If you are even just thinking about going to the North Branch or the Yawk or even the Potomac up by Harper’s Ferry… or even Big Hunting Creek or the Pedlar, or Owens… or … well… I could just go on.
I am amazed by those people whose sense of balance matches their leg strength to the point that they do not need help getting across a strong current. Or, have not had to do a panic balance dance as a boot slips on one of the bowling balls that passes for rocks in some of these places. My wading staff has saved my butt on more occasions that I care to think about. I’m careful when I walk. Even then, it only takes one mistep and you find yourself laying on the ground glad that your head just missed that nasty rock. These things are even more critical when you are wading across a strong current. I plant my staff on the downstream side and use it as a 4th leg (little bit of a joke there). I take care to make sure that I always have two points of contact – one foot and the staff – as I move carefully across the water. When both feet are planted, I move the staff and repeat the process.
Whenever I am in a rocky situation, I haul it along even though it is a hassle to fish with. I just tie mine to my vest or pack and let it hang when I cast. Everyone once in a while it gets in the way, but not enough to abandon carrying it.
I got these for about $20 bucks at Dick’s. No need to spend a fortune for the same thing at Orvis. As far as I can tell, the only thing that is different with the Orvis one is the tip.
If you can’t find a cheaper one, here’s a Wading Staff from Field and Stream that only costs $24 at the time I posted the link.
The one above looks exactly like the “emergency wading staff” from Orvis for $129. The Orvis one advertises a “carbide tip” I’m not sure what the cheap one above has, but it works. Orvis has some other models that start at $79.
Here is one I had to get when I fell on my collapsable one and could not find a replacement before I had to go fishing. It’s a hiking staff that is expandable. It was more expensive and does not collapse to fit in a belt holster like the other one. Sexier looking, but that’s about it although I bet the basket might come in handy if the bottom of the streambed was muddy.
Bottom line: Regardless of which type you get and what you spend, do spend something or just haul around a strong stick. You need something like this in any rocky or high current situation.
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore