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Slip in and sneak up on big fish in salty water.
There’s something to be said about grabbing a handful of lures and hitting your favorite spot, just your two feet and your fishing rod. Covering a lot of ground may be out of the question, but with careful planning you can cover it thoroughly.
When I chase fish on foot, I think stealth is a major advantage. While some wade fishermen pull a float behind them to accommodate multiple rods and tackle boxes, I prefer to pack light. A small box, such as the Plano 3440 waterproof box, works great for my wading. With dimensions of 7.3 inches by 4.5 inches, it’s perfect for filling with an assortment of soft plastics and hard baits. On the days I feel it is too hot for waders, I can tuck this box in my back waist band and go on my way. Since the box is waterproof, it can be completely submerged and floats as well.
In cooler seasons, waders are a great convenience. In recent years, wader manufacturers have slimmed down the cut of their products and worked to strategically place pockets for lures and valuables. Hodgman recently came out with the H3 breathable wader, with an outside pocket for tackle and an inside pocket for keys, phone and other gear. The G4 Pro wader by Simms has features such as a removable foam patch to hang flies from while on the water, as well as a retractable lanyard for line nippers. Little things like these can really help when waist deep in the water.
Foot protection is a must. You never know what you might step on when wading. Sturdy boots can be purchased to fit stockingfoot waders, or you might buy waders with integrated boots. In warm water, you might choose an old pair of tennis shoes or top of the line wading boots to prevent your feet from getting cut up. I prefer a nice pair of neoprene flats style boots.
Documenting a catch can be a bit difficult for the wade fisherman. I’ve seen a few phones go into the drink while their holders were trying to take a picture of a trophy fish. The Lifeproof case for smart phones works great for keeping your gadget dry. Another good alternative is a waterproof point and shoot camera, such as the Canon Powershot D30, small enough to tuck into the pocket of your waders, while still shooting magazine-quality photos.
For the majority of the wade fishing done in Florida, you will only need one rod, a 3000 sized reel spooled with 15-pound braid and paired with a 7-foot, medium-action rod will suffice. This allows you to fish lightweight soft plastics, but will still have enough power and line capacity in case you end up tangling with a bull redfish or hungry tarpon.
Salt water is the nemesis of the wade fisherman’s tackle. It’s very important to make sure you rinse off all the salt spray from your rod and reel, and service reels with oil and new grease when necessary. A useful trend among manufacturers is the integration of seals and gaskets to keep grit and saltwater out of reels. The Spinfisher V from Penn is one example, featuring this kind of protection from the elements. FS
First published Florida Sportsman March 2015