Inflatable fishing vests vs Sospenders vs ???

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Don Barton, Apr 3, 2009.

  1. Don Barton

    Don Barton Member

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    In recent years I have enjoyed roughly 20 days each year with guides in their drift boats fishing rivers in Washington or nearby states and providences.

    The economy and its impact on me has me thinking about replacing many of my guide trips by using my own pontoon boat supported by fly shop shuttles. I expect I will often fishing alone.

    So I am now considering what I should use for a PFD especially when I am fishing alone. I want a first class, comfortable, reliable PFD that doesn't interfere with my physical movements while I fish or row.

    I think I want to avoid bulk so I am leaning toward inflatable. One choice is the Sospenders type. As you probably know, they come in two styles, one inflates when it gets wet and the other requires a manual jerk. Another choice is inflatable fishing vests made by either Mustang or Stearns. The fishing vests require the manual jerk. Is there a quality third choice, inflatable or not, that isn't too bulky?

    The fishing vests are hard to find, probably because they cost more than the Sospenders type. So I have been unable to try them on first hand. Cabela carries the Stearns in their catalogue.

    If I go with an inflatable, do I want an auto inflate or manual inflate type? It seems to me that the vests seem far more useful than the Sospenders type.

    I solicit your collective experience and wisdom. Thanks.
     

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  2. sportsman

    sportsman Active Member

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    delete
     
  3. Jerry Daschofsky

    Jerry Daschofsky Moderator Staff Member

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    Stillwaters and big blue inflatables are fine. But on rivers, always use a standard PFD. If you feel you have to have an inflatable, use an auto inflate. With pull PFD, you have to have an autoresponse to pull that chord. Unless you spend hours jumping out of the boat and pulling that chord, chances are you'll die before you have a chance to pull it. But in a river, I want a PFD that literally is working the second you hit that water. With anything mechanical, there is always a chance of a malfunction. If my life depends on it, I don't want that chance.

    There are plenty of PFD's that aren't too bulky and are comfortable. Look at the Kayak vests out there. They even have tons of vests designed for fishing that are streamlined. IMHO, if you're on a river, get yourself a standard PFD. You don't need a guide level class III/V (those big ugly orange ones with big collars). But extrasport has some nice ones that are streamlined and can hold flyboxes.
     
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  4. Jerry Daschofsky

    Jerry Daschofsky Moderator Staff Member

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    Try checking this link. These are more whitewater grade. Higher floatation I believe (I didn't look, but just from the way they are built). But know Joes had some nice extrasport ones that were only about $70, and pretty light weight. But these are on NRS's site.

    http://www.nrsweb.com/shop/product_list.asp?deptid=2059
     
  5. Ed Call

    Ed Call Mumbling Moderator Staff Member

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    I have a manual chest vest and a manual full vest. Before charging the unit I did actually practice finding and pulling the cord off my local beach while preparing to take my boat out on a summer day. I know there are drawbacks to the manual inflatables (relies on you pulling it and not being unconscious), auto inflaters (get wet, it deploys) and standard (always floats but some find them restrictive).

    If you want to arrange to meet me I'll let you check out my two versions. I bought both at sportsman's some time apart but have seen them on various internet sites. A comfortable kayak vest with pockets is what I would ideally like, but I've not found one. If you are pontoon fishing, a comfy kayak vest can be taken off when you beach the boat to wade fish. I've seen Islander do this with his floatation vest. On when he is in his toon, off when he is laying out loops and long line.
     
  6. Freestone

    Freestone Not to be confused with freestoneangler

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    I have an SOS one like your 1st picture and the Sterns one like the 3rd picture. However I only use them on stillwater for all the reasons Jerry mentioned. Also, know that they will not count as a legal pfd unless you're wearing them. On moving water, I always wear a real pfd. As Jerry said, a kayaking one, especially a low cut one, is the most comfortable. There is another option however. Kokatat makes a hybrid foam/inflatable pfd so you can get the best of both without as much bulk. http://www.kokatat.com/product_detail.asp?code=sea Whatever you get, makes sure it fits well and is comfortable enough that you'll actually wear it.
     
  7. Chris Reagan

    Chris Reagan Member

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    I think I remember seeing the Mustang and Stearns at Outdoor Emporium in SoDo Seattle.
     
  8. Islander

    Islander Steve

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    I just got a LL Bean catalog and it shows a fishing PFD for $79. Looks like it has a lot of mobility and has pockets for fly boxes and a tip out pocket. Might be worth looking into.
     
  9. fredaevans

    fredaevans Active Member

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    Very good advise above, and a similar thread going on a UK based fly board. The (general consensus) was an 'auto' vest of some sort. The one thing that came out was NEVER have the thing under a coat (inclement weather).

    If the thing goes off (for what ever reason) you've got a REAL PROBLEM on your hands.:rofl:
     
  10. AxisSally

    AxisSally Member

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    lolz.

    Snowbee & Airflo have some as well :thumb:
     
  11. gt

    gt Active Member

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    moving water and inflatable PFD's don't go together. on an auto inflate there is a delay before either the pill or the hydrostatic sensor deploy the vest. if it is a self inflate, chances are pretty good that you are not going to be thinking very clearly having just hit the water, again an unacceptable delay which could cost your life.

    good quality kayak paddling PFDs are commonly available and fit the bill for something comfortable and unobtrusive in all day wear. when i drift, my fly boxes and other items are not on my body but in boat bags stored here and there. i have a small shoulder pack i can slip on if i am going to wade for some distance from the cat.

    while difficult to type up, hitting the water is going to be a sudden event, hope it dosen't happen, but if it does, you are NOT going to be thinking to rationally. having your PFD doing the job all by itself is what you really want from the get go. i know 2 people who have gone into winter river water from their pontoons. one was the result of he cheap shit oars that come with the package bending after having snagged an underwater obstruction. the other person was 'asleep at the switch' and ran along a sweeper which stopped his boat.

    both people went in without PFDs. both were lucky enough to be on busy water ways and were rescued by other boaters. both folks now wear kayak PFDs all the time. to hear their stories is to make you a believer.
     
  12. Reefmeup

    Reefmeup New Member

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    I must chime in with, If my life is in danger. You better believe Im pull that cord without hesitation. With my toes if I have to...lol
     
  13. Dylan D

    Dylan D Member

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    iagree

    After deliberating with the same choice myself a number of years back, and initially leaning decisively toward an inflatable, I ended up going with a standard PFD. Started with the Patagonia version -- was too restrictive for me (and the initial ones were recalled), so I switched over to a simple kayaking PFD, and it's been perfect -- not too restrictive, not too hot in the summer, just right. It took a few minor modifications to cut down on the fly line hang-ups, but after that was good to go.
     
  14. Dustin Bise

    Dustin Bise Active Member

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    floating solo is dangerous. all it takes is 1 mistake to become seperated from your boat.
     
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  15. Don Barton

    Don Barton Member

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    :):) Thank you, thank you. The WFF forum is a truly great resource.

    Thanks to all the thoughful responses to my post, I am completely convinced of the wisdom using only a ready-to-go PFD while floating moving water on my pontoon.