In this great video tip from the Orvis Fly Fishing Learning Center, we discuss safe wading practices. With many people fishing in runoff conditions, it’s a good time to review wading safety. (I know, it’s one of those boring but important topics and you’d rather have us give you some tips on where you can catch big fish right now and exactly how to do that. But I’ll save those subjects for Monahan.) If you’ve never done any serious wading, you should watch this video. And even if you have, it might be a good refresher—it’s not the last word on wading safety but it will get you thinking.
9 thoughts on “Video Pro Tips: Safe Wading Techniques”
It is important to remember. I took a fall last September and hurt my back. I wasn’t able to fish again until February. I now carry a wading staff everywhere.
Can’t be any worse than having one foot in the boat and one on the dock and the boat moves wide. Great way to test the water temperature.
You’re fishing just far enough downstream of the dam on a tailwater stream to just barely hear the whistle or horn blow indicating water is being released. You delay moving to the bank or shallower water because you just KNOW the next cast is going to hook up with that big brown you saw last week. Or the next cast will. Or the next cast will. Or next the cast will. Ad nauseum. You will soon find yourself in deeper water than you can negotiate and you’re going to go for a strong swim just to get to shore. And you will throw your rod to shore to save it, if you you can throw that far. At best. Guys, gals, head to shore at the first indication the water is being released! Ask me how I know!
I was always to wade with the wading staff placed up stream when going upstream, comment please.
I bought the new BOA boot this spring and put in the studs, works very well. Also now I am quite old I always have my wading staff and wouldn’t leave home or wade without it. Add the wading belt and be carful ware I wade. Young or old not fish is worth getting hurt or worst case drowning.
Nice article. Also keep in mind a slip down a bank on dry land can have also dire consequences. I slipped on a bank last September, shattered my ankle, went through a four hour surgery to fix it, and am still unable to do many of the things I used to do. It has healed but I’m still trying to get back to where I was before that fateful day.
Couple of other suggestions:
1. If you know the water depth, wade at an angle downstream rather than fight the current and go straight across (or upstream as Tom recommends).
2. If you are wading in swift water on gravel or cobble, you can’t afford to stop to rest. If you do, the water will erode the stones under your feet. Keep on truckin’ until the water shallows out.
3. Before and after you cross an unfamiliar piece of water, pick out landmarks on both banks so you know your start and stop points. Mentally map out your way back (usually a different start and stop point to preserve that slightly downstream angle) before you start fishing. If you won’t need your staff to fish the run, leave it on the bank where you’re going to return: that’s your automatic start point.
4. If the water’s on the rise, you’ll usually see leaves and twigs in the water. If you don’t know the water well or the depth is already iffy, don’t cross. If you’re not certain about the rate of the rising water, put a stick down shoreside at the water’s edge and wait a half hour (or monitor it you’ve already crossed). Once it’s definitely headed up, you’re on double secret probation.
5. If there are two anglers, cross as a team. The stronger wader takes the upstream side and has the staff. His partner holds the rods. Each angler has a strong grip across the back and latched onto the other’s far shoulder. The upstream angler is the lead partner in the dance, and each man steps in sequence.
6. Wear a CO2 PDF, preferably a horse collar. Or if the water is very strong or there are major rapids downstream, you may need a kayaker’s foam life jacket under your fishing vest before you attempt a tricky crossing.