man fishing waders


In many fishing scenarios, the best way to access a waterway or approach fish is through wading. Sometimes we’re driven to the water because the bankside terrain is inaccessible, or we need space for casting. On other occasions wading is a means to reach underwater features or habitat that a land-based cast can’t reach. Whether you’re stalking Trout in a stream or trudging along sand flats in search of Flathead, wading is an essential technique for anglers.

Here are a handful of factors to consider when you dip your toes into the water.


Wading is not suitable for all waterways so you’ll need to use your best judgement on when it will be beneficial or not. Wading is typically a useful approach in small shallow freshwater streams where trout and other native species lurk. Sand flats, mud flats, and sandy beaches are also a common wading habitat in estuaries and coastal environments.


Wading is a means to get closer to fish so there’s no need to enter the water if the fish are located close to shore. Wading provides access to drop-offs and holes in the substrate that are beyond casting reach from the shore. It also helps to cover new ground across sand flats and locate tailing or feeding fish.

In streams, creeks, and rivers, wading upstream can help to avoid difficult or inaccessible terrestrial terrain. Standing mid stream also provides more space for uninhibited casting. This is particularly useful for fly fishers who require space for a back cast.


Use common sense around water. Assess the surroundings and prevailing conditions and never jump straight in. In both ultra clear water and murky water, it can be difficult to judge depth. Wading into gently sloping substrates is the best approach.

Take extra care around underwater boulders in rivers and streams as they can be slippery and often drop away into deep water. Likewise, avoid any fast-moving currents that could sweep you off your feet. On estuary and coastal flats, shuffle along to ensure that lurking stingrays have plenty of notice of your approach and always tread cautiously in muddy or silty terrain. The silt sediments in mangrove and swamp habitats can quickly turn to quicksand and swallow shoes, feet and legs into a muddy vacuum. It can be difficult to pull them out and many thongs and sandals have been lost in such desperate scenarios. Ensure that your footwear is securely fastened to your feet or they’ll be condemned to a muddy grave.


The best way to approach wading is to anticipate that falling into the drink is a possibility. Try to wear light clothing that won’t weigh you down if you do take a plunge. This isn’t usually a concern in summer, but thick winter jumpers and multiple layers quickly absorb water and make it very hard to swim.

Choose suitable footwear that you don’t mind getting wet. Aqua shoes, wading boots or even old sneakers are a good choice. It’s also sensible to ensure that your valuables are safely secured in a waterproof bag or container.


Whether you’re wading flats or stalking streams always move slowly and cautiously. A steady approach ensures that you maintain balance and control, but it also lends to a stealth approach. You’ll get more shots at fish if they don’t know you’re coming.

Look for interesting features such as drop-offs, deeper holes, weed patches, snags, undercut banks or boulders and waterfalls. These are prime features that are likely to hold fish. Always try to wade upstream in rivers and streams so that fish are less likely to detect your approach. Cast upstream and work lures and flies back naturally with the current.


Vision is a key element for fishing flats and streams. Investing in a good quality pair of polarised sunglasses can make an enormous difference to your ability to spot and target fish. They are also essential for scanning the water for obstacles and estimating depth while wading. Polarised sunglasses can make or break a fishing trip so don’t hit the water without them.

Wading is a fun and interactive way to get down and dirty while fishing. It’s a particularly fun and refreshing way to fish in the summer months and will provide you with the best opportunity to catch fish on flats and in mountain streams! Start planning you wading adventures for summer.


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Peter Hollingsworth

Peter has been fishing all around Australia since he was a boy. He loves camping, fishing and kayak fishing.