Tread Lightly

Wade fishing is the ultimate way to battle determined game fish on their own turf. And while you may be in the group of anglers that would only jump out of a boat if it was going under, the eco-friendly and stealthy attributes associated with wade fishing are attracting enthusiasts at an exciting rate. Although you’ll have to scout out a location that has a firm bottom devoid of mud or soft substrate, Florida offers numerous venues for productive fishing sans boat. Shorts and sneakers suffice during the steamy summer months, but with winter right around the corner, you’ll need protection to stay dry, warm and comfortable.


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Available from $50 to $500, the task of selecting the appropriate waders is no short order. You may be overwhelmed, but take your time and be sure to do some research. Even though wade fishing is more strenuous than fishing from the comfort of a boat, a quality pair of waders will make your pedestrian angling adventures extremely enjoyable.

Folding creates creases that will eventually become weak points. Improper storage is one of the main reasons waders fail prematurely.

You’ll notice there are several styles available including hip waders, waist waders, and chest waders. For saltwater environments where you’ll likely be fishing 3 to 4 foot depths, chest waders are the only option. These essential items extend above the chest and strap over your shoulder with a Y or H strap. While personal preference will take precedence, most agree that H straps are more comfortable.

Next you will have to decide whether you want bootfoot or stockingfoot waders. Like the name implies, bootfoot waders are equipped with permanently attached hard-soled boots. One of the major benefits of bootfoot waders is that they are often cheaper and don’t require the purchase of separate wading boots. They’re also faster and easier to put on. In addition, with the permanently attached boots there’s no place for sand or tiny pebbles to accumulate.

Stockingfoot waders enable anglers to purchase footwear for particular applications and functions. In the end your feet will probably be more comfortable in specialized, form-fitting wading boots, but this luxury comes with a higher price tag. Another benefit to stockingfoot waders is that they pack down smaller than bootfoot waders, making them a better choice for traveling anglers.

Once you’ve decided on bootfoot or stockingfoot you’ll have to decide on material. Neoprene is the most popular because it is capable of handling a lot of abuse while remaining relatively inexpensive. Neoprene waders also offer better insulation and are available in varying thicknesses for different degrees of warmth. Breathable waders are generally manufactured from nylon and polyester, while also utilizing high-tech materials like Gore Tex®, QuadraLam™ and Horco-Tex® to provide a waterproof, yet breathable outer membrane. Loose fitting, breathable waders are great options for those who spend long days on the water and have to trek from spot to spot.

No matter what you select it’s important you inspect the seams. This is where your waders will start to degrade first and no matter how well constructed, the seams will eventually become vulnerable to leakage. Depending on the money you’re willing to dish out, your seams may be overlapped, glued and/or sewn and taped. You should also look for waders that feature reinforced knees and waterproof pockets for tackle storage.

In a day and age when online shopping is the latest and greatest, it will be in your favor to visit your local tackle shop and try on several pairs of waders before making a final purchasing decision. If you select a pair that doesn’t fit properly you will be in for a long day on the water complete with blistered ankles and chaffed thighs. Improper fitting waders can also restrict your range of motion. You’ll notice that bootfoot waders are measured by foot size, while stockingfoot waders are sized by body size. It’s also important you take note of the length of the legs. If you purchase waders that are too long there will be excess folds in the material and these will be the first areas to deteriorate.

If you want your waders to last for multiple seasons you’ll need to take proper care and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. After every use you should rinse with freshwater and hang dry. Periodically hand washing with a mild dish detergent is also a good idea. Avoid storing your waders in a damp environment and always hang your waders. Folding creates creases that will eventually become weak points. Improper storage is one of the main reasons waders fail prematurely.

Wading is certainly more taxing than fishing from a dry platform, but it is, without a doubt, equally rewarding. Outfit yourself with the appropriate gear and you’ll be walking your way to success in no time.