Wading safety should be a concern for any angler who ventures into the water, and here’s a good primer from an Aussie guide named Jimmy from Tom’s Outdoors, in the rugged Snowy Mountains. He covers everything from how to move your feet, to using studs in your boots, to wading belts. And if you spend enough time in the water, you’re going to fall, and Jimmy has some excellent suggestions for how to react to a dunking to best ensure you make it back to shore.
5 thoughts on “Pro Tips: How to Wade Safely and What to Do If You Fall In”
Also…remember your wading staff!
Yep! Don’t leave home and especially don’t leave the truck without it!
I am majorly concerned at a couple of points and one is a severe omission that is dangerous.
First you make out waders filled with water will make you sink. This is not necessarily true. Water and water are neutrally buoyant. If you float naturally (some people do sink, with my body fat I float readily). I can raise my legs high to scull back to shore, but not lift them out of the water. I can float on my back with totally full waders with legs straight brand near to, but not above the water surface.
Next, is the real issue with filled waders is out of the water they can be extremely heavy. If they say fill with 20 litres of water, that means you have to get your body weight plus an extra 20 kg out of the water, this can be critical, particularly for older people. You need to demonstrate how you can get out of the water with extra weight such as crawling on all fours. If out on a boat, it is essential to carry a ladder but even then people with muscle weakness may still have difficulty. If not to far from shore, it may be necessary to tow that person close to shore and demonstrating how this could be done that is backwards and on back, preferably with flotation aid, is necessary. It is also why it is essential to have more flotation aids than life jackets on board fly fishing vessels.
Finally the big and extremely dangerous omission. You demonstrated falling in without a coat and in short sleeves. You need to be aware long sleeves and coats can hamper swimming ability.
Many fishermen will be in a coat. You MUST ensure the wrist straps are securely tightened to ensure the coat does not slip over hands. Even then you need to be careful coat arms are not too long and fold over the hands. You should check coat sleeve length when purchasing the coat. Too long sleeves can be extremely dangerous on the water.
Any sleeve covering the hands severely impacts on the ability to scull. Propulsion backs off to almost zero. That is it becomes almost impossible to survival scull ( swim) back to shore. I sincerely advise people do enroll in wader safety courses and definitely swim in full wading clothing to appreciate how severely overlapping sleeves can hamper propulsion. In my opinion this is one of the major dangers of falling in the water in waders.
As a swimming instructor with well over a decade of experience I have demonstrated falling in water in waders many times. I NEVER demonstrate wader safety in less than complete outfit. That is long trousers, jumpers and long sleeves under full length waders and coat. I often include wearing gloves. It astounds me that demonstrations such as this do not.
I demonstrate in full clothing to show how difficult it can be to manoeuvre and to show clearly why we scull to move through water. It emphasises just how tiring and difficult it is to lift arms and legs out of the water when wet and why it is vitally important fly fishers practice sculling on their back so they can do so if the need to survive arise.
For me it did happen where a river bank gave way when I could not see it was undercut from above. It ended up with needing to float 300 metres down stream to find a suitable exit point with full waders. It did end in the same undignified emptying of waders sufficiently to walk back to the car and change into dry clothes.
I would urge you to reshoot this video and show swimming in full FlyFishing regalia.
Thank you Bill for the extremely informative lifesaving response to the video.