When I first started fly fishing, Steve Krajcirovic of Anglers Notch was my mentor.
Steve would take me to New York’s Saranac and Pennsylvania's Big Bushkill. at Ressica Falls. When I first saw the torrenst he wanted to fish, I had second thoughts about my new hobby. Stevie’s wading style was unique. He used the current instead of fighting it. He bobbed from place to place. Fran Betters of the Adirondack Sports Shop told me Steve was one of the best fishermen and the best wader he knew. On ourt first trip to the Saranac, Steve would say Rod, see that boulder in midstream? There’s a brownie in front of it and one behind it. Go get em. My fishing that first time on the Saranac was more about surviving and keeping up with Steve than it was about catching fish. Every step was an adventure. I never dreamed fishing could be such a workout! But seeing how that man could catch fish, I decided to emulate his style and wading staff. When I returned home, I dried my flies, yes I did take a few dives, joined the YMCA and began building a wading staff that met Steve’s criteria, chest high, Ash, able to support all of your weight.
I started with a shovel handle washed up on the bank of a stream andI modified it to meet Steve’s criteria.
Between my new staff and increased leg strength gined at he YMCA I could actually go fishing with Steve without putting all my fly boxes in plastic bags and packing two sets of clothes.
When I was giving fly fishing lessons, I told my students. Never put anything on the roof of your vehicle, sooner or later you will drive off and forget it.Thirty five years after making my staff I was fishing the Hoh River on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula in torrential rain. I put my staff on the van roof. Yep, I did the unthinkable. I drove off. I never saw my old inanimate friend again.
Time for a new staff!
I bought an Ash shovel handle, whittled a place for my thumb at the top and drilled a hole down the center which is used for a hook with coarse threads. If I yield to my tendency to fish for birds, I screw the hook into the staff, reach high up to the offending branch, lower it, and retrieve my fly. About 18” from the end of the staff I drilled a hole straight through and ran a wash line through it. On one end of the rope I loosely tied an overhand knot. On the other end an “S” clasp.. I attached the hook to the “D” ring on my vest, threw the staff over my shoulder and adjusted the rope knot until the staff rested behind my back comfortably. When I don’t need the staff, I throw it over my shoulder. When I do need it I don’t have to unfold anything. I tried different things on the bottom, crutch tips, chair leg ends etc. None of them were satisfactory so I just left it alone. That staff got me out of some real predicaments. I have a tendency to wade into areas where there is deep water downstream, with current too strong to return upstream. My wading staff has saved my butt on numerous occasions. Rocks! They can be slippery, unstable, and treacherous. A third leg is a godsend. Stealth is invaluable in catching big, wild fish. You can wade quietly, with little wake with a staff. In Colorado’s Crosho Lake I found my leg up to the thigh in muck. I hadn’t seen another person in days and an innocent situation became a real concern. Had I preceded my step with my staff it wouldn’t have happened, but the staff helped me extricate myself! I’ve danced that jig enough to always carry a staff when I’m alone in the wilderness I’ve used my staff as a balance beam, a fire poker, to suspend a pot over the coals and a ridgepole for an emergency shelter. My staff has a ruler and my name and contact information.
Point to remember
Another thing about a good staff, the older you are, the more important it gets!
For more information on wading gear click here.