This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

August 6th, 2001

The Folstaf

It was somewhere between my fifth and sixth step into the West Branch of the Delaware river that I said to myself, "the heck with it, I'm getting my wading staff out now!" The water was not unusually swift and the bottom was not a jumble of rocks, but I was picking my way forward, shuffling my wading boots gingerly along. I wade that way in unknown waters, so far it has proven to be a good plan. (Also recommended in wading the flats as opposed to picking up your feet.)

I eased up the edge of my fly-vest and pulled the holstered Folstaf forward on my wading belt more to my left side instead of a bit behind me. Nice thing about using a Folstaf, you need to wear a wading belt to hang the holster on. Has about the same effect that seat-belts have I suppose, forcing me to be safe. I have to admit I haven't always worn a wading belt when I guess I should have. It doesn't seem as necessary with neoprenes, but it does make sense with the breathables.

Now I guess this sounds like a commercial for Folstaf, and for that, I'm sorry. But if this column saves just one dunking or even someone's life, it's sure worth it. The truth is, I do think the 'Folstaf' brand of wading staff is probably the best one out there, but if you find another you like better, more power to you. My point is to get you to buy one and use one. Yes, I did say, BUY one, and I meant it.

JC had a buddy who looked at a gadget to hold a fly rod on the side of his float-tube. "Nope," he said, "I'll build my own, heck, be nothing to make one of those things." The point is, he never got around to it. I know the feeling, been there, got the hat myself. Guilty as charged for a few decades of wading without a staff. But, you see, I was immortal back then, or at least I wasn't thinking about safety as much as I should have been.

Don't give me that story that you will find a branch and use it for a staff. When was the last time you really did? And just what did you do with it while you were casting? Oh, sure, it sounds like a good idea, and it is, the only thing wrong with it is, you won't do it. Another thing, I will admit that the price of these things was a factor. They are not cheap. They are made of good stuff and good stuff isn't cheap. You want to trust your life to 'the lowest bidder?' I don't think so. Not me.

If your wife gives you grief about buying one, take a peek at your life insurance policy, see if she has raised the pay-off amount, about the only reason I can figure she would be upset with you for buying something to save your dignity, let alone your life.

Back to the river.

LadyFisher and Folstaf I pulled it out of the holster, unwrapped the lanyard (string thing), tied the end to a wader D-ring, held onto the cork handle and let the rest of it just drop into the water. In a flash it was all connected by the bungee cord inside of itself. I picked and poked about with it some as I advanced. It was the first time in my life I had ever felt that comfortable wading, period. (Let it be known here I'm a chicken.) There was a sense of security that must be experienced to be fully understood. I highly recommend you experience it soon, like the next time you go out.

I quickly became familiar with it and soon forged forth like an old hand at the game, 'boldly going where I had never gone before.' (Well, it was a new river to me!) Anyway, the thing worked great. It didn't take long to figure out to place the Folstaf on the downstream side. It was nice and strong and gave me confidence. When it was time to quit fishing it was dark. There is nothing like picking and shuffling your way out of a strange river in the dark, nothing. But, with the staff it sure was a lot better. It felt like having a third leg, like I always had two firmly on the bottom, a good feeling.

Once back on shore, I pulled the sections apart (the last section was a bit stuck, but did come loose. My fault, I had not put some candle wax on it like recommended). There was no problem in folding it up and putting it back into it's holster, and I was on my way up the river bank. I can see where it would be a help getting through some stream-side brush and paths too.

By this time you may have gotten the impression I like wading staffs, duh! I do, and I will continue to use one when ever appropriate. I will use the Folstaf, it works; my husband JC will use his too. ~ LadyFisher

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