Tips for Choosing Waders
have never used neoprene waders, so if that is
your interest Ican't offer any suggestions here.
But as far as what's traditonally called
"rubber" waders, which are typically PVC
or Cordura-coated laminates, I can offer some suggestions that
have worked well for me.
Gra-Lites have traditionally gotten the nod,
particularly for abrasive areas where you may occasionally make
contact with rocks or barnacle-crusted pilings. These are heavy,
industrial grade PVC. In fact, they are used by industrial
workers who may have to wade into corrosive conduits and do stuff
in factories to perform maintenance. The Gra-Lites hold a patch
well. A tip is to make sure you always use a fresh can of PVC
solvent, which you can get from any well-stocked hardware store.
Actually you need two things. One is a can of PVC primer, and the
other is the glue. Once exposed to air, however, the contents of
the can rapidly loses its adhesive properties. There is no way
you can prevent this, except to buy a fresh can every so often.
It costs a couple of bucks, and is well worth it to ensure your
patches bond tightly. Also, never patch on a humid day - it will
never take well. And once the patch is on, then coat the exposed
edges of the patch with more glue on the outside. I fish hard,
and I expect a pair of Gra-Lites to last about five years before
I get to the point that I have patches on my patches. One
negative is that you cannot wear Gra-Lites in extremely cold
weather at the tag end of the season. The PVC gets stiff, and
will get many hairline cracks wherever they flex as you bend.
I've tried almost all other pairs of waders out there, and no
others even come close to lasting me five years like the
Gra-Lites. But that's just because I fish hard and don't go out
of my way to avoid things that may be damaging to my waders.
Plus, I don't take care of them between trips either.
Only way I ever saw Gra-Lites get ruined
was after unsuiting on the beach one morning. My two friends
turned their Gra-Lites inside out and draped them over the
tailgate to dry out (they get moist inside from perspiration like
all waders do). Anyway, the incoming tide was creeping up towards
the rigs, so we had to back 'em up the beach. Well, my pals were
left with the waders straps still on the tailgate, with the PVC
rim and inner pockets attached, and the rest flattened in the
tire tracks. We made them put the straps and pockets on to take
pictures, and forgive me, but it looked like they where wearing
some bizarre kind of surfcasting bondage harness. Anyway, if you
fished all night and saw them standing there like that, it was
hilarious at the moment.
I really like the Ranger Lightweights
on the sand beaches where I am not scraping against rocks and
pilings. They are by far the most comfortable and allow the most
unrestricted movement of anything I have ever worn. The
unrestricted movement cannot be overemphasized. Almost everything
else, including the Gra-Lites binds you at some point in some
movement you make. But the Rangers allow you comfort and freedom
of movement - almost like wearing nothing at all. (Sounds just
like one of those Maidenform bra commercials, huh?)
In summer, if you wear shorts
under waders, make sure to wear calf-high socks, otherwise the
top of the attached boot may chafe your bare calves (all waders
do) and irritate you.
In cold weather, just wear
sufficiently warm clothing underneath - you don't need insulated
waters. By the way, always buy waders at least one shoe size
bigger merely for comfort. And always wear winter socks when
trying them on to ensure your feet don't get pinched with heavy
socks in cold weather. With the winter sock test, you may
actually discover that you need waders two sizes larger than your
normall shoe size.
Try the Longs. Now I stand 6'
tall, and I wear all my clothes in the regular sizes, but I got
my Ranger Lightweights in the Long as opposed to the Regular
size. The only difference I can tell is that the top of the
longs come practically up to my armpits, which allows me to wade
out farther with less chance of water splashing up or under my
jacket and trickling over the top of the waders.
All very good! Unrestricted
freedom of movement, extra high, and very light weight. No wonder
I like the Rangers so much for sand beaches! Also, surprisingly
rugged and leak-resistant. In a number of years, I only got one
pinhole, which I just covered with glue to seal it.
The Remington waders are well-made
and also hold up well. They have a tough Cordura coating. But the
Regular size just fit me plain weird and restrict my movement. I
would not recommend you try these if you are tall or broad. At
least the ones I got would seem to be a better fit for skinny
people with short legs! However, they are high
quality material and craftsmanship.
I was never satisified with Hodgeman or Red Ball.
To be fair though I have not tried them in recent
years, and perhaps they have improved models on the market now.
Anyway, I seem to recall that they used to get holes more easily
than I liked, and the material would lose resilinece when laid up
over the winter. Also, the "hardware" for attaching the
wader straps was prone to pull out. But then again, I really
don't go out of my way to protect my waders or care for them
between trips though.
Bottom line, there's absolutely no
way to tell if you will comfortably fit into waders or if you can
move while wearing them - unless you try on at least several
models of waders before buying them. Keep the Gra-Lites in mind
for heavy fishing, and perhaps the desirable qualities I find in
the Ranger Lightweights (unrestricted movement, high top,
lightness) may make them a pair you may want to evaluate for sand
Hope it helps you keep dry and comfortable.