabric upper section that reaches up to hip height.

Waist High Waders
Waist high waders are basically a pair of waterproof pants. They reach higher on your body than hip waders, and allow you to move into deeper waters. The main advantage to waist high waders is that they are easy to get in and out of which will help you stay cooler on hot, sunny days. Waist high waders are preferred by anglers who enjoy
fishing during the hotter months and in warmer climates.

Chest High Waders
Chest high waders are the most common waders out there. Chest high waders can be worn year-round both for fishing in shallow water and for deeper wading. They also offer weather protection for fishing in colder climates.

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Understanding Modern Materials

Waders can be made of any waterproof material, but the most popular choices you will see are made of neoprene or lightweight, durable, and breathable fabrics such as Gore-Tex. Here is a breakdown of the most popular and common materials used for modern waders.

Neoprene has been one of the more popular choices for wader materials since the 1970s. Neoprene waders are lightweight, flexible, and warm. Because Neoprene has the extra bonus of warmth, Neoprene waders are a fantastic choice for anglers who fish in colder weather. They are also usually less expensive than breathable waders. The thicker the material, the more warmth it offers; however, be aware that waders made of thicker neoprene are bulkier and less flexible.

Breathable Fabrics
Gore-Tex, Toray, or other fabrics marketed as being waterproof and breathable are quickly becoming the most popular choice for fishing waders. They keep water out while allowing sweat and moisture to pass through. This makes breathable waders much more versatile. Like ski clothing, you can add or remove layers underneath to stay as warm or cool as you like.

Breathable waders are marketed in different thicknesses. Unlike Neoprene waders, the thickness is measured in terms of layers, and has more to do with the sturdiness of the material than warmth. It’s important to take material thickness into account when selecting a pair. You will often see waders with more layers on the lower legs than the chest since the lower legs are most likely to be subjected to wear and tear due to use. Higher end waders are made of thick, heavy-duty nylon, while cheaper waders are made of paper-thin nylon and are more prone to tearing.

Staying on Your Feet: a Quick Guide to Fishing Footwear

You can choose to buy waders with the boots attached, but it is becoming more common to buy “stockingfoot waders” and buy the wading boots to wear over them separately. The waders are waterproof by themselves, but the boots protect your feet and provide traction in the river.

Comfort, fit, and support should all be considered when purchasing boots, but one of the most important features to consider is the sole material. Wading boots can feature felt soles, rubber lug soles, or either material with accompanying metal studs.

Felt Soles
Because of its exceptional ability to grip slippery, wet surfaces, felt soles have been one of the most popular choices for wading boots. This material performs best in rivers where the bottom is sand, gravel, or small- to medium-sized rocks. Their ability to grip slippery surfaces makes them the best choice if there is slime or algae in the river. However, felt does have its disadvantages. It wears quickly and offers little traction on trails or muddy banks outside the river. Despite this, felt is still considered the best material for wading and should be your first choice if you are concerned about stability in the river.

Rubber Soles
More companies have been producing boots with Vibram rubber soles with aggressive tread patterns recently. While these soles do not provide the same level of traction on slippery rocks as felt soles, they do offer the advantage of being a far better sole for hiking and walking around outside the river. If you are the type of angler who likes the hike from one location to another during your day, rubber soles are a great option for you. Certain states, such as
Alaska, have banned felt soles for environmental reasons, making rubber the most logical option for traveling anglers.

Studded Soles
Studs are small metal cleats or spikes that increase the amount of traction the sole has on certain surfaces. Boots can be purchased with studs already attached, or you could purchase studs separately to be used later. For deep rivers with strong currents or very slippery surfaces, studded soles are highly recommended.

Read More
Bans on Felt Soled Wading Boots Gathering Steam: How Long Until You're Wearing Rubber?

Buying Based on Your Fishing Style

Fishing stores often carry several different models that may range in price between $100 - $800. How do you choose the right pair for you? Remember to consider the durability of the wader, the amount of time you plan to spend on the water, and the environment you will be fishing in.

A good pair of waders can last one person a lifetime and another a few years. It comes down to how often you fish, and what you are doing while out on the water. If you scramble over boulders, hop barbed wire fences, and stray far from the beaten path to find the perfect fishing spot, then spending extra on an expensive pair of breathable waders is probably worth the investment. However, if you fish occasionally and prefer areas close to where you park your car, then durability shouldn’t be as much of a concern. Remember that typically the more you spend, the more use you can expect to get out of the wader.

No matter how well you take care of your waders, they will wear out and leak eventually. When that happens will vary based on the wader you buy and how often you fish. If you plan to fish over one hundred days a year, buy the best set of waders you can afford. On the other hand, if you only fish once a year or occasionally on weekends, then you might be better off saving the money and using it to
hire a fishing guide or for buying bait!

Fishing Environment
If you mostly fish in small streams that you can hop across, look for a pair of hip waders. Like to wade in medium-sized meadow streams and cow pastures in
Montana during the summer? Waist highs are the choice for you. Do you fish for winter steelhead on the massive rivers of British Columbia or on the Washington coast? Chest waders are your best bet. But what if you like a little bit of everything? If this is the case, go with the waders that match your own versatility: a pair of chest highs!

Underground Reviews
Redington Sonic Pro Zip Front Waders

Quality waders will last longer and perform better than low-end, cheaper products. Shop around and look at your options. Keep in mind where you fish, how you will spend your time there, and how often you will be fishing. Consider the environment and your own wading style and ability.

So what are you waiting for? Wade right in!

*This post and infographic were provided courtesy of
This is a small town with a big heart, a veritable fisherman’s paradise. Located near the fish-filled Madison River, and surrounded by the waters of Ennis Lake, the Ruby River, Hebgen ... moreLake, Quake Lake, Henry’s Lake, the Big Hole River and scores of smaller streams, the town boasts what many consider the best trout fishing in the world. As well known for its wranglers as its anglers, Ennis has succeeded in maintaining the look and feel of its original, gold town roots. Warm and hospitable, the area offers a wide variety of accommodations ranging from simple campsites, rustic motels and gracious hotels, to full-service, luxury resorts. Fly shops are numerous, stocked by local experts ready to advise and assist, while guides can be booked for trips throughout the area.

Boredom is the only thing unavailable in Ennis. Throughout the summer season the city hosts a series of events, including its renowned 4th of July Celebration Parade and a genuine, old-fashioned rodeo. In August, fly-fishing luminaries from around the US, flock to Montana to compete in the Madison Fly Fishing Festival. Athletes also find their way to Ennis to compete in the city’s Madison Trifecta, two shorter races followed by a full Marathon at 9000 feet, the highest elevation run in America. For the true sportsman, October falls in with the annual Hunter’s Feed. What’s caught, typically elk, moose deer, pheasant and bobcat, gets cooked on the streets and served up to hungry spectators.

Flanked by three grand mountain ranges, The Tobacco Root, Gravelly and Madison, Ennis is scenic and entertaining – truly an authentic, fly fisher’s haven.
Fishing Waters
The Strawberry river flows into Strawberry Reservoir and out through Soldier Creek Dam. The first 8 miles below Soldier Creek Dam are BLM land. This stretch is one of Utah's most productive ... morebrown and cutthroat trout fisheries and is accessed by a trail that runs along the north bank. The Strawberry river has a population of Bear Lake Cutthroat that have migrated from Strawberry Reservoir into the stream.

12 miles below Soldier Creek Dam the river runs by the Strawberry Pinnacles where it is joined by the tributaries Avintaquin Creek and Red Creek. The narrow canyon that the river runs through is characterized by high, steep cliffs and dense foliage. The river flows into Starvation Reservoir before it joins the Duchesne River east of the town of Duchesne, Utah.

This water upstream from USFS 124 (Bull Springs Road) to its headwaters has strict regulations, including some sections that are closed year round to protect spawning cutthrowat and Kokanee Salmon. Check current fishing regulations before you go. Below the road to the top of the reservoir is closed to fishing all year. However, don't snub your nose at the section below the reservoir. Great fishing is to be had here.

Strawberry Bay Campground is located on the shore of beautiful Strawberry Reservoir at an elevation of 7,200 feet. The campground is set among rolling sagebrush covered hills next to Strawberry Reservoir. Most campsites offer sweeping views of the reservoir and surrounding hills. Small pine trees dot the campground but provide very little shade.

Starvation Reservoir offers 3,500 acres of fishing four miles northwest of Duchesne on Highway 40. A 54 unit campground, sandy beach, modern rest rooms, showers, group-use area, and fish cleaning and sewage disposal stations are available. Primitive camping is allowed at designated areas around the reservoir.
Game Fish Opportunities:
The North Fork and South Fork of the Kern Wild and Scenic River is located within a four-hour drive of more than one-third of the population of southern California. With its range ... moreof elevation, topography and vegetation, it offers a broad spectrum of recreation opportunities for all seasons of the year. Principal outdoor recreation activities include fishing, hiking, camping and whitewater boating.

The North Fork flows through Sequoia National Park and the Sequoia National Forest, past post-pile formations, spiked-granite protrusions and sharp rock ledges. The North Fork Kern River canyon within the Golden Trout Wilderness may be the longest, linear glacially-sculpted valley in the world. It contains regionally unique features referred to as Kernbuts and Kerncols. These rounded to elongated (parallel to the axis of the canyon) granitic knobs (Kernbuts) and the depressions between them (Kerncols) were first identified and named in the Kern Canyon.

The North Fork River corridor also includes regionally uncommon wetland habitat at Kern Lakes and the alkaline seep at the Forks of the Kern. The wetland habitat contains several uncommon aquatic and marsh species; the alkaline seep also supports several uncommon plants. The river's deep pool habitat supports a population of wild trout and also vividly colored hybrid trout.

The South Fork Kern River flows through a diverse landscape, including whitewater, waterfalls, large granite outcrops interspersed with open areas and open meadows with extensive vistas. The segment in the Dome Land Wilderness flows by numerous granitic domes and through a rugged and steep granitic gorge where whitewater rapids are common.

With a gradient of 30 feet per mile, the North Fork Kern is one of the steepest and wildest whitewater rivers in North America. The Forks Run is a nearly continuous series of Class IV and V rapids and waterfalls. The Upper Kern is a popular stretch of river for whitewater boating, camping and fishing. The Lower Kern runs 32 miles from Isabella Dam to the canyon mouth above Bakersfield, California.
The Madison River is arguably one of the best trout fishing rivers in all of southwest Montana, if not the entire world! It’s certainly the most talked over, written up and frequented ... morein the state of Montana – which is considered by some the capital of fly fishing. Anglers will find plenty of great access sites to wade or float along the Madison’s banks and reservoirs (including Hebgen Lake and Ennis Lake). Rainbows, browns, cutthroats, and more abound in this majestic fishing stream.

The Madison begins its course almost twenty miles into Yellowstone National Park. Within the Park, fishing rules apply: no live bait and catch and release only. Once outside the Park the river meanders past working ranches, stately conifer forests and cottonwood lined banks, interrupted by riffles and quiet runs that contain large rainbow and trophy brown trout. Flowing alongside Yellowstone’s West entrance road, the river enters Hebgen Lake, created by Hebgen dam, until it reaches Quake Lake, a bit downstream from the dam. At this point the river is commonly called either the Upper Madison or the Lower Madison, although in fact, they are one and the same.

Upper Madison – Quake Lake to Ennis Lake
Directly below Quake Lake the river roars into 5 long miles of Class V whitewater with steep gradients and large boulders along the way. As the rapids decline, the magic begins. For the next 53 miles, often referred to as the 50 Mile Riffle, the cold river runs north and the fish jump high. Annual runs of spawning trout make their way from Hebgen Lake, rainbows in the spring and browns in the fall. Known the world over for its “hard fighting” trout, it’s not unusual to pull a 25” brown from these upper waters. In deference to the purists and fly-fishing enthusiasts, it’s wading only from Quake Lake to Lyons Bridge. Boats may be used to access the river, but if you’re going to fish, your feet must be on the riverbed. Fortunately, the Hebgen Dam releases water throughout the year, leveling its flows and relieving it of spring runoff issues and summer shrinkage.

Lower Madison – Ennis Lakes to Three Forks
A short section of the river between Ennis Dam and the power station maintains relatively low water levels and provides wonderful opportunities for wading. Past the power station the river regains its muscle and for 7 miles winds through Bear Trap Canyon. Hiking trails offer the only entry, great for those that like to walk and seek the solitude of a designated wilderness area. Floating is permitted but requires a lengthy shuttle and the ability to work through Class III-IV whitewater. Once out of the canyon the river flows in shallow riffles until it reaches Three Forks and joins the Missouri. From Warm Springs to Greycliff, the river is easily accessible for drifters and wading.
/ Boat
1 - 2 anglers
4 hours - 1 day
The Strawberry starts above Strawberry Reservoir and enters into Strawberry Reservoir. It leaves the Berry Patch and empties into Starvation Reservoir, then joins with the Duchesne ... moreRiver below the town of Duchesne and Becomes the Duchesne River. The sections I guide on are the “Wild Strawberry” from strawberry reservoir to Starvation, and Below Starvation Reservoir. Both are very different and offer a different reward to anglers.

The Wild Strawberry

Cascading down from Strawberry Reservoir the Wild Strawberry is home to beautiful mountain trout. Rainbow, Brown, and gorgeous cutthroat trout live in this little tail water and love large dry flys. Fishing season here is June till October according to snow levels. You will not find a prettier place to wet your line then this stretch of river.

Fish usually average 8-14 inch’s with fish up to 20 inches available. A pure dry dropper stream that is a blast to fish. When going here plan on leaving early to get a good section of stream to fish. The fish are very spooky and do not respond to pressure well.

Strawberry River: Below Starvation Reservoir
Being a Fly Fishing Guide you get to explore new areas to find large fish. No other place in Utah has larger Brown Trout on a consistent basis. This area Produces large fish. But beware. Many of anglers here reports and come expecting much only to get their butt kicked by these wary fish.

Sight fishing and stalking skills can be the difference between a 20 fish day and getting skunked. I will show you how to find these fish, how to approach them, what to use, and how to land a brown over 20 inches. With browns over 26″ being caught every year this area holds some true pigs.

I guide on this section of Strawberry River year round and can help you catch a large Brown Trout. It will take work and some learning, but you will not be disappointed with the results. Plan on catching 2-8 fish during the day, but at least one of those will be over 20 inch’s.
/ Boat
1 - 4 anglers
4 hours - 1 day
Fishing Waters:
The Merced River originates in the Southeastern corner of Yosemite National Park. Its headwaters begin at 7900 feet at the Clarke Range. It flows over Nevada and Vernal Falls, and ... morelastly, Illilouette Creek before she flows through the main Yosemite Valley. Then the Merced, picks up water from Tenaya, Yosemite, Bridalveil, and Pigeon Creeks near the end of the valley, and meeting up the water from Cascade Creek before the river flows through the Merced River Canyon and then outside the park. Its South and North Forks join it a few miles outside the park.

The Lower Merced is another river that can be drifted, water flow permitting, or walk & waded January through May.
/ Boat
1 - 2 anglers
3 days
Experience the Madison River Like Never Before Learn the best spots on the Madison River with 3 great fishing days with Red Mountain Adventures. Eric Shores, with over 35 years of ... moreexperiencing guiding on the Madison River will take you down a journey of the best places to fish.

The journey starts on the Upper Madison River on a guided float trip covering about 8-11 miles of premier fly fishing water. The following day includes a recipe (location flies, and technique) on a do it yourself wade location near the fly fishing town of Ennis. The third day moves you on to where the Madison River dumps into Ennis Lake for a full float day stalking the giants.

Note: The order or location may change based on where the best spots are at the time.
Gliding through the hills of the beautiful Ozark Montains in Arkansas is the White River and its tributary, The Norfork Tailwater. These are the finest tailwaters in the South, known ... moreto fly fishers all over the world for producing phenomenal numbers of trophy brown trout. Nestled on a bend of the White River is Cotter, Arkansas, "Trout Capital USA", and at its fly fishing heart is Dally's Ozark Fly Fisher. We are a fly shop for fly fishers, fly tiers, and fly enthusiasts. 

If you want to discover the waters of the Ozarks, learn to fly flish, or hunt trophy trout, our guide service is second to none. Our experienced guide team goes through waders and boots like others wear out jeans and tennis shoes. We offer guided fly fishing trips for wade fishing (when available), river boats and drift boats on both the White River and Norfork Tailwater, and Crooked Creek and Dry Run Creek tours for those who are under 16 and want to fish for the world's finest trout. If you're a beginner fly flisher, we also have a solid program of trying and fishing classes.

We also carry one of the region's largest selection of Sage, Orvis, and TFO fly rods. We have fly reels from Waterworks-Lamson, Abel, Sage, Orvis, and TFO. We carry Simms and Redington waders, boots and clothing, tools from Dr Slick and Orvis, fly boxes from Umpqua and Montana Fly Company. Our trying selection is backed with only the best from Wapsi, Hareline, Clear Cure Goo, Renzetti Vises, and Dr Slick Tools.

Dally's Ozark Fly Fisher is your gateway to the White River system and Ozark waterways. 


Charlie Robinton

Charlie is a self-described fly fishing addict. He teaches people to tie flies and fly fish, ties his own flies, and writes about all things fly fishing out of San Francisco. At the age 10, he caught his first trout and he has been hooked on the adventure and romance of fly fishing ever since.

Amazing guide thanks for such a great blog :) SA Fishing Coupon

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