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.