Angling Fitness Part 3---The Sled Drag

Angling Fitness Part 3---The Sled Drag

Andy Dear | Monday, 31 January 2022

"Let me tell you a couple of reasons why I have loved to wade fish all these years---it's the greatest way in the world to stay to stay in good physical condition and have fun while you're doing it! Hours of wading in shallow, boggy, grassy water will build strong legs and back. At eighty I am still in great physical shape, and I attribute it all to wade fishing."
---Rudy Grigar from his book Plugger

 Back in April of 2020, I wrote a Front Page detailing the exploits of the legendary Texas fisherman Rudy "Plugger" Grigar. Rudy became quite the icon down here in Texas, and later in Louisiana for his exploits as a hardcore artificial lure enthusiast (no live bait allowed), who relentlessly pursued his quarry almost solely on foot.

  Rudy almost singlehandedly built the mold for the modern-day light tackle saltwater fisherman, who chases Redfish and Speckled Trout. He was a dyed in the wool artificial lure enthusiast who preferred wading as his primary tactic to get close to large schools of fish in shallow water. His influence can still be felt and seen today by the large numbers of fisherman on the Gulf Coast who still prefer to wade when the bottom conditions allow it.

  Back in the '90s, long before I had a kayak or even a boat, I spent many MANY days wading much of the central Texas coast from dirt roads that dead-ended into the shoreline of a remote bay. It was a valuable experience not only from the standpoint of learning how to stalk fish but also because of the conditioning benefits that it had to offer. In fact, the physical conditioning benefits of wading are so immense, Rudy alluded to them in his famous book "Plugger". Rudy felt that his years of wade fishing in strong tidal current was one of the big reasons for his overall health well into his 70's. I honestly think he has a valid point because during those years I was wading almost exclusively, I was in excellent physical condition, with better than average stamina while running long distances....much of which I attribute to wading the coastal flats. And of course the freshwater fisherman also benefits from wading in an equal capacity, and in some cases even more so. Many of the rivers and streams provide far more resistance from current than do the relatively tamer coastal waters.

  While contemplating some ideas for this series on angling fitness, I began to research some specific exercises that mimic the conditions in which we fish. Hopefully, the end result being that not only can we interact more safely and efficiently in our angling pursuits in our current environment, but also hopefully develop a level of strength and stamina that allows us like Rudy, to do so well into our 50s, 60s, and 70s.

  Several months ago I stumbled across an exercise that many high-performance athletes have been doing for some time known as sled dragging. The name pretty much says it all, but essentially a "sled" loaded with weight is either drug or pushed (depending on the type of sled) by the athlete. It is an EXCELLENT low impact, compound movement that develops strength in the lower body, plus endurance and aerobic capacity all at once,....PERFECT FOR THE WADE FISHERMAN. Although there are many commercially made sleds, specifically designed for holding Olympic-style weight plates, there are several ways to make one for next to nothing with a little ingenuity and a few tools.

  True to my new Sexyloops name, we say in Texas "redneck Engineered" a sled from an old defunct wheelbarrow and a heavy duty tow strap that the hook ends had rusted off of. A picture of my sled can be seen in the above post.  I have also seen them built from old tires as well, which also seem to work very well. I added a heavy duty eyelet that costs less than $5 from the local hardware store...DONE. The sled can be loaded with traditional plates, sand bags, gravel, rocks, or like in the picture with cinder blocks. Believe me when I tell you that a 50-100 meter drag with one of these will KICK YOUR BUTT! And because the weight is so easily manipulated it is a great exercise for all people of ages, genders and fitness levels. They can be used while walking or running, and, if you are really brave, reverse the straps on and walk backward for reverse sled drags!

The video below is an excellent introduction into the strength and conditioning benefits of sled dragging.

   Jack and I have started including sled drags in our weekly rotation, and I can already tell a difference not only in my leg strength but have also seen an improvement in whatever minor joint pain (in knees and ankles) I may have had as well.

  If you're looking to up your wading game, give these a try. In no time you'll find yourself wading longer and farther than ever before!

Hope your all having a great week,