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How to Become a Better Wader, with Lindsay Kocka

Description: Lindsay Kocka [42:30] is a fly-fishing instructor, formally trained natural movement and strength coach, mobility specialist, yoga teacher, and mindfulness educator. She taken her fishing experience and formal training to come up with a method to help us wade stronger and more confidently. Regardless of your age, you'll benefit from this podcast, which will give you lots of tips on how to feel more comfortable and confident on the water. You'll also learn about how to get your body and balance in better shape for your upcoming trips on the water.
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Podcast Transcript:

Tom: Hi, and welcome to the "Orvis Fly Fishing Podcast." This is your host, Tom Rosenbauer. And my guest this week is Lindsay Kocka, who has developed a really formal and very detailed and very cool discipline around wading. She has a website called Wade Well. It's behind a paywall, but you can see some of her videos on YouTube. But Lindsay is a formally trained natural movement and strength coach. She's an expert in functional range conditioning mobility specialist, she's a yoga teacher, a mindfulness educator, and a certified fly-fishing instructor. I actually taught with Lindsay at the School of Trout in Idaho last summer. And we're gonna talk about wading and how to develop a mindset and a balance regime and some exercises to do that will help you wade better.
You know, some of us aren't getting any younger. And I know myself, I'm not quite as stable on my feet as I used to be, and am actually considering starting to use a wading staff. So, I really wanna listen to this and make my own wading better. And I know that you'll learn some things that will help you be more comfortable and more stable and safer when you're wading any kind of river. So, I think you'll enjoy this, a very different topic. And I think it's gonna be very interesting.
And before we get into the Fly Box, I have a I have a new product that you might have missed that's kind of a sleeper that's on the Orvis website and at Orvis stores and dealers, it's called the Pro Wading Support Belt. You know, who doesn't have a sore back at the end of a long day of fishing? If you're like me, you have way too many things in your sling bag and it's hanging on your shoulder. And even though they're pretty well designed, you know, you're crouching over, your tent's off an your wading, and your back takes a beating. So, this wading support belt, not only will it replace your regular wader belt, hold your waders up and keep water from going in, but it'll support your back. And it has a very cool net scabbard on the back and also a place to store a couple things. So, it kind of combines a number of things, but I think it's a great product, and you should check it out if you occasionally have back problems when you're fishing.
All right. Now we'll go into the Fly Box. The Fly Box is where you ask me questions or you provide some tips for other listeners. We've got quite a few detailed tips this week from other listeners, which is really great. And if you have a question or a tip that you'd like to share, and I think it's worth reading on the air, I'll read it. So, you can send them to me by just putting your tip or your question in an email, or you can attach a voice file. The email for the Fly Box is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. And I read them all. I don't answer them all, but I do read them all.
So, to start out, let's do an email from Noah. "Hi, Tom. I have a question, but first, I just wanna say thank you for the podcast and all you do for fly-fishing community. I love listening to the podcast while sitting at my tying bench. So, my question is, I have been considering adding a 9-foot, 8-weight to my fly rod arsenal, which consists of a 6-foot, 3-weight, two 9-foot, 5-weights. I am most likely going to be going on a fishing trip to Emerald Isle, North Carolina in the next five months, really hoping to do some shallow water fishing with a fly rod. And I'm thinking a 9-foot 8-weight would be fine for light fishing on the sound side of the island. What would your thoughts be on it?"
"But my real question is, I just purchased two spools of Orvis Clearwater fly line. I gotta Weight Forward 8 floating line intermediate and Weight Forward 8 floating line. And I'm wondering, when I take my trip to North Carolina, do you think the Clearwater line would be all right to salt water fish just for a few days? I would not wanna damage the line. And again, thanks for everything." So, Noah, first of all, that Clearwater line will be fine in salt water. There's nothing in salt water that will hurt any modern fly line. They're impervious to salt water. So, yes, that line will be just fine. The thing is, it's a cold water line, so if the weather gets really, really hot when you're down there, it might get a little bit sticky in the guides, but it'll work just fine, and you don't have to worry about doing anything special to it. You should rinse your reel and your rod off with fresh water after you get done. But the fly line will be just fine.
And, you know, an 8-weight will be okay. In general, I feel like a 9-weight, if you're only gonna take one rod to an unknown saltwater destination, I think a 9-weight's better because, you know, if you need a little more delicacy, you can always add a little bit longer leader. And a nine-9 is sometimes better if you're gonna throw a bigger fly or you're casting into the wind. But your 8-weight should work fine. But since you've already got a couple of 8-weight lines, I know you probably don't wanna buy a 9-weight rod. So, your 9-weight will work fine. And don't worry about it, your Clearwater fly line will be just fine.
Here's an email from Dominic from Germany. "Great podcast as always. I think the remark of the part of the sentiment of all fly rods are underrated and need a higher line size is probably the ability to cast. I read that competition casters in the trout distance category, which limits line weights to 5-weight and rod length, but not other rod characteristics are using up to 8 or 9-weight rods for those 5-weight lines as they hold like 70 feet of line in the air before shooting. So, it might make sense why really good casters like an underrated fly rod, they have line length and speed to bend a stronger rod. But for the mere mortal, maybe such a rod might not be so great. By the way, wouldn't it be good to stop using the AFTMA rating and only put grain gram weights on the rods?"
"It is more common already in the two-handed rods and also some of the heavier pike rods, but not so much in the lighter rods. Wouldn't that help standardize the rods and maybe even tell beginner fly fishers to go to the top part of the spectrum?" Well, Dominic, that's absolutely true that tournament casters might way underline a rod. They might use an 8 or 9 weight rod and put a 5-weight line on it. But that's not fishing. They're holding a lot of line in the air, which is something that you really don't wanna do when you're fishing. Very rare when you'd wanna do that. And they're striving for distance only. I mean, I doubt if they do that in the short accuracy area, they probably just do it for distance.
And you have to work really hard putting a 5-weight line on an 8-weight or a 9-weight rod, you have to really, really work hard. I mean, it's a physical struggle to get a rod for, again, as you said, for us mortals to make that rod bend. But yeah, you know, they might do it in tournament casting, but we don't really worry about that here. And yeah, it would make sense to put grain and/or gram weights on rods, but you know, the AFTMA system that we use already does. I mean that rating of whether it's a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 weight line, underneath that, underneath that 1-weight or 2-weight is a range in grams or grains. So, really, we are really already using those. It's just easier to remember. I think those numbers 1 through 12 or 1 through 14.
I don't think that we need to get the exact grain weight on a rod because that's gonna change whenever you change your casting distance anyway. So, I think the current system is okay. We could use grains or grams on our trout rods if we wanted to, but I think that there's just so much history and so much momentum into the AFTMA standards that I don't see it changing anytime soon.
Kevin: Hey, Tom, Kevin in Boise. Hope you're doing well. Hey, I'm getting ready to purchase some new rods, and done some research on the potentially up and coming Helios 4. And based on my research and knowing that you probably can't confirm or deny when this rod may be coming out, but given the 3s are on sale, I am assuming it's pretty imminent. But based on my research, it appears to me that this rod may be based off of the Blackout series, which would tend to lead me to think that maybe there will be an F and a D version as there is with the current models. And the other thing that I kind of am finding is that a lot of people are speculating that they are gonna be 9 1/2 foot.
So, assuming you cannot confirm or deny that, my general question, I guess, would be why would one person choose a 9 1/2-rod over a 9-foot version? What are the advantages, disadvantages? Hope you're doing well. And if you have any updates you can share on the release and what models there will be available, that'd be appreciated. But if not, just take my general question and I'll wait for them to be announced. Thank you. Bye.
Tom: Helios 4, Kevin, I don't know what you're talking about. Sorry, I don't know anything about that. But maybe you will soon. I can't answer your question though. You know what, a 9 1/2-rod just adds a little bit more reach to a fly rod. There's nothing magic about 9-foot 5-inches or 9-foot 6 or 9-foot 7, but anytime you add 6 inches or so to a fly rod, it gives you a little bit more reach to hold line off the water, gives you a better ability to mend line. Sometimes it helps a little bit in distance. But on the downside of it, you're going to take a slight decrease in your line speed. So if you're fishing in a really windy area, the extra 6 know, there's more air resistant out there beyond the tip of the rod. So, it's gonna slow it down just slightly.
But honestly, there isn't a lot of difference between those two. So, if you're doing a lot of casting across conflicting currents and mending a lot, then the longer rod makes sense. If you're not, then, you know, just a standard 9-footer. And it's interesting that 9-foot 5-inch, 5-weight in the Blackout series, I don't even notice that it's over 9-feet long. It's just, you know, so light. You don't even notice the extra 5 inches on the rod when you're fishing it, but you do have that ability to mend and to hold more line off the water. Here's an email from Scott. "I've been fly fishing for about 20 years, and in the past 5 years have managed to get more time on the water."
"This has been great since I'm finally starting to put some use out of my gear and increase my skills. One issue I'm finding is that my favorite fly for the river I frequent in northern Michigan is routinely outta stock. So, for the first time, I started fly fishing, I'm interested in fly tying simply as a way to maintain access to the fly, that fly. The fly is the Purple Haze. Any suggestions on how to get started, equipment, and materials, etc.? The hooks seem easiest, but I don't wanna buy a bunch of gear I won't use. Love the podcast, and appreciate you bringing topics and knowledge to us out there." Well, Scott, if you are really only going to tie the Purple Haze, and I assume you're talking about the Purple Haze Parachute dry fly, that is not an easy fly to start with. I think that you, yeah, you may wanna just tie Purple Hazes, but I think once you get tying, you're gonna realize, "Oh boy, you know, I can crank out some of these different things."
So, I wouldn't advise you to start on that one anyway. Not an easy fly to tie. Parachute dry flies are not easy to tie. So, I would start with a kit, I would get a good kit. Don't get too cheap of a kit, you know, get a decent kit. You generally get what you pay for. It's gonna have better tools, scissors, materials and so, on. I would start with some easier flies before you attempt the Purple Haze. So, I know you just wanna type Purple Hazes, but I don't think it's gonna work out for you. So, I would start with a kit, and then I would start watching videos. There are a bunch of great videos on the Orvis Learning Center Basic Fly Tying videos by Tim Flagler. And you may wanna start out with those, just starting your thread, and how to wind your thread, and how to cut materials and so on.
And I would start with something like a Woolly Bugger or a Hare's Ear nymph or a San Juan worm, something easy. And then work your way up to the Purple Haze, because I just don't think that you're gonna start out and just start cranking out Purple Hazes. That fly scares me even today after doing it for 50 years. So, I think you gotta work your way up to that one. I got a couple of long emails with questions and suggestions, but they're good ones. So, I'm gonna, I'm gonna read them in their entirety. First one is from Adam from the Pacific Northwest. "Hi Tom, longtime listener, but I've never written in before. Hope this gives you some material on a week you need some for the show. I have a suggestion, a question, and a recognition."
"Suggestion. Over the years, quite a few people have called in with questions about problems casting air resistant flies like chubbies, the problem being either getting them to turn over on the forward cast or getting kinks and twists in the leaders over the course of the day. So, I'm sending this in hopes it helps a bit with that. Stop tying knots directly to air resistant flies like chubbies. Instead, thread your tippet through the eye of the fly. Hang onto the tippet end of the leader, and let go of the fly altogether. It should slide down the length of the leader and come to rest well away from the working under your tippet. Take a separate 6-inch piece of straight leader material, something heavier like 10-pound test, and overlap it with the last 6 inches of the tippet on your leader. Now, tie a 3-turn surgeon's knot with these overlapped 6-inch lengths of line."
"Trim the tag ends off. This will leave a chunky but clean knot at the end of your leader tippet. It should be thick enough so that it cannot pull back through the eye of your fly, and essentially, now acts like a bobber stopper, allowing your chubby to slide freely up and down your leader, but blocking it from slipping off the end. With no knots connecting your fly with your leader, your leader in line can twist and rotate freely without building tension and causing kinks in your line. This also allows you to tie a dropper off the bend of the chubby while keeping the rig tangle free. For those curious about the strength of this rig, it's what we commonly use here in the Pacific Northwest on large native red bands during a salmon fly hatch. It'll hold."
"Number two, question. When you're working your way upstream and are casting to the softer water between the river's edge and the faster current out toward the river center, do you start on one specific side and work your way towards the other side on subsequent cast? In other words, should your first cast go towards a deeper outside edge since a hooked fish will typically run for deeper water? Or do you start on the inside edge since those fish might be more skittish, given the often shallower water along the shoreline? And number three, recognition. I'm writing from the Pacific Northwest where dams are being taken down and the Klamath River is starting to flow freely again for the first time in 100 years. This effort was led by native communities along the river, and represents the best chance to restore native salmon and steelhead runs that have historically formed the foundation of these cultures, specifically and the larger ecosystem as a whole."
"Similar efforts are in the works for the four lower Snake River dams, with efforts, again being led by native communities that have called these waters home since time immemorial. Many other project along these lines have historically been and are currently being led by native communities and their many partners across the Pacific Northwest. I wanna take a moment to gratefully recognize those ongoing and immense efforts across many generations to restore the land water for the benefit of all communities and species. Thank you, thank you, thank you. The leadership of these communities, their many partners, and the example they have set for those of us staring down challenges like climate change and wondering what can possibly done about this is powerful beyond measure."
"Large scale change that benefits all species and communities is possible, and the tribes have been demonstrating this for millennia. As an angler, I'm a direct beneficiary, and just wanna extend my thanks on this historic week, if the opportunity arises, to have guests from these communities speak on the podcast. I think we'd all be listening. Long live the salmon. Thanks, Tom. I find I forget lessons at twice the speed I learn from them. So, thank you for schooling me on the facets of fly fishing in general, but also reminding me about the basics specifically."
Well, thank you for that, Adam. First of all, for your first suggestion, that sounds to me like it might keep a fly from twisting a leader. However, I don't think it's gonna help you with the air resistance of the fly. I don't think that just letting your fly slide back and forth is going to help with the air resistance. I never tried it myself, so I can't say for sure, but I think that it should eliminate twisting on the tippet. My go-to solution to that is to just go to a shorter, heavier tippet when fly starts to twist the tippet. But I'm gonna try your method sometimes and I will see if it does cut down on the air resistance, but I sincerely doubt that. On your question. If I'm on the shallow side and I've got soft water in front of me and then fast water in the middle and soft water on the far side of current, I'm always gonna start on the near side because I can get a better presentation.
Here's what I do, is, I'll work upstream gradually along the softer water on my side, making either a straight across cast or maybe a 45-degree upstream cast into that softer water on my side. And I'll work my way all the way up to the head of that. And then I will turn around and work the far seam. The reason being that it's lot easier to avoid drag by making a downstream cast, particularly a downstream cast with an upstream bend or an upstream reach cast. You know, if you try to cast straight across or even upstream and across on that seam on the far side, you're gonna get almost instant drag. So, I work work my seam first, work upstream.
And then, you know, if the stream's wide enough and I can get close to those fish on the far side from upstream without spooking them. And usually, it's in a bigger river, so you can do that, then I'll work down against the far bank. That's the way I do it, and seems to be the most efficient way of getting a natural drift. And number three, thank you very much for that recognition. You know, we all owe a debt of gratitude to all the parties involved in taking down those dams in the Pacific Northwest. It's starting. We've got some momentum going. And hopefully, we will be able to keep turning on the heat. Lots and lots and lots of groups and people have worked together, and it's just amazing work that they've done.
All right. Here's another long one from Gerald. And Gerald has three different tips for us. They're a little bit complicated, so just kind of listen carefully and you may have to listen to this a few times, particularly the first one that he's got. Here's Gerald's letter. "Appreciate you and your podcasts, books and contribution to fly fishing. I also appreciate the Orvis company, their products, customer support, and their contribution to both past and present sports afield. I've been fly fishing and dressing flies since 1977, and make my own bamboo fly rods, landing nets, and fly bags. Here's some tips that I've learned along the way that may help fellow fly fishers extend the life of their equipment and tools until they can get them replaced. Use this info as you see fit."
"Number one, damaged fly line loop. If the loop is damaged and a loop-to-loop connection is preferred, of course, a nail knot works as well. I've made new loops successfully for years on 6-weight lines and less following this recipe. A, cut off the damaged loop. B, clean the last foot of the fly line using a grease busting dish washing soap. I use Dawn for this. And to remove the cutting oils from the ferals real seat on the rods I make. C, take an 8-inch piece of monofilament, 6 to 10-pound test, make a slip knot in it, and set it aside. D, with the cleaned and dry fly line, make a loop of the desired size ending at the base of the loop. The tag end is 3/4 to 1-inch long."
"E, place the mono slip knot over the fly line loop, tightening the slip knot, followed up with a granny knot on the mono. Regarding tension, the mono should be tight, but not so tight it cuts the fly line. F, ensure the fly line tag is touching and running parallel with the fly line. G, suspend the new loop in space an inch or so above the work surface. H, apply Crazy Glue or Super Glue along the tag and fly line interface. I, once dry, turn the loop over and apply glue again along the tag end fly line interface on the other side. J, allow to dry and cure. K, once dry, snip the mono knot. L, if desired, at the blunt end of the tagline, use a knife or blade, cut the blunt end of the tagline at an angle of 45 degrees or greater. Seal the end with a light touch of glue."
"M, to test the integrity of the loop, insert a loop of twine, yarn, shoestring, etc. You just want the test loop to have a diameter large enough so as not to cut the new fly line loop and perform a pole test. N, once satisfied, fish the loop until the line is replaced. I have fish lines repaired this way for several seasons. I did note when the lines were retired, the glue did exhibit cracks across latitudinally at the tag end to fly line glue, but no cracks were found using a 10-power along a longitudinal tag end to fly line bond." Well, that's a great tip. And here's another one, number two, tip number two, "Metal bobbins fraying dressing thread. If the bobbin in use frays dressing thread, burns, grooves, burrs or grooves are often the problem."
"To repair, follow this recipe. A, take a small piece of 600 to 2,000-grit sandpaper. B, roll it into a cone smaller than the diameter of the bobbin tube opening mouth. C, use a toothpick or equivalent as a mandrel. Place the sandpaper cone in the tube opening and toothpick in the cone of the sandpaper. D, rotate the sandpaper toothpick and lightly burnish the burr and groove away. E, test results by rotating dressing thread or tying thread through the tube and over the tube, opening, or mouth. Repeat until the dressing thread is no longer damaged."
That's a great tip. Another great tip. And number three, tip number three, "Wader repair. Of course, new waders are better. However, rule number one regarding waders is keep your worn out waders. Worn out waders make great patches for large tears, rips, and neoprene booty repairs. To repair, here's a recipe to follow if one doesn't wanna have the manufacturer repair them. A, clean waders in accordance with manufacturer's directions, and make sure they're dry. B, cut patch from old waders of similar material, and very lightly rough the patch with 220 grit sandpaper. C, clean the patch in accordance with manufacturing instructions. If for some reason the manufacturer's cleaning directions are not known, gently clean with a light solution of dish washing soap, rinse thoroughly, and let dry."
"D, once the waders and patch are dry, apply a thin coat of Aquaseal to the patch. E, place the patch on the area of damage. F, apply a cellophane wrapped compress, books, steel, etc., to the patch. G, allow to cure in accordance with the adhesive instructions. And H, test by normal bathtub methods." Well, Gerald, those are three great tips for extending the life of your gear. And I wanna thank you for those. I really appreciate it. Here's an email from Tom from Galveston. "Galveston, Texas has a fairly new fly shop, Galveston Fishing Company. Just thought I'd send this email to express how nice it is to have a fly shop in my town. Walking in and finding real expertise and friendly help is great. I purchased an Orvis reel from them today after asking for some advice and being pointed to an Orvis Hydros as a good value in the price range I was looking for."
"A buddy of mine popped intown about a month ago, and I walked into the shop and booked a trip with one of the guides who works there. All of that is possible because we have a fly shop. Please suggest to your listeners to buy from your local fly shops. It's great to have one, and they need our support." Well, thank you, Tom. Yeah, there's nothing better than having a local fly shop and getting firsthand information and actually being able touch and feel new rods and reels and getting good advice on where to go, and flies, and everything else. Independent fly shops are the lifeblood of our industry. Here's an email from... Either he didn't leave his name or I forgot to write it down. But here's the letter. "I'm a blind fly fisher. I have some vision, which enables me to wade and get in position on most streams. But due to macular degeneration, I cannot see a dry fly strike indicator slide or rise of a fish or anything for that matter, which is beyond 6 feet away."
"I've had this disease for decades, and have used and developed a method which I believe is called swinging a team of flies from the UK. For example, on the Chattahoochee, I cast about 20 degrees upstream and usually fish 2, 3, or where legal, 4 or 5 flies. I come tight to the flies and allow them to swing downstream and around. I usually hook up at 45 degrees downstream, and have become incredibly able to detect even the slightest twitch to which I set. I fish buggers in the same manner. It is the opposite of a drag-free drift. In fact, as the flies swing downstream directly across the river, there is always tension as I do not feed line. After listening to all your podcasts, I believe this may be simulated nymphs rising in the water column."
"One thing which is very difficult is the small streams of North Georgia and the Smokies. While this method is possible on a small scale, I feel as though the approach from upstream usually spooks and puts down the fish. Rest assured, I do catch plenty doing this, just not the same number as in a tailwater. My question is, what methods of fly fishing lead themselves to tactile feel of the strike rather than see the strike? Know any more blind fly fishermen who may come on the podcast and share these methods in detail? My best two tips for other blind, visually impaired fishermen. Number one, always cut tippet at a 45 to 60-degree angle, creating a point which goes through the eyes a lot easier."
"And second tip. For small blue-wing olive midges, yes, I fished these in the completely non drag free manner described above. Hook these prior to fishing on needle threaders in advance. Now you have a much larger hole to put the tippet through." Well, those are great tips. And I think that there aren't many other tactile methods. The one thing would be would be night fishing, which is usually done by swinging flies in the current, just as you're doing there. They're usually bigger, and usually unweighted streamers, something that creates awake, an unweighted, muddler something. The one thing you wanna be advised is, for any of you, if you do go fishing at night, don't go by yourself because you'll stumble around there.
And if you're blind, I guess that gives you a slight advantage because you're probably tuned in more to your waders on the bottom and to the sounds of the river. But I still wouldn't go night fishing by yourself. But yeah, there aren't many other methods you can do. The only other one is, other than swinging streamers, you could probably strip streamers. In other words, you could fish your streamer or even your wet flies upstream and just keep tension on them by continuous stripping. Sometimes that'll work, but, you know, you're gonna have to have a tight line one way or the other in order to be able to feel the strike. And if there are any other blind or visually impaired fly fissures that are listening and you have some tips, please send them to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and we'll share them.
And by the way, your two tips at the end for threading flies are helpful for anyone regardless of how well they see, because those are great ideas and great tips. Here's an email from Mark. "First, I really wanna emphasize to anglers the importance of practicing casting, specifically for what you're going to be doing. A few years ago now, long enough that the wife is over it, I bought a new H3D 8-weight with reel and line from Rivers & Glen in Augusta, Georgia. Seriously great shop with knowledgeable staff in both the Augusta and Savannah locations. I spent way too much time in each. They, the Augusta shop, threw in a free casting lesson with the purchase. When we got to the pond, I sat down to start casting. The instructor was baffled and asked why. I explained that I fished primarily from a kayak. And that really blew his mind, mostly because most of their local anglers also fish from a kayak and none had ever shown him that they practiced casting from a seated position."
"Practice for what you're gonna be doing goes beyond shooting line for distance and accuracy. If you're gonna fish from a flatboat where rocking the boat is gonna spook fish, try practicing while standing on an air mattress, you'll feel how much you're shifting your weight. The same goes for other situations such as needing steeple cast, tuck cast, sidearm casts, etc. Anyway, onto my chance to pick your brain. I'm looking at planning a fishing trip somewhere in the western U.S. for trout. Guides are out of the budget, so we'll be figuring it out for ourselves wading. My question is, what is the etiquette when wading anglers and drift boats cross paths on the water? I'm kind of shocked, I haven't heard this asked before or heard a grump about it and experience on the podcast before about this."
"At this point, for the most part, I only buy Orvis products because of the ROI when it comes to the free content provided, including the podcast. I've been told you own SA now. Is that true?" Well, mark, yes. Orvis has owned Scientific Anglers or SA for a number of years now, I think 8 or 10 years. And it's a separate company, but it is owned by Orvis. Obviously, they make our fly lines for us. That's a great tip. I always know small stream anglers when they go to test a rod at like a casting pond at a show, because they'll always kneel down and cast from, you know, a crouching position. So, some other people do it, but you don't see it that often. That's a great idea if you fish a lot from a kayak to sit down when you test a rod or when you're taking a casting lesson. That should help a great deal.
Regarding issues between wading anglers and drift boats. You know, it's often kind of a mutual agreement. In general, the wading angler is supposed to have the right of way. And you know, a good guide and most guides are like this, will see a wading angler and will see which direction the angler's casting, to which bank the angler's casting, and will try to quietly slide behind that angler and not just drift over the water that he or she is fishing. I mean, I've done this myself. There are times when I see a drift boat coming down through and I know that they're gonna need to go in front of me because the water behind me is too shallow and I don't want them to have to get out and drag. So, you know, I'll back up and let them go by.
You know, we all have to try to get along on try trout streams. And sometimes the wading angler has to get out of the way of a drift boat. But usually, the drift boats are really good about staying away from anglers. You know, the one way you can avoid that problem entirely is to fish the smaller streams. If you go out in the western United States, there are lots of smaller streams where they don't put rafts or drift boats on, and so then you don't have to worry about it. And, you know, the more popular rivers, the bigger rivers, yeah, have a lot of drift boats and rafts in them. But there are lots of places you can find smaller streams where you'll never encounter a drift boat because they're too shallow or too brushy or too narrow to get a boat into. Just use your best judgment and drift boats are generally going to give you a wide berth if it's possible.
Sylvan: Hi, Tom, this is Sylvan from Yarmouth, Maine. I have a comment and a question for you. My comment is about the caller from last week that talked about watching the water and doing that, you know, not stringing up before they watch the river. I am a huge proponent of, you know, sitting down and, you know, watching that, kind of figuring it out. I would also advise people that fish small brushy streams kind of like I do, or walk along path, get to your river to keep an eye on your rod if you're doing it that way. I once spent about an hour and a half searching for my rod tip that had come off on like a small tree or something, and put quite the damper on my day. Luckily, I did find it. So, yeah, just be careful of that.
My question is about sinking leaders. I've been using them a lot more here in the spring and the fall fishing streamers. And I sometimes have a lot of trouble trying to really get far out with my cast, just my loops aren't great. And I'm just wondering if really with those types of leaders, is it just best to just do one, maybe two false casts, get it out, or is there a better technique? So, thanks for everything you do.
Tom: Well, that is a good idea. And I've done that myself, Sylvan, and I've gone to the river and not strung up my rod beforehand , you know, carrying a four-piece rod and dropping one of the sections and having to go back and crawl through the brush and look for it. So, that's a good tip. You know, maybe put a rubber band around your rod sections or a Velcro strip or something to keep them from getting separated and lost. Regarding sinking leaders. You know what, sinking leaders, although they cast okay, they're going to affect your casting, and you're not gonna get beautiful tight loops with a sinking leader. And you're not gonna want a false cast, nor should you false cast very much with a sinking leader because you're trying to keep your fly wet and you're trying to sink it.
So, you know, one false cast or no false cast, if you can get away with it, just one quick cast and put it back in the water, is the best way to do it. And then, you know, cast with a more open loop, maybe do a Belgian cast with those lines, which you can find on the Orvis Learning Center. There's a section in there on casting sinking lines or lines with sinking tips on them that Pete Kutzer does. And the Belgian cast is basically starting your back as off to the side and then turning the tip around and coming straight over the top of your shoulder. But you're gonna have more open loop. You're gonna have to cast some more open loop with those sinking leaders. It's just the way it is. They're clunky, so don't worry about it.
And then Sylvan had a follow-up question to his to his voicemail about keeping rods set up in his car during the summer. And yeah, it won't hurt them at all. It won't hurt them at all. You can keep your rod and your line set up all summer long. I do it all the time. I have rods that are in my vehicle from April to October, usually, and I keep them set up because I have a long enough vehicle that I can stick them inside. But regardless of how you carry your rods, if you carry them fully strung and together, you don't have to worry about them. Not gonna hurt them at all. All right. That is the Fly Box for this week. Let's go talk to Lindsay about the secrets of wading well.
So, my guest today is Lindsay Kocka. And I met Lindsay teaching at the School of Trout in Idaho a couple summers ago. And Lindsay was helping us out with mindfulness and natural movement. She's a fishing guide, but she's also a trained MovNat. Is that how you say it, MovNat, natural movement and strength coach?
Lindsay: Yep. It originates in Strands, which is why it's backwards with the MovNat, even though it's natural movement.
Tom: And you're a functional range conditioning mobility specialist, a yoga teacher, a mindfulness educator, and a certified fly fishing instructor, right?
Lindsay: Yeah, you got it. Yep, you got it.
Tom: Well, and that, you know, the reason I wanted to have you on the podcast is that I think you have studied and analyzed and formalized the wading process better than anyone that I have ever seen. And you actually have a website called Wade Well, right? Is that Wade Well?
Lindsay: Yep.
Tom: Unfortunately, it's behind a paywall, but Lindsay has to make a living. And I think if you are really interested in pursuing this, it's worth what is it, 117 bucks to... ?
Lindsay: Yeah, yeah. It's an on-demand digital course. And it's 10 chapters, 24 lessons, a bunch of videos.
Tom: But there are some freebies on YouTube, right? There are some freebies that people can get a taste for, for what you're talking about on YouTube. We'll give you a little bit of some free advice here today on the podcast. But the videos are really valuable to see it in motion. But, you know, a lot of us, as we get older, even younger people don't wade as well as they could. And they're limiting themselves both in their ability to reach fish, but also just in being more comfortable on the water. You know, confident wading is an incredible skill, and it's a fun skill. I mean, sometimes I just like wading across the river to see if I can do it, but maybe not the smartest thing to do at my age. But I look forward to challenging wading sometimes. And I've learned a lot from you, both talking to you and watching your videos, but I'd like to share that with people and I'd like to learn more because we can all cast a little bit better and we can all wade a little bit better, and it's just gonna give us more fun on the water.
Lindsay: Yeah, Tom. I'm kind of just fascinated with the whole scope of how we move when we're fly fishing. So, like you mentioned, obviously the wading component, is huge, but also just full body mobility and healthy joints and just generally being able to stay and get out on the water as long as we possibly can in our lifetime.
Tom: Right. Yeah. That's what it's all about. We wanna be able to do it as long as we can. Let's do a kind of a systematic approach on learning to wade well. Where do you start, first of all?
Lindsay: So, I think it really depends on the individual, where they're wading, what their sort of intent is in terms of... I mean, I think from what I've observed, we have a pretty broad range in terms of folks who are really interested in aggressive wading and their wading in big water versus, you know... I grew up in Minnesota and I learned how to fly fish in the direct list region. So, I was predominantly on really small water, but still really challenging in very different ways as I was just learning how to navigate water. So, I think we start there with just determining who the person is, any kind of areas that are challenging in particular, whether or not it might be an old ankle injury or just general challenges with balance.
And so, looking a little bit more specifically on who you are, where you're hoping to wade, and any areas that you wanna kind of focus on and improve upon as an individual, I think is a really good starting point. And then beyond that, kind of just breaking down the process of wading, obviously balance is a large part of that. So, standing balance, single-leg balance, balanced walking inside of the dynamic environment, which is oftentimes for many of us moving water, even if it's just the force of still water wading, still force that you're managing, and walking through. So, you know, we're always looking at the element and component of balance and building our balance abilities.
And then there's, you know, the whole component that is whole-body mobility. I think more specifically, we tend to notice our foot health and how that's affecting our ability to walk and wade. Of course, our ankle stability, our knee stability, our hip mobility, all playing a large role. And then I oftentimes have folks ask me about core strength, core stability, certainly something to also take into account. And then obviously, our whole body has evolved in the process of wading. So, we're looking at the whole entire human. It's interesting how many, many folks wind up experiencing a stress response when they're wading, especially if they're very new to wading.
So, we're also looking at the components that are related to nervous system regulation and managing our stress response, because, you know, standing in the middle of the river and having a kind of fight or flight moment isn't necessarily ideal. So, we're also looking at skills related to using our breath to manage our heart rate and our blood pressure and our nervous system and stress response. So, kind of a long-winded answer.
Tom: So, where do we start?
Lindsay: In terms of when you're approaching the water and you are about to wade, you know, even before you get to the water, I'll take it a couple of steps back, I always recommend conducting a sort of standing balance assessment first and foremost. Literally when you're getting out of your truck, your vehicle, wherever, taking a moment to kind of just see where your balance is landing on that particular day so that as you're approaching the water, you kind of know like, "Wow, today for any number of reasons, my balance feels a little wonky, a little off. I don't feel as strong on my feet and as stable on my feet."
And that can look as simple as just, you know, putting your waders on and doing some single-leg balancing and noticing, is this one of those days where you're just toppling all over the place in the parking lot? Or are you feeling pretty sturdy and steady? And that is a nice place to just gain some insight in knowing like, "Okay, this is how I'm feeling in my body today. I might approach my wading a little bit differently. I might be a little bit more conservative with the way that I'm gonna be moving in the outdoors and wading." So, I like to actually start there, whether or not it's in a parking lot, or whether or not it's on the side of the river, of just taking a moment to pause and gain a little bit of perspective in terms of your body awareness.
And a lot of the stuff, you know, I've seen some videos that you've done as well, in terms of just your like, basic wading safety and wading technique. Obviously, you're gonna take all of these components into consideration in terms of where you're crossing and finding the soft water and crossing at the diagonal. There are a couple of little tips that oftentimes are new information for a lot of folks that I'll share, which is, when you're beginning to cross and start to wade, really, really important to find your destination on an unmoving point of focus so that you know where you're heading and you're focusing on something that isn't moving.
So, a lot of folks wind up staring straight down at the moving water at the river stream when they're wading which oftentimes does result in dizziness, vertigo, loss of balance. So, I'd like to really emphasize that point because inherently I think we want to just be staring down at where we're walking to make sure that we're taking wise and thoughtful steps, which is really important. We wanna move slowly and methodically and pay attention. But I think a lot of that sensory awareness we really need to put into what we're feeling with our feet versus only using our eyes. So, we need to use our vision, absolutely, but keeping your head up versus hanging your head straight down, we'll offer the opportunity for you to have a broader sense of what's around you so that you have your full periphery, especially when you have brimmed hats on, it can become a problem if we're hanging our head kind of chin tuck to chest.
It's really limiting our range of motion, we're getting dizzy. So, keeping your head up, knowing where you're heading and moving slowly, feeling with your feet. In terms of the walking itself and your sort of locomotion while you're wading, a four-foot strike is really important. So, that's that portion of your foot right beneath the toes, the ball mounds of your foot, which is the widest base of support. So, starting there, feeling the ground on your forefoot and then dropping your heel down. So, different from how we walk. When we're just walking around, we're typically heel striping first and then rolling to the ball onto the foot, pushing off big toe, and that's how you're supposed to walk. But when we're walking slowly and we're balancing, the four-foot stripe is really effective for balance in particular. So, that's important. Obviously, moving really slowly and thoughtfully.
Tom: I think there was something in one of your videos about the three points of contact, kind of under the smaller toes and then under your big toe and then your heel. Is that correct?
Lindsay: Yeah, exactly. So, that the kind of referred to as the tripod of the foot, which is the big toe ball mound, little toe ball mound in the center of your heel bone. And what we're looking for...and this is especially really important for people who may have ankle instability or may have also like maybe experienced some ankle injuries or prone to ankle rolls in the past, we really, really wanna make sure that you aren't dipping way over to the outer edge of your foot or way toward the inner arch of your foot, but you're purely planting your foot with each individual step.
Tom: With all three of those points.
Lindsay: Exactly. Which sounds kind of laborious, but over time it just becomes muscle memory and how you're moving. If it's new to you, it takes a little while just to kind of get the hang of it.
Tom: Yeah. I never thought of it that way, so I'm gonna pay more attention to that myself.
Lindsay: Yeah. And then also that process of weight shifting before weight transferring. So, these are terms that we use specifically in the move methodology, which is starting to transfer your weight on your least foot first and ensuring that it truly is fully stable before you fully transfer your weight and start to initiate your next step. At the end of the day, it really does come down to slowing things down, being a little bit more thoughtful. Obviously, depending on where you're wading, you may have to implement these kind of techniques a little bit more thoroughly. You know, other times you can move maybe a little bit more quickly.
Tom: And I guess keeping your body sideways to the current is gonna help wading diagonally?
Lindsay: Absolutely. Yeah. That is not obvious to people and that kind of just boils down to our kind of basic wading technique. But people who are brand new to wading, you know, if they haven't stumbled across anything on YouTube or haven't gone out with others, I mean, it's not necessarily intuitive.
Tom: No, it's not. It's not really.
Lindsay: Not until you feel it and you realize, "Oh wow, this actually makes a really big difference."
Tom: So, give me some advice on, I'm wading across the stream and it's getting heavy and it's getting deep, and I get to a point where, "Oh man, I gotta turn around. I gotta retreat. I'm not gonna make it across here without swimming or without getting into real danger." Do I turn around facing upstream, downstream? How do I turn around?
Lindsay: So, depending on the context, but I personally prefer to turn around upstream versus downstream just to help prevent all of sudden, you know, that potential of getting your feet taken out from under you. And this really does boil down to honing in on your body awareness and recognizing, you know, like we've all had these moments where we start wading and suddenly... I mean, we can even just feel it in our gut intuition of like, "Ooh, this doesn't feel right. This might not end well." So, I think that component of having your exit strategy dialed in, and, you know, ideally, before it gets to the point where it starts to feel like a moment of panic is what we wanna do. And then of course, when we're doubling back, we're still working on the diagonal as we're turning around.
Tom: Okay. And you talk about falling down and getting up quite a bit. Give us some advice on those things, because you are gonna fall down in a river. It's gonna happen.
Lindsay: Totally. Yeah. To be honest, that sort of clumsiness nature, that kind of comes along with fly fishing is something that I think is part of the inherent charm of fly fishing in many ways, is sort of playful. And if there's some levity involved in not taking ourselves too seriously and realizing that we're certainly gonna fall down from time to time, I definitely think it's important to recognize that not all falls are created equal depending on where you are and who you are. So, for some of us, it's no big deal and we stumble from time to time and that's okay. That's not always the case. I mean, sometimes it can result in acute injury or worse or something that then results in chronic pain or trauma. I mean, all of the things.
So, I do think it's important that while we recognize falling is not always the end of the world, it can sometimes be a problem. And for people who are perpetually falling all the time, I've heard this from a lot of folks, it turns them off from fly fishing because you can only take so many days of that. So, it's like the same thing as casting into the bushes all day long where it just turns into a frustrating endeavor versus something that's fun. So, falling is definitely a topic that I talk about a lot. It's a fear that a lot of people have, whether or not they're a new fly angler or seasoned. So, I think it's really important that we as a culture society of anglers, we get really comfortable with spending time accessing the floor or the ground or getting back up.
So, one of the one of the kind of main pillars inside the Wade Well Method that I teach is ground sitting. Because we live in a chair-focused culture, for better or worse, a lot of us just don't have that range of motion available in our lower bodies to squat or to get down to the ground and get back up again because we're just not doing it, and we're just not using those ranges of motion. So, what I think is super important in terms of just the takeaways for folks to start implementing into their regular life is spending time getting down onto the floor and getting back up again. Super simple. It sounds almost too simple, but, you know, if you ask your average, I don't know, 65-year-old, "Hey, can you sit on the floor and get back up again?"
A lot of people say no. A lot of people say no. So, I think that's sort of the first step is if you're not feeling comfortable doing that in the comfort of your own home, it's gonna probably cause a little bit of a strain, fear, stress when you're out on the water in these more dynamic areas where you're far more likely to fall down. So, outside of just spending time on the ground, on the floor in our regular life, there's also a lot of different getup patterns. And this is also kind of specific to the MovNAT method, but a lot you'll see this in just like your general strength and conditioning methods too, of different ways to get back up off of the ground where you can load your body in different ways and kind of orient through different shapes depending upon what range of motion you have available for you.
So, you know, if you think about just even putting your hands on the ground if you're seated on the floor and pushing yourself up off of the ground with your hands, that's asking for a certain degree of load of your wrist and extension. And if your wrists don't like that, then that's gonna be difficult for people. You know, if you're pushing up and then coming into a bunch of load on your feet and your ankles and your knees and your hips, if you don't have those requisite ranges of motion in your lower body, it becomes difficult to get back up off of the ground. So, again, it kind of boils down to committing some of your time outside of, you know, your time on the water, to just working on basic full body mobility, and then learning some of those get-up patterns because it's nice to just have those kind of banked in your muscle memory of, "Okay, this is one way I can get up off of the ground if I'm on my butt versus belly down."
There's some circumstances where it might not be accessible to use your hands to get back up off the ground. If you're surrounded by, you know, crystally pokey stuff or, you know, whatever it happens to be mud. So, even having some ability to be able to get back up without the use of your hands is helpful.
Tom: And what are some of the, what do you call them, get-up methods?
Lindsay: So, there's quite a few, and I go over I think maybe four or five six of them in that wading strong digital course. I should post some more on YouTube one of these days. But if you adjust getup patterns that, you know, if you're laying on your back, let's say, having the ability to even roll up and down... Again, you know, like on paper when we say these things, it sounds like super simple, but absolutely not accessible for everybody. And, you know, depending on the individual, you know, we have to be able to adapt these different patterns. But just like this forward rocking up and down to get up into a seated position is kind of the first part of the equation.
A getup pattern that I really enjoy is the tripod get-up. And why I like it is because you have the opportunity to use two hands and one of your feet and one of your legs to kind of leverage a whole bunch of support to get back up again. So, honestly, numerous, numerous different styles of getting up off of the ground. Some of 'em are kind of... I mean, if you look on YouTube, what you're gonna also find is just some sort of mobility challenges that you probably wouldn't end up using in regular life. It's more just like, "Oh, let's see how fancy I can get with getting up off the ground without using my hands and twisting my legs around." But a lots of different options. That's the kind of my favorite is the tripod get-up.
Tom: And then what kind of simple things can people do to improve their balance and their flexibility? Obviously, yoga. You're gonna say yoga.
Lindsay: Yoga's great. I mean, depending on the style of yoga, I like yoga because for one thing, oftentimes if you're embarking upon more of a dynamic movement practice, you know, the [inaudible 01:04:46] class or Hatha class, you are gonna get up and down from the ground typically multiple times. So, immediately you're doing that, which I love... But the same can be the case when you're at the gym working out. The ground sitting thing that I already kind of mentioned ad nauseam, I'm sitting on the floor in my studio right now during this call. And so this is me getting, you know, a half an hour of ground sitting in during the day.
Tom: I'm sitting in a chair, I should be sitting on the floor too.
Lindsay: I try to spend as much time as I can, but it's not like I'm spending all day on my computer sitting on the floor. But the reason why we love this ground sitting is because it's uncomfortable for most of us. So, you wind up actually changing positions very frequently. You change how you're seated and you wind up loading your joints in whole bunch of different ways. So, however is that you can manage to get on the ground if you're able to, is huge, even if that means using the supportive props underneath you, cushions, bolsters, blankets, whatever it is to make it accessible, is helpful. Outside of that, the single-leg balance training and any kind of balance training is huge. It's one of those things that I hear more often than not from folks, especially as they're getting a little older.
They say, "Wow, my balance just is not what it used to be." And much of that, it seems that a lot of that just comes from, with a lot of people, they're transitioning into just not spending as much time active. So, a lot of it's just like, how active are you in your day-to-day life? Are you spending time walking? I mean, if there's three things that I could recommend as top most important essential things to do is get out and go walking on a daily basis, if you can, even if it's a 15, 20-minute walk. When you're walking, you're single-leg balancing, even though it's a quick single-leg balance. But, you know, walking is huge. If you wanna wade long term, you need to be walking all the time. And the ground-sitting bed, of course.
And then the single-leg balancing and the standing balancing can look a million different ways. I like to just kind of sprinkle them in. I really love when people can commit to, you know, a 30-minute mobility practice or whatever it is. But I think that to be a little bit more reasonable, just helping people to incorporate more of these actions into their regular day-to-day life, which means like standing in the line at the grocery store, and balancing on one foot for 15 seconds, actually has a really, really big impact. So, just starting to incorporate a little bit more single-leg balancing into while you're brushing your teeth or, you know, whatever it is.
If you create some habit, some kind of habitual ritual even around it, so, that's always when you're brushing your teeth, you just balance on one foot for 30 seconds, that goes a really long way.
Tom: Okay. And I know that when you close your eyes, that becomes so much more difficult. Does that help in your balance practice to start closing your eyes when you do it or doesn't that help at all for wading?
Lindsay: Yeah. Our vestibular system, which is kind of our built-in balance system, is the combination of our eyes as well as our inner ear canal sort of the system that we use to properly assess and balance. So, closing your eyes will certainly challenge your balance more. And it's a fun way to progress. So, if you get to the point where you're like bored in whatever the balance work that you've been doing, by all means, close your eyes and challenge your balance. You'll probably immediately feel while my foot is properly accepting and shifting around, I feel my whole body experiencing this in a totally different way.
Tom: Yeah, it does. It really changes things. Interesting.
Lindsay: Yeah. Make sure you have something to grab a hold of so you don't take a digger.
Tom: And I know that, you know, sometimes strength comes into play. I mean, I know that sometimes when in pretty good shape, but I know sometimes when I'm wading across the stream and it's a long wade and it's strong current, I get tired, I have to stop and rest. What can you recommend for that when it really gets to pushing your physical ability, I guess?
Lindsay: I think some of that does come down to, again, body awareness and knowing your limits to begin with because nobody needs to wind up in the middle of a big, huge river feeling like, "Wow, I'm not even able to get back now because I'm totally fatigued." So, I mean, I think that's part of it. I'm obviously a really big advocate of doing all the work that we do off of the water. So, you know, wading through fast-moving current is resistance training. And I'm sure that you can relate to, you know, certain days I'll wake up the next morning and my legs are just bent and sore, and it's a quick reminder of actually how much work I'm doing when I'm wading rivers, especially for a full day and especially in a strong current.
So, there is absolutely something to be said about just committing, again, to a resistance training program and endurance work when you're not on the water, which everyone, you know, really needs to be doing regardless for our just overall health, certainly for our bone health. All those things. But in those instances when you're actually on the water, I think it's just a matter of having a very firm grasp of what your capacity is and not trying to be a hero, I think ego. Ego certainly comes into play with some of this stuff, you know.
Tom: Yeah. Especially with men.
Lindsay: Oh, you said it, not me. But it's true. I mean, understanding and honoring our limits is a really big deal. And that's part of the aging process as well. lt's certainly okay to accept that, like, I might not be as aggressive as a wader as I once was, or maybe just adapting in a different way. And that's okay too. It doesn't mean anything other than, you know, sometimes we just evolve in the way that we need to support ourselves.
Tom: But it really hurts when you realize you can't wade as well as you used to. It really hurts. It really hurts, Lindsay.
Lindsay: I know, I know. And on top of that, there's the chronic pain subject too of like... So, ego aside, anyone who's, and this is something I'm just really passionate about, is like, how can we mitigate chronic pain as much as humanly possible? Because that would really make... I mean, talk about making a day on the water kind of sucks when you're in pain all day long and you're like, "Wow, I used to be able to spend six hours out and now it's like two hours and this is my threshold." And again, this is a part of just making adaptations, but there's also a lot that we can do to help mitigate some of that in many cases, which is, I think, really important.
Tom: Yeah. It sure is. I wanted to talk a little bit about the use of a wading staff and the reason I wanna ask about this is... Oh, it's an interesting short story by Tom McGuinn. And you may know the story, I think it's called "The Old Fisherman" or something like that. But I just reread it the other day. And it's about this older guy, he's like 80. And he said that he wasn't gonna use a wading staff till his first heart attack, and he never had a heart attack, but he went out fishing one night and they found him in the Yellowstone River, 40 miles downstream, drowned. So, I haven't had a heart attack yet, but I'm thinking of starting with a wading staff. So, let's talk about the use of wading sticks or staff.
Sometimes you just grab a branch along the bank of the river and that works fine, but you know, a lot of people use a wading staff. What's the best way to use that?
Lindsay: I'm such a huge advocate. I'll just start there by saying that I would love to see more of it and see more of it with people of all ages. It's not just something for the, you know, the "elderly" or whatever. Such a useful tool. What we refer to that in the biz is increasing your base of support. And if you were to take any of my classes with me, you'll see that I'm a fan of tools. I'm always using yoga blocks and tennis balls and bolsters and blankets and all the things. So, you know, using our resources is amazing and everyone should do it. In terms of your question, how to use your wading staff...
Tom: Yeah. Do you plant it in front of you? Do you plant it to the side? Where do you plant your staff and how do you use it to navigate?
Lindsay: So, I think it, again, kind of depends on the context and the environment you're in. Because a wading staff is also outside of just giving you an extra limb for support, it's also really great for just stealing the substrate before you take your next step. So, you know, that's something that I think some people forget in terms of the use of a wading staff is like, you can get a really good sense of what's underneath you before you take your step to make sure that it's, you know, firm ground. So, using your wading staff out in front of you is helpful for that reason. I like to use a wading staff in the same way that I approach this idea of a contralateral movement pattern, which is, if you would imagine crawling or walking, you're using the opposite leg and opposite hand or arm at the same time.
So, if I'm taking a step forward with my left foot, I'll be, you know, feeling with my right hand forward, or perhaps off to the side, at the diagonal. I think it also kind of depends upon the person's body and where they need the most support and how much you're actually leaning your weight into the wading staff. I think there's a lot of different ways that you can kind of use your wading staff as a tool. Of course, first and foremost, we wanna just slam it into the ground the same way we would with our foot, our step, with our full weight transfer.
Tom: So, you use that, transfer the weight to the staff before you transfer your foot.
Lindsay: Yeah, exactly. That's what I do. And I do tend to think that wading staff frequently fall under feeling like a fairly intuitive movement for most people.
Tom: Should it be upstream of your body or downstream of your body? Do you have any thoughts on that?
Lindsay: Good question. I'm kind of just taking a moment to like visualize how is that I moved with the staff in the water. I tend to move with my staff downstream of my body. I would be interested in hearing what your technique is.
Tom: Yeah. I think that makes sense or straight in front of you, but I think if you plant it upstream, there's a chance that you might get pulled away from the staff, whereas if you plant it downstream, you can lean against it to brace yourself. So, I think it makes more sense to have it downstream of you.
Lindsay: Yeah. I think from the perspective of physics, that makes sense in terms of the course of the water.
Tom: But being the stubborn, egotistical male that I am, I haven't used the staff enough yet. So, I'm gonna be learning a lot about it.
Lindsay: Admittedly, I don't use them as often as I as I should either. But I'm a pretty conservative wader at this point in my life for whatever reason. I mean, there's so many times where, you know, speaking of ego, when you're out with other people and you're sort of like weighing out, "All right, so and so is just charging through, and I don't really wanna do that." So, it's just that's part of the game, I guess.
Tom: Yeah. I've been there. I've been there. How about if you fall in, and this is not really part of wading, but it's part of wading safety. If you fall in and you lose your footing, and you get pushed downstream by the current, what do you do?
Lindsay: I mean, you know, just kind of like your basic wade safety, feet up in the air, on your back, and off to safety as soon as humanly possible.
Tom: Yeah. Dog paddles. You need to show off your gun or backstroke into the shore.
Lindsay: Yeah, exactly. I've been fortunate to not have any major issues like that where I've really gone sailing down the river, but it happens frequently enough. And those are those situations where you wanna think a little bit more seriously about what falls can result in because it can be a bad situation, not always. You know, that's more often than not it's fine.
Tom: Yeah. And I think you wanna be aware of what is just not immediately downstream of you, but if you're gonna float for a little bit or paddle for a little bit, you need to be careful of sweepers and things that you could get hung up on. You need to be aware of that.
Lindsay: Big log jams, sometimes I can't believe how massive they are, and how quickly you could get tangled in that situation.
Tom: So, just be being aware, again, as you said, being aware of the whole environment all around you, not just the rocks right in front of you.
Lindsay: Yeah. I mean, especially when you're about to wade across the river, really, like taking a moment to assess. We always embark upon these eco assessments when we're just doing the fishing. It's like looking at what's going on with the bugs and the birds and, you know, reading the water for the purposes of fishing. We have to do the same thing when we're moving and when we're wading.
Tom: Absolutely. Do you do you recommend PFDs for people who are not terribly stable on their feet?
Lindsay: Yeah. It's not really a topic that I've ever delved into, but I don't see why not. And kind of also from just like a very practical safety standpoint, but also from a psychosomatic safety standpoint. You know, whatever tools we can use to help us to feel safe and supported is important. And whether or not that means wearing a PFD and using a wading staff and asking for a hand from our buddy when we're walking and wading, fishing with other people, if that, you know, helps to promote safety, there's a lot of different factors to take into account for, you know, just different individuals and their needs.
Tom: Oh yeah. We gotta talk about that. We gotta talk about the buddy system of crossing. I almost forgot about that. Let's talk about that a little bit.
Lindsay: Yeah, I know. It's a good one. I don't know if I just have trust issues, I get stressed out when... I've definitely done it. I'll start by saying that, and I definitely recommend it. I think it's so helpful. Again, it's like maybe a little bit of a hurdle over the ego, but hopefully not. I mean, when I talk about the work that I do, really, we're talking about like, let's just all get a little bit comfortable about talking about our bodies and talking about subjects that are maybe a little bit more vulnerable. And I think that's it. It's like, it might be a point of vulnerability to say, "Hey, will you walk arms with me? This is looking a little sketchy." But that extra mode of support is certainly a useful tool.
Tom: Yeah. And you just recommend locking arms.
Lindsay: That's all I've ever done is locked arms. I mean, I feel like that offers a little bit more stability and connection versus, I don't know, holding hands. I guess I think I've had like a hand kind of like grasping my shoulder on a couple of occasions. That one I think is fine.
Tom: Yeah. A couple of men have trouble holding hands going across the river. It's just not something we wanna do. I've done it.
Lindsay: Fair enough.
Tom: And when you do that, should the stronger wader be upstream or downstream? You know, because it's usually me with a big strong guide, you know, and do I put the guide upstream or downstream of me?
Lindsay: I think it makes the most sense to have the stronger person kind of managing the most amount of course upstream if we're kind of side by side. Yeah.
Tom: Okay. So, the stronger one upstream?
Lindsay: Mm-hmm.
Tom: Okay. And of course, then there's the situation where they both fall in, one pulls the other one down.
Lindsay: Well, that's what I'm always worried about. Apparently, I'm assuming that I'm the stronger one and I'm gonna get pulled down. I don't know what I am.
Tom: But, you know, it's an important topic because people drown wading in trout streams or other kinds of rivers every year. It's not uncommon. So, it's an important thing to talk about and to be aware of because it does happen.
Lindsay: It does. It certainly happens. And again, even if it's not drowning, you know, depending on where you are and where you live, I mean, just even a twisted ankle can become a serious problem if you're hiking in the backcountry or something for what you thought was just gonna be a short, you know, day trip or whatever, and suddenly you can't make your way out. So, there's a lot of, you know, not to incorporate too much doom and gloom, but it's important to try and to take it into consideration.
Tom: Yeah, it is. All right, is there anything we missed? I mean, there's lots more I know on your website and I invite people to go and check it out because it is super valuable and there's lots of exercises there to do. But is there anything important that we missed here on this kind of overview of wading well?
Lindsay: I think we hit the major points. I guess my only other thing that I would add is just kind of having a broader understanding of how we show up to the water in our bodies and kind of how we're tending to our health off of the water. Meaning, our sleep health has a huge impact. Our hydration has a huge impact on our cognitive abilities, on our motor skills. So, that would be the only other thing that we didn't really touch on, but something I feel pretty strongly about is like, you know, if you're planning a big day out on the water, like maybe consider getting adequate sleep and hydrating because it's gonna actually make a pretty big difference.
Tom: Yeah. And I'm guilty of that often both of those, well, not sleeping so much, but hydrating. And you're right, that can be important.
Lindsay: Yeah.
Tom: All right. Good. Lots of things to think about.
Lindsay: Absolutely.
Tom: All right, Lindsay. Well, this has been great and I think a lot of people are gonna get some great tips and they're all gonna start standing in line in the fly shop on one foot doing yoga before they go fishing. Oh, do you recommend stretching before wading? Do you think that's important?
Lindsay: Yeah. I think certainly for a lot of different reasons in terms of just kind of lubricating your joints so that they're just sliding and gliding and working well. And then more than that, just kind of getting your brain and body online and connected. I think there's a lot of benefit to stretching, you know, outside of just your kind of muscular health that everyone immediately thinks of. So, little stretching routine can go a long way.
Tom: Okay. Well, I'm gonna go stand around on one foot and then I'm gonna go sit on the floor for a while with my dogs and...
Lindsay: Perfect.
Tom: Actually, the best couple of days I have been sitting on the floor a lot more just after watching your videos.
Lindsay: Mission accomplished.
Tom: Yeah. I'm gonna keep practicing that.
Lindsay: Oh, good. Well, thanks so much for inviting me on, Tom. I really appreciate it.
Tom: Well, thank you, Lindsay. This has been great and I've been looking forward to doing this. And if you wanna see some more of Lindsay's work, you can go to, is it, your website?
Lindsay: It's actually just my name,
Tom: Okay, And you have a YouTube channel where people can see some of the videos and they're under, what's your channel?
Lindsay: YouTube is Wade Well. I have a Wade Well Instagram account. TikTok is fairly happening, so don't go there.
Tom: Okay. You don't have to worry. I won't be going to TikTok.
Lindsay: Good deal.
Tom: All right, Lindsay. Thanks so much.
Lindsay: Yeah. Thank you.
Tom: All right. It's been great talking to you.
Lindsay: You too. Take care.
Tom: Bye-bye.
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