Safety tips for the fly-fishing angler
I am a regular contributor to the Trout Unlimited Community Forum. On that site I find great tips on everything from gear to destinations. My comments relative to satellite messengers/tracking devices inspired a blog post from a fellow contributor regarding the value of these devices, particularly in an emergency. It had me thinking about the things I do (or should be doing) to ensure my safety while fishing, especially in remote areas.
First, and regarding satellite messaging devices, I agonized for a year over the value of having yet another fishing gadget, but it was the one my wife frequently asked that I strongly consider. I wasn’t sure that it felt necessary as I rarely fished alone but came to the realization that this was not the point. All it would take is one accident in an area of treacherous terrain to regret not having this device.
I researched three different manufacturer’s options (Spot, Zoleo and Garmin) and decided on the Garmin inReach Mini because it was cheaper in the long run (initial device cost + annual subscription) and reportedly had the better support and reliable service. This latter point has proven to be better than expected, in fact! I find that I am using it on most of my fishing excursions, so have opted for the basic monthly subscription service, rather than the flexible option (which costs more) that allows me to enable or disable the subscription at will.
I do a lot of wade fishing and many of the waters I fish have very rocky riverbeds that often are uneven or slick. Here in Northern Virginia we have a milder winter climate, so I can fish year-round even in icy or snowy conditions. As such, having a good gripping wading boot (and increasingly, a wading staff) has been critical. Because I only had one pair of boots in the early days, I purchased a product called Yaktrax ICEtrekkers Diamond grip cleats. These cleats are secured to a rubber harness that is easy to slip on or off the wading boot and the gripping ability of the rotating alloy cleats is phenomenal.
I now have two pairs of boots, a pair of Simms with studs embedded in the soles, and a pair of Korkers with several interchangeable soles, including the standard rubber Sticky Sole, Felt and the Studded Kling-On Sole. The felt soles are reliable on slick stream beds, but there are several jurisdictions where I fish that prohibit these, so felt soles can easily be traded out for studded soles. I also have found out the hard way that wearing felt bottomed wading boots in winter can be counter-productive when frost, snow or ice are present.
I take all my own photography for my blog and rely quite a bit on my handheld mobile phone for this (although I also use a Go Pro Hero for underwater videos). At first, I kept the phone in a waterproof case, but this proved impractical as it was a nuisance to remove it from the case and then return it every time I wanted a picture. A few years ago, I discovered a device that secures the phone via a silicon bungee or tether that grips the corners of the phone. I find it very convenient to be able to take a quick picture with the tether secured to a carabiner hooked on my wader or vest.