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Wading Safety

Wading Tips

  • Cautious wading is paramount. No fish is worth your life.
  • Do not ever wade backwards.
  • Always wear a wading belt.
  • Consider using a wading staff for extra balance. It also can serve as a tester of bottom conditions…..too deep, too silty or mucky. Do not let the wading staff offer a false sense of security. If you do not use one now, consider using one as you age.
  • Do not cast or fish while you are wading from one spot to another. It is too easy to wade carelessly when your attention is on your fly.
  • Cross at the tail out of a pool downstream of a rapids rather than above a rapids.
  • Keep your side to the current, rather than your broad front or back so the current can pass around you easier.
  • If you feel unstable in a fast current with a rocky bottom, try wading with same foot always leading (single step) and other foot always trailing. Single stepping makes for a slower crossing, but a more stable one.
  • Loose wind breakers and big pockets can collect large amounts of water that can pull you off balance and deeper.
  • If you do fall in don’t panic. Assess your situation, forget about your gear and look to where the river may carry you. Most often you will be able to regain your footing in the same spot but if you do get caught in the current, raise your feet up and try to get them downstream and float on your back. Paddle or scull with your arms and hands to help you move in the direction you want to go. Do not fight the current. Neoprene waders offer a lot of buoyancy.
  • When crossing with a buddy lock elbows or have the upstream (stronger or heavier) wader grab the wading belt of the downstream wader. Make sure one wader has firm footing before the second one moves. Move your upstream foot first, making sure you have good footing before transferring your weight. Then follow with your downstream foot.
  • Always be looking ahead of where you are fishing to assess your wading plan.