How To Use A Wading Stick

When Salmon fishing, negotiating the current and maintaining your balance is crucial if you want to stay safe.  Using a wading stick will give you a 'third leg' and extra confidence and reassurance, however, learning how to use a wading staff safely, and understanding the advantages and disadvantages is a must.

In this article we outline some practical tips on choosing the right wading staff and offer some safety tips when moving in the water when using as stick.

For Sure Footing, Use A Wading Stick With A Heavy Base
Use a weighted stick at all times, either one where the base is wrapped in lead or one that has lead hidden in its core. This is because the stick can float in front of you when you cast and retrieve fly line. You will also have to untangle line from around the stick. Therefore, not only will an unweighted stick get in your way while fishing, you will also have difficulty getting it down to the riverbed quickly enough through a strong current if you find yourself in need of its support in a hurry.

B&H Flow Through Wading Staff

Thicker is Better Than Thin
Avoid a stick with a slender base because it may get wedged between rocks on the riverbed. If a slim multi-piece collapsible style of stick gets stuck, the worst case scenario is it can be pulled apart when you try to lift it off the bottom. Instead, use a stick with a wide base.

Wading Stick Handle And Cord

Choose One-Piece Wading Staffs
Ideally, use a stout one-piece stick that’s tough enough to withstand the harsh rocky terrain of Highland rivers.

Keeping It Out Of The Way
When you stop to cast, put the base of the (properly weighted) stick across the back of your legs. The current, plus its weight, will keep it there. Do not position the base of the stick in front of your legs because if you stumble there is every chance you will trip over it, making matters worse.

Keep It Out Of The Way
Fitting A Lanyard
Adjust the length of the lanyard so that when your arm is fully extended the handle is in your palm. This will allow you to extend the stick forward sufficiently to give you support when taking a step. If the lanyard is too long you will be unable to easily take hold of the handle. If the lanyard is too short you will not be able to extend the stick properly when taking a step or more, which could be important in an emergency.

Use a Lanyard
Snag And Release
Many lanyards are attached by a metal ring to a clip on the stick. This enables you to quickly release the stick with a sharp pull. Useful when on land, should you want to quickly unburden yourself of the stick, but it could also potentially save your life if you were to lose your footing in the river and the stick were to become jammed in rocks, tethering you in fast-flowing water. At which point releasing the lanyard would enable you to float free.

Quick Release

Hang It On The Outside
Do not wear the lanyard under your wading jacket as it will restrict your ability to reach forward with the stick when taking a step or if you stumble. The lanyard will not slip off the outside of your jacket if it has been properly adjusted.
Wading Staff Retractor

Choose The Right Length
A stick that reaches your breastbone is about the right length. This will allow you to comfortably extend it a suitable distance in front of you when taking each step.

Stick Reaches Breastbone
Make Sure The Stick Is Built To Last
Sticks are immersed in water and often stored in damp conditions where they can corrode and rot. Avoid a stick that does not have a lanyard made from rot-proof cord or fittings built from marine-grade stainless steel, bronze or brass, because over time it is likely to fail.

Thermowade Temperature Sensitive Wading Staff
Wading safely, using your common sense and evaluating the risks at all times will stand you in good stead when Salmon fishing.  Having the right staff will also go a long way in keeping you stable in the water.  As highlighted, knowing how to use it properly and considering the different types will increase your confidence as a Salmon Angler.

For more help and advice on choosing the right Wading Staff, you can visit us instore at Glasgow Angling Centre or Edinburgh Angling Centre.  You can also call us on 0141 212 8880.

This article was brought to you in association with Trout and Salmon Magazine.