I get heaps of Fly Fishing magazines, and in the last couple of weeks I have read 3 articles about wading safety.
The one that hit home the hardest emphasized that it is not a sign of weakness to carry and USE a wading staff. The author reminisced about his youthful daring and that he considered using a wading staff almost as if he were using a cane. But he had come to realize that moving water and slippery rocks make for dangerous conditions and that it was actually SMART to carry and USE a wading staff.
You can make any sturdy pole useful as a wading staff. If you are lucky enough to find an appropriate fallen branch on your way to the river - you are set. But it makes more sense to bring your own. A used ski pole with the basket removed is a very inexpensive option. You can even attach a rubber tip if you like. And you can tether it to your wading belt with just about any cord you like. Of course, you can also buy a collapsible wading staff - they cost between $40 and $160 - and they often come with a pouch and tether to make them easily transportable.
But the main point here is to think ahead about how to safely go about your day of fly fishing.
It is always BEST to wade and fish with at least one other person. If one of you should be unfortunate enough to get hurt the other can help or go get help. And if it's YOU that gets hurt - the other person can help or go get help for YOU.
Handheld GPS units can assist you in finding fish and can help you find your way home. A flashlight is especially helpful after sundown. And if you get separated from your fishing buddy it might be a good idea if you both had a hand held two way radio (walkie-talkie) to keep in touch - especially if one of you gets lost or, God forbid, hurt.
Flycasters is going to Manzanita Lake next week and many members will be using a float tube, kayak, canoe, or pontoon boat. The park insists each person using any watercraft whatever have on a PFD - Personal Floatation Device - and for good reason. It simply makes good safety sense to give yourself the advantage of added floatation if you find yourself in trouble on the lake. And this is true no matter what body of water you fish.
Few of us anticipate a chain of events which could lead to trouble - but it is SMART to prepare yourself for the unforeseen.
We want everyone to have a good time and come home safely.
Wade Goertz, Seminars
(Photo courtesy of Fly Fisherman Magazine)