Why Fish With Waders?
There are many different fishing scenarios when it might be useful to fish with waders. Fishing in cold water can sap your body's natural heat, and depending on the circumstances, could lead to hypothermia. Wading wet even in summer months can lead to hypothermic extremities, especially if the water you are wading in is glacial runoff. Waders keep you dry and for the most part warm (depending on how you layer underneath or depending on the materials of the waders themselves). They allow you to access water that might not normally be accessible to fishermen not willing to get wet. This might lead to more fishing success, or might allow you to get away from crowded shores.
Below, we will discuss the different types of waders on the market, as well as when each type might be the most useful.
Neoprene vs Breathable Waders
There are two basic material types of waders on the market today: Neoprene and a semi-permeable breathable material. Neoprene is a thick, insulating material that makes up wetsuits. They are commonly used in hunting waders, since most duck and goose hunting is done in the colder months of the year. They can also be used for fishing in cold months, as well as in colder climates (think Alaska and the North). Neoprene comes in different thicknesses, with the thicker versions giving you more insulation and durability. They are heavy and can restrict mobility while in the water.
Breathable waders are lightweight and don't restrict your motion as much as Neoprene waders do. Breathable waders will allow water vapor (from the inside) to escape while keeping back liquid water from coming in. This helps reduce sweat and condensation on the inside, keeping you dry. These waders are ideal for warmer climates and warmer water, but with the right layering can also be used in cold fishing conditions.
Bootfoot vs Stockingfoot Waders
Waders come in two varieties: bootfoot and stockingfoot. Bootfoot waders will have an integrated boot. This means you don't have to purchase separate wading boots to go along with your waders, and even though they are more expensive (generally), this will usually save you money in the long run. Bootfoot waders are harder to clean (no washing machine cleaning with boots attached), and the boots are generally one size fits most type boots.
Stockingfoot waders have Neoprene socks attached to the end rather than boots. This means you will need to purchase a pair of wading boots. Rather than being stuck with the often basic wading boot that comes attached to most bootfoot waders, you have the ability to find boots that offer a better fit, more comfort, and better traction. I find that stockingfoot waders are the best option because of this last point.
Hip or Waist vs Chest Waders
The height of the waders is also another difference to decide between. Waders come in hip boots, wading pants (waist), or chest height waders. During the summer months, many anglers like to wade wet. The next best option is to use hip or waste waders. Rather than covering up your entire body (which can be uncomfortable on warm days), you are just covering up your lower half, or in the example of hip boots, just your legs.
Chest waders offer protection all the way up to (you guessed it) your chest. This will allow you to wade in deeper waters without having a spill over. It is important to note that just because you can wade in water as deep as your chest, doesn't mean that you should. Wading in deep, swift water can be dangerous. Use your best judgement in these cases. Chest waders are very useful in float tube fishing.
The Bottom Line
There are many different kinds of waders out there to choose from. Do you go with the Neoprene Hip boots, or the Breathable stockingfoot chest waders? Choosing the right waders will depend on what type of fishing you like to do. If you commonly pursue Alaska salmon, Neoprene chest waders with either a bootfoot or stockingfoot (your preference) will probably be the best option. If you fish a variety of climates and water types, a Breathable pair of chest waders or pants gives you the most flexibility.
Hopefully, this article will help you find the right pair of waders for your fishing activities. Thanks for reading, and happy fishing!