I almost got in serious trouble on one of the first times I wore waders while fishing. I had no experience in waders and didn’t have a clue about the possible dangers waders can present. I waded a bit too deeply over a gravel-bottom river. My feet gave way, my feet were swept from under me and I started getting carried downstream. Water started penetrating my waders, feet quickly felt wet, and then things felt heavy. While I had a fair amount of experience in water and some extreme sports, this was quite possibly one of the scariest things I have experienced. After some struggle I got my feet back underneath me and was able to walk back to shore, where I took my waders off and let the 30lbs of water out. I was lucky.
A few minutes ago I read the tragic news of an angler in Alabama dying when he walked into a drop-off in a lake and his waders filled up with water. Tragic. It brought back vivid memories of struggling with my waders as they filled with water.
In November, I wrote a post on whether to “wade up or not“,or when to wear waders. As I introduce many new people to fly-fishing, I think it is also my responsibility to share good wading practices and help keep you safe. Wading is not by definition dangerous, but there are risks we all need to be very aware of before getting in the water. There will be a time when you will slide, or fall, or walk off the deep end. What do you do then?
The 5 videos below may be old, but they are the best resource I have seen about wading safety.
In addition, please read this article by Ralph Cutter on wading safety.