Fly fishing is fun, but it also means soaking your legs on the water for hours. During a cold day, this will make you chilly. Aside from that, the underwater elements will expose your extremities to potential injuries or irritation. You can protect yourself against these hazards by using the best wading pants for fly fishing. It’s an excellent alternative to waders if you’re only fly fishing on shallow waters. Besides, wading pants are lighter and offer full mobility than chest waders.
If you’re looking for the best picks, you’ll never go wrong with these 10 options below.
Waist waders vs. chest waders
If you’re new to fly fishing, or fishing in general, you’re probably torn which one to buy: a waist wader or a chest wader? To be fair, both of these are useful. However, each one has its own pros and cons.
Let’s start with waist waders. This one covers you from the waist down to your soles. It’s lighter than chest waders, so it’s easier to move and transport the gear around. Overall, waist waders are perfect for medium to shallow waters during warmer weather. Basically, waist waders look like a pair of pants but with a waterproof feature. It also comes with welded boots or stockings.
On the other hand, chest waders are used during colder days. This is indispensable if you’re fly fishing on a large river with deeper waters. However, this wader is heavier and can be difficult to put on and off. It’s an all-around choice if you don’t know where your fishing vacations will take you next.
In the end, the question is not about, which is better between the two. The choice depends on what you need on your fly fishing trip. I have both of these, and each one proves useful. If you’re planning to take on different water levels, I suggest that you get both as well.
10 Best Wading Pants for Fly Fishing
OUR #1 CHOICE
OUR TOP PICK: Simms Freestone Fishing Wading Pants
Product Name: Simms Freestone Fishing Wading Pants
Product Description: If you're looking for the best wading pants for fly fishing, you'll never go wrong with the Simms Freestone Wading Pants. This is made with multi-layered Toray with Quadralam Technology. It's designed to endure the toughest water conditions while fly fishing. Overall, this has four layers of waterproof material and two layers of coated fabric. Aside from that, these wading pants have built-in gravel guards. It's abrasion-resistant and paired with an elastic bottom hem to prevent any dirt from entering the stocking. Moreover, this has an anti-microbial stocking foot made of neoprene. It helps wick moisture while fighting the growth of mold, mildew, and bacteria.
Offer price: $$$
Value for Money
These wading pants have a large belt and buckle to keep it snug and fit on your waist. The crotch zipper also has a protective flap to prevent snags.
My favorite part of these wading pants is its warranty. All SIMMS products are covered with a replacement warranty if there are defects in the material and workmanship. They will also repair your wader for a small fee, even after years from your initial purchase.
The only thing I noticed is that the sizing is a bit on the waist area. It tends to be loose on the waist, the longer the pants get. Nevertheless, there’s an additional belt that you can use to cinch the extra material. The only downside is that it will bunch and can be uncomfortable.
Multi-layered Toray with Quadralam Technology
Durable neoprene socks
Replacement and repair guarantees
The waist tends to be loose, but there’s a workaround for it
Frogg Toggs Pilot II Stockingfoot Wading Pants
I’m a big fan of the Frogg Toggs brand because of its durability. I actually have a Frogg Toggs chest wader, and I’m also planning to get these Pilot II Stockingfoot wading pants. It’s made of 4-ply nylon with additional 4-ply reinforcements on the legs and knee areas.
Despite being waterproof, these wading pants have Frogg Toggs’ proprietary DriPore technology that wicks sweat and moisture inside. It also sports a Teflon DWR coated outer shell, so you will remain dry, even if you’re fishing for long periods. You can go fly fishing with the utmost comfort and confidence with this pair of waders.
Aside from that, these wading pants have an adjustable belt paired with a quick-release buckle. I also like the daisy chain loops for fishing accessories. You will also enjoy zippered waist pockets where you can store small items you need for fly fishing.
Moreover, the Frogg Toggs Pilot II Wading Pants have neoprene booties with attached gravel guards. This part has elastic and rubberized openings, making the wader easy to put on and off.
This is made to last long, thanks to its single-seam design. It’s not prone to tearing, even if you have to kneel and squat all the time.
Overall, these wading pants are well-made and well-sized for users. Based on a friend’s experience, this wader is tough and can put up in years of use. And for its price, I think this is already a great bargain.
KINGBLUE Heron Stockingfoot Wader Pants
Are waist waders always too loose for your waistline? If so, you should get the KINGBLUE Heron instead. Aside from the waist wader, this one has detachable suspenders, so you no longer have to pull the pants up every time a wave comes crashing on your legs.
This is made of high-density Taslan nylon in four strong layers. It’s also PFOA-certified to be nature and marine life-friendly.
Moreover, this wader has excellent water resistance and breathability. It will keep your dry up to the waist while fly fishing. It will also wick your sweat, so the KINGBLUE Heron is an excellent option for summer fishing.
Aside from that, this has 4 mm neoprene booties with an ergonomic fit. I also like the redesigned ankles that make the wading pants easy to put on and off. They also included two zippered pockets on the waist where you can store small items like your phone, wallet, and keys.
The KINGBLUE Heron doesn’t have a crotch inseam either, so it’s not susceptible to leaks. Also, it has removable suspenders made of rubber for your comfort and peace of mind. You can also tighten the waist of the pants using the belt and buckle mechanism.
The only thing I noticed is that the sizing is a little confusing. Make sure that you take measurements to find the perfect fit.
Redington PALIX RIVER Fishing Wading Pants
If you’re tired of tight-fitting wader pants, you should consider the Redington PALIX RIVER. It’s made of 100% polyester in three layers together with DWR coating to make it waterproof.
Aside from that, this has 3 mm neoprene booties that fit comfortably on the feet. You can wear almost any wading boots on this without the need to wear socks.
There are gravel guards on it for added protection to keep your feet and legs clean and dry. I also like the strategically placed seams away from high-wear areas.
Moreover, this has a wading belt so you can tighten the waist snugly. It doesn’t have pockets, but it’s not really a big deal for me since I can always wear my fishing vest to carry additional tackle.
Overall, I like how light this is to wear without compromising the protection against moisture. I also used this for a hike, and I’m surprised by how comfortable and moisture-wicking it is.
I hardly have any complaints about these pants because of their topnotch quality. For this price range, the Redington PALIX RIVER is already a wise buy. It offers terrific value that you can find in more expensive options.
Neolife Waist Fishing Wader Pants
For those who are on a budget but looking for premium wading pants, this pair from Neolife is well worth the price. It has three layers of breathable material with a waterproof coating. Unlike traditional nylon fabric, this one is 35% lighter while allowing moisture to evaporate. The fabric is also pliable, so it’s very easy to move around and fish with these wading pants.
Aside from that, this has a one-button belt that you can use to adjust the waist size. There are two zippered pockets below the waist where you can secure important items like your keys and phone.
Moreover, this pair of wading pants have 4 mm neoprene booties that offer warmth and comfort on your feet. But since it’s not a bootfoot, you need to wear a pair of wading shoes for this one. Nevertheless, it has foot gravel guards to protect you against abrasive elements underwater.
Another feature that I really like about the Neolife wader pants is the built-in cellphone pocket. It’s waterproof and secured inside the pants.
These wading pants are also available in different sizes, from medium to 3XL. Big guys who are looking for waders that fit will surely like Neolife.
Just a tip, though: if you plan to wear thick socks inside the booties, I suggest getting one size larger for your comfort.
Frogg Toggs Hellbender Stockingfoot Wading Pants
Another Frogg Toggs wading pants I recommend is the Hellbender Stockingfoot. It’s made of 4-ply nylon upper that keeps the water out of your legs. It also has an adjustable belt so you can wear the pants snugly. Aside from that, it has a quick-release buckle paired with a daisy chain for tackle accessories.
The Hellbender has gravel guards with non-slip opening and rubberized hems. It’s very easy to put on and off, which is a big deal for me who has knee problems.
Like most Frogg Toggs waders, Hellbender sports the DriPore Gen 2 technology. It has a breathable outer layer and a waterproof middle layer. Lastly, its inner layer is made of soft micro-textured tricot to minimize skin contact as you fish and move around.
I have the Hellbender full bib, and I can say that this waist wader is an excellent alternative. It fits great and much lighter than its chest wader counterpart.
Moreover, these pants have neoprene booties, but I wish it’s more form-fitting. Also, its gravel guards feel a little tighter than usual if you’re wearing big boots on top of the booties. If you’re on the heavier side, I suggest getting one size up. Other than that, this pair of wader pants remain functional, and I can live with these minor niggles.
Kylebooker Stockingfoot Waist Wader Pants
The Kylebooker Stockingfoot Waist Wader Pants are made with three layers of tricot fabric. This is wear-resistant, waterproof, and tear-resistant for your peace of mind.
Aside from that, this has an adjustable wading belt equipped with a quick-release locking buckle. You can use this to adjust the fit of the pants so you can move and fish in comfort.
Moreover, these wader pants have 4 mm anatomical neoprene socks. It protects your feet from debris underwater, regardless if you’re wearing boots or not. This is paired with gravel guards that block debris from entering your boots and hurting your feet.
In addition, there’s an internal flap pocket where you can store important items like keys, wallet, and phone. This is already a worthy consolation over the absence of pockets on these pants.
Another great thing about the Kylebooker wading pants is the seams. All of it is glued, taped, and stitched for topnotch durability. This prevents leaks and tearing, even as you subject the wader under regular wear and tear.
However, I noticed that this wader is a bit baggy for its size. If you’re thin and small, it might help to get one size smaller. Still, I suggest you take exact measurements and compare them to the sizing chart of the brand.
8 Fans Fishing Waist Wader Pants
If you’re fly fishing or kayak fishing, I highly recommend the 8 Fans Fishing Waist Wader Pants. This is made of 3-ply fabric with double taped seams to ensure 100% waterproof abilities.
This pair of wading pants have reinforced knees and removable knee pads. It’s designed for comfort and performance at a low price. It also has gravel guards that prevent muck from getting into your boots.
Aside from that, this 8 Fans wader has 4.5 mm neoprene booties that protect your foot from debris underwater. It’s thicker than most stockingfoot I’ve seen in the past, so it’s a big plus. However, it also means it might be tighter to wear on some wading boots.
Nevertheless, these wading pants have an adjustable waist with a release locking buckle. You can also utilize its belt loops to get the best fit before you start fly fishing.
I also like the wide range of sizes available for this pair of wader pants. You can get this in small to 2XL versions, which fits 36.6″ to 42.5″ waistlines. Nevertheless, I discovered that these are just rough estimates, so you should consider getting one with some ‘give’ to guarantee your comfort.
If there’s one thing I’d like to improve, it would be the socks’ shape. I wish it’s more feet-forming, so it doesn’t bunch a bit when wearing boots.
Banded Tec Fleece Wader Pants
If you don’t mind getting soaked, I recommend the Banded Tec Fleece Wader Pants. This is designed to protect you against debris, but it’s not the best choice to keep your legs dry.
This is made with fleece, which offers warmth and comfort while you’re fly fishing. It also has adjustable leg gaiters that prevent it from rolling or riding up your boots.
Aside from that, this has a soft polyester fleece lining. I suggest wearing this under waterproof wading pants to enjoy the best insulation. If you’re fly fishing during winter, this is excellent wear under a full bib. The fleece material traps heat, which keeps your legs toasty even if you’re wading on water.
To keep the wader pants snug, it has a waistband with a drawcord. It offers a customizable fit, so the size isn’t really tricky. There are no belt loops on these pants, but the drawcord compensates for it really well.
Moreover, this wader has zippered pockets at the rear where you can store some tackle essentials. There are two front pockets, too if you want to bring more items.
Overall, these are affordable wader pants available in two colors. You can also get this in small to 3XL versions.
Frogg Toggs Rana II Bootfoot Hip Wader
My last recommendation for this roundup is the Frogg Toggs Rana II Bootfoot Hip Wader. It’s not a full waist wading pants, but it’s an excellent alternative. It’s a cheaper option if you can’t afford a waist wader just yet.
This is made of nylon-reinforced PVC upper to ensure that it’s 100% waterproof. It extends right below the waistline, so you still need to wear pants with this. This is like a very tall pair of boots that will keep you dry and warm while fly fishing.
Moreover, this has adjustable poly-webbing belt leashes complete with an elastic stride and quick-release buckles.
What I really like about this is its bootfoot design. It already comes with built-in boots, so you no longer have to put on a pair of shoes. However, it’s not insulated, so it’s not the best pick for winter fishing. Nonetheless, this is available in either felt or cleated outsole.
The good thing about the Rana II is that it’s available in a wide range of sizes. Basically, you’ll choose one similar to your shoe size. You can also size up if you plan to wear thick socks underneath the boots.
I also want to caution about the felt sole version of this wader since it’s banned in some states.
How to choose wading pants for fishing
When shopping for the best wading pants for fly fishing, you should consider the following points:
Sizing can be tricky when it comes to wading pants. You have to ensure that the waistline suits you as well as the boot or bootie size. Sometimes, it can be difficult to find one that fits like a glove. The goal here is to get the best compromise on the sizing.
Remember that each wader brand has its own sizing chart. You should refer to this specifically instead of trusting vague sizing (small, medium, large, etc.). Always ask for exact measurements so you can compare it on your own.
Also, if you plan to wear thick clothes underneath the wading pants, consider getting one size up. This way, you will not feel constrained and for the wader to last long.
Next, check the material of the wading pants. I’ve used most wading pants before they are made of nylon since it’s lightweight, waterproof, and easy to mend when damages occur. The difference is that nylon fabric is measured in ‘ply’. It can either be 2, 3, or 4-ply, depending on the protection and warmth you want to experience.
Another popular material for waders is neoprene. However, it’s not common for waist waders unless being used on stockingfoot booties. Neoprene is waterproof, too, but it’s best reserved for cold days since it traps a lot of body heat.
✔️Stockingfoot vs. bootfoot
When it comes to waders, you’ll have to decide whether you’ll get a stockingfoot or bootfoot. Stockingfoot waders have neoprene booties as footwear. For this, you’d need a separate pair of wading boots for optimal protection. Fly fishers wear this as-is, but it’s not ideal since neoprene is soft and can get punctured by sharp objects.
On the other hand, you can also opt for bootfoot wading pants. Instead of soft booties, it has rubber boots welded right into the pants’ material. This is ready to use, and you no longer have to wear anything on your foot. Socks are optional but not required.
Wading pants aren’t big when it comes to insulation. Besides, it’s intended for warmer temperatures and shallow waters. If possible, look for insulation like fleece or textured tricot to keep your skin comfortable. Some wading pants have Thinsulate, but it’s quite a rarity since this material is often found on chest waders.
Even if you’re just getting a pair of wading pants, you should try to get as many features on it as possible. I really like wading pants with zippered pockets where you can secure some items like your wallet or keys. Some have a hidden flap pocket inside for phones and other important items you want to keep safe while you fish.
✔️Durability and longevity
Your choice of wading pants should be durable enough to endure regular wear and tear. To ensure that the wading pants will last long, the seams should be placed away from high-wear areas. It should also be taped, glued, and stitched to resist tears and to guarantee its waterproof abilities.
Still, you should recognize that part of the pants’ longevity depends on how you maintain it.
One of the most common mistakes anglers make is not considering the fishing environment where they will use the wader. This applies to all fishing gear, too.
For murky waters with a shifting bed, I recommend a cleated bootfoot since it grips better than a felt sole. You can also opt for stockingfoot wading pants, but make sure that you have a trusty pair of boots that will keep you stable while fly fishing.
✔️Price and warranty
Lastly, consider the price of the wading pants. This is my last concern since I always prioritize quality above all. Don’t get me wrong, not all cheap waders are dud, and not all pricey ones are topnotch. You should look into the material, construction, and warranty terms of the pair.
A brand that offers excellent warranty coverage stands by the quality of their products. This is a good sign if you’re looking for wading pants that will last for years.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Will wader pants keep me dry?
A: Wader pants are intended to keep moisture out. It’s usually made of a waterproof material so you can wade on the water without soaking your clothes. Most of it has welded socks or boots to keep you dry from the hips down to the soles. Make sure that your choice of waders is tested to guarantee its performance on the water.
Q: Are neoprene waders waterproof?
A: Neoprene waders are popular for fly fishers during winter. The material traps heat and wicks moisture. It’s also waterproof so you can wade on the water with peace of mind. Just note that neoprene waders can get hot during summer, so you should also consider nylon waders outside winter.
Q: What should I wear under my wading pants?
A: You can wear just about anything under your wader pants as long as it doesn’t feel too bulky. During summer, I wear shorts and wool pants during winter. It all boils down to your preference and comfort level. If you’re new to wader pants, you can experiment with which undergarment works for you best while fishing.
Q: Do you wear shoes inside of waders?
A: No, you’re not supposed to wear any shoes inside your waders. If you have a stockingfoot wader, you need to wear a pair of wader boots on top of it. Meanwhile, those with built-in boots will work as standalone protection, and there’s no need to put on a pair of boots.
Q: What states have banned felt wading boots?
A: Some of the states that have banned felt sole wading boots are Alaska, Maryland, South Dakota, Nebraska, Rhode Island, and Missouri. The Yellow Stone National Park also banned felt sole boots. This is due to the theory that the felt material of the sole will grab potentially invasive species and transfer it somewhere. When in doubt, it’s best to stick to rubber wading boots, especially if you’re going for fishing vacations.
The best wading pants for fly fishing will keep you safe and dry on the water. However, you should get one with the right material, construction, and fit to ensure your topnotch performance on your next fishing trip. The 10 wader pants I reviewed here will not disappoint you.
What do you think of my picks? Let me know below!