Hurdle willow soaking times & tips

9 November 2021

How to soak hurdle willow

Brown (dry) hurdle willow will require soaking prior to use. Semi dry hurdle willow should still be flexible enough to use without soaking. Green hurdle willow will NOT require soaking.

Soaking isn’t an exact science. It can be tricky to get right as there are so many variables to take into consideration. The weather, water temperature and the length of time that the willow has been stored will all play a part. That being said, follow these guidelines and you should enjoy soaking success!

Tips for soaking brown hurdle willow

Willow takes longer to soak on a cold winter’s day than on a hot summer one. The time below is a guide to soaking brown hurdle willow in clean cold water on an ‘average’ day. Using warm or hot water will shorten the soaking time. If the hurdle willow has been stored for a long period it will require more soaking.

***Our hurdle wads are 7 – 9 ft in length and need to be soaked for around 7 days***

Our heavy duty soaking bags are designed to be used with willow up to a maximum of 7ft in length. Rods can also be soaked in a bath, trough or old paddling pool. Always ensure that the water is clean! The willow will need to be weighed down to keep it submerged. Be wary of soaking willow in your finest bathtub. You may end up with tannin stains.

Once soaked, drain the water and leave the willow to mellow. Hessian, a damp blanket or plastic sheeting do the job equally well. Mellowing is a really important part of the soaking process as it enables the inner parts of the rod to become fully pliable.


When working with willow, do keep it covered to prevent the rods from drying out. Leftover hurdle willow can be kept covered for up to a week and still used. After this time, the willow will need to be dried thoroughly before being stored.

Things to watch out for

Keep brown hurdle willow damp for too long (especially in warm weather) and the willow will turn greasy and/or mouldy and the bark may shred. The rods may also squash if used. If the skin of the rod starts to bubble up and come off this is a sign that the willow is starting to rot. At this stage the willow is no longer useable.  

Please be aware that repeated re-soaking will result in the willow rod losing its colour.


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