Viking Lars | Saturday, 18 June 2022

The week before last, in Norway, where I began speculating about the line-management-issue, I was also thinking a little about wading. Wading is something you need to get used to, no where you do it. I clearly remember the feeling of the water pressure the first I waded thigh-deep. The. There’s the issue of avoiding slipping and falling.

Many places has easy wading. Along the Danish shores you can wade sandy shorelines many places, or long stretches of gravel bottom. That’s quite straight forward and very pleasant. In other places you’ll be wading on rocks, from the size of a handball and up. And they are *always* slippery.

Wading rivers can involve the exact same conditions as above, but with the added challenge of a current. The current is of course more challenging the faster it is and the deeper you wade. In most subjects concerning fly fishing, it’s difficult to pass on advice in writing and never is it better than fishing with someone experienced. But when it comes to wading, there are some “principles” I can pass on, which are simple about to follow if you’re new to it.

In general (and applicable to stillwater):

  • Don’t wade out further than you’re comfortable with.
  • Pay attention to changes in water level (tides or a rising river).
  • Look where you’re going - surprisingly many just press forwards.
  • If conditions are difficult, make sure you have a secure footing before taking the next step. A secure footing means full contact with the bottom.
  • If the water is murky, go slow and feel your way forwards with your feet.

In a river, the current adds a few challenges, which can be negotiated by remembering a few pieces of advice:

  • if the current is strong, avoid turning the side of your feet to it, if it can be avoided. Most are surprised with how insecure footing and stepping get. The fast river exerts a significant pressure, when you “broad side” it.
  • To avoid the above, keep your heels directly upstream, your toes downstream. It makes a noticeable difference.
  • If possible, avoid wading upstream.
  • Never, ever move your second foot before ensuring full contact with the first.
  • NEVER ever cross your legs or feet.
  • Never wedge your feet between rocks, even if it can be tempting. It can make the next step dangerous.
  • When stepping, keep the feet behind and next to each other, so to speak. What I mean is, when taking a step forward, don’t put your foot in front of the other. Small steps, in other words.

Aids (more gear):

  • Choose appropriate foot wear, whether in waders or wet wading. I like fairly high boots with good ankle support. Comfort and fit is important. The soles material is generally a choice between felt and rubber. Felt is excellent on slippery rocks for a while. Then it compresses and clogs up with dirt and grime and becomes slippery in itself. Felt is hopeless if you need to walk over fields with grass or up and down banks. I prefer rubber and I choose Vibram soles if possible - they are excellent in my experience. Both felt and rubber soles can be equipped with cleats, if the boot is prepared for it. They really provide a lot of extra grip, but they are noisy. Whether you think that spooks fish or not, is mainly a matter of belief. I know several who use them and catch more fish than me. Beware that rubber needs breaking in. A few miles on a asphalt road is perfect.
  • A wading staff provides an extra level of security. It can support you and you can use it to feel your way forwards.
  • Wear polaroids, so you can se where your going.

And take care, if you’re unsure, don’t do it. Getting washed downstream is dangerous and no fun at all. I hope at least some of this advice is good.

Have a great weekend!