Wet Wading - A Fishing How To

There are many fisherman who feel trapped in where they can go fishing. This can be for a number of reasons. Maybe you lack the funds for a boat, and simply can't reach most of the good fishing spots from the bank. Or maybe the only fisheries available to you are rivers and streams that are literally surrounded by overhanging vegetation, making casting all but impossible. The solution to both of these problems can simply be getting into the water yourself. But perhaps you don't have the funds for a pair of expensive waders, or none are available in your area. While these are truly valid complaints, one type of fishing still solves most of these problems in many situations. I'm talking about wet wading, or the act of fishing submerged in the water without any special gear beyond wading footwear and other necessary tackle.

Small streams such as this are perfect for wet wading!
Small streams such as this are perfect for wet wading!

What is Wet Wading?

As stated previously, wet wading is just like any other kind of wading, accept you forgo the use of waders in favor of a pair of swim trunks and wading shoes. Wet wading can have a few great advantages over conventional wading as well. First, you no longer have to wear cumbersome, heavy hip or chest waders. This allows you to be quicker and more nimble while on the water, and can can even increase safety through better balance. Next, there's the added enjoyment of the "swimming" feel of wet wading. I've always described wet wading to those who ask as "fishing, swimming, and going to the aquarium at the same time". When wet wading, especially in the clear waters of small streams, you can literally stand still and watch the local wildlife, both in and out of the water, as if you were at an aquarium or zoo!

Wet Wading Gear

As with any kind of fishing, wet wading has it's own set of preferred fishing tackle. However your tackle and gear choices are even more important when wet wading, as certain tackle boxes and other fishing gear simply will not work. Here is a quick list of basic gear you should bring along on any wet wading expedition:

These are a great example of wading sandals, and the exact model I enjoy on my fishing trips.
These are a great example of wading sandals, and the exact model I enjoy on my fishing trips.
  • First you will need to decide what manner of fishing you plan to do while wet wading. As wet wading is usually performed in small, shallow rivers and streams, ultralight fishing tackle and fly fishing gear are the most commonly used, and two of my favorites. A high quality spinning rod and reel would be best for a beginner, as precision casting around overhanging vegetation and submerged structure is pretty much mandatory. If fly fishing is more you style, a 3 to 6 weight rod would be your best bet, depending on the species of sport fish you intent to catch.
  • Next, you should get your hands on a fishing vest. I cannot stress this enough! A fishing vest will keep all of your terminal tackle and other gear, especially emergency gear, dry and out of the water. There are also a number of fishing vests that also act as life jackets, which can be a life saver if you happen to step into water that is either moving too fast or is unexpectedly deep.
  • Finally, and perhaps most important, are your wading shoes. I strongly suggest that you never, ever, under any circumstances, try to wet wade barefoot. This is just asking for broken toes, or a severely cut foot, possibly out in the middle of nowhere. Luckily, there are a number of specialty designed wading shoes that can be perfect for wet wading. I myself actually use a pair of Bite brand wading sandals, which feature toe and heel guards, and felt soles for added traction on slippery surfaces. Shy away from wading boots however, as they are designed to be used with waders and will fill up with water and be extremely heavy and cumbersome when wading.

On the Water

Once you are all geared up and on the water, there are a couple things you need to keep in mind while fishing to keep yourself safe, and possibly even alive. First, always move carefully and watch where you are going! There are a number of hazards when wading any body of water such as slippery surfaces, jagged rocks or timber, or even sinking mud that can swallow you up to the neck! Next, I suggest that you never wet wade alone, even if you are experienced. the chances of getting into a bad situation always increase when the foot hits the water, and having a partner within earshot can literally be a life saver. However if you stay alert, move carefully, and mind your surroundings, there shouldn't be any problems.

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