Wading Safety

On February 11, 2014
Comments (8)

I almost got in serious trouble on one of the first times I wore waders while fishing. I had no experience in waders and didn’t have a clue about the possible dangers waders can present. I waded a bit too deeply over a gravel-bottom river. My feet gave way, my feet were swept from under me and I started getting carried downstream. Water started penetrating my waders, feet quickly felt wet, and then things felt heavy. While I had a fair amount of experience in water and some extreme sports, this was quite possibly one of the scariest things I have experienced. After some struggle I got my feet back underneath me and was able to walk back to shore, where I took my waders off and let the 30lbs of water out. I was lucky.
A few minutes ago I read the tragic news of an angler in Alabama dying when he walked into a drop-off in a lake and his waders filled up with water. Tragic. It brought back vivid memories of struggling with my waders as they filled with water.
In November, I wrote a post on whether to “wade up or not“,or when to wear waders. As I introduce many new people to fly-fishing, I think it is also my responsibility to share good wading practices and help keep you safe. Wading is not by definition dangerous, but there are risks we all need to be very aware of before getting in the water. There will be a time when you will slide, or fall, or walk off the deep end. What do you do then?
The 5 videos below may be old, but they are the best resource I have seen about wading safety.
In addition, please read this article by Ralph Cutter on wading safety.


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8 Responses to Wading Safety

  1. Tom Davis says:

    Very nice reminder. Thanks Daniel.

  2. Stephen says:

    One of the most effective techniques to use when fishing for trout in small streams, is to stay out of the water. Long tenkara rods make this easier.

  3. Super post Daniel with simple effective tips to make our day on the river all the more enjoyable.

    I would suggest river fly fishing one of the most extreme environments along side mountaineering that we put ourselves in. The annual statistics in the UK bare this out in terms of injuries and deaths associated with immersion accidents in rivers.

    Tight lines, safe wading and happy tenkara.


    PS. may I link to this page on my website please?

  4. Timmy! says:

    Phil, “I would suggest river fly fishing one of the most extreme environments along side mountaineering that we put ourselves in.”
    Sounds fun but, Im 63 and losing mobility in my knees and back! My advice, don’t get old!!!

  5. David says:

    Good post. Great tips. It’s always a good thing to review safety tips periodically. The rule of 8 in the linked article would be a good one to remember.

    From my own wading experiences I know water that doesn’t look very swift is still powerful. And water is often deeper than it appears. I’ve stepped into a lot of holes I judged only to be a few inches deeper than where I was standing, only to find out it was 18 inches deeper. When I told a friend I had purchased a pair of Chota Hippies, his reply was that he almost drowned once after falling while wearing hip waders, and would never wade in them again. The precautions apply to them too.

    All of the videos appeared to have been filmed on warm air days. While hypothermia was mentioned in the last video there was no recommendation made to pack along dry clothing in your car. I always keep a backpack with pants, shirt, socks, and a towel in the back of my car. There are several post on the forum, or on other blogs of people wading and fishing on days with snow on the ground and air temperature below freezing. Dry clothes and a warm vehicle could be a life saver should you become wet on such a day.

    A year of so back Chris Stewart made a blog post about falling and getting soaked in the winter. On the forum, look for the post titled, Cold Water Warm Day Lucky to Be Alive. It has a link to a video posted on Youtube by Arson. Titled “Close to Dead”. He wasn’t wading, he and a friend became soaked after their kayak became swamped by a weather front while crossing a lake. And they were near shore when they got wet. A first hand encounter with hypothermia. Getting safely out of the water after a fall is only the first step.

    On the lighter side. There is the story of the guy who fell in the water while wearing waders, only to find along with water his waders also collected one fish and one snake. The snake biting him several times on the body bit he sits on. He wasn’t wearing a belt. A waist belt can keep out more than water. 😉

  6. […] particularly in new and unknown waters.  Daniel Galhardo recently put together an article on tips and techniques for wading safely. Make sure to check them out on Tenkara […]

  7. […] safety videos by Simms Simms has a five video series on wading safely produced by Simms. Each video is around five minutes. I […]

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