USE A STAFF
a. A staff does several things for the angler. One, it saves energy by assisting the angler’s balance and positioning. The angler can rely somewhat on the staff for support taking the stress off the body. The staff also reminds the angler to stand upright decreasing the tendency to fall forward. Finally, a staff will give the angler more confidence allowing him to maneuver to better fishing spots.
b. Wood staffs are quiet and structurally sound. Have them customized to your height and rip position.
KEEP THE STAFF IN THE UPSTREAM POSITION.
a. This suggestion is simple physics. Equal and opposite reaction. Keep in mind the staff is there to “assist” the angler… not do the work for the angler. The soundest structures in the water are still the angler. Our two legs, core strength and balance do the majority of the work: the staff is there for minimal support. Placing the staff upstream against the current and our feet downstream allows for our strongest asset (the leg) to take the majority of the force applied to the body by the water. The staff upstream gives the angler a third point of contact increasing the base of support. An added benefit. A wider base of support is more secure and balanced. Placing the staff downstream from the current would put the majority of force on the weakest component in the water, the staff.
ALWAYS KEEP TWO POINTS OF CONTACT ON THE STREAM BOTTOM.
a. Two points of contact increase the angler’s base of support. Try if you like to stand on one foot out of the water. Most people cannot do this for more than a few seconds. Adding the element of rushing water while standing on one leg is sizably more challenging. Every time the angler takes a step. One leg leaves the ground and the other leg holds the position. Essentially the angler is standing on one leg for a few seconds with every step. Utilizing a wading staff allow the angler to keep two points of contact on the bream bottom increasing the angler’s balance and safety.
KEEP THE KNEES IN A BENT POSITION.
a. Bending the knees is something I teach in fitness and fly fishing classes. Unlocking the knees shifts the center of gravity of the body, down. The center of gravity is the area of the body that outside forces act upon. If you think a woman in high heels, her center of gravity is elevated and pushed a bit forward. A force may easily knock her over. If she were to take the heels off and bend the knees lowering her center of gravity to the abdominals and pelvic area, it would be more challenging to displace her stance. A lower center of gravity is more stable and less likely to be affected by oncoming forces such as rushing water.
b. By utilizing this technique the muscles of the legs, pelvis and core take over the architecture (joints and bones) of the body enacting what muscular system is designed to do. Our muscles are like good shocks n a car. They absorb impact and concussion and protect the structure. The muscular system is responsible for balance as well by stabilizing the spine (the core. Allowing the muscles to do the work rather than the joints, body can adapt quicker to sudden movements, protect joint structures from injury and recover faster during unstable situations.
IN HEAVY CURRENT CROSSINGS - FACE THE CURRENT WITH KNEES BENT AND STAFF UPSTREAM.
a. Again all basic physics. Heavy currents require more work, therefore, combining techniques such as lowering the center of gravity (bending the knees) an placing the staff upstream to allow the legs to do the work and increasing the angler’s base of support has been discussed above.
NEVER CROSS YOUR FEET
a. We do not walk this way on a normal, stable surface. It is neither wise nor beneficial to do this in the water.
WHEN WADING KNEE DEEP OR SHALLOWER WATER UPSTREAM - PICK YOUR FEET UP OUT OF THE WATER WHILE USING THE STAFF AS A THIRD POINT OF CONTACT. DON'T PUSH AGAINST SHIN DEEP WATER - STEP OVER IT.
a. Basically, this is an energy saver and fatigue fighter. Why add additional work? Pushing against water all day long when necessary is hard enough. Why do it when it is not necessary? Picking the feet up out of the water will save work and save the angler from ‘rubber leg” syndrome. If the angler wastes energy kicking through water, he or she is utilizing energy necessary for casting and sustaining the day.
b. The staff in hand will keep the second point of contact for the angler as he/she lifts the leg to take the next step forward. Enhancing balance.
WHEN WADING DOWNSTREAM LET THE STAFF LEAD THE WAY. PLANT THE STAFF - THEN TAKE A STEP.
a. This concept is a tough one to get into the brain. But application of principles is where theories are proven.
b. Momentum (the angler) and force (the water) are all moving forward. The center of gravity in this case must stay between the anglers stance. What this means is if the angler uses a staff, the staff should plant somewhere secure in front of the angler before moving a leg forward. Two points of contact maintained at all times and a wide base of support formed as the angler moves. [Note: Shifting the body weight back against the current as the momentum moves forward will actually cause the center of gravity to shift back outside the base of support, lessening the stability.]
WHEN WADING UPSTREAM ALTERNATE. STEP-STAFF-STEP
a. Although more physically challenging, wadding upstream is easier simply because it follows the laws of physics. The angler is pushing the momentum against the current. Using the leg first, securing their base then moving the staff is a more secure ambulatory position.
WHEN WADING ACROSS STREAM WITH STRONG CURRENT. PLANT THE STAFF THEN SHUFFLE (SIDE STEP)
a. Facing the current and side stepping (with knees bent of course) allows for a wide base for support, a lower center of gravity and equal force on both legs rather than only one sided. The angler has a better advantage against really strong current facing it head on.
WADING WIDE EXPANSES OF RIVERS
a. Wading a large expanse of water can sometimes result in vertigo. If this happens find an object on the shore, such as a tree, and concentrate on that object as you wade. Also if you wade a wide expanse of water, identify an object on each bank as landmarks. This will provide a wading lane or directions as you return to shore.