The best PFD (personal flotation device), only have value if you are wearing them. Manufacturers quickly realized that the popularity of water sports such as water skiing. And various water crafts such as jet skis would force them to start manufacturing more practical and versatile life vests and life-jackets. They would have to make a product that was not only practical but fashionable if they expected it to be used.
Fishing life-jackets were in that category of PFD’s that were practically never being worn. If you’re on a boat the boat owner or Capt. is required by the Coast Guard to carry life-vests, but they didn’t have to be worn. As a result they are stored where ever they fit; out of the way and hopefully never have to be used.
Buoyancy vest for surf casting fishermen and fly fisherman presented a whole other problem. These two types of fishermen were already wearing vests or jackets to protect themselves from the sun, and also provide pockets to store extra fishing equipment. The best PFD for this type of fishermen would have to permit easy arm movement and plenty of pockets. Fashion wasn’t going to be an issue when creating a PFD for fishermen, freedom of movement with plenty of pockets would be the answer.
Many fishermen feel that they are not necessary, because in the past they were very uncomfortable and confining. Add to that the fact they were stored anywhere just to keep them out of the way often caused them to just smell bad. If the jacket smells worse than the fish, chances are you’re not going to wear it.
Manufacturers wanted to address these problems quickly and manufacture the best product for fishermen. They made them out of lightweight breathable materials in neutral colors with plenty of pockets and rings to hang things on. They provided a nice large hook on the back so it could be hung anywhere.
The manufacturer’s next challenge was to provide the best PDF for the deep-sea fisherman. I have gone fishing many times from my own boats over the years, and the only time I worried about life-jackets was when there was a child aboard. Not very smart I admit, but most of the time those vests were stored in the cabin someplace out-of-the-way. They were those cheap orange horse collar type life-vests, and when you made a child where one you couldn’t help but feel guilty.
Fortunately all that has changed, fashionable life-jackets are not only comfortable but inexpensive, and vests for children are designed to be worn by children, there are even self inflatable jackets designed for everyone. Modern inflatable life-jackets are extremely light in weight and very comfortable. There are no excuses not to wear these well-designed comfortable garments.
The latest design in personal flotation device is the self inflating life-jacket. This is simply a belt that goes around your waist that will self inflate when submerged in water. The best PDF I’ve seen for fishing yet, and unless you’ve seen one, you wouldn’t even know what it was. The only difference in features between models is whether the wearer has to pull a cord to inflate the jacket or if the fishing life jacket self inflates when immersed in water.
Stearns has been manufacturing buoyancy vest for years and have manufactured what I believe to be the best PFD’s available. Stearns fishing life-jackets can easily be worn all day without the fishermen ever feeling uncomfortable. If you’re fishing from your boat, surf casting in the ocean, or standing on a rock jetty there is no excuse for not wearing a practical and comfortable buoyancy vest.
So many fishermen, myself included occasionally like to get away by yourself and enjoy some quiet fishing. It’s your responsibility to return home safely. We spend an obnoxious amount of money on fishing equipment it’s only logical to add to that inventory of equipment, a good comfortable life-jacket.
Fishing life jackets are also very affordable so everyone should have one.