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Wade in to the Best Fly fishing Waders for the Money – 2017 Top Picks!

Spending the day in a pair of waders has never been high on most fishermen’s list of favorite things to do. Heavy, clammy, wet, sweaty, and prone to chaffing are words that come to mind when we think waders. But if you like fly casting on cold, snow-fed mountain streams then you are likely to need a good set of waders even if most of your fishing happens in the summer season.

Fortunately, technology has come a long way, and putting on a pair of fly fishing waders today can be a pleasure that leaves a fisherman feeling well-equipped and protected instead of distracted by discomfort and clumsiness. For serious cold-water work like fall steelhead fishing in the Northwest or Alaskan fishing adventures, a sturdy pair of 3.5mm neoprene booted waders may be the best way to go.

For lighter-duty conditions, hot weather, or situations where a lot of hiking is required, the new synthetic materials like Gore-Tex and Dry-Plus make lightweight, flexible waders that let sweat escape while keeping the river water out.

10 Best Fly fishing Waders - Comparisons

Best Fly fishing Waders in 2017 - Reviews

Most modern waders also come with various pockets and other useful features that add to their value as fishing tools. Let’s wade in for a look at some of the best fly fishing waders for the money. 

1. Allen Big Timber Bootfoot Neoprene Chest Waders

Allen Big Timber Bootfoot Neoprene Chest Waders

Like many of the neoprene waders out there, the Allen Big Timber bootfoot neoprene chest waders were built with duck hunters in mind. That takes nothing away from them when protection from cold water and weather is needed whether you are in pursuit of fish or game.

In fact, neoprene is the choice for anyone who has to work long hours in cold water, for example when installing docks and boat lifts at a lake house, or working on bridge or bank rehabilitation projects.

The Allen Big Timber waders are built heavy-duty from 3.5 mm neoprene with reinforced knee pads. There is no need to worry about rips or snags with these waders. The boots are also made to last, with hardened toe caps and steel arch plates.

The high back bib gives extra warmth and protection from splashes, and the front D-ring suspenders and nylon web waist belt make adjusting the fit easy. The oversized front pocket is great for gear storage, but it is only a single large pouch with no compartments and a Velcro closure.

However, there is a handwarmer pocket behind the main pocket. One thing that was nice about the Allen Big Timbers is the way the boots fit. They stay snug to the foot even when wading through mud and muck. The boots have a Thinsulate lining that stops that cold, clammy feeling that makes most rubber boots so horrible to put on in the winter. The seams on the pair we tested stayed dry, but it would have been nice to see wider taping on the seams. Overall, this is a good wader for heavy-duty use.

What we liked

  • Very heavy material will withstand snags and tears
  • Warm, and dry
  • The high back keeps drafts out when you bend over
  • Good-fitting boots

What we didn't like

  • No pocket compartments or outside attachment points
  • Seam sealing could be better for maximum durability

2. FroggToggsAmphib Neoprene Bootfoot Cleated Waders

FroggToggsAmphib Neoprene Bootfoot Cleated Waders

Froggtoggs is well-known for quality in their lines of affordable rain gear, hunting wear, and outdoor clothing. And their neoprene bib waders make an excellent and affordable set of cold water fly fishing waders.

The Amphib neoprene bootfoot waders come in at a mid-range price and offer durability along with the comfort necessary for all-day wear. Made from 3.5 mm neoprene with reinforcing pads on the knees and double-sewn taped seams, they are tough enough to meet the demands of fishing, hunting, or use as work wear in wet, cold environments.

The bib top rises high in the front and back, making these waders great for use in deep water or with a float tube. One feature we liked about the frog toggs as a fly fishing wader was the extra-wide neoprene suspenders. They really reduced binding and cutting when the wearer is bending and reaching. The Velcro closures on the suspenders drew mixed reviews.

On the one hand, they are very easy to operate while wearing gloves, but the Velcro also seems like it could come loose easily, and Velcro always picks up lint and debris that makes it lose its sticking power over time. The bib top of the waders did fit well however: snug enough to keep random splashes of water out while allowing for layering warm clothes underneath. The boots fit snugly and the Thinsulate lining provides warmth and a smooth feel.

The cleated soles give good traction in mud and gravel. Although there is a fleece-lined hand warmer pocket, one drawback to these waders is the lack of a chest storage pocket. There are D-rings at the chest that can be used to attach an accessory pouch. The froggfoggs neoprene bootfoot waders are a good choice for the budget-conscious fisherman who is looking for a bootfoot design

What we liked

  • Double-sewn, taped and sealed seams
  • Roomy bib top
  • Wide, soft suspenders
  • Low price

What we didn't like

  • No chest storage pocket
  • No waist belt to provide fit adjustment
  • Velcro suspender closures could be a weak point

3. Caddis Neoprene Stockingfoot Waders

Caddis Neoprene Stockingfoot Waders

Caddis is a premier brand in the fly fishing world, and if you are looking for a pair of neoprene fly fishing waders in a stockingfoot design and at a very good price, the Caddis neoprene stockingfoot wader should be on your list.

These waders are simple and basic in terms of features, but they come at a price range that is much lower than most competitors. For all of that, the Caddis waders still offer sliding gravel guards that keep river bottom materials out of your boot tops, a fleece-lined hand warmer pocket, and wide neoprene suspenders.

The bib comes high at the front and back, and the suspenders have the Velcro closures that some users enjoy but others find questionable. However, it is worth noting that the Caddis design incorporates extra-large patches of the hook-and-loop material for better grip. The Caddis waders have D-rings at the top but do not have a chest storage pocket, so plan on using some sort of storage pouch or gear bag.

The 3.5 mm material used in the waders is tough enough for most uses, however we were disappointed to see no reinforcement on the knees, and double-taped and glued seams only used in the stocking feet. That said, Caddis has a very good reputation in the fishing world, and they field-test all of their products.

On top of that is the protection of a one-year manufacturer’s warranty. Despite a few shortcomings, the Caddis Neoprene Stockingfoot Waders were warm, dry, and tough – the main things we look for in a good set of fly fishing waders, and they are available at an excellent price point.

What we liked

  • Extra-high top
  • Wide, soft suspenders
  • Caddis quality and guarantee
  • Best price for a neoprene wader

What we didn't like

  • No chest storage pocket
  • No waist belt to provide fit adjustment
  • Velcro suspender closures could be a weak point
  • No reinforcement pads on the knees

4. HodgmanAesis Sonic Zip Stockingfoot Waders

HodgmanAesis Sonic Zip Stockingfoot Waders

The HodgmanAesis is the only zip-front model of fly fishing waders tested in this review, and we have to say it is a favorite.

Sure, you lose some function on the chest pocket with a zip-front, and there is potential for leakage, but especially if your fishing is confined to shallower water, the convenience of a zipper cannot be beat.

For one thing, the waders are much easier to get in and out of quickly, and the zipper is especially useful when nature calls after too much coffee on the way to the river. It is also nice to open for ventilation when hiking the river bank or eating lunch. Maybe more importantly, opening the zipper allows the waders to air out and dry thoroughly after use, prolonging their life.

The waders still feature two fleece-lined, zippered hand warmer pockets, and an interior flip-out pocket for waterproof storage. With a waist belt that provides for hanging gear boxes and pouches, most of the disadvantages that the zipper causes to chest pocket storage are overcome. These are very durable waders, 100% DRW-coated nylon, with 5-layer construction on the legs where abuse is likely and lighter 4-layer fabric on the upper to enhance breathability.

The knee and seat areas are reinforced with extra layering for abrasion resistance. The anatomically correct booties keep your feet comfortable, and 5 mm neoprene guarantees warmth. Seams are double sonic-welded for long, leak-free life. Another comfort feature of these waders is the elimination of inside leg seams.

This prevents leg chaffing and wear on the waders. The drop-down system converts the waders to waist-high with the click of a buckle. Add in the optional zip-in Core INS zoned insulation system, and you have a pair of waders that can be used all year round. The features, functions, and front zipper system make the HodgmanAesis Sonic Zip Stockingfoot Wader our favorite fly fishing wader.

What we liked

  • Waterproof front zipper system
  • Durable yet lightweight design
  • No inside leg seams eliminates a common source of leaks
  • Easy conversion to waist-high use

What we didn't like

  • Suspender placement should be near the zipper edges
  • Narrow suspender width could bind with long wear
  • Price is toward the high end

5. HodgmanAesis Sonic Stockingfoot Waders

HodgmanAesis Sonic Stockingfoot Waders

The HodgmanAesis Sonic stockingfoot Wader is an example of the type of modern, high-tech fly fishing waders that can be produced with today’s breathable, waterproof synthetic fabrics.

These waders incorporate three types of material and many features that support a great day of fishing whether you are working small mountain streams for summer brook trout or wading the cold fall river waters after steelhead.

The bib portion of the waders is constructed of 4-layer shell fabric to reduce over-heating, while to lower portion is made of 5-layer fabric that is tough enough to handle hikes through the brush to your fishing hole. All of the fabric is coated with a DWR finish that sheds water yet remains breathable. The form-fitting booties are thick 5 mm neoprene that will keep you warm in the coldest water.

All of the seams in these fly fishing waders are welded and taped, so leaking is never a problem. The suspender system of the waders uses quick-release buckles and a sliding buckle adjustment system. A downside here was the fact that the system is difficult to work with gloves on. We did like the pocket system on the Hodgman waders, which includes a generous main storage pocket, a waterproof upper pocket, and a flip-out pocket with a mesh tippet holder.

All pockets are closed with YKK water-resistant zippers. Other nice features include the wading belt and the Hodgman drop-down system that lets the wader be worn waist-high in hot summer weather. For those wanting the lightweight and flexibility of a modern synthetic fabric fly fishing wader, the HodgmanAesis Sonics pack in a lot of features at a price range that is much lower than many similar designs.

What we liked

  • High-quality build
  • Many useful features
  • Tough yet flexible fabrics

What we didn't like

  • Slide-buckle suspender adjustment system
  • Narrow suspender width could bind with long wear
  • Price may be high for some fishermen

6. Redington Sonic-Pro Stockingfoot Waders

Redington Sonic-Pro Stockingfoot Waders

The Redington Sonic-Pro fly fishing waders were designed with simplicity and durability in mind. These are light-weight waders that would suit the needs of fisherman who need to pack in their gear for travel by air to their favorite spot.

The entire bib shell is made from 100% nylon, 4-layer, breathable, DWR-coated wader fabric. The booties are constructed from the less-bulky 3.5 mm neoprene, with 4 mm bottoms to provide comfort and durability.

 All seams are welded using ultrasonic technology then double-taped. This method eliminates the punctures to the material that needle seaming causes. This also removes the need to seam thread and so makes the waders lighter overall. The light weight and flexibility of these fly fishing waders are among their strong points because these factors really become apparent when you spend a 10-hour day moving through water and over rough terrain in the waders.

The Redington Sonic-Pros have a smooth fit and slim silhouette, and are comfortable while not bagging anywhere. This makes it easier to move through deep, fast water in the waders. The connection between the waders and your wading boots is very secure because the gravel guards on these waders are exceptionally tight, and the hook that fastens the waders to the boot lace snaps on firmly and does not come off randomly.

Three zippered chest pockets including a fleece-lined handwarmerpocket provide plenty of utility. The Redington Sonic-Pro waders are high-grade fly fishing gear made with the serious angler in mind. They are in the upper price range, but with their great features and functions, the Redingtons also earn high marks in this review.

What we liked

  • Light weight and easy to pack and store
  • Enough useful features but still a simple design
  • Clean, slim fit
  • Good chest pocket arrangement

What we didn't like

  • Slide-buckle suspender adjustment system
  • Narrow suspender width could bind with long wear
  • Not convertible for waist-high warm weather use

7. Orvis Silver Sonic Convertible-top Stocking foot 

Orvis Silver Sonic Convertible-top Stockingfoot Waders

Orvis is a brand with wide recognition in the fly fishing world, and their fly fishing waders provide the same quality and performance that their fishing rods are known for.

The Orvis Silver Sonic Convertible-top waders are another welded-seam wader, and most of the top brands are going with this technology nowadays. By eliminating stitch holes and thread, sources of leakage as well as overall weight is reduced.

As long as high-quality seam taping techniques are used, sonic-welded seams will provide years of leak-free use and a highly durable build as well. Orvis has got the method right, as evidenced by the market-leading popularity of the Orvis waders.

These waders are constructed of 4-layer nylon throughout, with the bib top being made of a lighter-weight material than the bottom. The material is light and strong overall, but one issue we had was the low-rise design of the lower leg reinforcements. We felt that heavy-duty material should be used higher up the leg to handle conditions on streams that call for some scraping through the brush to reach the holes.

The foot booties are 3.5 mm neoprene and are form-fitted for comfort in your wading boots. The gravel guards were a weak point on the earlier models of these waders, but Orvis has now put in a quick-drain panel that lets air and water escape when needed. These waders had a wider suspender, which was good, and the innovative quick-release drop down system combined with the waist belt allows conversion to low-rise use within seconds.

The pocket system features an outer zippered front pocket that is large enough to hold a fly box, and a waterproof interior flip-out pocket for your camera or phone. These are very nice fly fishing waders for their price range, and you really can’t go wrong choosing Orvis quality.

What we liked

  • Orvis won a Field and Stream Best of the Best Award with these waders
  • Convertible design is quick and easy to use
  • Lightweight and very breathable
  • Wide, non-binding suspenders

What we didn't like

  • Leg fit is a bit on the baggy side
  • Lower leg reinforcement should run higher up

8. Adamsbuilt Truckee River Wader

Adamsbuilt Truckee River Wader

The Adamsbuilt Truckee River Waders offer all the features of premium waders for a price that hits the low-mid range. They are built with DWR-treated micro-fiber over Pore Tech mil-spec breathable membrane, with a 4-layer shell and 5-layer reinforced legs and seat.

The material is light and durable and also features an anti-microbial treatment to fight the mold and mildew that can shorten the life of a pair of waders.

Seams are stitched and heat-taped for long, leak-free wear. The stocking feet are constructed of 4 mm neoprene and cut to form fit. They are very snug, and fishermen with larger feet need to be careful when choosing their size. The gravel guards fit tightly, and the hook tab is oversized which works really well for gloved or cold hands. A nice thing about these waders is the bib, which runs high on the chest to provide a lot of protection from splashes.

The suspenders are generous in width and have an H-back system that we find more effective at preventing twisting than the X-back arrangement. Adjustment buckles are in easy reach on the suspenders, and D-rings are added for attaching accessories. The large chest pocket closes with a waterproof zipper, with a hand-warmer pocket behind and a flip-out accessory pocket inside the bib.

Rear belt loops hold up the quick-release wading belt, which is made of a nylon webbing that is wider and stronger than what is found on many waders in this price range. The Adamsbuilt Truckee River Waders are very durable and hold up to fresh and saltwater use equally well. They take the abuse of long hikes through brush without rips or punctures, and they breathe well enough to keep you sweat-free. These waders get our nod for the best of the mid-priced waders.

What we liked

  • Great value for the money
  • Packed with useful features
  • Fabric has a strong and durable feel
  • Good overall fit

What we didn't like

  • Side belt loops are required when gear is attached to the belt
  • Stockingfoot fit is very tight in relation to the wader sizing

9. Orvis Encounter Stockingfoot Waders

Orvis Encounter Stockingfoot Waders

The Orvis Encounter is a solid fly fishing wader that comes in at a very budget-friendly price range. They are backed by the Orvis name and constructed of 4-layer nylon DWR-coated fabric that is durable yet lightweight and breathable.

The fit is modeled after the award-winning Orvis Silver Sonic waders, and even though the Encounters cost far less than the top-of-the-line gear, they are not barebones waders by any means.

The 3.5 m stocking feet are form-fitted and comfortable inside your wading boots. The pocket system is simple yet useful, with a mesh zip pocket over a handwarmer pocket, and a Velcro strip on the inside of the bib where an accessory waterproof nylon pocket can be attached. A built-in wading belt supported by three belt loops adjusts for a snug fit and provides an attachment point for gear.

The gravel guards seal well and attach firmly to your wading boot laces. The fit on these waders is tight enough to prevent billowing in deeper water, but there is enough room for layering underneath when cold weather demands it. We found that shorts were adequate under these waders in warm weather, while long underwear will do the trick when it gets chilly.

The fabric holds up well whatever you throw at it – after mud, brush, and long hikes the Encounter waders stayed dry, warm, and comfortable. The only downsides we noticed with these fly fishing waders were the placement of the adjustment buckles on the suspenders, which can be a bit difficult to reach, and the fact that the inner waterproof pocket must be purchased separately. All in all, the Orvis Encounter waders are a great set of fly fishing waders at an entry-level price point.

What we liked

  • Not much different in fit and feel than the much higher-priced Silver Sonic waders
  • Fabric is lightweight yet very durable
  • The useful large outer mesh pocket
  • The great price

What we didn't like

  • Suspender adjustment is tricky, especially with gloves on
  • The inner waterproof pocket costs extra

10. RedingtonCrosswaterStockingfoot Waders

RedingtonCrosswaterStockingfoot Waders

The RedingtonCrosswater is another nylon fly fishing wader that is offered at an entry-level price. They are a good, functional pair of waders that get the job done without breaking the bank.

The Crosswater waders are made from a 3-layer DWR-treated fabric throughout and while they do lack the heavier reinforcement panels of more expensive waders, this does contribute to their very light weight.

These waders are really compact when it comes to storage or stuffing them in a backpack, a feature that backcountry pack-in fishermen might want to consider. The fabric of the Crosswater waders still has the waterproof, breathable qualities of their far more expensive cousins the Redington Sonic-Pro waders, and it is flexible and comfortable in all-day wear conditions. The stitched and taped seams held up leak-free in our testing.

The basic chest pouch pocket closes with a water-resistant YKK zipper, and there is also a zippered flip-out pocket that rides inside the bib. A built in wading belt is held up by three loops and can be adjusted to snug-up the fit. These waders do feature the ability to convert to waist-high pants, a nice touch at this price range.

The integrated gravel guards do the job, but they should fit a little tighter around the ankle. The booties run oversized and the form fit is not precise, so some planning is needed when buying your wading boots. On the other hand, they work well for layering polypropylene socks underneath. These fly fishing waders are a simple but quite functional choice at a low price point, and their usability and durability make them a great value for the money.

What we liked

  • Redington quality at a budget price
  • Super light weight
  • Waist high conversion function
  • Very comfortable fit

What we didn't like

  • Lack of reinforcement in damage-prone areas
  • Gravel guards need to fit more snugly around the boot top
  • Baggy legs might billow and drag in deeper water

Final Verdict

Fishermen nowadays can choose from some really great fly fishing waders that are a far cry from the wet, clammy rubber monsters of years past. The modern breathable synthetic materials in use give almost all waders very similar characteristics in terms of comfort and durability. Also, we were impressed by the quality and features available even at the lower price ranges.

The best thing to do is think carefully about your fishing style and the conditions at your favorite spots, then choose from among the selection of excellent waders we have reviewed here.

David Valle
 

I started this blog to provide advanced material, guiding you towards a better and more comfortable fishing experience. I deliver more than fishing gear guides, and motivate people to hit the water!

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