How to Choose Fly Fishing Waders – Wading Through the Basics

How to Choose Fly Fishing Waders – Wading Through the Basics

Do you have to have a pair to enjoy fly fishing up here in Alaska? We highly recommend that you do. Should you stick with a particular style, fabric or construction? We have our opinions, and we believe they’re worth sharing. Allow us to weigh in with our five-point guide on picking the perfect waders for your Alaskan fly fishing adventures.

1. You Want Warm Waders in Alaska

It stays pretty cool up here. Nothing slows down a day on the Kvichak river like a chill that spreads from your feet to where it really counts. Salmon and ‘bows don’t care about the cold, and you don’t either when you’re layered up. Chest waders keep your core warm, and that keeps your head in the game from spring ice-out to late season. They give you plenty of bushwhacking protection too. When we see anglers up here wearing waist-high waders, we just smile.

2. Fabric Doesn’t Have to Weigh You Down

Neoprene waders have a reputation for durability, affordability and warmth. They’re also really hard to peel off. We only mention rubber because it’s still available, very inexpensive and easy to patch. Neither material holds up to the lightweight comfort of high-tech microporous fabrics. You want waders that give you flexible room to move and breathable space to sweat. Materials like GORE-TEX win the wader-warmth category too when you layer some fleece under your fishing clothes.

3. Wader Design Deserves a Close Look

Stick your head inside those waders before you make a decision. Are seams tight and smooth? You want solid construction that doesn’t unravel. Do you see layering from mid-thigh down? Better models offer reinforced protection from the waist down and around to the rear. High-end waders also treat your feet right with comfortable booties that feature ergonomic design. Make sure gravel guards offer good stretch and metal-fastener security, and check suspenders for easy adjustment.

4. If You Can’t Try It On, Make Size Matter

We understand that you do a lot of things online. Shopping for fly fishing gear is one of our favorite digital pastimes, but we don’t wear reels or nymphs. The best way to suit up in waders that fit requires an in-person visit to the store. Otherwise, keep these rules of thumb in mind.

  • Start with your sweatshirt size, and include extra room for layers.
  • Go with a wader inseam measurement 1 to 2 inches longer than your own.
  • Shoe size counts in both stockingfoot and bootfoot waders, but factor in heavy socks.
  • Use the manufacturer’s sizing chart to pull your numbers together and select the best fit.
  • Always double-check the return policy just in case.

5. It’s OK to Spoil Yourself

You’re not supposed to care how they look, but you have standards. It’s not your style to obsess over extras, but you appreciate the small touches. As long as your waders keep you dry and warm, they’re performing as advertised. On the other hand, retractor docking stations on chest pockets are pretty cool. You know you’ll get plenty of use from fleecy hand warmer pockets that secure with stormflap closures. Why not splurge on waders with reinforced knees? You deserve to spend your time fly fishing in Alaska tricked out with a few goodies. One of our favorites remains the waterproof front zipper for quick, discrete relief.

It’s so easy for us to get chest deep into everything that we cast, use, wear, tie, seam, and cover. We’d go on, but you get our drift. It’s our hope that this guide for choosing waders makes your next Alaskan fly fishing trip a little warmer, a lot dryer and definitely more comfortable. It’s our promise that the welcome mat is always out for you on the front porch here at No See Um Lodge.

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