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This episode is about wading a river. Good wading. Better wading. Confident wading. Because, for a river angler, nothing is more important. Good wading is not just walking from place to place, it’s an almost constant, fluid motion, and fly fishing requires great footwork along the way.
I meet a lot of anglers who approach a river all wrong. They wade into a spot, set up, and then cast to every piece of water they can reach (at all angles) before picking up and wading again to repeat the process. But this is rarely the best approach.
Consider the variables: There’s a distance at which you are most accurate. There’s a light angle that is most advantageous. There’s a certain water type where trout are feeding more agreeably. So the best river anglers move, almost constantly, setting themselves up to best approach the next great piece of water.
As wading anglers, we must wade efficiently. It’s that simple. And good wading skills change the game like nothing else. When you are comfortable and confident in the water — when you can easily move to the other side just because the light angles are better, the river opens up in a whole new way.
The Troutbitten guys join me to walk through some of our best wading tips.
We Cover the Following
- Should anglers move while casting?
- Why does good wading make such a difference?
- Wading, not walking
- Constant motion
- Reading the water
- Body positioning
- Polarized lenses for good wading
- The best boots for wading
- Boot studs and traction
- The right wading staff setup
- . . . and more.
READ: Troutbitten | It’s Wading, Not Walking
READ: Troutbitten | We Wade
READ: Troutbitten | Tips for Better Wading and More Trout
READ: Troutbitten | VIDEO – The Only Way to Carry a Wading Staff
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Season Seven of the Troubitten Podcast continues with Episode six, next week. So look for that one in your Troutbitten Podcast feed.
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T R O U T B I T T E N
Fun episode. I adopted your wading staff on a gear keeper plan and consider it the single best addition to my fly fishing in the last 10 years. Of course, I waited until I had a cartoon Wiley coyote style fall 12 solo miles into the backcountry before pulling the trigger. As mentioned…game changer. Thanks
Ha. Well there ya go
Thanks for the subject material on this podcast! I am one of those fearful of falling in. As a 65 year old retiree beginning fly fisher, I feel so overwhelmed with information that I forget the simplest things, “your only going to get wet”. And if getting wet is a problem, go wet wading!
Had a loop sown into a piece of Velcro to slide over my wading belt, and left about 14 inches hanging down along my thigh. At the end of the 14 inch piece I had another piece sown on, perpendicular to the 14 inch piece, that was long enough to go around my thigh and the hanging wading staff, and that would ‘Velcro’ to itself. In effect I made a holster. When I collapse the staff I strap it to my leg with the ‘perpendicular’ piece, which leaves the staff easily accessible but not banging around as I walk, and not banging against my net, which was the case when I tucked the staff into the small of my back. Seems to work well.
I like it. Good stuff. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for another great listen and I’ll be off to browse for wading staffs after this. Just wanted clarification about one thing. In the podcast everyone seemed to agree that rubber boots are “a joke” and that they are “garbage” but later on you say you usually wear the same pair of boots for everything. You like rubber soles for hiking in and during winter. So were you guys saying that rubber soles by itself is bad but with the studs added they become the preferred sole type? How does studded rubber match up against plain felt soles?
Yes. Glad you asked. That’s it. Plain rubber is terrible. But with studs, that’s what most of us prefer. Felt with studs is probably the best traction, but it’s problematic.. And plain felt is hit or miss but better than plain rubber.
I totally agree that using the gear keeper and moving my wading staff to my non-dominant side has saved me many stumbles into the water. Great advice!!!
“I don’t need a wading staff” said everyone that I have ever seen looking ridiculous wading through a river.
I have taken 3 friends fishing with me on 3 separate occasions this year. Each time they acted offended when I offered them my spare staff and keeper. Each time they ended up on my no fishing with that guy list. If they weren’t busy stumbling through holes and spooking fish, they were stepping in over their waders. It’s insane how much more water a person can cover just because they have a staff.
My sunglasses & wading staff are among the few things I will walk a few miles back to the truck for if I forget them.
Good stuff guys. Keep ‘em coming.
I consider myself a strong wader. As a kid in the 70s growing up on a stream our wading boots were old sneakers with little to no traction at all or barefoot. When I moved to PA playing with the kids in the stream I wore flip flops and when I started fishing here I upgraded to a pair of crocs cause the strap would help keep them on. When I got my first pair of proper wading boots and added studs it was like walking down the street. I still play in the creek with the kids in the summer with the crocs and I rarely fall. It’s not the cold, current or getting wet that bothers me but damn the rocks. Last time I fell I got a proper hipper from a bowling ball sized rock that had just the right knob to bruise me up good. Lots of cursing and a long slow walk out, I was sore for weeks but I was lucky. Had I landed on that knob with my back or hit it with my head? I’d may not of gotten up. I will slow down when I get to critical areas and show respect to those rocks. Maybe I’ll try a wading staff but I don’t know how or if I will use it.
Great podcast guys!
Thanks for this topic, it is one that you do not hear addressed often. One of the guys asked at one point “what’s the worst that could happen?” Had a guide trip and 15 minutes into the day slipped on a bigger rock and landed full force on my knees and shins. Thought I would shake it off until standing by the stream the guide noted my pants leg was red from the knee down. He looked at it and said I probably needed stitches. But I told him to put some butterflies on it and I fished the full day on it. Could of ended the day easily though.
I realized starting fly fishing at 59 that wading was a bit of a challenge.
Along with more time on the water and a good wading staff I started thinking about the mechanics to try to improve.
Here’s a couple principles I’ve adopted.
As the podcast said, have the first step be solid footing. Additional have good solid wade staff plant then do next step. Don’t walk backwards. Don’t lock your knee instead keep slight bend.
I also discovered part of my problem was my single leg balance was terrible (see single leg balance exercises). Like most fitness activities I found doing some single leg balance improved my balance mechanics as well as strengthening my legs, ankles and core to improve my wading.
I found the following interesting study on single leg balance and age which gave the following numbers for time in a single leg:
18 to 39-year-olds – average 43 seconds
40 to 49-year-olds – 40 seconds
50 to 59-year-olds – 37 seconds
60 to 69-year-olds – 27 seconds
70 to 79-year-olds – 18 seconds
80 to 99-year-olds – 5.6 seconds