Wader Repair 101: A How to Guide

Video how to fix neoprene waders

Staying home because of leaky waders and cold flows? Don’t fret, we have you covered so you don’t lose out on the fish of the year! Waders are the unsung hero of many great days on the water but demand some care and attention if you want to maximize their lifespan. While it’s easy to dream of wet wading in your favorite shorts or hiking pants, the reality is we have a few more months of cold spells and runoff before we can consistently ditch our waders. If you’ve been dealing with a pesky tear or minor pinhole, now is the time for wader repairs.

Gear Aid Wader Repair Kit
Photo Credit: Gear Aid

Identifying your leak(s) is the first step in wader repair. If the hole or tear is not in an obvious location or is too small to identify, simply turn your waders inside out and spray rubbing alcohol over the flawed area. Next, wait a minute or so and dark spots will appear at the location of each hole. Once you have identified your problem areas, mark the holes with a felt tip marker. This will allow you to find the puncture when they alcohol dries and your waders are ready for repair. Now that your waders are prepped you will need to choose a repair product.

Wader Repair Products

Photo Credit: Gear Aid
Photo Credit: Gear Aid

There are a variety of products on the market designed for wader repair from flexible sealants to patches. I personally use Aquaseal+FD for holes in breathable wader materials (i.e. GoreTex or Toray) with great success. These products create a permanent waterproof seal if applied correctly and can be had for less than $10.

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Note: In the event that you have a large tear, a hole in your neoprene booties, or a leaky seam it is recommended that you return your waders to the manufacturer for professional repair.

Repairing Punctured Waders

To fix a small hole, apply Aquaseal or your choice of sealant in a thin coat over the affected area. Be sure to spread the sealant around the puncture(s) slightly so that the adhesive can attach to your waders. Repeat this step for all of the problem areas that you previously identified and marked with a felt tip marker. Once you have patched all of the holes on the interior of your waders, leave them inside-out and hang them to dry (avoid hanging from the suspenders as they can stretch out over time). Allow a cure time of 12-24 hours for the best results. For a few bucks and a minimal amount of time you’ll be ready to hit the water with faith restored in your waders. Check out the video below from Simms for detailed instructions on repairing waders with pinholes.

Repairing Torn/Cut Waders

The process of repairing a minor tear to your waders is somewhat more extensive than repairing a pinhole. This process requires the use of a patch. Most waders will come with a swatch of material to use for repairs but they can also be purchased aftermarket and as part of wader repair kits.

To fix a tear in your waders, pull the cut pieces together as much as possible and apply a liberal amount of Aquaseal to the affected area. Let the Aquaseal cure for a few seconds until it becomes tacky. Next, place a patch (larger than the size of the problem area) over the tear and press the patch firmly into the tacky Aquaseal. This should do the trick, but if you want some extra assurance that your patch won’t fail, apply additional Aquaseal around the edge of the patch. Check out the video below on repairing torn waders below!

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Field Repair Kits

While none of us ever anticipate a leak in our waders, it happens from time to time. Field repair kits are a great way to extend a day on the water. Products like Aquaseal’s Wader Repair Kit or Loon Outdoor’s UV Wader Repair are compact and can save the day. Loon’s UV Wader Repair can be applied topically and cures via UV rays from the sun allowing you to get back to the fish in minutes.

Loon Outdoors UV Wader Repair
Photo Credit: Loon Outdoors

If you’ve had the bad fortune of leaky waders due to pinholes and minor tears these products and tips should have you back on the water in no time. Let us know any other tips or tricks that you may use for wader repairs! Until next time, stay dry!

Article by Evan Garda, he is on the Content Team here at Fly Lords and can be found chasing trout throughout the west with his trusty fly rod check out his adventures at @evangarda.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>