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Picture by Dave Bittner


Available in boot foot or stocking foot models, hip, waist or chest high, waders are most commonly available in rubber, neoprene, various waterproof and breathable laminates, and nylon. #1

In Black fly and Mosquito country they provide protection from insects.

Here are some thoughts you may find helpful.


Hip boots are never quite high enough. If you plan on wading in two feet of water, invariably you will step into a four foot pool. I’ve been stuck in muck, the only escape was to climb out of the hippers.

I’ve don’t take them seriously. The exception is a small mountain stream or if you’re an old guy who never wades over his ankles.


Waist High Waders wear like a pair of pants and bridge the gap between hip waders and chest waders. Belt loops and a belt hold them up securely leaving the upper torso of the body exposed for warm weather comfort and increased mobility, ideal where chest waders are an over kill.


Chest High Waders can really be an asset when the occasional situation arises in unexpected holes, drop-offs, and debris sending a person for an unplanned swim. In a float tube or pontoon boat chest waders are the only way to go.

If you are limited to one style of waders, make it chest high.




Boot foots are convenient; easy to put on and take off, handy for launching and recovering boats,

clamming, and hunting in boggy terrain.

They are warm. Buy them a bit large and wear extra heavy socks. There are no laces to restrict circulation or freeze.

In the surf they eliminate sand in the boot.

They are inexpensive.

Some surf fishermen buy the cheapest boot foots they can find and consider them disposable.

They don’t deteriorate in salt water.


Uncomfortable in rocky streams they provide no protection or support for the ankle, tiresome and uncomfortable in the back country you’ll find yourself walking like a duck.

You can’t change the soles as you can with wading shoes

Boot foots with felt soles are slippery on mud, don’t do well on the trail, in frigid weather they freeze.

Cleat soles are stable in mud, slippery when wading a rocky stream.

Boot footed anglers often have to resort to strapping studded sandals to their soles. Ugh!!

They don’t provide the versatility of different configurations or materials.

Stocking foot

Stocking foot waders are cost effective because they use a boot common to all configurations.

Not as convenient to put on and take off they provide the versatility of different configurations and materials.

They are not as warm has boot foots due to foot constraint.

When winter steel heading use neoprene, in summer a breathable laminate.

On a mountain stream use hip boots; in a lake or river chest waders.




It’s cost effective to buy a good pair; they’re usually a onetime purchase

Great for a day on a roaring mountain stream, wear grip soles on the hike in, backpack the waders. Change soles to studs or grip soles streamside.

They provide great footing, support and protection when wading. You can use them to wade wet.

Laces freeze in frigid weather. They can be impossible to untie.

There have been occasions I had to build a fire to untie my laces.

Dial type lacing eliminates this problem.

Buy them big enough to use neoprene booties with gravel guards to maximize versatility. I wear neoprene booties and wading shoes as snow boots.


They are less convenient to put on and take off and the metal parts corrode in salt water



Lee Wulff  donned his waders, secured his wading belt and jumped in the swimming pool. The air entrapped between the belt and feet caused the waders to balloon, his upper torso and head to submerge and his feet to elevate with the balloon. He took off the belt and jumped in again. The waders filled with water resulting in weightlessness. He swam out of the pool.


#1 The most commonly used materials are rubber, neoprene, various waterproof and breathable laminates, and nylon


When I first started fly fishing, Steve Krajcirovic of Anglers Notch was my mentor.

Steve would take me to New York’s Saranac and Pennsylvania's Big Bushkill at Ressica falls.

I was a young man, but when we walked up to the bank and saw the torrent he wanted to fish, I had second thoughts about my new hobby.

Stevie’s wading style was unique. He used the current instead of fighting it. He “bobbed" from place to place. Fran Betters of the “Adirondack Sports Shop” told me “Steve was one of the best fishermen and the best wader he ever knew .

On that first trip to the Saranac, Steve would say Rod, see that boulder in midstream? There’s a brownie in front of it and one behind it. Go get em."

My fishing that first time on the Saranac was more about surviving and keeping up with Steve than it was about catching fish. Every step was an adventure. 

I never dreamed fishing could be such a workout!

But when I saw how that man could catch fish, I decided to emulate his style and wading staff.

When I returned home, I dried my flies, (yes I did take a few dives,) joined the YMCA and began building a wading staff that met Steve’s criteria , (chest high, Ash, able to support all of your weight.)


I found a shovel handle washed up on the bank of a stream. Wow, a free wading staff!


I modified it to meet Steve’s criteria.


Between my new staff and increased leg strength I could actually go fishing with Steve without putting all my fly boxes in plastic bags and packing two sets of clothes. Years pass.


When I was giving fly fishing lessons, I told my students. Never put anything on the roof of your vehicle, sooner or later you will drive off and forget  it.Thirty five years after making my staff I was fishing the Hoh River on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, in torrential rain. I put my staff on the van roof. Yep, I did the unthinkable. I drove off. I never saw my old inanimate friend again.


I whittled a place for my thumb at the top of the staff, and then drilled a hole down the center of the thumb hole. That hole can be used for a hook with coarse threads I carry in my vest. If I yield to my tendency to fish for birds, I screw the hook into the staff, reach high up to the offending branch, lower it, and retrieve my fly.

About 18” from the end of the staff I drilled a hole straight through and ran a wash line through it. On one end of the rope I loosely tied an overhand knot. On the other end an “S” hook.


I attached the hook to the “D” ring on my vest, threw the staff over my shoulder and adjusted the knot until the staff rested behind my back comfortably.

When I don’t need the staff, I can throw it over my shoulder. When I do need it I don’t have to unfold anything.

I tried different things on the bottom, crutch tips, chair leg ends etc. None of them were satisfactory so I just left it alone[A4] .

That staff got me out of some real predicaments.


I have a tendency to wade into areas where there is deep water downstream, with current too strong to return upstream. My wading staff has saved my butt on numerous occasions.


ROCKS! They can be slippery, unstable, and treacherous. A third leg is a godsend.


Stealth is invaluable in catching big, wild fish. You can wade quietly, with little wake with a staff.


In Colorado’s Crosho Lake I found my leg up to the thigh in muck.

I hadn’t seen another person in days and an innocent situation became a real concern.

Had I preceded my step with my staff it wouldn’t have happened but the staff helped me extricate myself!


I’ve “danced that jig” enough to always carry a staff when I’m alone in the wilderness

I’ve used my staff as a balance beam, (rod in one hand. staff in the other,) around camp as a fire poker, to support a pot over the coals and a ridgepole for an emergency shelter.

My staff has a ruler and my name and contact information





Point to remember

Another thing about a good staff, the older you are, the more important it gets!

Under Consruction



Anglers Notch
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