by Jon Waldstein

Surf Fishing Waders are an essential tool for surf fisherman. When you are fishing from the beach, you will need all the leverage you can get. Waders provide a gateway to get closer to the fish you’re after with minimal effort. Although, there are a few things to know before choosing a pair. Let’s talk about them.

1. Materials

The two main types of wader materials on the market today are Neoprene and Breathables. They are vastly different from each other and have their separate pros and cons. I should also give an honorable mention to the old school rubber waders. Unless you get a pair of hand-me-downs from your grandfather, you likely won’t encounter these anymore. They were bulky and heavy and have been replaced by the latter wading materials.

Neoprene Fishing Waders: are probably the most well known and often on the cheaper side. They have that wetsuit, stretchy material that is meant to keep you warm in cold conditions. They seem like a good idea from the surface but there are too many drawbacks to recommend. In the summer you will be sweating in them, and they can get uncomfortable on long beach walks. Although the biggest downfall, is they are known to leak and take forever to dry. The last thing you want on the beach is a pair of leaky waders. Luckily the wading industry has recognized these issues and created an alternative: ‘Breathables’.

Breathable Fishing Waders: are the only kind I can recommend. They are light, flexible, and made to be very durable and tear resistant. You can use these in the summer with a tank top and shorts underneath, or in the late fall / winter with bulky layers on. The versatility of having fast drying waders that are made not to tear is amazing. Often times in the summer months, I will take my breathables down to a river for trout fishing during the day and that night use them on the beach for stripers. Unlike the neoprenes this material dries very fast and can be cleaned very easily.

2. Boot Foot vs Stocking Foot

Each material will have the option to come with either a Boot Foot or Stocking Foot.

Boot Foot waders are basically a boot that is attached to the wader. This can be very convenient for short trips. It’s also one less thing you have to worry about since the boot comes with the wader. There are still a couple negative things to think about here. First, the boot has to fit perfect along with the waders. Everyone has a different body type and this is not easy to find, meaning the boot might fit but the waders might be too short or tall. Next, the boot may not end up being the most comfortable and this could be concerning for walking long distances on the beach. There is also more of a potential weak spot in the seam between the boot and the wader. I still think the Boot Foot Waders have their place and are very convenient if you can find the right fit.

Stocking Foot waders have an extension of the wader for your feet – basically a neoprene sock. These end up being more versatile because you can swap out the type of boot you will wear with your waders. It’s not as convenient as the boot foot since you now have two pieces to worry about, but the advantage is the level of comfort. You can choose a comfortable wading boot or even just a plain shoe big enough to wear over your wading stocking foot. I actually bought a $10 pair of size 15 running shoes from pay-less that work perfectly on the beach with my waders. The stocking foot is the type of waders I would recommend for long trips and maximum comfort.

3. Wader Style

Chest High waders are exactly what they sound like. They usually come with suspenders to keep them up to your chest. This is the most commonly worn style as you have the most piece of mind of staying dry. Even if you think you won’t be going in too far in the water, it’s always better to be safe than sorry on the beach.

Waist High waders can be really useful out of convenience. If you know for sure you are only going to be in shallow water, then these could work. Especially for short trips. I would still lean toward chest high for the beach though.

4. Accessories

A Wading Belt is a safety requirement for your waders. Most waders will come with one, but it’s something to be aware of. They will help prevent your waders from filling up with water if you fall in the ocean or a big wave hits you. They can also be used as a utility belt to hold necessities – like beer!

Waders are very important for fishing on the beach. At the end of the day, it’s a piece of clothing that lets you stand in the water while you fish. So all it needs to do is stay dry and comfortable. They will likely all leak eventually but if you do your research, you can get a pair that will last a significant amount of time.


So what are the best waders for surf fishing?

To sum up my recommendations, they are Chest-High Breathable Stocking Foot Waders.