Wading Staffs [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Wading Staffs

10-30-2000, 12:00 PM
While visiting the Thompson in BC, the importance of wading staffs became all too clear. The rocks that line the shores there are incredibly slick, so much so that felt is useless - even my trusty carbide tips were like little roller bearings on the rocks. Without a staff, you were sure to take a swim. Rivers like the Thompson drown men easily and the staff is a key tool one must have to fish there. But all staffs are not the same...

Interlocking metal staffs are very light, compact and sturdy. They are kept in a belt-mounted holster while not in use. There are three things to think about here: interlock style, tip, handle. Their diameters are generally small enough not to increase drag against the current. Weight is consistently light enough across brands. Other factors like color play a role but are less critical.

The interlocks that are tapered tend to bind. A better style is the type that uses a straight ferrule, which does not bind. I either case the internal bungee should be tight enough to hold the staff together as much as possible, and tensile enough to easily re-lock the sections with one hand while you wade without fudging with it. The interlocks play the key part in this of course - by holding the staff together as you wade.

The tip - some like a rubber tip to quiet the approach. I would have to agree with that. Other designs use a hard tip, which makes a lot of noise while wading. I assume the tip gets lost a lot, and lodged between rocks. Even still, something to pad the scraping and clacking makes sense.

The handle - should be at a height where one does not need to lean to use the staff. I guess this is a statement on staff length as much as handle style. The straight 'spin rod' style handle works well.

I'm no expert, and would be interested to hear other's opinions on the topic.

10-31-2000, 05:36 AM
Juro, I have one of those staffs that is telescoping, and has a wooden knob on the end which is removable, and is threaded fir a camera. the down end has a rubber cap which goes over the point to protect it when not being used. Most of the time I forget to bring it. If I brought everything I would need a trailer just for gear. I also have corkers, but most of the time I just use boat foot waders, or short neopreme booties. I still manage to fall sometimes, ruined two pair of dungrees, Makes for good shorts.

John Desjardins
10-31-2000, 08:31 AM
I've used a downhill ski pole in the past. Take the basket off and add a cord to hang around your body.

I stopped using it for several reasons. First is the problem of having too many things to carry that Art mentioned. I also tended to end up with my line wrapped around the pole after every fifth or sixth cast. The final reason I stopped using it was that it gave me a sense of false security and I would wade into locations which I should not.

Having a staff that was telescopic, or snapped together would help with the first & second problems, but I worry more about being over confident on where I can wade.

I never tried the rubber tip so I can't comment on that.

11-01-2000, 11:26 AM
Has anyone used the new Sims staff? Seems to have a very positive lock unlike the unreliable Fol-Staff. If I break out the wading staff, its because I'm scared.

11-01-2000, 11:34 AM
<center>http://www.simmsfishing.com/Images2000/Wadestaf.jpg<font size="1">
Simms Staff - simmsfishing.com</font><!--1--></center>

Looks like the right kind of interlock... I'll definitely be looking at them live and in person at the shows.

Eddie - I was in San Francisco last week, only for a day. I thought about looking you up! How's the delta been fishing?

11-01-2000, 01:56 PM
I use an old cross country ski pole made out of cane (not metal). I cut it down so that I grip the handle waist high... I have used taller and shorter ones and feel that waist high is the way to go. If the staff is to tall then I don't feel safe enough in tough water (like the St. Lawrence River). If it's shorter I tend to lean too much on it.

The plastic grip has an old leather strap on it where I attach a short bungy cord. The other end of the bungy attaches to my wading belt, so that I'm always connected. If it really starts getting in the way I can then tuck it inside my (stretchy)wading belt behind my back. I find that I prefer to have the full length staff available if I'm in rough water, so many times I just let it dangle and grab it when I want to move, even if it's for a few steps.

I have added a rubber plug to it, to make it quieter while wading.

11-22-2000, 07:13 AM
I can appreciate the convenience of lightweight wading staffs (staves?) but I would suggest you also consider the security that can be provided by a heavily-weighted staff. Combined with a suitable retractor (hammerhead) the staff can be kept completely out of the way of the line and yet remains close at hand. In the UK Sharpes supply such a staff. A rubber button is essential with this design.
Falkus explains the rationale better than I can in his book "Salmon Fishing".

11-29-2000, 05:35 AM
I use one of two staffs that I have. The first choice is a wooden staff that is homemade. Its quiet, sturdy and inexpensive. Its made from Ironwood which will not "bugger up" on the end from constant contact with rocks as other woods will.

The other is a Prostaff 4 piece with a rubber tip. Actually in its short life, it has had several rubber tips. This is lightweight and packable, but thats about all the good things I can say about it. The rubber tips either pull off after getting stuck between rocks, or they wear through where the end of the metal pole contacts the rubber tip inside. It just cuts a plug out of the rubber tip sort of like a long handled cookie cutter. It also has a tendency to pull apart at times when it gets stuck between rocks. I definitely wade very carefully when using this staff.

I always use a staff when wading the West Branch of the Ausable. Not only does it normally have a strong current, but it's paved with greased bowling balls. If you allow yourself to wade into dangerous situations when using a staff, you're defintely not using the staff properly.

As for it getting in the way when fishing, two tips might help. One, be certain the lanyard is attached in the top of the staff so it lies straight downstream from you. That way the line will slide off the staff as you strip and is less likely to get tangled up on it.

Secondly, if you can't do the first, then attach a long enough lanyard so that you can run the cord up in front of your left shoulder, around your neck, in front of your right shoulder and under your arm (assuming you're a right handed caster). Then when you strip in the line its on the other side of your body and alot less likely to get tangled on the staff.

And speaking of right handed casting, has anyone seen the commercial for I believe its Jeep where they show glimpses of a fly fisherman. In the first shot he's starting his backcast and the rod is in his left hand, and the next shot he's finishing his forward cast and the rod is in his right hand? Its a neat trick that I haven't quite mastered yet.


11-29-2000, 10:35 PM
KevinH said:

<i>"If you allow yourself to wade into dangerous situations when using a staff, you're defintely not using the staff properly."</i>

Kevin -

First of all let me say how good it is to have an Ausable outfitter in our community. I sincerely hope we can exchange trips with you sometime.

As I read your post I recall my wading experience on the Thompson River in BC with Tyler, Brian and Bill last month. In case you missed the partial trip report, here's a <!--http--><a href="" target="_blank">link</a><!--url-->. I am finishing up the whole enchilada in a Destinations article called "living large" (almost done).

Anyway, can you elaborate on what you said above? I found myself being very confident with the staff and had to remind myself not to go too far. I became a huge believer from that trip BTW.



11-30-2000, 05:04 AM

I'd be happy to elaborate. In my opinion, a wading staff should be used to add safety and security to your wading not as a crutch to help you go beyond your normal abilities. Use it to check depth and add safety when wading slippery, uneven bottoms. Stability when wading is determined by the amount of weight you have above the water line. To use a staff to wade into deeper water then you would normally be able to wade into is putting the angler (and potential rescuers) at risk.

I let the young, bold waders try to reach those few fish I can't safely get too. Why risk a dangerous situation trying too reach every fish in the river? Too use a staff to cross the line between safety and high risk is, in my opinion, using a staff improperly.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a wuss on the river, but as you indicated in your message, you have to avoid crossing that line into high risk. Learning to use a staff properly is more then just picking up a stick and walking into the water. It's too easy to get a false sense of security and end up in a dangerous, life threatening situation.

I rate a wading staff as the second most important safety item to have with you when you wade. (Polaroid glasses are number one).

That's just one man's opinion.

12-01-2000, 11:02 AM
Wondering: How deep people consider the limit. Or, how high up is the water to your chest, in both static and moving water?


12-02-2000, 04:23 AM
For me in static water, within an inch or two of the top of my waders for traversing; about waist high or a little more for fishing. I don't like to hold my arms up in the air too long while I'm fishing.

In moving water, assuming a fair current, waist high plus for traversing; waist high for fishing.

A gentler current might allow me to push those limits some while a heavy current makes me tend to gear back a bit.

12-02-2000, 10:17 AM
I understand that we are talking about river wading. However, I think an issue that comes up for me when fishing the salt is somewhat pertinent here.

In an attempt to reach breaking fish I quite typically inch forward into deeper and deeper water; most of the time, I'm not even aware I'm doing this. Eventually I arrive at a point of diminishing returns -- that is, a point where I lose casting form and leverage on the rod, and distance starts to suffer. I find I can actually get the fly further out by backing up a few feet thereby increasing the percentage of my body that is above the water's surface. The margin for this point is pretty narrow. One or two inches is all it takes.

For me, the point of casting melt down is right at my belly button. I'm 5' 9" with very short legs (29" inseem). I imagine taller fishers have a significant advantage here, especially if they have long legs. (Perhaps this explains the extraordinary fish catching abilities of the Estey brothers ;)

My point here is that sometimes wading deep is actually the wrong thing to do regardless of any safety issues. This doesn't take into account such problems as room to back cast, but it is something to keep in mind on big water with open space.

Willie Gunn
02-22-2001, 02:54 PM
I am a Scottish fisherman usually fish the Spey which is the fastest flowing river in Britain. I always use a wading stick traditionaly made by the Ghillie. Harness, rubber foot heavily weighted with lead.

Designed so when you let it go iy lies flat so it doesn't catch your line.

Disadvantages weight

Advantages Allows deep wading in heavy water to cover salmon which are normally out of reach.

How deep do I wade ? Till I can cover as many fish as possible, yes I do wear a life jacket.

02-22-2001, 09:18 PM
Willie -

Interesting to learn about the lead weighting of the staff on the Spey... is it weighted just in the rubber foot or throughout the staff? I see how weighting the staff allows it to behave more in the current.

Staff handling while fishing was always a little bit of a nuisance for me, but Tyler Kushnir of British Columbia showed me a pretty neat trick. The staff is on a tether rope, attached to the belt. The rope is set to a length such that the staff can be thrown over the shoulder, hanging behind you neatly and out of the way. To continue wading, simply pull the staff to the front using the rope attached to the belt.

Willie Gunn
02-23-2001, 01:22 PM
Hi Juro.

I didn't explain myself very well did I. The bottom six inches of the staff is enclosed in PVC pipe (as a plumber would use ) lead is then poured in to the space then the rubber foot is pushed over the end.

Does that make sense to you I know what I mean I hope it sense.

02-24-2001, 08:25 PM
Willie -

I appreciate the clarification. The pvc/lead must really give the staff a stationary foot when not in use. It's a good idea and something I plan to try.

Any good ideas from the land that brought single malts, Spey casting, and golf to the world is OK by me!


BTW - I would love to post some images of the famous Spey... do you have any I could put up on the site?

Willie Gunn
02-25-2001, 07:01 AM
Plenty pictures but no Scanner as yet as soon as I get access to one I'll get in touch.

John Desjardins
04-25-2001, 11:27 AM
I'm bringing this thread back to the top of the list because yesterday the front page of my local paper had pictures of the rescue of a person who fell into the Nashua river. Which got me to thinking of wading safety.

Then today I receieved an E-mail of the new material on the Fish and Fly web site. One of the new items is directions for making a telescoping wading staff. The Url is http://www.fishandfly.co.uk/tledit0401.html.
Has anyone made their own telescoping wading staff?

04-25-2001, 12:28 PM
Back in the 70's my Scouts gave me a staff made from a sweet birch (red birch) sapling. It's as tall as my shoulder and has a top knob shaped like the totems on Easter Island. It's very sturdy yet sensitive and flexible enough to allow me to "feel" through it. Granted, it was presented to accompany me on hiking trips, but it's served me very well on many fresh water trips since.

If anyone so chooses, making one mandates the length be at least the height of your shoulder. You may choose to go longer. Allow the staff to dry in indirect sun or dry shaded areas, so as not to warp or crack. Waterproofing and embellishment/decoration are your choice.

Mine also serves me very well as a multi-use camping implement. Your mileage may vary.