Wading is an essential part of fly-fishing, and can be an extremely dangerous activity if not undertaken with utmost attention and caution. Experienced fly-fisherman become proficient in the ways of a river and how to deal with its varying speeds and depths. Amateurs should never enter a swift current without first taking lessons on the process, learning the appropriate ways to read water, and ensuring they have the proper safety equipment. The methods for wading in fast water can vary based on speed of the current, depth, width of the river or stream and ability of the fly-fisherman.
The first thing to do before entering swift water is to identify an out, or point of exit from the water. In any circumstance whwere the fly-fisherman must escape from the body of water (due to rising water levels or changes in weather) it is imperative that there is no confusion over this point of exit. Having a defined route to a safe point on the bank will ensure a collected retreat if an unexpected situation arises. Experienced fly-fisherman learn the ebbs and flows of a river to the extent that they can identify safe spots within the body of water itself. For amateurs, finding a clear path to dry land is the preferred practice.
Once an exit point has been identified and all equipment is in tow, wading can begin. When entering swift water, it may help to carry a wading pole, such as a sturdy long stick, to help stabilize against the rushing current. Establishing some stationary points along the banks of the river, such as roots or large stones, can help to aid in the identification of rising water. Rising water will often be accompanied by a change in sound of the rushing current, as well as an increase in debris from points upstream that have been impacted by an increase in flow. Identifying characteristics of a river or stream that is rising should give the angler adequate time to exit before they are overcome. In the instance the water is completely overwhelming, the first thing an angler should do is ditch any and all gear that might prohibit them from moving freely. The price of a fly-fishing rod is certainly not worth the risk involved in protecting it above one’s safety.
Wading through fast waters can be very enjoyable and often yields a good catch. Fast, surging water stirs up food that will be attractive to any fish in the stream. Anglers searching for depeer water where the fish may congregate can use a swift current to quickly navigate while moving downstream. Swimming with the current, diagonally across a body of water, is a quick way to change locations. Depending on slippery rocks as a means of footing becomes increasingly dangerous as the depth of a river increases, making it safer to swim with the current. Once a new destination has been reached, the fly-fisherman can regain footing in the shallow wading waters they prefer to fish.
Swimming with the current brings the potential for being carried downstream farther than anticipated. It is imperative, as with all other aspects of wading in swift water, to stay calm and simply stop at the next feasible low water point. In the instance a fly-fisherman is swept away, the safest means of travel is to roll over and be sure the head stays above water. Tucking knees to the chest ensures that no rocks or large obstructions become tangled in the gear or clothing, which could strand an angler in the middle of a body of rushing water. Wading through fast water is extremely effective when practiced safely, but has the potential for a number of threatening scenarios. Experience and common sense are invaluable to the fly-fisherman in search of a big catch in aggressive water.