How To Choose The Perfect Waders For Fly Fishing

text by Steve Vose
photographs by Kim Gibson

Trying to find that perfect set of fly fishing waders can make you almost as confused as a hungry baby at a topless bar. However, don’t let the immense selection of options, sizes and shapes scare you . . . and yes, I am now talking about waders . . . please try to keep up.

A few simple suggestions can help you to effectively navigate this wading jungle and find a pair of waders that will be a perfect fit for what you are looking to do.

The first question most “waders” will tackle is height. Basically do you purchase thigh high boots, waist or chest waders? For most people chest waders are not going to be needed, as you will rarely wade that far out into a river . . .if you are “petite” than you are definitely not going to wade out chest deep into a river and doing so could potentially be VERY dangerous. Chest waders can quite honestly make you take chances in the water that you would not normally take with waist height waders or hip boots.

My personal fly-fishing waders come up to my chest BUT I also use mine for duck hunting. When placing duck decoys, the water is not moving and the chest high areas of the swamp are easy to safely navigate. Plus, with the added height provided by chest waders, you are less likely to overflow your waders on a cold November morning.

I would caution you to not buy hip boots as they will limit where you can go. If you have a pair of wader pants you will be able to go just about everywhere AND not have to worry about continually looking down to make sure you don’t go over the boot tops! The waist highs will also allow you to enter deeper water more confidently and keep you from getting your butt muddy and wet from sliding down stream banks.

Here is the style of wader that I am talking about: LL Bean Waders they provide nice coverage and with the Emerger II boots the total is only $218.00. Not bad of an investment for a piece of equipment that with care will likely last you many, many seasons.

Last thing to remember is insulation. I have multiple fleece and polypro pants (NO COTTON) of various thicknesses that I layer depending on how cold the water temperatures are going to be. I find this much more effective than buying a pair of heavy neoprene waders and then sweating to death in them on a hot summer day. I suggest buying something like the LL Bean Fleece Wading Pants to wear under your waders when water temps are low, like at the beginning and end of the fishing season.

Ok, well this is how we Mainahs do thangs BUT make sure this system makes sense for your neck of the woods! I hope this helps, take care and stay in touch! Good luck fly fishing!

Special thanks goes out to Kim Gibson for helping me create this post. She had originally contacted me requesting information on how to select the perfect pair of waders for fly fishing and by elaborating on that initial conversation . . . BLAMO . . . instant blog post! Glad you are enjoying your waders Kim and many thanks for the pictures! Take care!