Tips for Using a Wading Staff

News & Tips: Tips for Using a Wading Staff

As I mentioned a couple months ago, this would be the year I would break down and use a wading staff. Though any initial reluctance was probably due to an unwillingness to concede to age, I now wish I'd made the adjustment years ago.

WadingStaffUse blog

Wading staffs can help keep an angler upright when waters get swift.

My buddy and I were to fish the lower end of a rather rugged wild trout stream, one that we accessed from its mouth, where it joined the Allegheny River in Pennsylvania. A 15 minute boat ride from a backcountry ramp had us at the place. I secured the boat 20 yards up into the creek mouth; we donned wading gear and the adventure began — wading staff in hand.

This would be a great stream to gain some experience with the wading staff. Though a relatively mild creek during the summer, it was well-charged with snow/ice melt and recent rain. That, coupled with the fast flow as the valley dropped quickly toward the Allegheny, provided some challenging wading situations.

Safe wading calls for having one boot firmly planted before moving the other foot. Still, you're in a vulnerable position when you make that next step, one that has you balancing — at times precariously — on a single leg. When you're using a wading staff, you still have two firm purchase points while you're taking that step. It makes all the difference.

Here are a couple tips regarding wading staff use:

  • Get it rigged and ready to go before you take your first step in the water during a day's outing. Even though collapsible models like the White River Fly Shop and Simms Wading Staff deploy quickly, when you're stumbling around in the creek it'll probably be too late to snap it open.

  • Rig the staff with a heavy duty retractor, so it hangs off of your wading belt (the Simms model comes with a built-in retractor) off the arm opposite your casting arm. The retractor will keep the handle close, easily accessible; but the staff won't be in your way while you're fishing, as it might be if you simply had it tethered to a long lanyard.

Regardless of your age or level of nimbleness, if you wade medium to larger streams, you'll be more secure, and enjoy your sport much more it you use a wading staff.