Nelson's 10 Tips To Safe Wading

Jan 15, 2015

Nelson's 10 Tips To Safe Wading
Here in the midst of winter, its often we find ourselves day dreaming about the long fishing days ahead.  Soon enough we'll find ourselves in waist deep water negotiating across the river bottom in hopes to get to that perfect pocket and that more perfect fish!  
Here are 10 easy tips for safer wading:
1.  Wear a belt and cinch it tight.  Simms even says use two.
2.  Use a wading staff.  A huge help, especially for anglers of a certain age.  Helps you maintain your balance in fast or slow waters and even on land.
3.  Pick up your feet and don’t hurry.  In the Henry’s Fork you’re unlikely to be swept off your feet by the current.  You’re much more likely to trip over an unseen rock.  Pick up your feet to avoid stumbles.
4.  Use the fencer’s footwork.  Instead of trying to do the normal right-left-right walking stride, advance a lead foot then pull the other up behind, then repeat with the same leading foot and following foot.  Much more stable than the normal walking mode.
5.  Link up.  Lock arms at the elbow with a partner, with the stronger wader on the upstream side.
6.  Be extra conservative when alone.   No exceptions.
7.   Don’t stare down at the water.  It can be a bit disorienting and cause you to go off balance.  You do need to see where you’re going, but just glance at the bottom without staring.
8.  Pick your spots.  Deeper but slower water is usually easier to negotiate than shallower, but faster water – it just looks harder.  Current is the enemy.
9.   Use a raincoat in deep water.  A nifty trick taught to me by a clever veteran angler.  If you think you might go over the top of your waders, put on your raincoat, zip it up high and cinch your belt tight around it at the top of your waders.  You will be amazed at how long it will keep the water out as you cross through deep water.
10. Aluminum for grip.  The aluminum cleats like those from Simms or the aluminum zig-zag bars on Patagonia boots or wading crampons and other aluminum wading footwear gives the best all-around grip on all surfaces – better than felt, sticky rubber, carbide cleats or anything else.