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Friday, August 16, 2013

The $12 Industrial Wading Staff

I've been extremely busy taking my guests to the North Fork Yuba River where a wading staff is vital for navigating the river’s gnarly terrain and banging the rocks to scare off the snakes. I've used many different kinds in the past from old ski poles to the latest the fly fishing industry has to offer. They work, but I wanted something hand crafted by myself that is both bombproof and industrial. For $12 in new materials, a little time, and some effort I created a no nonsense wading staff.  I took the best features of many wading staffs including Ron Hart’s design (which is the best retail staff on the market in my opinion) and kept the manufacturing simple. My work time was a bit longer since I made 4 staffs so I can outfit my guests. For a single staff the work time is about 30 minutes, not including drying time between steps. All of the materials were bought from Hills Flat Lumber Co., our local hardware store here in Grass Valley. Great store by the way and the staff is so helpful!

To make your own, first treat the 1”x 48” hardwood dowel with some high quality stain. I skipped putting on a clear polyurethane finish to keep the “shine” factor down for a stealthier appearance, plus it’s going to get beat to hell anyways so why bother. Next make your pilot hole for your leash anchor on one end, in this case a large wood screw and a washer. Thread the wood screw though the middle of the 5/16 shock cord until the screw point protrudes out to the other side. Now insert the screw into the pilot hole that has been filled with Goop brand marine glue and tighten it until flush. Clip off the tag end of the shock cord with a pair of dikes flush so the grip slides on smoothly.

With the mountain bike grip, ream the end hole out with a 5/16 bit to allow the shock cord to pass through. Laying the grip in the hot sun on some black asphalt will soften the grip for easier application. Once the grip is soft, shoot the inside with some carburetor cleaner to help aid in sliding the grip on. The carb cleaner will eventually evaporate and the grip will be locked in place. This step does require a bit of muscle! Measure how long you would like your leash and make an overhand loop knot, tighten this very well until it’s seated. I opted for a flat black locking carabiner which will run you another $9, you can get away with much less but I wanted “bombproof” technology with a little insurance.

For the tip I then glued on a 1” vinyl leg protector for furniture with the Goop marine glue. Your next step will be removing just the bottom vinyl section of the leg protector so that the wood dowel is exposed. This will provide enough grip for wading and it wears in nicely, it’s also so much quieter than a metal tip; which the trout can appreciate. Using a Surform hand held planer will speed up removing the bottom material quickly. Finish off with a palm sander until flush and smooth.

That’s it! You’re ready to rock the canyon water! 

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