Originally Posted by lightline
I use a wooden broom handle with a hole in the top for a lanyard. Also, inexpensive walking sticks, like mentioned, work well. I prefer the wood as opposed to the metal like the folding staffs or ski poles. I don't think the sound of them on the river bottom is as "noisy" to the fish as the metal poles. Plus, they float.
LL makes a good point about the metal pole 'noise factor.' In small streams this can/could be a real issue. But I'd like to address the 'the float' issue. If the whole thing floats this is NOT a good thing. You want that tip to stay on the bottom via wrapping the end with sheet lead or (if the upper handle is big enough) drill an appropriate sized hole and dump in a half pound of lead shot. Good squirt of Gorilla Glue on top of that to hold them in place.
End game is you want that tip planted on the bottom 100% of the time. That way, when you have to do a quick grab for the handle you're not also forced to drive the thing down through moving water to gain your balance. When you're stumbling, time is not on your side.
Nothing new to the above, the wading stick I use was made in the UK by the "Stickman." It was that 'pound of lead' at the end that immediately got me to pull out my cheque book. Well credit card.
One last personal observation if I may, you want a wading staff that far LONGER
than you'd suspect. Standing on a flat surface handle should come up to at least chest high. (Context: I'm 5'11.5" and my 'stick is 58" long.) Reason for this is as you plant the thing in front of you its off at an angle making it effectively 'shorter.'
Just my .02.