Wading stick for tenkara

Hangs with you on a retractor down on the side.

Wrap a few times tight!

A smaller diameter CF pole?

Read Dr. Tom’s article.

Some great wading staff ideas in the Teton article. I particularly liked the ideas of tape at knee level to test water depth, using the staff to dislodge snagged flies, and the placement of the Paracord. Will incorporate these ideas.

I use a stripe of black paint at knee depth but that is just me liking to paint.

I may pick one of these up for a wading stick, looks like it would be great for it and the survival options would be nice.


I made mine. It’s fun to make your gear. I think it’s a part of being a tenkara angler, to customize or myog.

It’s such a personal style of fishing.

But if I wanted a premade something or other like the staff you present, I would buy it and adapt it to my needs.

For someone wanting a good aluminum dual purpose wading staff - trekking poles I mentioned previously…

I have 50 trips over 18 months using one of the two High Stream Gear Foldable (and telescoping) Trekking Poles from Amazon I bought for $35 (now $47) including two belt pouches and rubber tips (or $24 each for a wading staff and a spare). I think that’s a good value.
edit -

The collapsible sections of these poles have a push-button that locks them into place so they can’t come apart.
Here’s a pic of my wading belt

I recently replaced the original worn-out velcro keeper that ties the collapsed pole sections together with a piece of reflective shock cord I had lying around.
I added some red tape to show the water level at knee height.
I use a “Gear Keeper” wading staff retractor pinned to the pouch that keeps the staff in easy reach.
I lash a Pedco Ultrapod tripod to the staff when I need a hook for retrieving my tree decorations.

However if anyone is looking for a Premium Wading Staff a Washington Fly Fishing forum member is selling Custom-machined Wading Staffs. They’re expensive - $95 each plus shipping and I haven’t personally seen one but Steelheaders fishing big rivers in high winter water conditions are very impressed with them.


Brian, thank you very much, interesting story, good sticks for trekking.

Highly recommend a wading staff. Also highly recommend a very, very strong one. I once got my boot stuck in knee deep water after it slid down and back, wedging between two large rocks (with another in front, which is what trapped it). Had to use my wading staff to pry it out. I don’t think an aluminum or carbon fiber trekking pole would have been strong enough. It took 20 minutes and a lot of force to free the boot.


Wow Chris. Glad you had a staff to get your boot free.
I got a new collapsible wading staff that I have not used yet. I might regret the purchase, as the sections are not super tight and I can see it coming apart manoeuvring through streams.
I like the idea of a collapsible staff that actually locks into place. Might have to research those options. Might look at hiking poles that collapse and modify from there.

I’ve used many non wood lightweight “balance” poles and that’s all they are.

I completely understand now why they used this type of staff early on…

This a very dangerous situation and there are ways of avoiding it from happening.

I fish in the heavy surf of the ocean. The heavier surf the better. Getting ones leg pinned in this way can have deadly circumstances, especially on an incoming tide. It could also result with a broken ankle or leg when the force of the surf his heavy enough.

So, below are some rules of thumb to learn to prevent feet getting trapped in water that may be unfamiliar. The same rules apply when climbing rocks. Wet or dry…same or similar rules. The water is a dangerous area. Consider it the same as if you were picking footholds along the edge of a cliff. Like a the edge of the cliff…water can easily snuff you out.

  1. feel around with your leading foot and choose a path of flat rocks
  2. Test all standing rocks for stability…be cautions on tilting/rocking ones
  3. Never put your foot in the V between two rocks.
  4. Avoid placing a foot between any rocks
  5. If possible, take alternate routes than rock piles. Not just any rockpiles but like Chris describes the size of rocks that one might be just about turn over with a lever. Small rocks…not as much of a worry…boulders…less of a worry. But the 40 -150# rocks tend to be foot trappers. They can shift easily and even more so in the water than on dry land.
  6. Consider what you are doing and if the risk is worth the reward…especially if you are alone.

I dont use a wading stick.
Wading tips in heavy current without a stick.

  1. always face yourself up current
  2. keep your legs bent and spread out like a surfer… lead leg up current, rear leg behind for support.
  3. Never put two feet close together- it is easier to get pushed over in current
  4. Avoid having a leg between rocks and all the rules above.
  5. Use your water reading skills to find paths through slow or soft water

The same apply with a stick.


Thanks Gressak for the great tips and advice.
I was surprised, despite all the talk about the dangers of wading, that you stated you don’t use a wading stick. Can you expand on the rationale for not using one.
The unfortunate things about wading is that accidents happen, even for highly experienced waders.

A wading staff does create a tripod with the legs that is much more stable than a bipod.
In addition to Gressak’s heavy current tips:

  • In tricky wading conditions when using a wading staff, it’s important to keep two of the three tripod legs in contact with the river bottom at all times.
  • Don’t cross your legs. Instead shuffle one foot forward or sideways at a time; closer together, then apart. The staff helps prevent the problem mentioned by #3.
  • Different Orvis articles advocate moving upstream and downstream. In stronger current I tend to wade at an upstream angle to prevent the current from buckling my legs, but will wade at a downstream angle in softer water.

You hit the nail on the head with your last line.

Most of the reason why I do not carry a wading stick is that I consider an additional burden and largely unnecessary. Accidents can and do happen, but I think they happen most to the inexperienced or might happen with or without a wading stick. There is also the condition where one can be overconfident with a wading staff and…you could find yourself in trouble quick. If you do not have the skill to cross without one, you should not cross. In my mind it should be an aid not a crutch.

If water is running so hard I feel I need a wading staff, I might consider crossing at a different location or finding a branch in the woods. Also, I might not cross at all.

My footing and balance is pretty good. My training is surfcasting in the ocean. We swim out to rocks in the surfline and sometimes when the surf is up we get pounded by waves. Sometimes the rocks are uneven and really difficult to stand on without getting knocked off. Even with skill…dumb crap can happen: follow this link… Medic! - #9 by dwalker
In that case my surfrod can act as a wading stick. It is like a 11’ pool cue. Yet, it did not help because, that is the nature of an accident. A wading staff is not a safety device. If you want one of those, wear a pfd.

When I fish for trout, I limit my wading. I fish from soft water or the edges. I do not believe in excessive wading especially in deep fast moving water. I feel if you are in the water, you are reducing your stealth, and unless the water you are fishing is fast moving you are probably transmitting your presence. If I do wade, the water is often a foot or two deep and not really a danger for me, even if it is cookin.

If I limit my wading, then I limit my need for a wading stick.

This is not to say they are not useful, nor does it mean there are not conditions that having one might be helpful. Tom Davis uses one and it seems the nature of his water requires a lot of wading around in fast water. I have fished plenty of fast water that I have navigated without a staff. Water that had no shoulder to fish from. I have never felt the need and most of the guys I fish with also do fine without them.

I think the take away is to be safe even with a wading staff. Dont cross water that you do not feel you could without a staff. Practice good footing techniques.


Very good advice… on this topic it appears that the best advice is the similar to the advice on improving casting, and reading water… practice and experience… lots.
I also don’t use a wading staff.

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Great discussion and some solid points from both sides.
I have been fishing for numerous years without a staff. There have been some near misses where I almost fell. A buddy of mine had a bad spill where he damaged his rod and his shoulder, and has been struggling with casting after. I am now considering bringing along a collapsible staff. This has all led me to think that the burden of carrying a staff is minor compared to the the risk of injury. If I got so injured that it impacted my ability to fish, I would feel very regretful for not having one on me.

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I think that is a good idea. If a wading staff helps an angler then it is doing its job. Not using one does not make me or anyone a better angler, just a lighter one.

If I were to buy one I would probably opt for a high quality telescopic/collapsible treking pole that can change heights. Double duty and could be used on hikes and longer lengths to cross rivers. I must say that I do like the aesthetics of Jean’s wading staffs. They are beautiful…I want to put on a ski mask and sneak off with that umprella stand that he has filled with walking sticks and staffs. Keep your doors locked Jean Santos!!!

I normally would not have commented on this thread as I dont have much to add. It was Chris Stewarts entry that drew me in. His statement on making sure the wading staff is sturdy enough to free a trapped foot. First we should avoid that situation. Second, when does it end? Like should the staff be an iron rod? Just in case? I think most wading staffs would buckle if used for prying. Their utility is to support weight, not to lift or free wedged feet. If an angler is more careful about his/her footing, a trapped foot probably nearly drops to zero and the angler can use a regular wading staff vs a crowbar.

I have carbide studs on my feet and they help reduce slipping, but even the carbide can have trouble with certain rocks and certain algae. If it is not safe to wade…I simply back off or slow things down. Safety first.


No need to use a staff in the big local saltwater fjord because the surf isn’t like the coast but I nearly ruined a Black Diamond aluminum trekking pole from salt corrosion, having to replace the bottom sections and scrub the top handle section with a shotgun brush and emery cloth taped around a dowel.

I had mentioned a staff as a safety item due to fishing remote water solo. Another reason I always bring a staff is I had my hip replaced after a birth defect had made walking unbearable after 60 years. At my post op the doc told me if I wasn’t a runner not to start. When I mentioned hiking-backpacking for fishing remote waters he said don’t jump down off rocks and use trekking poles to reduce the shock on the prosthesis. I’ve gone on countless hiking-backpacking-fishing trips since and at a recent follow up after six years, x-rays show no detectable wear :sweat_smile:.

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Maybe start a saltwater forum for you guys.