Wading Safely in New Zealand's Back Country rivers and streams.

New Zealand is world renowned for it's stunning rivers/streams and of course it's fly fishing. In most cases to be successful when fly fishing here wading is required to get to the best sections of water.


High colored water....Do you know how deep it is ? How soft the bottom is ? How fast is the water flowing ? If I fall over can I safely get out ? All these things should be taken into consideration before entering the water. During the frenzied fight you often tend to forget all of these things as you try to keep up with a fish that is peeling line off the fly reel at a fast rate of knots ! And before you know it you can be in serious trouble. Below are a few tips on keeping safe in water. .

        A few wading tips for anglers fly fishing in NZ's Back-country rivers .

  • Visually mark out your entry and exit point before entering the water.Think about what you will do if you lose your footing and fall in.  If you plan out where you are going and study the current in the river, this will make a safe crossing much easier. Remember river and stream flows can change unexpectedly, especially early season due to snow melt ,with some rivers coming up dramatically during the day.
  • Once you've decided the best place to cross, the general rule is to angle yourself down stream, allowing the current to gently push you along, but being careful it doesn’t take control of you. Move slowly don’t fight the current, take it on your side, or even face up stream but never never turn your back to river. Allow the current to help you gradually make your way towards the other bank.
  • Wear a wading belt at all times .Wading belts are not perfect at preventing water from filling up your waders if you go under, but they are far better than not having one .Make sure your wadersfit and are comfortable and don't restrict movement.
  • A good pair of wading boots are equally as important as the waders. Many of the newer styles have the sticky Vibram soles with studs attached these are great for river bottoms with algae covered stones, the Mataura river in Southland is one such river that these boots are definitely needed.
  • Use a wading staff or stick. Not only will these help with stability in stronger currents or on slippery bouldery bottoms they also act as a probe for feeling the bottom out if the water is discolored and your not sure of the water depth ahead of you.
  • Wade within your comfort zone.If your not sure or feeling unsafe simply don't do it, stay on the rivers edge or bank and fish from there.
  • Take tiny steps, shuffle your feet across the bottom of the river,as soon as you lift your leg the current will take hold of it and push it from under you.Once this happens you will lose your balance and begin stumbling.... most likely going under.Look for gravelly sections of river bottom between the bigger boulders and stones.Slide your feet into position and work them in between the rocks and stones, rather than standing directly on top of them where they may roll causing you to tumble over.
  • Turn onto your back if you do manage too get knocked or swept over and try to get your feet facing down stream as quickly as possible. This will help prevent any collisions with your head and any obstacles that might be in the river.The water will most likely be fairly cold so you want to get to the bank as quickly as possibly. Pick an exit point on the closest bank and carefully paddle towards .
  • Linking arms with your fishing buddies or guide is another great method. Put the larger built person above so they act as an anchor. Again move slowly with the current letting it gently push you along.
  • On a final note if you don't need to wade  ...DON'T !!  Don't take unnecessary risks ... is it really worth it ?

Feel free to contact me with any questions you have or to start planning your 2015/16 fly fishing New Zealand adventure

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Cheers Paul