How to Repair Leaky Waders

Fishing makes me happy. Being happy is a good thing. There are parts of fishing that don’t make me happy. One of those things is stepping into a cold river on a cold day and feeling my warm socks go cold as the lower parts of my waders fill up with near freezing river water. I don’t enjoy that feeling. Not one bit. I’ll still fish in it – but it’s not nearly as comfortable.

Wader repair can range from a fairly simple to incredibly difficult. If your waders have a warranty or guarantee it is often times the wiser choice to send them in for repairs. For those whose waders don’t have that warranty: rest easy, sometimes wader repair is easy.

Parts list:

  • Dry Waders
  • Marker/chalk
  • Aquaseal (or similar product)
  • Patch (if necessary)
  • Water source

Step 1: Prepare!

Alexander Graham Bell is attributed with saying “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” Preparation is key! Make sure your waders and both clean and dry. Finding leaks is tough if your waders are wet and muddy. Make sure you have a way to mark your waders. Having a flat surface (free of sharp objects) to work on and a safe place let the waders dry on is important too! I have an old spare ironing board that I used instead of the kitchen table. Have your Aquaseal (also,patch and scissors if necessary) ready to go as well.

Step 2: Turn waders inside out

Admit it! We as fly fisherman care about style points as we walk around in our wading boots, ever-so attractive waders, fancy wading belts, and our red carpet worthy vests/sling packs! Yes, that was a little bit of sarcasm. But honestly, we do care about our gear looking good and functioning properly. By flipping our waders inside out the marks we make while identifying and repairing the leaks will be on the inside of our waders and be non-visible. An additional benefit of doing the repairs on the inside is that the patched areas are less likely to be damaged by external sources.

Waders hanging up

Step 3: Find the leak(s)

Time to get the water! When finding the leaks I very highly recommend using a hose outdoors or a detachable shower head in the tub/shower. This step has the potential for spilling some water and I don’t want anyone getting in trouble with a significant other OR damaging their house. I used the detachable shower head because it was snowing outside. Place the shower head down one of the legs of the waders. Turn the water on and fill the water up to a couple inches above the suspected leak area and then make sure to shut it off. When the water starts leaking out of one (or more areas) mark the area. Drain out the leg and repeat on the other leg if necessary.

Close-up of waders with leaks circled
Step 4: Patch the leak(s)

Dry the waders out and get ready to patch!

Open up the aquaseal and locate an area you want to repair. If it is a small leak/pinhole leak squeeze out a small amount of sealant and spread it out evenly about 1/4 of an inch around the leak area.

If it is a larger leak area then cut the patch material in a size that extends 1/4 to 1/2 inch beyond the leak area. Apply aquaseal to the waders, spread it out, then lay down the patch material. This will form a bond that helps protect those larger areas. Then let it dry.

Tube of Aquaseal
Patch on waders
Step 5: (test the waders) Go Fishing

Once the waders dry you could definitely test the waders again with your water source… or you could go live test them while fishing. Honestly depending on the duration of the trip, discomfort from leaky waders, desire to stay dry, etc. there is a value in testing the waders to make sure they are now leak free. With this group of repaired leaks I’m comfortable just going fishing and possibly getting wet again.