A brief guide to fishing wading boots

Looking to purchase some fishing waders but not sure what to go for? Stocking foot, boot foot, thigh, waist or chest? With so many different types available it can be a difficult task trying to find the best option is to suit your needs, so we’ve produced this handy Anglers’ Net guide to fishing waders, designed to offer some helpful hints and tips on choosing the perfect pair.

First of all, let’s take a look at the different types; stocking foot and boot foot waders. Stocking foot waders, as the name suggests, don’t have boots attached to the end of the legs. Stocking foot waders are more common with fly fishermen, and special wading shoes are worn over the stocking. The idea is that different types of shoes can be worn for different terrains underfoot. At the end of the session the boot is then left to air and dry ready for the next time.

Boot foot waders are a full all in one system, whereby the wader and the boot come as one, and the boot is seam welded to the wader. This type of wader is more suited to the coarse angler and usually comes with either a cleated sole, which has a grip design like a Wellington and thus ideal for mud, silt or sandy bottoms, whilst felt soles are better for gravel and rocks.

Next is the size; thigh, waist or chest waders. Most bootfoot waders come as thigh or chest. The most you can go into the water with thigh waders in reality is just above the knee, so they are designed for those who will only ever be entering the shallow areas of a river or the margins of a lake. They are quite good for stalking or roving anglers who may or may not need to enter the water during a session but want the security that they can if need be, and as they are light to wear, you won’t tire easily. Waist waders are more common as a stocking foot wader, and are essentially trouser length waders which offer great versatility. You can get boot foot waist waders, but if you are on the look out for these, make sure they have a decent belt system on them – especially if they are neoprene, as you might find they are a pain to keep up, as opposed to a chest wader with shoulder straps. 

Chest waders are designed for the specimen angler who is likely to be spending a lot of time in the water, placing baits, stalking, and fishing. Chest waders are a full fitting wader with straps that go over the shoulder to hold them up. There are countless designs and many offer front pockets and inside waterproof pockets depending on the price. One point worth noting is the way the straps go over the shoulder and are kept in place. Straps that cross over shoulder to shoulder are good as they stop the straps slipping off your shoulders all the time. The fixings are usually quick release clips or Velcro fastenings. I’ve owned many pairs of both designs over the years and my personal preference is for a Velcro attachment as you can alter or remove them in a second depending on how much clothing you have on under them; T-Shirt for example, or a full on fleece jacket and coat. The ones with clips and adjustable straps can be fiddly to adjust – especially if you’re up to your chest in water at the time!

Bootfoot waders are usually made of PVC or neoprene. PVC waders are lightweight but can often sweat the feet and legs if worn for long periods in mild weather. In addition, the rubber can rip or tear easily, so they’re not the best if you intend to be giving them a bit of stick. Neoprene is a much thicker so is more hardwearing, but is obviously heavier to wear and carry around. The most common size is 4mm thick, so they are great for cold weather use, and are more comfortable for when sitting on the bankside. Additionally, many of the waders designed for fly fishing are available in Gore-Tex, which is extremely lightweight, durable, and totally breathable – but expect to pay much more for these.

As a specimen coarse angler, my preferred choice is a bootfoot neoprene chest wader, as I’m often wading out into lakes in order to clear baited spots, bait up, play fish, land and return them, etc. Running my own syndicate lake, I’m also working in waders a lot of the time and this twinned with the fact I’m also a keen stalking angler who’s always climbing through bushes and undergrowth to get into a prime position, means that waders don’t last long with me – even the expensive ones – and as such, I tend to go for the cheaper ones as that way I’m not bothered how much abuse they get. On average a set will last me a season – two if I’m lucky.

As the above testifies to, it’s important to find the type of wader that will suit your fishing the best. What’s also worth pointing out is to get a size above your normal shoe size. This allows you to wear a decent pair of thick socks underneath – especially in colder weather. If the boots are too tight they will make your feet cold very quickly. Personally I’ve been using the SealSkinz socks for years, and quite literally don’t leave home without them when I’m fishing. They are 100% waterproof, thermal and breathable, and it’s the breathable bit that’s important. You need to ensure that your socks will wick the moisture away from your feet, as wet feet will quickly become cold and uncomfortable ones – whatever the weather.

So, let’s take a look at some of the options, first up, boot foot waders. When it comes to cold weather and harsh conditions, these Hardwear Pro Thigh Fishing Neoprene Waders with Boot Foot will combat the elements like no other. Hardwear’s 4mm highly durable Neoprene waders will keep you warm and dry when the going gets tough. The Bootfoots are also Neoprene lined to offer maximum comfort and warmth as well as superb grip from the multi traction cleated soles, and all at a highly affordable price – as you would expect from Hardwear! Ideal for all round coarse, carp, specimen and river angling. Priced from £35.99. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.

Hardwear Pro Thigh Fishing Neoprene Waders


The Hardwear Pro Waist Waders with Cleat Sole are a comfortable, rugged high performance nylon Pro Waist wader at an affordable price of £39.99. All seams are taped and the knees are reinforced for maximum durability while the integrated boots have multi traction heavy-duty cleat soles that assure positive grip on rocky lake and riverbeds. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.

Hardwear Pro Waist Waders with Cleat Sole


The Greys Neoprene Bootfoot Fishing Waders are tough 4.5mm neoprene chest waders with sturdy tungsten studded soles for excellent grip and durability. Reinforced knee pads, hand warmer pockets and easily adjustable Twin Touch Fastening straps make these all round waders a firm favourite with specimen anglers. High quality waders priced at £119.99. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.

Greys Neoprene Bootfoot Fishing Waders



Moving on to stocking foot waders, the Sceirra Breathable Waist Fishing Waders are the obvious solution to shallow-water wading, offering a high quality alternative to full chest waders.  As comfortable as ordinary trousers, the waders feature waterproof front zipper and two front pockets, 3-layer construction, breathability: 3500g/m2/24h, waterproof to over 20,000mm, membrane: Finetex, waterproof zippered front pockets, Adjustable belt, build-in mesh gravel guards with lace lock. Priced at £139.99. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.

Sceirra Breathable Waist Fishing Waders


For a full on Gore-Tex chest wader experience, check out the impressive Simms G3 Guide Stocking Foot Fishing Waders which are an updated version of the Simms top selling Guide waders, now with GORE-TEX Pro Shell fabric – and at a great price of £449.99. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.

Simms G3 Guide Stocking Foot Fishing Waders•    5-layer and 3-layer GORE-TEX® Pro Shell fabric technology.
•    Patented front and back leg seam construction for enhanced articulation, comfort and durability.
•    Patented built-in Guide Model Gravel Guards.
•    Exterior chest pocket with zippered closure holds large fly box.
•    Fleece-lined hand warmer pocket with DWR treatment.
•    Flip-out Tippet Tender pocket includes patented built-in retractor.
•    Low profile belt loops accommodate 2″ wading belt.
•    These Simms G3 Guide Stocking Foot Waders easily convert to waist highs DEET & saltwater resistant.
•    Nylon wading belt & repair kit included.

Tight lines…

Julian Grattidge
January 2011

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