Wading Techniques For a Safer Outing
I recently saw a picture of one of our RiverBum pros Maddie Filomeo in a pickle why wading across some pretty swift flows. Now, Maddie’s a Pro and everything ended up fine. But not everyone is a Pro and has the experience she does. It reminded me of a time when I first started wading and almost ended up not coming home.
I’ve learned these lessons, some of them the hard way over the years.
Here are some things to think about when you get into fast water:
- Carry a wading staff and use it. The best ones to use are the ones that collapse and spring open. Not only can it help you with balance, it’s very helpful to determine water depth.
- Keep yourself turned to the side with your feet spread in heavy current. Water pushing on one leg, rather than both, will exert a lot less force. A wide stance will give you balance.
- Put your weight on the downstream foot and you’ll be able to lean into the current better.
- Shuffle, don’t step. When you lift your foot in the water, the current can quickly sweep it.
- Take a kind of a practice step first to test the footing before actually committing all your weight on that foot. Remember that wading staff? Hold in in your downstream hand and use it when moving your upstream foot. Most slips occur when the upstream foot is swept downstream.
- Don’t fish and wade at the same time. It’s just a bad idea to try to fish while wading in a challenging current.
- Just because the waders go up to your chest, doesn’t mean you need to fish that deep. Fine if there’s not current, not so much in swift current.
- Wear your wading belt. I was on the St. Joe River the day I almost didn’t come home. I wasn’t that deep, thigh high. A combination of no staff, a big push of water, and a large step led me to falling flat on my face, head upstream, and water filling my waders. The belt helped. I was swept downstream and thankfully a large boulder ended up right between my legs. Hurt like hell, but it helped stand me up. I was able to collect my thoughts and get off the river.
That was the day I came up with my number one rule of fly fishing: Make it home.
No fish is worth it. My daughters were 2 and 4 at the time. They are too precious to me to risk it.
I hope this was helpful, until next time my fishy friends…..
Tight Lines and Screaming Drags