Waders of the lost art

New to wading?  If you’re leaving the safety of the riverbank for the first time, here’s how to do so safely and in a way that won’t spook either the fish or your fellow anglers.  

Read on for our brief guide to the art of wading.


Stay safe whilst you wade
Source: Rods on Rivers

For safety’s sake, you’ll need a belt to keep water out of your waders, a staff for balance and to test the ground ahead, and an inflatable wading jacket.  A whistle on a lanyard worn around your neck will give you the means to raise the alarm should you need to.  Only leave the bank when you’re fully equipped.

The buddy system works.  Where possible always fish with a friend or at least make sure someone knows where you’re going and when you’ll be back.  That way if you have a problem, there’ll be someone to get help.



Remember: There’s safety in numbers
Source: Papa Bear Outdoors

Examine the conditions very carefully before you enter the water and while you’re wading.  Scout out your route before you make a move and always work out how you’re going to get back to the bank. An easy wade downstream in a fast flowing current may be almost impossible to navigate in the opposite direction.

Without seeming to tempt fate, plan ahead for falling in.  If you do take a swim, lie on your back with your feet in front of you.  Bend your knees to trap air in the bottom of your waders and float feet first so you can fend off obstacles.  Backstroke to your planned point of exit.

First steps


If the water looks unsafe, stay away
Source: Zastavkis

The location for your initial foray from the bank should offer easy wading.  As you enter the water, use your staff to test the ground ahead of you.  Keep your feet widely spaced and your body sideways to the current.  Give yourself plenty of time to get to where you’re going.  Shuffle rather than stride.

Plant your staff upstream and lean your body in the same direction.  Move forward and sideways, preferably moving slightly downstream.  To move backwards – if you can – turn around before doing so.

To move to a new mark, it’s usually best to leave the water, walk along the bank and then re-enter the river close to the new fishing location.

Wade within the limitations of your experience and physical ability.  Conserve energy and make sure you’re warm enough for the conditions and water temperature.



Put your safety above all else
Source: Fly Rod Reel

If you do get swept off your feet, your safety comes first.  If you can, shove the butt of your rod down the front of your waders or into your belt.  But don’t die for the sake of saving your fishing tackle – always put yourself first.

Do take some dry clothes.  At least that way, if you take a dunking it doesn’t mean the end of your day’s fishing.

Wader belt
Assess conditions
Develop a plan
Execute with caution
Retreat if necessary