How To Choose Wader Boots For Fly Fishing – Here’s What You Need To Know

How to Choose Wader Boots for Fly Fishing – Here’s What You Need to Know

There’s nothing that’s a bigger annoyance than tripping all over the place when you’re close to the water, especially when you’re fishing in a river. And let’s not forget about getting knocked down by a strong current.

We’ve all been there once or twice. It may seem annoying when you fall but it can be dangerous, too. Your safety is important.

Wader boots aren’t required for fly fishing. But they sure make like a lot easier and safer. So, how do you choose the right pair of wader boots for fishing? It’s easier than you think.

1. Ankle Support

Ankle support is important for your safety. You need wader boots with ankle support and a stable heel when you’re walking in water and on water and wet rocks. Plus you’re standing in changing river currents. Because of all this, you’re at high risk for an injury and the most common one is an ankle injury.

There are a few key features to look for that promise serious ankle and foot support in wader boots:

  • Strong material
  • Extra padding around the collar
  • Thick and wide tongue
  • Tongue sewn up the sides of the boots
  • Tight lacing system

It helps to try on a pair of wader boots, lace them up, and walk around. It’s the best way to gauge the ankle support it offers.

2. Type of Sole



There are three main types of soles when it comes to wader boots that determine the traction of the boot and what environments they work best in. Each sole has benefits.

Felt soled wader boots have been around for ages. It’s the traditional choice. On the bottom of these wader boots is a layer of felt an inch thick. They’re flat and have no tread. When the felt gets wet, it the soles grip onto surfaces, anything from a rock-bed to river bottoms. It molds to the shape of the rock and can even grip those mossy, slimy surfaces around the river bed.

Felt soled wader boots aren’t recommended for any climbing. The felt isn’t able to grip anything dry. Also, when felt soles dry, the trap bacteria. Cleaning them is of utmost importance.

Because of bacteria clinging to them, they easily transfer it to other areas. It can end up killing fish in a separate location. This is why some states have made felt soles illegal. Make sure to check your state’s regulations.

Rubber sole wader boots are the most popular type. They feature a tread design on the rubber outsole that helps the boots grip most surfaces. It gives you traction in most bodies of water, including fast-moving streams and rivers.



Rubber sole wader boots are also more durable than other soles. They can take rough surfaces without wearing away in a few months.

You can also add metal studs to the bottom of the soles of both felt and rubber wader boots to add extra grip and power to the boots. If you fly fish in rough waters, studs might be the right choice. Some companies add them on for you but you can add them yourself as well.

That said, you don’t want to wear wader boots with studs in inflatable boats or rafts. The studs can cause serious puncture holes.

3. Water Drainage

Wader boots quickly fill up with water and then drain the water, allowing it to circulate. Your legs can get heavy in water quickly and this water drainage system creates less pressure on your legs.

To help the water drain as fast as it fills up, it needs to be synthetic leather or polyester. Materials like these are super lightweight on your legs and feet. They also allow your legs and feet to breathe. This is helpful when you’re out fishing on your feet for hours at a time.

Synthetic leathers also don’t absorb too much of the water they come in contact with. This means water can fill up and drain out with no problems.

More expensive wader boots have a hydrophobic coating or treatment on the surface. The hydrophobic coatings are DWRs or Durable Water Repellent. These coatings and treatments work to stop your wader boots from absorbing water. So, when the boots fill up, they drain as fast as they filled. This means they stay lightweight and don’t weigh you down.

4. Durability



You need durable wader boots. There’s no point throwing money at a pair of boots that are going to fall apart tomorrow or next week. Durability is all about the material the boots are made from. Price is a big factor here.

A super cheap pair of wader boots may seem like a good deal at first but they’re not going to last. If you only fish once in a blue moon, a cheap pair is an option for you.

That said, you don’t have to break your budget finding a high-quality durable pair of wader boots. There are strong boots at affordable prices.

5. Sizing

The size you wear in wader boots may not be the same size you wear in other shoes. You have to accommodate for your wader socks.

To do this, you have to know the size of your hiking boots. Add a whole size up and you have the size you should wear in wader boots. Always double-check the company’s size chart to be sure.

If you plan on wearing thicker socks due to cold weather, add an extra half size after you’ve added a size up.


You must know a little bit about wader boots before you pick out a pair of waders for your fishing trips. Try the boots on before you make a decision. Make sure they’re everything you need.

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Roy Ericson

Roy Ericson started fishing when he was just a boy, like many of us did. He spent far too much time on the piers not being able to catch anything, until his uncle brought him deep sea fishing, out to the lakes of Michigan, where he lived, and to the various ponds in neighboring states. He’s been all over, caught over 400 different species of fish, and doesn’t believe you should embellish your stories. He’s just here to teach you about his absolute favorite thing in the world: fishing.