How to Repair Your Leaky Waders

If you are an avid angler, chances are, sooner or later, your waders will start to leak. Be ready for that day with these tips from Fly Fishing Expert Joseph Smith!

A fly fisher wearing waders stands in a body of water with his fishing rod.

Photo by Domie Sharpin

Published on

Leaky waders are the bane of existence for any angler. They may only be a minor annoyance on a hot summer’s day. But if you’re a steelhead fisher, leaky waders ruin your day fishing and can lead to a potentially dangerous case of hypothermia.

No one wants leaky waders, and new waders are often heavy on the wallet. So before throwing away your favorite waders or sitting out that fishing trip, why not try repairing them? We’ll cover some simple permanent repairs to keep you dry and fishing longer.

Prevention

Today’s lightweight, breathable waders are not the rubber models of old. As the adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And it holds true here. If your waders are already leaking, it’s too late for this step. But waders last a long time with a little TLC. You’ll repair less and fish more.

It’s obvious to clean your waders and hang them up to dry after a day of fishing. But why are they often found in a musty ball in a basement corner or the garage? This does nothing to promote their longevity and durability.

Instead, rinse them off and hang them in a well-ventilated area to dry. Don’t do it by the suspenders as it causes them to stretch and lose their elasticity. Another easy step to wader longevity is not walking around in them without boots on. A wader’s neoprene stocking feet aren’t designed to take the wear and tear of walking.

Consider treating yourself to a Simms waders taco bag. It’s a clean way to transport your waders, and it doubles as a changing mat to stand when putting them on. Remember to remove your waders from the taco bag when you get home to clean and air them out.

Long toenails are a common cause of holes in neoprene stocking feet. Keep yours trimmed. It’s good for you and your waders. Despite the best of efforts and care, waders rip or leak eventually. Or they get inadvertently punctured by a branch or piece of barbed wire. Don’t fret; all is not lost. With some simple steps, you’ll be dry again quickly.

Pin Hole Leaks

A pin hole leak in a pair of waders.

A pinhole leak. Photo by Joseph Smith

Annoying pinhole leaks are hard to spot but easy to repair. The key is to start with clean, dry waders. Turn them inside out. Next, apply a fine mist of rubbing alcohol (isopropyl) onto your waders with a spray bottle. A dark spot will appear where any pinhole leaks are present.

Circle the area with a permanent marker for repair later. Once the problem areas are identified, get a waterproof urethane adhesive repair sealant such as Aquaseal. Apply it liberally over the circled area, working it in with the application brush. Then let it cure and dry. The seal is waterproof and ready in 24 hours.

Tip: Once the seal on your Aquaseal FD repair adhesive tube is broken, store it in the freezer. This slows the curing process down for the rest of the product, extending the life of the tube by 6 months.

Rips and Tears

Rips and tears are obvious to catch. If they aren't too big, you can fix them too. Whatever the repair, the waders must be clean and dry, turned inside out, and with no folds in the fabric. Use the repair patch kit that comes with most waders. Apply Aquaseal liberally around the tear, pushing the edges together as much as possible.

Trim the repair patch to shape if necessary. When the adhesive is tacky to the touch, place the repair patch over the area. Then press firmly, ensuring there are no air bubbles. Allow the patch to cure 24 hours and they should be good as new.

If you can’t find the repair patch that came with your waders, aftermarket ones are available for purchase. To repair cuts, use Tenacious Tape TM on the outside after applying the Aquaseal on the inside.

Leak in the Stocking Feet

These leaks are difficult to find. The easiest way is to fill the waders up with water, just not past the knees. If you go higher, you risk blowing out the seams from the increased water pressure. Once the footies are filled, look for leaks and mark them with a permanent marker.

Once all leaks have been identified, drain the waders and let them dry. Grab your tube of Aquaseal and don’t be shy with the product. Apply it liberally and work it in using a brush or your finger. Once fully penetrated, allow it to dry and cure. Your problem should be solved in no time.

Stream Side Repair

A compact wader field repair kit.

A compact wader field repair kit by Aquaseal. Photo by Joseph Smith

A wader field repair kit comes in handy if your waders develop a leak while fishing. Kits from quality brands such as Aquaseal or Loon are great choices. The Loon repair is almost instantaneous, as the seal cures instantly via UV light from the sun or a dedicated UV source. You’ll be back fishing before your socks are even dry.

Tenacious Tape makes a quick patch too. It stops the rip or tear from enlarging and is removable up to 24 hours later without leaving a sticky residue when you are ready to make a more permanent repair. Just like an extra set of boot laces, consider keeping a compact repair kit in your fishing vest or pack.

Larger Repairs

A failed seam in a wader.

A failed seam. Photo by Joseph Smith

When you need to repair a seam or damage larger than a simple patch can handle, contact the wader company and ask about their mending policy. Manufacturers such as Simms and Orvis have excellent repair programs and will repair your waders, even if the original warranty has expired, for less than a new pair of waders.

At some point, your waders will wear out and be irreparable. The telltale signs are multiple pinholes and failing seams. It’s time for a new pair.

Learn how to tell if it’s time for new waders in the video below.

If this is your fate, Curated offers an extensive selection of waders and knowledgeable Fly Fishing Experts to help you pick your next pair. Reach out and let us guide you in choosing a new, lightweight, durable, and waterproof-breathable pair of waders. Until then, use this repair guide. Don't let leaky waders interfere with your fishing. Tight Lines!

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Written By
I am an avid fly fisherman. Luckily, I have a pond in my backyard exactly two minutes from my fly tying bench. If there is open water, I will fish just about every day. Although I grew up fishing the fabled streams of Pennsylvania, I love to travel and fly fish for diverse species both fresh and sa...

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