I was given a collapsible staff (Cabelas) and use it always....I like having a walking stick on the way to the water, even...
After having my staff for a few months, I was able to help my best friend fashion one from a ski pole and it works just fine.
Make sure you have two (2) points of contact with the bottom always. 1 foot and the staff or two feet while repositioning the staff for your next steps. If you pick up the staff and a foot at the same time, you're at risk.
I've done a lot of long distance hiking and I have used my Leki hiking poles while fly fishing. They allow you to adjust them, but they don't fold like fly fishing staffs I see. But, I wouldn't want to wade in deeper water then my knees without some sort of staff.
If you compare the thickness of the aluminum in a cheap staff to a Fallstaff you will note a dramatic difference. I bought a used Fallstaff on ebay for that reason. You only need a wading staff when you need one, but then you really, really need it. With my old knees, I don't want to take chances.
I have a well worn folstaff 3/4" wading staff. I can't fish without it. I don't disjoint it or use the holster anymore. I put a magnet on it below the handle and the back of my wading belt so I can store it behind me out of the way when I get set up. The magnets hold even through my gortex jacket. It's just high enough to walk around with it behind me when I play a fish or move a few steps. When I need it I grab the tether to break the magnets loose and bring it around to the front.
I wore through the cork top in a couple years exposing the sharp alum tubing so I machined a delrin replacement top and used a roll pin to secure it. Been like this for about 15 years.
The cork top is weak but the rest of the staff is solid. I wish it were six inches longer.
At 46 I have not felt the need to carry a staff but have picked up sturdy sticks and used them now and again. A friend and guru has recommended an inexpensive "big box" telescoping hiking staff and said to make sure and buy the ones with the lever style locks as opposed to the ones with threads. The time is coming soon when I will need to carry one of these things. I keep my eye out at thrift stores. Fingers crossed!
"By the time I was a teenager I fit the standard profile of a lifelong angler. I was lazy, shiftless, unambitious and willing to work hard only at things that were widely considered useless." ~John Gierach
Great thread! I was just thinking about getting one. Was at the fly shop on sunday buying a Zenith rod and Hardy reel line etc... and looked at the Simms wading staff. (Cough) $149.95.
Going to be 56 in April and after last year I was starting to think it may be time for an "aid"! Great advice on the cheaper options of making one or even a ski pole, didn't think about that one. Great ideas guys! Glad I belong to this site!
P.S. - I was just getting ready to try to order one of these, and it looks like they are probably no longer available. The inventor, Tom Toomey, passed away in 2010.
Looks like a great product, save for they're too short. Going back to my 'center of chest' comment somewhere above. Ski poles, etc., are to help you keep your balance. A 'touch and go' if you will.
When you really hit the fan (like deep do-do) you need "long" to get that thing out in front of you to give you three points of balance as you edge your way out of the river.
I may sound 'excessive-compulsive' on this subject but as you really start to have hearing problems you'll follow me. Eye sight/inner ear are two main points of orientation. When one 'goes,' or is going, your brain starts to get very conflicting information. None of it in your favor.
End game of all this is your footing is already a lost cause, that long staff in you hands is .. is what? Your life saver? Or at least keeping you from taking a dunking.
Example: You're wading in three foot of water (not much more than knee high?) with 'x current speed.' You step into a hole only 12 inches deep and you just jumped the water pressure by 25 percent.
You do the maths. (Hint: It's not lineal, it's exponential.
I have been using a Folstaff since 1994. I've read many wading staff threads and find pretty much the same responses in general regarding different types of wading aids.
I have a real nice Hickory walking stick that I cut when it was a young tree on our land in Roaring Branch Pennsylvania back in 1982. I know the year because I used a wood burner to mark it with the date. I love that stick; big and strong, you can count on it. However, I would not want to have it dangling from me in a river. I've found that I don't need a staff for every step I take but there are certain conditions when the third leg balance provided by just a shock corded aluminum folding staff is all you need to keep you safe. There are many sold just like the Folstaff for around 29.99 - 39.99 dollars and they are very handy. Folded and out of the way until you actually need them I consider them a wonderful thing. If you require a staff for every step taken then something else may make sense but if like me you just want a staff for safety in unsafe wading conditions the folder may be right for you.
I've been using one of the cheaper brands pretty religiously. Don't use it for every step, but it is comforting to have along. So far, my worst falls have been on the banks, stepping down into the river. I use it often in those situations.