Finally, after a long, tedious winter, the water is warm enough to wade while we fi sh! With this thought in mind, I want to share some suggestions about wading and the use of staffs when we do this.
Speaking as someone who is a river fisherman at heart, which means that I wade a lot and second as someone who has taken some truly spectacular plunges (all unplanned!) into rivers, here are a few suggestions. First things first, a wading staff is a fantastic tool and can make a huge difference in your day. As I have gotten older, I find that my feet do NOT always go where I think they are going! Using a wading staff is like having a third leg! When I am wading cross-current, I don’t pick my feet up when I step, rather I try and slide them along the bottom. As I am moving along, I make sure that the foot that I stepped forward with is secure and I can safely put my weight on it. Before I move my back foot, I will reposition the wading staff again making sure that I have a good purchase on the bottom. Then and only then, I slide my back foot into position and continue as before. If I am going to stop and cast, I get myself positioned securely and let the wading staff, which is secured to my wader belt just swings with the current. At this point, I make sure that I am facing the way that I want to cast, so that I don’t have to twist my body and become off balance. The key to safe and successful (“successful” means that you don’t fall in the water!) wading is TAKING YOUR TIME. Seeing a fi sh rise that I can’t reach always makes my blood boil and I sometimes forget to take my time, which is asking for trouble. Remember that a good pair of polarized sunglasses are very important in all of this.
I have mentioned in earlier columns the importance of wearing waders with rubber or what is called River tread soles. Felt soles can carry substances that are incredibly invasive, such as what is commonly referred to as “didy-mo”. When considering the purchase of a wading staff, look at the tip of the staff. It should be aluminum and not steel. Steel is obviously quite hard and won’t grip rocks well,but a staff with an aluminum tip is better suited to grip rocks and not slide.
You increase the grip on a wading staff by dipping the tip of the staff in a rubberizing compound which can be purchased at any hardware store. Dip repeatedly, let dry and repeat this process 4 or 5 times. This makes a huge difference in your staff’s ability to grip the bottom.
Next month…Bow Anchors for Canoes