Trimming for Agility
By: Mark Bachmann
Hopefully you've never had this happen. The fish of a lifetime is far down the river, way into the backing. You give chase, busting through the streamside willows, and are gaining back line as you run downstream along the river bank. Suddenly you are brought to a halt, nearly falling on your face. Your foot is ensnared by something. You kick hard but it doesn't come loose, and your reel keeps on screeching until the leader breaks as the backing comes tight against the arbor knot. The little hook on your gravel guard has caught a willow, and you have to lean over and free yourself before reeling in over a hundred yards of slack line.
Don't worry, it hasn't happened to me either, but it could've. I've been caught up in plenty of young willows by my gravel guard hook, and even taken a few tumbles as the result. Now, I'm more proactive and cure the situation before it becomes a problem. Falling face first in a jumble of beaver-sharpened stobs isn't that appealing. Losing my agility and then a prize fish, doesn't end the story the way I would like either.
When I get a new pair of waders, I use a pair of scissors or a sharp knife to remove the hold-down strap from my gravel guards. It is the same strategy as loggers cutting the hem from the bottom of their pants, hoping the pant leg will tear before they are tripped. a stob up the leg of your pant might prove fatal if you couldn't get out of the way of a falling tree. Let's hope you never have to find out.
Most modern waders have built-in gravel guards that will stay in place without being hooked to your boot laces. You will be much safer after the hold-down hooks have been removed from the bottom of your gravel guards.
Wade safely my friends.