Wetting Your Pants

Wetting Your Pants

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French, Betsey

I’m out on a beautiful river, on a beautiful day, with beautiful trout. As the sun sinks low, I look over the river in search of an easy way to wade across without getting myself in trouble or falling in. It's not that I'm clumsy—I just don't pay attention to where I'm wading while casting to rising fish. And at the end of the day, I am slightly weary from staring at the water. I hurry to get back across to my rig and a cooler full of icy libations—and that’s when I slip and fall in.

The question is, what do you do if you fill your waders full of water? First of all, you should always wear a wading belt of some sort. Most waders are sold with a wading belt in the box—use this belt! It will help keep your waders from filling into your feet so only the top half of your body gets wet. Any type of belt will do, whether it’s a rope, nylon belt, fancy web or simple neoprene belt—pick one.

However, if you inadvertently left your belt at home or in the back of your buddy’s car and you do fall in and fill your waders, don't panic—even though it's hard not to do with the icy river flowing in. Don't try to stand if you’re in the middle of the river, as the current will only push you back down.

Hang onto your fly rod and try to swing your feet down-river so you can push off any oncoming rocks and float. Using your arms, back-paddle towards shore, and as you get closer, gently toss your rod to the bank and ease your body to a spot where you can rest to assess any damage. How you dump your waders out is your choice. I always pack extra clothes in my fishing bag just in case I do fall in.

Another simple gadget is a wading staff of some kind—you can purchase these at your local fly shop, or just grab a stout stick off the bank to help support yourself while wading. I’ve also purchased lightweight wading boots with good drainage. I might look like a clumsy dancer, but I can pick my foot up quicker to regain my balance. For an extra level of security, there are also fishing vests with flotation devices built into them.

Don't let vanity get the best of you—stop by Gallatin Riverguides in Big Sky and we’ll be happy to help you select some of these safe wading products and even swap some river plunge stories.

Betsey French owns Gallatin Riverguides in Big Sky. For more fishing tips, check out their website at montanaflyfishing.com.

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