After spending the winter dreaming about fly-fishing, I'm itching to get back out on the river. What are the best waders for early-season fish-stalking?
For many U.S. states, this weekend is the start of fishing season. While it's still a little early for good trout fishing, the bass will be up and biting. To get to these fish, you’ll have to stalk the cold waters of snowmelt-swollen rivers and streams.
With a good pair of waders, though, it's easy to stay toasty. Like other performance sporting apparel, fishing waders now use sophisticated waterproof-breathable fabrics to draw away all that sweat and body heat you generate while moving to the perfect casting spot. Taped or electronically-welded seams make them more durable than previous models, and many even have dedicated waterproof pouches in the bib to carry along a cell phone or camera.
Our three picks for the best waders on the market are all stockingfoot, which means they have a cuff and a neoprene booty that slips into a pair of wading boots.
The Best Waders: Simms Headwaters Gore-Tex Stockingfoot
Before Simms, fishing waders were like big, clammy rubber gloves. Then the Bozeman, Montana company partnered with W.L. Gore to create breathable waders: waterproof pants that stay dry on the inside after a long day of fishing. The latest version, the Headwaters, are constructed from a three-layer Gore-Tex fabric with articulated legs, reinforced seams, and abrasion-resistant gravel guards at the foot. Feeling chilly? Use the large hand warmer pocket at your chest and pull the shock cord to cinch the fabric and keep heat in. Gender-specific versions keep the fit both roomy and tailored.
The Best Waders: Patagonia Men's Rio Gallegos Zip-Front
Zippers and waterproof clothes usually don’t mix, but the Rio Gallegos waders employ a high-performance German T-Zip closure to make them both completely waterproof and easy to put on. But stalking fish generates a surprising amount of body heat, so once you’re zipped inside, the pants breathe, thanks to Patagonia’s four-layer waterproof-breathable fabric, H2No. The waders include nice touches like a clear pocket for a cell phone and merino wool-lined booties that wick perspiration from your feet.
The Best Waders: Orvis Women's Silver Sonic Convertible-Top
Manufacturers used to treat women's chest waders as an afterthought, pissing off many female anglers . Orvis set out to remedy that with the help of over 40 women among its testers and office staff. Using new, anatomically-correct patterns for the chest as well as the seat, the Silver Sonics are the most comfortable swift-water protection for women available. They use the company’s SonicSeam technology to weld the material together, for better durability, and a suspension system quickly converts them to waist-highs. Bonus: a flip-out waterproof pocket in the bib allows you to operate the touchscreen on your cell.