Folstaf Wading Staff

The Folstaf wading staff may be ideal for tenkara anglers. A wading staff is one of the few things I wouldn't be without on a small stream. Mine has saved me from falling many times, and not only when wading. I use it all the time when scrambling up and down streambanks. I use it as a walking stick on the trail, for a little extra push when climbing a steep spot and as a steadying support when going down.

In my admittedly biased opinion, a staff is infinitely more important than a reel. There are only two reasons I can think of for why more anglers don't use one: some may feel that a staff is always in the way, and some may feel a misguided sense of pride.

The first objection is easy to dispel. Many fly fishermen say one of the hardest things to get used to about tenkara is that they don't have anything to do with their other hand, now that it isn't needed for line control. What to do with the other hand is easy. Hold a wading staff!

Especially now that more and more places are banning felt soles, having a wading staff is critical for wading safety. And as for the pride, it's a lot harder to keep your pride if you fall face first in the stream.

One of the things that anglers like best about a the Folstaf wading staff, that it folds up and fits in a convenient little pouch that fits on their belt, is to me a mixed blessing. A folding wading staff is not going to help you when it is folded. Nonetheless, a folding staff is very handy to have and easy to pack. The advantages of a rod that packs down to around 20" are somewhat offset if you have to carry around a wading staff that is 4 or 5 feet long.

The Folstaf wading staff is probably the best known folding wading staff. Unlike so many of the things we buy these days, they're not imported from China but are made by a small family-owned company in upstate New York. If you're going to buy a folding wading staff, this is definitely one to consider.

If you do buy one, I would very strongly recommend the 3/4" diameter heavier duty F34 model. More than once I've had to support nearly my whole weight on my wading staff (and I've also had to use it to literally pry my boot out when it got wedged between some riverbed rocks). You definitely want a strong staff! The 3/4" diameter model also has dual bungee cords, which will help to hold the staff together if you get the staff wedged in the rocks. Mine is actually a little difficult to get it to come apart even when I do want to collapse it. I can't imagine it coming apart accidentally, although I've heard stories of it happening. I suppose I could wax the connections, but I certainly don't want to change it to the point that it could come apart accidentally.

In the spirit of full disclosure, although I do have a Folstaf, I generally use a rake handle from Home Depot. The reason for that, which I suppose could be a third reason why anglers might not use a wading staff, is that every time I plant the staff and about half the times I lift it, it goes "clink" against a rock! That makes it very hard to wade stealthily.

The folding staff is very convenient when traveling, though, because you can pack it so much more easily. A rake handle does not fit in the overhead bin, and I'm sure they wouldn't let you take it on a plane anyway.

I do not sell the Folstaf Wading Staff, but I have an affiliate relationship with the North Platte Fly Shop in Wyoming, which does (and they offer free shipping on it). I will receive a small commission if you buy anything in their shop after clicking on the link.

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Tenkara has no strict rules. Enjoy tenkara in your own way.
- Eiji Yamakawa

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