Watch your wading!

Wading too deeply is a common problem with anglers, especially when they are fly fishing. The reason for this is quite self-explanatory. As fly fishers, we are always striving to get a few extra yards of distance when casting so we can cover more water. The natural thing to do to you would think is to wade that bit deeper to compensate for this. To gain more distance when fly casting is much more difficult compared to spinning, where achieving distance and covering large expanses of water is not usually a problem. Anglers think that by wading that bit deeper they can cover more water, but often, they are doing more harm than good.

Keeping wading to a minimum where possible is always a good idea

There are several reasons why wading deeply when it is not necessary can be counterproductive and often dangerous. Firstly, and most importantly we should look at the safety aspect. If you are going to fall into the water when wading and let’s be honest most of us have at one time or another, it is much safer to fall in shallower water than in water which is chest depth. Usually, when wading ankle or shin deep, the current is less, so it is more likely that you will be able to get out of the water safely with nothing more than dented pride and a wet pair of waders. Apart from safety, there are also tactical reasons why you don’t want to wade any deeper than what is deemed to be necessary. Firstly, wading deeply, especially when fishing first time down a pool can spook any fish lying in the shallows. Secondly, the deeper you wade; the more difficult it actually is to Spey cast a longer line and achieve greater distance.

On some pools wading is not necessary

It is very difficult to generalise when wading down a salmon pool as each pool has its unique characteristics. Some pools don’t require any wading at all, whereas others do. It all depends on where the fish are likely to be lying in the pool. It is therefore worthwhile always fishing down a pool twice if time allows, especially if you are the first angler to go down the pool that day. Salmon can lie quite high up in a run and in surprisingly shallow water if they have been undisturbed overnight. This is especially the case in the summer months when the water is low and often the fish are lying at the head of a run in the oxygenated water. During the first time down the pool, it is important to keep wading to a minimum or not even wade at all if possible. Often the water being covered is no more than thigh deep and the river bed over which the fly is swimming can be seen. Once you have finished fishing the pool down while wading at a shallow depth, it can then be worthwhile going back to the top and starting again. This time, however, wading that bit deeper to about knee or thigh depth. In effect, all you are doing is wading through water which your fly has already covered the first-time fishing down the pool. On the deeper wade, you would be covering new water and different lies, always knowing that you have already covered any fish that may have been lying in the shallows.

Deep wading can reduce the distance you can Spey cast

Another reason why it is better not to wade any deeper than is necessary is that it actually makes Spey casting more difficult, resulting in not being able to achieve as great a distance when casting. The best way to get extra distance when casting is by forming a tight but large D loop behind you. If you are wading up to your chest, it is very difficult to form a large tight D loop. This is because there is much less distance (or clearance) between the tip of the fly rod and where the line is actually lying on the water. So, in effect, there is little space for a large D loop to be formed.

A beautiful Scottish salmon caught by just minimal wading

As humans, we all want to be able to cast the furthest, wade the deepest and catch the biggest. Wading the deepest and casting the furthest does not always go hand in hand with catching the biggest or the most. It is about being more savvy in your approach when wading and fly fishing. It is always worthwhile fishing the shallower water close to the bank first if circumstances allow, especially early in the morning, when the pool has not been disturbed. Then on your second time down the pool at least you can confidently say that you have covered any fish that have been lying in the shallower water without spooking them. So, don’t forget when salmon fishing to watch your wading, as it could be the difference between success and failure!