All You Need to Know About Choosing Quality Fly Fishing Wading Gear
By Mark Sassi
I have been standing in rivers fly fishing for 49 years and have been lucky to experience what a great set of waders has to offer. I also have been very let down by getting to wear waders that would never make the cut. Over the course of my time in the river, I know now what kind of fly fishing wading gear keeps me happy!
My waders need to be waterproof, breathable and durable. I don’t want them to weigh too much, and I want to be able to have a good range of movement. They should be appropriately sized and belted for safety, and they should also be footed and provide sufficient traction for wading, especially in waters with algae or moss.
When it comes to being comfortable and dry while fly fishing, anglers now have many different wader and boot options. What you end up wearing depends on many factors including price, materials, brand, style, intended use, whether it’s going to be occasionally or if you’re planning to fish every day, and also where you fish.
Don’t be fooled by accessories. Just because the pair of waders has a waterproof inside pocket and a zippered outer pocket along with knee pads and anatomically shaped feet, if they are not waterproof, durable, and breathable, these extras don’t make them better.
Determining Your Price Range
First figure out your price range. How much are you willing to spend for waders and boots? You can invest $1500 for boots and waders and get the absolute best, but after reviewing your factors, you may be able to get away with a less expensive option that will do the job right.
If you fish during the summer months only, you may not even have to wear waders, just wear wading boots with wading socks because the water temperatures are warm, and the water levels are low.
If you’re hiking into fish and you’re hiking through a lot of brush, then you want to have a breathable and durable wader to help wick moisture while being puncture resistant.
Many companies work with the Gore-tex brand, or they have their own proprietary fabric that is like Gore-tex. Make sure that the waterproofing is a known fabric or coating and has good reviews. We work with brands like Simms, Orvis, and Redington and within these three brands, we have all the bases covered for every type of fishing adventure, every body shape, and for guys and for girls.
Women can now get into a set of waders that are not just smaller-sized men’s waders. These waders are designed to offer women room where they need it and take up the extra materials where they don’t. They also have little accents that make them feel like they are fully designed with the women fly fishers in mind.
Finding the Right Wading Boots
Once you have narrowed down your wader choice, you will then need to look at wading boots. These are designed to go over the stocking foot that is attached to the bottom of the waders.
Here at Minturn, we focus on Simms, Orvis, and Korkers brands.
There are so many options in this field, so you may need to simplify to must-have list again. Review your factors list and that alone will narrow down your choices. For me, I like a boot that is loaded with support, drains well, and is not too heavy. I fish in the winter, so a BOA system works best for me. I use it during the warmer months, too. The BOA system is a speed lacing system that uses a cable and a dial. Unlike regular shoelaces that can become untied and can become frozen in the wintertime, the BOA systems do not have these issues.
Spending top dollar for a pair of boots means you will get the best boot possible, but it could be overkill if it’s not the right boot for your applications. I wear one boot that has different options for sole replacement depending on what the river bottoms are like. I like being able to change the soles of my boots if I’m going in a boat or a raft, if the rocks are covered with “rock snot” which makes them very slippery, or if I’m fishing in the dead of winter when there’s ice and I need a sole that grips like no other.
At Minturn, we carry Simms wading boots, Orvis wading boots, and Korkers wading boots. For men, we recommend the Simms Guide Boa in either felt or Vibram, the Orvis Pro Hybrid Wading boot, and the Korkers River OPS Boa. A few of our favorite women’s specific wading boots include the Simms Women’s Freestone Wading boot, the Orvis Women’s Ultralight Wading Boot, and the Korkers Buckskin Mary Wading Boot.
Try on Fly Fishing Wading Boots Before You Buy
One final suggestion before you get your feet wet: come into Minturn Anglers! Try the waders and boots on and walk around for 10 minutes. Spend some time in them. Right out of the gate, they may feel small and snug. Make sure they are not.
Also, try on a few styles or brands to make a simple comparison. Don’t overdo it; just a few pairs.
Having the right gear for what lies ahead of you will make all the difference, and our team at Minturn Anglers is here to be your guide and to guide you. Contact us at Minturn/Vail (720) 739-5291 or Denver (720) 739-5291, and we can help you find the right gear.