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How Do You Stop Drowning in Waders? Safety First

How Do You Stop Drowning in Waders

Drowning is the worst fear anglers have but it still happens and many have attributed this to the type of gear the victim had on, which could or couldn’t have been the primary cause.

Literally, waders don’t cause drowning.

How you wear them, their condition, and how you handle yourself in such a dire situation will determine if you’ll survive the incident or not.

In case you find yourself here, how do you stop drowning in waders?

First, if you are in a position to have your wading belt on, do it ASAP to prevent water from gushing into and settling in the lower sections of your waders.

If the currents are getting more powerful, DON’T PANIC – compose yourself and retrace your steps to a shallower location.

While at it, you want to subconsciously figure out the ground you are standing on to know if it is safe to move ahead with your self-rescue mission.

How Do You Stop Drowning in Waders?

The first thing most people will do when they sense signs of drowning is go full gas into panic mode which is the most dangerous thing.

Panicking sets your body into a slightly hyper mode and overreacting by aimlessly moving your limbs without thinking makes you tired faster than you would if you had composed yourself initially.

Limb fatigue as a result of hypermovement from panic is what causes quick drowning which could easily lead to death.

But, here’s how you can stop drowning when wearing waders.

Gear Up Correctly

Fly fishing as a sport has its special gear for comfort, performance, and safety.

The latter becomes the primary concern because carelessness can easily lead to drowning.

You want to ensure your waders are in pristine condition likewise your wading shoes.

Ensure you can get good traction depending on the river or stream bottom as this will be the first thing to help with stability in case you are in danger.

Never leave your wading belt behind even if you will be fishing from the banks or drifting.

It should fit snugly around your waist to reduce the flow of water into your gear.

Novice waders can bring a wading staff to hold onto if things take a drastic turn.

A wading staff acts as your third leg and if properly used, can help you wade to safety.

A PFD (personal floatation device) is a must if wading or boating in fast-flowing water. The automatic versions will inflate as soon as you hit the water lifting your head out of the water and will keep you upright until you can get to safety.

Your Reaction Matters

As earlier said, DON’T PANIC!

Easy to say, hard to do, but you can always practice this because how you react once you sense it is about to get messy determines your survival rate.

Compose yourself and read the waters – try gauging its depth and speed to know whether to turn sideways or head backward.

Composure keeps your mind clear and helps you plan how you’ll get out of trouble.

While at it, it saves your energy.

The Rescue Steps

You have composed yourself, have read the waters, and is now time to find your way to safety.

The water might be fast or deep to make it challenging for you to wade; angle down or across the river so that you are moving with the current.

Avoid being against or across it because you won’t manage especially if the currents are stronger than usual.

This is one of the safest and less effort approaches.

Let the stream bottom be in your mind so that you are sure of each step.

That is why the type of wading boots you wear is as important as the reel and fly rod you choose for that area.

Good traction can be a huge determinant of how soon you’ll be out of a bad situation

Secure your feet before shifting your weight.

Bold waders warn against crossing your legs and if the bottom has large slippery rocks, step in the lower spots to prevent slipping but be careful not to have them stuck between the stones.

Shout out for help in breaks to avoid running out of breath.

Pausing in between help calls allows you to breathe and regain your energy as you continue moving to safety.

If the water is too deep for wading then it is best to lay back with feet going downstream. That way your head will be protected from rocks.

Try to direct yourself towards a banking with your hands.

Once there be careful not to try immediately to stand.

If not wearing a wading belt your waders will be filled with water and be extremely heavy so try to drag yourself out and lying down lift your legs one and a time to drain the water before standing.

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How Do You Stop Drowning in Waders? – FAQs

There are so many questions about anglers drowning in waders.

Here are some with direct answers to help you keep safe and rescue yourself and others in case it happens.

Q) Do Waders Fill with Water?

A) Waders can fill with water if they are punctured or the wearer doesn’t have a snug wading belt on.

Once filled with water, their weight can make it difficult to move to safety, though the weight of water in the gear will be the same as that outside and that is what can help you float slightly.

Q) Can You Drown in Waders When Fishing from a Boat?

A) Boat capsizing happens or your vessel could fill up with water quickly from leaking points which can be a cause of drowning.

or, you can be pushed out of your boat if you are tagging on a monster fish who has refused to go home with you.

Ensure you have a snug wading belt on and a functional PFD to help you float if this happens.

Q) Can You Float in Waders?

A) Waders aren’t like regular swimming floaters but you can float in this gear if you lay backwards and angle your feet up.

Keep your feet and head up and avoid going against the water current to float longer even if your gear fills with water.


How do you stop drowning in waders?

You can stop drowning by having the correct angling gear on, including a snug wading belt, waders in good condition, and the right footwear for the river bottom you are fishing.

Keep calm and avoid panicking in case water enters your waders.

It might get heavier but will still be the same as the water outside your gear to help you be a little buoyant and find how to get to a safer spot.

If you feel like you are going down, maintain your waders on, your head up and face downstream.

Don’t hesitate to call out for help because it might be close even if not in sight.

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