Frequent and thorough washing goes a long way toward keeping your waders in top condition. But there’s more to wader maintenance than a little soap and water. Use the following tips and advice to get the most life out of your waders and learn how to fix them if they bust on you.

Store and Transport Your Waders the Right Way

Dry thoroughly before storing. When storing your waders, moisture is the enemy. Mold, mildew, and other bacteria will grow quickly in the nooks and crannies of your waders if even a tiny amount of water is left behind.

dry waders after fly fishing
dry waders after fly fishing

So after you rinse or wash your waders, take the time to dry them completely ? inside and out. Drying the outside is easy, but to get the inside really dry, you have to turn them inside out. The extra hassle is worth it.

Store flat whenever possible. Folds and creases are the other wader-killing enemies that should be avoided at all costs. If you have the habit of folding or worse, crumpling your waders, creases will form which will become weak spots prone to failure.

The best way to store waders is perfectly flat on the ground especially for long-term storage during the off-season. Seems impractical? Slide them under a bed. Problem solved.

If you can’t store them flat, on a hanger in a closet is the next best thing. The only risk you run with this is that if hung from the elastic suspenders, they may stretch out over time.

Roll em’ up to get from home to the river. In a continued effort to minimize creases forming, loosely roll up your waders starting at the feet instead of folding.

Here’s How to Repair Punctures and Tears in Waders

We all dread it, but if you’re fishing hard, you’ll snag your waders eventually. Luckily, repairing them is relatively easy if you have the right supplies. I love a product called AQUASEAL check out the price -> HERE at AMAZON.

You can take the quick route and simply buy a wader repair kit that has everything you need the Aquaseal Wader Repair Kit(link to AMAZON) is one of the best.

Or, you can build your own kit with the following items:

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Tape, Tenacious Tape is best, duct tape works too

How to Repair a Puncture in a Wader

The small pin-prick holes you get when walking through thorny brush can be repaired in a few easy steps.

  1. Find and mark the puncture. If you have an idea of where the puncture is but aren’t totally sure, turn your waders inside out and apply rubbing alcohol to the general area. Rub the alcohol across the fabric with your fingers, then turn the waders right side out. You should see a small dark spot where the alcohol soaked through the puncture. Mark it using whatever’s handy on the both the outside and inside.
  2. Clean the surrounding area with rubbing alcohol.
  3. Apply Aquaseal, Drop a small dot of Aquaseal to cover the puncture and surrounding 1/8th-inch area completely.
  4. Let dry and cure. It takes approximately 12 hours for Aquaseal to dry and set. During that time, you can’t use your waders. However, if you want to speed up the curing process, a product called Cotol can be added to the Aquaseal.

Now, that’s the procedure you’ll want to use for a permanent fix to a puncture. But if you don’t want your day of fishing to end from a small leak, slap a Tenacious Tape patch on the puncture and get back in the water. Just be sure to tend to the puncture with Aquaseal when you get home.

How to Repair a Larger Tear in a Wader

Larger rips, within reason, can be fixed using a very similar process as used when fixing punctures with only a few modifications.

Here’s how:

  1. Reinforce the tear with tape. Turn your waders inside out and apply tape to the tear, making sure to bring the two side of material neatly together. Duct tape will also work if that’s all you have.
  2. Turn the waders right side out and clean the surrounding area of the tear.
  3. Apply a generous portion of Aquaseal to the tear and surrounding 1/8th-inch area.
  4. Allow Aquaseal to dry and cure for 12 hours.
  5. Turn the waders inside out again, remove the tape from the tear and apply Aquaseal to tear from the inside. Let cure.

Keep Your Waders Waterproof

Most breathable waders are coated in a DWR. Durable Water-Resistant coating. This coating causes water to bead up and fall off the material, increasing the wader’s waterproofness and overall performance.

However, over time as the waders get dirty, the DWR stops functioning like it should the water stops beading and starts absorbing into the material. This is a tell-tale sign that 1.) it’s time to wash your waders, and 2.) it might be time to reapply a DWR treatment.

Reapplying the DWR on your waders is easy. Simply buy the right product and check the latest prices at Amazon McNett Revivex Spray-On Water Repellent or Nikwax TX-Direct and spray it on.

Make sure your waders are freshly cleaned and thoroughly dry before applying a DWR spray. Follow the instructions that came with the specific product, but most suggest lightly heating the waders with a cool iron or hair dryer to “set” the coating.

Always Follow Wader Manufacturers Care Instructions

The tips and advice on wader care we’ve offered today will get you started down the road of long, high-performing wader life. But before taking any wader-care actions, be sure to consult the instructions and recommendations provided by the fly fishing wader manufacturer… Just to be on the safe side!