Techy Thursday - The Simms Wading Staff, and why YOU need one
Wading staffs. Love them or hate them, you really should use them. They fold away to nothing and provide quick, on hand insurance, and confidence when you take those extra couple of steps into no-turning-back territory. From a safety aspect I always carry a couple in the truck and encourage clients to use them, not only instream, but as a walking aid down grassy banks and across uneven terrain. Assembled in seconds, those unfamiliar with the outdoors can now walk with certainty and avid anglers can feel their path while locking eyes on the stream.
As a first aid item, most obviously they can be used to take the weight off an injured ankle or in extreme circumstances the connecting bungy cord can be severed, and sections strapped to a limb as a sturdy, make shift splint. They can be used as a pole on an emergency shelter or poking awake your snoring mate at safe distance on overnighters. A poorly managed or designed wading staff can be a hindrance on stream, longer models getting caught around legs when not in use, or fouling your line on the cast, and some take a PHD and some dexterity to assemble. Some assemble a little too easily and come apart at inopportune times just as much so.
Alloy Wading Staff
Carbon Pro Wading Staff
Retractor & Rubber Tip
Simms wading staffs come in two models, the Alloy wading staff, and the Carbon Pro wading staff. Both fold conveniently into a slim, 21’ long neoprene sheath that slips away easily onto your wading belt or pack, and have the option of the additional retractor to ensure your staff remains attached to you when not in use, and can tow along behind you when casting. Trust me - buy the retractor. Slimmer than most on the market the 7075 aluminium staff offers solid, dependable construction whereas the Pro Staff offers less diameter, weight, vibration and water resistance in a high strength carbon shaft. Both offer convenient four piece construction and a dependable FastLock system, similar to touring-style ski poles, and are readily adjustable between 51 and 56 inches for a safer, more personalised fit.
The confidence, surety and safety a wading staff will add to your experience is well worth its inclusion in your kit. However a wading staff alone, despite their tremendous benefits won’t keep always you high and dry. What you wear, and how you wade completes the bigger picture, so here are a few tips:
- Choose clothing, waders and boots of a good fit, and employ a stud pattern that works for you.
- Stand with a wide base, with feet slightly wider than shoulder width. Bend the knees for stability and to lower your centre of gravity.
- Go with the flow, wading on a slightly downstream angle.
- Employ a long reach of the pole, grounding it securely. Use a series of short steps to walk past it.
- Go slow. Make sure your front foot is anchored before taking your weight of the back foot.
- Pick your path. Walk in-between the larger rocks, and not on top of them. And for god’s sake, don’t straddle them...
- Plan your exit point and stay on track to make it. Be aware of what’s below you and always have a plan B in case you end up down there. As a general rule, the tail of the pool is often the safest, shallowest place to cross.
- Don’t put your full weight on the stick. You want that on your feet anchoring you down. Use the stick as a third point of contact with the streambed so that your stick, and one foot is touching at all times. Reach forward, plant it. Walk past the stick. Plant both feet, then reposition stick.
- Never underestimate the depth, and flow of crystal clear water. If in doubt, don’t go. There will always be another crossing point or another hole to fish. Don’t take the risk.
Final thoughts from Rene:
A Simms retractable Wading Staff will get you places you couldn’t have got to before, i.e. that pool which you would have walked around or that run that you could only fish if you crossed the dangerous seam. All of the comp guys use them to get themselves into tricky spots. So they are not just a safety mechanism but are actually a great tool for a technical, young and fit angler.