I eagerly awaited arrival of this carbon fiber Pro Wading Staff but I have to say I am a bit disappointed with several things.
First, there is a warning on the attached tag that reads: “The strength of carbon fiber is compromised if the staff’s surface is dented, scratched, fractured, chipped or damaged in any other manner, which could result in structural failure”
How does one avoid scratching a wading staff? Every wading staff I own including one of last versions of the Simms aluminum wading staff is scratched heavily in the tip section. It is unavoidable when you fish a rocky stream. There is no way the carbon fiber won’t get scratched up as well and possibly even gouged somewhat by larger rocks. Should I be concerned or is this just a CYA statement?
2. The staff requires an extra step when deploying over the previous model due to the adjustable length feature. The FastLock clip must be undone first, then the staff pulled open until the locking button pops into the hole and finally the staff length adjusted and the FastLock clip re-secured. I can’t imagine being bothered doing this more than once during the day which goes against the whole idea of a collapsible wading staff that you can easily fold up or deploy as needed. I also cannot imagine doing this without two COMPLETELY dedicated hands or in the extreme cold with gloves.
3. The locking button that keeps the staff from collapsing now protrudes through a hole on the upper section as opposed to just sticking out below the adjacent section as it did on the old version. I’ll leave it to other owners to decide if a few millimeters of locking button protruding through a hole leaves you feeling as confident as the old design.
4. The FastLock clip required for the adjustable length feature necessitated a redesign of the scabbard or case so the collapsed staff goes in easily. Well, it hardly goes in easily and IF you forget to lock the FastLock clip before putting the staff back into the case (which wouldn’t be hard to do), you most likely wouldn’t be able to get it in or you MAY break the clip if you force it. At minimum, you will probably damage the neoprene, which will probably wear out anyway from constant rubbing against the FastLock clip under normal use.
5. The aluminum tip can be swapped with a rubber tip (for an additional charge) which is a nice feature however, to get it off you most likely need a pair of pliers which sort of means you couldn’t easily swap out from metal to rubber streamside. Why this couldn’t have been designed with two flat spots that would accommodate an inexpensive wrench tool or with a hole that could accept a steel rod is beyond me. The bottom line is you had better decide which tip suits you best BEFORE you start wading and carry a pair of pliers in case the tip gets loose.
6. The staff when collapsed is about 5” longer than the old Simms wading staff, again due to the “one size fits all” feature making it about 20” long when it is in the sheath. At that length, if you are wading above your knees, expect it to be in the water getting wet whether it is deployed or not.
7. Finally the nitpicking – the staff is tethered to the scabbard by a 6” length of web strap and a quick release clip. If you want a tether that is longer than that, you can tie a length of paracord to the fancy quick release web strap on the handle so you don’t lose your $150 wading staff, but then you have to wind the cord around the staff when you fold it up. The more convenient option is the accessory retractor. However, that is a SEPARATE purchase costing an additional $25 (so you don’t lose your $175 wading staff). BTW - A retractor was included with the old Simms staff.
I get the whole one size fits all concept but in this case, I don’t think the idea works. As far as carbon fiber goes as a material for wading staffs, if scratches are an issue, it may be best suited to rock-less streams if such a thing exists.
Sorry but I will be retuning my Simms Carbon Fiber Pro Wading staff and sticking with my old Simms aluminum wading staff as I think Simms should have as well.
(Posted on 8/20/2014)