best wading staff

How to Choose the Best Wading Staff (Fly Fishing Safety)

If you’re looking for the best wading staff for fly fishing, our Wading Staff Buyers Guide is here to help! To find out the difference between the types of wading staffs on the market right now. 

To find out which one is right for you and how to choose the best wading stick, read on. We’ve checked them out, and here you’ll find the best wading staff reviews.
 
For more fly fishing goodness we’ve written out a ton of educational content that aims to make you a better fly fisher today. If it’s gear your interested in then check out our rod reviews or fly fishing accessories.
 

Best Overall
Orvis Sure Step Folding Wading Staff
Runner Up
FishPond Lost Trail Wading Staff
Best Budget
Hammers Collapsible Wading Staff Fishing Stick,...
Best Collapsible
Folstaf F34A Wading Staff - 41 inches 3/4 inch...
Mest Multifunction
Folding Wading Staff with Neoprene Case and Camera...
Orvis Sure Step Folding Wading Staff
FishPond Lost Trail Wading Staff
Hammers Collapsible Wading Staff Fishing Stick,…
Folstaf F34A Wading Staff – 41 inches 3/4 inch…
Folding Wading Staff with Neoprene Case and Camera…
from $98.00
$89.95
$28.00
from $169.00
$37.99
Best Overall
Orvis Sure Step Folding Wading Staff
Orvis Sure Step Folding Wading Staff
from $98.00
Runner Up
FishPond Lost Trail Wading Staff
FishPond Lost Trail Wading Staff
$89.95
Best Budget
Hammers Collapsible Wading Staff Fishing Stick,...
Hammers Collapsible Wading Staff Fishing Stick,…
$28.00
Best Collapsible
Folstaf F34A Wading Staff - 41 inches 3/4 inch...
Folstaf F34A Wading Staff – 41 inches 3/4 inch…
from $169.00
Mest Multifunction
Folding Wading Staff with Neoprene Case and Camera...
Folding Wading Staff with Neoprene Case and Camera…
$37.99

Why use a fly fishing wading staff?

Before we get stuck in with our Wading Staff Buyers Guide, let’s go over why you should even be using a wading staff in the first place. Whenever you’re wading in fast flowing water, having three legs instead of one is much sturdier and safer. Even if you’re only in up to your knees, the force of the water can be extremely strong, and that’s without considering unseen obstacles or slippery surfaces under your feet.

If you can’t see the riverbed, every step can be a potential danger. There might be a sudden drop, an algae-covered rock which will send you flying, or a sneaky boulder in just the right place to trip you up. The riverbed can be treacherous at times. You can use a wading staff to probe the water and see just how shallow or deep it is. This way, you won’t get out of your depths. You can always make sure that you have two points securely on the riverbed before you lift a foot, so you’re never left balancing on just one leg while you search for a safe place to step.

When you have a wading staff you can rely on, you’re much less likely to have an injury or even risk your life while out fishing. You’ll be better able to enjoy your hobby and get to deeper depths, taking your passion for fly fishing further with a secure wading staff to depend upon.

The Different Types of Wading Staffs on the market

There are three main categories of wading staffs on the market – static wading staffs, collapsible wading staffs and folding wading staffs. Static wading staffs can’t be folded, adjusted or collapsed and are fixed at the full length, all the time. These aren’t used as often any more.

Foldable wading staffs are pretty popular these days. They can fold down to a really small and practical size, making them easier to carry with you or clip onto your belt. One drawback with most foldable wading staffs is that you can’t adjust the height to suit you. Folding wading staffs can sometimes come apart underwater, forcing you to pull the lower part of the staff out of the riverbed and re-assemble. Some of the better brands have found ways to prevent this happening, but it’s still fairly common with cheaper models.

Collapsible wading staffs are the other popular option. Instead of folding up into sections, collapsible wading staffs retract and draw back inside themselves. Whilst they normally don’t fold as small and tend to be slightly heavier, there’s no risk of them coming apart underwater. They are just as sturdy as a static wading staff and allow you to adjust the height to get the perfect size for you.

trout jumping

How to choose the best wading staff for you

There are a few factors to consider when choosing the best wading stick for you. Firstly and realistically, how far will your budget stretch? Can you afford to spend a little more on a wading stick that will last for years and years? Or do you just need a functional and affordable wading staff for fly fishing right now?

There’s a big price range for wading staffs, starting at just over $20 and reaching to anywhere between $100-200 for the big brand names like a Folstaf or Simms wading staff. These more expensive wading staffs do tend to last longer. But if you can’t afford a top model just now, don’t worry. The budget wading staffs still do the job of keeping you safe in the water.

Another thing to look for when choosing a fly fishing wading staff is the weight and size of the staff. You’ll be carrying your wading staff all day, across terrain and in the water. You don’t want a unwieldy, heavy stick which will weigh you down and get in your way.

This is one of the main reasons why people don’t go for static sticks any more. If you have to duck under trees or climb through undergrowth to get to the water, a big, heavy staff will be a hindrance. It can also get tangled in your lines or get in your way when you’re hauling in a fish! Most modern sticks are made from aluminium and they are impressively light.

You’ll need to choose between a folding staff and a collapsible staff 4 too. Consider whether you want a staff which assembles automatically or if you’re happy to put it together yourself. Will you keep it assembled all the time, or just use it in deeper or more dangerous areas of the river?

The material the handle and the tip of the stick is a good point to look at too – do you want a rubber handle for a firm grip? If the tip of your stick is metal, it can clink against the rocks of the riverbed and potentially scare off your catch. Look closely at these options before you buy! Now, let’s get onto the wading staff reviews!

wading staff reviews

The Best Wading Staff for Fly Fishing

Orvis Sure Step Folding Wading Staff Review

The Orvis Sure Step is our overall best wading staff out there right now: a great all-round wading staff, strong yet lightweight and easy to fold and unfold.

The Good

  • Made of lightweight aluminium, this staff is lightweight enough to carry with no trouble whilst being incredibly sturdy and strong - a wading staff to rely upon
  • Tether is convenient, keeping your staff near you in the water at all times
  • Does everything you could want of a wading staff
  • The easy-grip handle makes it easy to keep hold of, no matter the circumstances
  • The decent length will keep you safe even in deeper waters - choose between 51" and 59"
  • Handy to store in sheath on your wading belt
  • Pretty easy to unfold and collapse again

The Bad

  • Time-consuming to put together if you get into a tricky spot of the river and need your staff quickly. This Orvis wading staff needs two hands to put it together, unlike the automatic deployment of the Folstaff wading staff. This isn't an issue most of the time, but if you come upon dangerous terrain all of a sudden, it can take longer to get your wading staff ready to use - meaning you might end up falling over in the river.
  • Some users have reported that the elastic cords can become stretched after a few uses, allowing the sections to come apart at times.

Best Value Walking Stick

FishPond Lost Trail Wading Staff Review

The FishPond Lost Trail Wading Staff has everything you could want from a wading staff, and it comes in at under $100.

The Good

  • The FishPond Lost Trail staff is made from lightweight aluminium, ensuring that it is both very strong and surprisingly light
  • You can lock the sections together to prevent them from coming apart underwater
  • This wading staff is cheaper than some of the well-known brands, making it easier on your bank balance whilst still doing a great job
  • As the internal cord is stranded metal cable, it's durable and unlikely to stretch
  • Comes with a pouch to store and attach the folded staff to your wading belt conveniently

The Bad

  • As the FishPond Wading Staff folds into just three sections, it is a little more bulky,at 16" folded, than other models
  • The pouch will only attach to wading belts of less than 2" wide

Best Wading Staff on a Budget

Hammers Collapsible Wading Staff Review

You’re looking for a wading staff, but you only have a small budget? Don’t worry – the Hammers Collapsible Wading Staff is a great wading staff with a lower price tag.

The Good

  • Very affordable
  • It folds up to a handy size of just 12 inches
  • The contoured grip makes it easy to hold, even if your hands are wet or slippery
  • Tried and tested - Stands up to heavy weight loads
  • The wrist strap keeps your staff secure if you let go for a second, so you won't lose it to the river

The Bad

  • Sometimes, the staff will separate out when you stick it in wet sand or mud. You have to pull the bottom section out and fit it all together again, which can become tiresome if you have to do it again and again
  • The case is not good quality and comes apart after a few uses
  • The parts of the staff can be a little stiff to pull apart after heavy use

Best Collapsible Wading Staff

Folstaf Original Folding Review

If you’re looking for the best collapsible staff, you can’t go wrong with the Folstaf Original Folding Wading Staff. Folstaf wading staffs are classics – they were one of the first companies to produce and sell wading staffs and they are recognised as being sturdy and reliable.

The Good

  • Really easy to use - it unfolds and deploys automatically with just one hand
  • The clever cork flotation grip saves you from losing your wading staff to the riverbed if you drop it accidentally
  • Small, lightweight and handy to carry - this Folstaf wading staff weighs less than 15oz and when folded to the smallest size of 10 inches, it's so easy to carry around with you. It won't weigh you down or get in the way at all.
  • The collapsible staff 4 comes in a choice of lengths to make sure you get the perfect size for you: 41", 51" and 59"

The Bad

  • Not ideal for newbies and anglers on a budget, as it will make a hefty dent in your wallet. Instead, opt for a cheaper option for the time being.

Best Multipurpose Walking Stick

The Folding Wading Staff by Creative Angler Review

Folding Wading Staff with Neoprene Case and Camera attachment. Top grade ultralight aluminium material. Camera seat attachment. Lanyard included for easy attachment. Foam handle for a comfortable grip.

The Good

  • Strong and durable
  • Lightweight wading staff makes it easy to carry - just 12oz
  • This wading staff is multipurpose, thanks to the camera seat attachment - catch some great shots during your fishing trip!
  • Quick and simple to put together
  • Affordable price - great if you're on a budget

The Bad

  • You can't adjust the height of this wading staff
  • At 55", it may be too long for shorter people to use comfortably

Final Words

You really can’t go wrong with any of the wading staffs on this list. Depending on your needs, budget and preferences, these wading staff reviews should help you narrow down which one is the perfect choice for you. 

Whether you’re looking for the best collapsible staff or you’re debating whether to go for a Simms wading staff or a Folstaff wading staff, all of the listed wading staffs have received excellent reviews. They are durable, sturdy and lightweight and most importantly, they will keep you safe! 

You’ll get more out of fly fishing with a wading staff to keep you from injury – get to the best fishing spots without risking a tumble or slip in fast-flowing waters.

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