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Wader Buying Guide and Fitting Tips

Fall is in the air! Mornings are beginning to feel chilly here in the Denver area. We still have plenty of warm fishing days left, but things are cooling off. September and October are some of the best months of the year to be on the water. And it’s time to get into a solid pair of waders.

Purchasing a new pair of waders can be a mystifying business. Do you purchase true to size? Or should you size up in some areas and if so, where? You may also be wondering if waders can be effectively purchased over the phone or on our online store. The answer is yes!

With lots of experience helping anglers into new waders, we asked our crew for their wader-fitting tips. Here’s what you need to know:

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Fit and Measurements

Anglers All eCommerce manager Blake Katchur says to start by using a manufacturer sizing chart. This provides a baseline and a good place to begin.

“With the sizing chart as your starting point, I’d recommend that you add two extra inches in the inseam over your normal pant size,” Blake told us. “Wader material doesn’t stretch, so you’ll need extra material to be able to lift your leg into a boat, over a fence or up a cutbank.

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“Then make a fist and place it at your chest,” Blake added. “You should be able to slide that fist between your body and your wader. This provides room for a warm layers like a jacket under your waders.”

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By adding a couple of inches to both your inseam and your chest measurement, you give yourself flexibility for movement, as well as those layering needs. Anglers All media manager, Davis James put it this way:

Don’t expect that waders will fit like a tailored suit,” Davis said. “Having a little room is ideal as it keeps the fabric from being fully taut while you wade and walk through willows and other objects that could puncture the material.”

For more, check out the following video from our friends at Simms:





Zip or No Zip?

Zip-front waders certainly offer some great benefits. But there are pros and cons to this feature. Which one is right for you? Blake offers a few thoughts on the subject.

“It’s easier to get into and out of a zip wader,” Blake mentioned. “But on the other side of the argument, the zipper creates a stiffer front fabric. Some folks might find this uncomfortable. Additionally, there’s no pass-through pocket on a zip-front wader.”

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That stiff front panel and the lack of a kangaroo pocket are issues to consider. But for anglers who find it very cumbersome to get in and out of waders, these downsides may be easy to overlook.


Wading Boots

Purchasing wading boots often brings up some of the very same questions about sizing. Blake’s recommendation is to, “size boots a half size, to a full size bigger. If you are a 9.5 street shoe, buy a 10. If you are an 11 street shoe, buy a 12.”


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The extra room is valuable to make sure you have comfortable space for thick socks when fly fishing conditions get cold. A boot that’s too tight fitting can restrict circulation and actually amplify those cold conditions.


Other Considerations

Don’t forget the importance of quality layers! The very best breathable waders won’t function properly if you’re wearing cotton underneath. High quality base layers will help move moisture, keeping you dry and comfortable from the inside. Consider synthetic long underwear, cold-weather fleece pants, or even a non-cotton hiking pant. The same rules apply when it comes to your feet. Ditch the cotton socks for a pair of high quality merino wool or synthetic blend socks.

A solid pair of waders can last for years if you treat them well. According to Anglers All associate, Dakota Wentworth, “Hanging your waders for storage as opposed to folding them or leaving in a bag keeps the fabric from developing weak spots or leaks.” When you return from a trip or a day of fishing, immediately hang your waders to dry. And then keep them hanging better long-term storage. Another tip: don't hang them buy the suspenders, which often causes them to stretch out. Find the sewn in loop and hang your waders from there.

After extended use, you may find a need to wash your waders. Manufacturers often recommend using a powder laundry detergent and then a quick spin in the dryer. Alternatively, we highly recommend using a Gore-Tex safe detergent like NikWax Tech Wash followed by a wash-in re-waterproofing agent like NikWax TX Direct. This will renew the DWR finish on the outside of the waders, allowing water to bead up and roll off, just like when your waders were new.

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Ask Us for Help

If you have questions about getting into a new pair of waders, please don’t hesitate to ask. Give us a call at the fly shop at 303-794-1104 and we can help you in the right direction. Alternatively, you can stop by the shop here in Littleton. Consistent with local COVID-19 regulations, we are limiting the number of customers in the store at one time and a mask is required. But we promise, there are smiles under these masks and we’d love to help you out!

When you’ve settled on the right waders, please know that you can opt for free shipping on your order from AnglersAll.com or curbside pickup right here at the shop. Our online inventory tracks real-time with what we have in the building. So orders will always be available for fast shipping or pickup.