The first time I donned a pair of waders it was late one summer afternoon when the thermometer read well above 90 degrees. It was hard to imagine that I would be comfortable in them, but as soon as I stepped into the cool water I was refreshed. I discovered that it was never too hot to hit the river while wearing waders.
Take a tip from the fish. When the hot, sultry days of summer arrive fish seek refuge in cooler waters. Rocky areas of shoals provide more oxygen and cooler temperatures for fish, as do deep pockets along shaded banks. Using waders for summer river fishing proved to me that this was an excellent way to beat the heat and well worth the extra trouble of packing boots and waders, even if just for an hour or two of angling.
One good pair of lightweight breathable waders can work for most weather conditions. I can dress as light underneath as needed for warmer weather, or layer up when air or water temperatures are at their chilliest. There are plenty of good, lightweight waders on the market today at affordable prices.
Waders can be purchased with the boots already attached or with stocking feet to wear inside of wading boots. Either is fine, though stocking foot waders worn with a pair of boots gives more versatility. One or the other can be replaced if they wear out. Also, when temperatures are very warm you can dispense with the waders and wear just the boots for “wading wet.”
A good pair of wading boots also provides extra ankle support for walking over uneven, rocky river bottoms. Boots with laces that can be cinched tight work best. Boots built into waders have a looser fit and may not provide enough ankle support, especially in a smaller framed person.
Boots with felt bottomed soles have been very popular with anglers because they provide traction on moss-covered rocks and other slippery surfaces. Recently, however, because of the spread of invasive aquatic plant species into more and more waterways, the use of felt-lined soles is being banned in many areas. Slow drying felt can hold small bits of plant life for days making it easier to unintentionally transport undesirable species to other waters. Rubber or composite soles with metal studs are becoming more prevalent in wading boots.
When purchasing wading boots, be sure to try them on over your waders or neoprene booties for a better fit. It is also a good idea to buy boots a half or whole size larger for a couple of reasons. First of all you may find as boots get wet and dry over and over that they tend to feel tighter. Secondly when wading in cold water, toes get much more numb when they are cramped inside of your socks and waders. Give your toes plenty of room to move and the chances of your feet going numb are less.
Waders are specially made for men and women and many brands also come in tall lengths. Buy a pair that is long enough in your legs. If the crotch is baggy, it makes stepping up on rocks or shorelines much more difficult.
If purchasing stocking foot waders, get a pair that matches your foot size. There is nothing worse than having a bunch of extra material crammed into your boot, or suffering sore toes from the bootie being too tight.
Probably the most important accessory to wear with your waders is a belt. Most waders should come with an adjustable belt. If you take a tumble the belt helps to keep water from rushing into your waders and filling them up! Contrary to popular belief, water-filled waders are not going to pull you under, but they can be very difficult to walk in and not to mention ruin a good fishing trip.
Also avoid the elastic belts. Fall in a fast current and that type belt may be stretched to let water in.
Polarized sunglasses are also a must. Without them it can be difficult to navigate a rocky or uneven bottom. Polarized glasses cut through the glare and make it much easier to see where it is safe to place your next step.
A wading staff can also be helpful, especially when navigating a river or stream that has a very uneven bottom or if the water is murky. Most wading staffs are collapsible, folding up to about a foot in length and can be carried in a sheath attached to your wading belt. Be sure the wading staff itself is tied to your belt so it can drag behind you when not in use.
When temperatures are rising, grab your waders and head to a cool stream for some relaxation and angling this summer.