While fishing the Arkansas River last week, I tried out the Simms Wading Staff. Although the flows were not particularly high, the rocky bottom of the Ark was slick and, characteristic of the river, had its unexpected holes and drop-offs. In short, I was glad I had the Wading Staff.
The Simms Wading Staff is a sectional pole held together with a braided cable. The sections snap together relatively easily, but it is important to put it together before beginning to wade. It takes two hands to get it in place, and I wouldn’t have wanted to be trying to do that while in the middle of the river, holding my rod, and steadying myself in a fast current or high flow.
The Wading Staff comes in a neoprene sleeve that slides on to your wading belt. The retractable connecting piece on the sleeve clasps on to the nylon wrist strap on the handle of the Staff. This pretty much assures that with the strap and connection, you will not lose the Staff as you fish while navigating across the river. I kept it on the downstream side of me at all times – when I was standing or wading – so that the current wouldn’t sweep it between my legs. When you are fishing, the Staff hangs by your side which can be a little distracting at first as it vibrates with the flowing river. It wasn’t so distracting, though, that it interfered with landing a nice 16” rainbow hiding out under a downed tree against the bank. Just sayin’.
Simms’ website for the Wading Staff mentions that it is not intended to support your full weight. It’s a tool to steady your self. Just like a three-legged stool is steady, I found this “third-leg” to give me extra confidence as I waded. Due to a knee surgery several years ago, my right leg does not always bend the way that God intended it to work. Combine that with an uneven river bottom, slick rocks, and constant pressure on my legs from the current and there are times when I need a little extra help with balance and movement. The Wading Staff provided that.
The real proof for me of the value of the Wading Staff was when we drove to a different location on the river. I took the sleeve and Staff off before I drove to the next hole and decided to head to the river without it -- "we'll only fish for a little bit." When I stepped into the Ark, I almost immediately regretted not taking it with me! I slipped and slid my way to a nice hole – but it was an unsteady, balance-testing, somewhat tiring wade. (Not so tiring, though, that it prevented me from catching a nice brown on #18 BWO. Just sayin’.)
If you find yourself wishing you had a bit better footing or better balance when wading, or maybe your knees don’t bend quite as flexibly as they once did, you might check out the benefits of fishing with a Simms Wading Staff. It’s not one of those fancy gadgets we like to take along, but it can make your experience on the river a bit more comfortable and confident.
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