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When I am in my float tube I use Sospenders. This is an inflatable PFD. In their normal, uninflated mode they are very compact - the only way to go in a float tube. In an emergency you pull on a rip cord and it inflates. They are widely available. You can get them at Cabelas. In the Seattle area I think they are cheapest at Sportco in Fife.
 

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I bought a pair of Sospenders after a bank fisher slipped into the Nisqually and drowned last year. I usually fish alone (mid-week days off) so I bought the auto inflatable one. It should float my head out of the water even if I am unconscious and floating off to Poulsbo.
Rollcast
 

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Stop Killing Wild Steelhead!
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Technically speaking, you need a "Personal Flotation Device" which will adequately support your weight in the water and keep you turned relatively face-up in the water.

In my personal opinion SOSpenders, whether self-inflating or manual, have squeeked into the water sports world very narrowly.

When you look at the label on the package the SOSpenders come in it will rate it at a "USCG Type"; I, II, III etc. The lower numbered rating provides the greater protection in bouyancy and ability to position the body safely in the water. The higher numbered ratings, like type III throuh type V are much less efficient and are not legal equipment in some situations.Especially by Federal standards.

After you open the SOSpenders package and read the label affixed to the PFD inside you will learn that the actual rating of the SOSpender may differ significantly from the label on the outside of the package. For example; a package may read: "USCG TYPE III APPROVED", but the vest inside reads: USCG TYPE V. (USCG TYPE V devices are defined as "Throwable" by law.) No one has been able to adequately explain this labeling disparity to me and it seems misleading at best. I suppose it means that the higher rating only applies if you are wearing the device correctly. And the lesser rating applies if you have to throw the thing to someone who is already in the water. You try putting on a SOSpender while struggling to stay afloat in the water,fully clothed, fitting it properly etc.

I spent over six years as an EMT and Rescue person and have had some significant training and experience on the water over many years. When it comes to PFD's the only worthwhile PFD is one that you are wearing and works all of the time without the aid of a triggering device or manual inflation. Many water accidents are very sudden mishaps. You need the protection right away. Tumbling down a river is no place to be struggling with the fit of your lifevest. I have no faith in Sospenders to protect a person in a whitewater mishap. And very little faith in lake or open water situations as well. Try being in a bad blow in a lake and ending up in the drink with all your fishing stuff on and trying to manage a SOSpender too.


I would suggest looking into a good quality whitewater paddler's vest at the very least. Plenty of arm room for rowing, casting etc. And it can save your life. The U.S. Power Squadrons, Coast Guard Auxillary, Washington Boating Safety Program etc, all have web pages with good advice for water sports PFD's that work.
 

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Just an Old Man
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I used to know it all---but now I forgot it all.

After all the stink about wearing a PFD last year I went out a picked up a Sterns Life vest and I think it will do the job. I wear it under my vest when I'm in my pontoon boat. I hardly know it's there, cost $19.95 plus tax. I know it works because I tried it out in my pool.

Jim
 

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Actually, the ratings are incorrect

A class I is the lowest rating on a vest. A true class V vest can ONLY be purchased by a certified swiftwater rescue individual. It is the highest floatation and has the most technical features used for rescue (more places to lash throw ropes, carbiners, etc to). These vests are usually a MINIMUM of $120 each. A class III/V are vests used by most whitewater guide company for their clients. Has the floatation of a rescue vest, but with the collar that keeps you facing face up if you're unconsious. I would suggest not to go under a class III. A class I is a throw ring/floatation pad.

I also will say this. I would highly suggest NOT to buy SOS for rivers, heck even lakes. Do you truly want to risk your life to having to pull a strap? What if you're knocked unconscious? Then, they have the "auto" inflate. Well, with these, you have a chamber that holds either one/two CO2 cartidges. They are prone to malfunction. I've seen them happen before (and this was with a military naval safety vest). What happens if your vest malfunctions? I always wear either wear one of my specialized rowers class III's (expensive) and most of my passengers in full cut class III's or III/V's. If you buy from a whitewater shop, they can tell you floatation factors on a vest. High floatation is nice, but not needed. You can easily get by with a lower weight floatation. Just make sure the vest fits you well. Trust me, when I volunteered in swiftwater rescue, I helped pull a few people out submerged with hi float vest on. If you get sucked into the right water, it'll pull you down. If it can suck an 18' inflatable boat under, it can pull a person under no sweat. The key is in knowing what to do once you're underwater.

But, here's the final thing. Yes, the SOS are nice and comfy. But, what's better. A little comfort, or having an officer come to your home to tell your family you won't be coming home? I've seen them, won't EVER buy one. To this date, I've NEVER seen one used in the river boating world, and none of the catalogs that sell this gear sell them. Plus, if you are in an emergency condition, the chances are that if you don't have the auto inflate, chances are you won't pull cord. You'll be too busy thinking of getting heads up and swimming. It's human nature. UNLESS, you spend time each day mentally training yourself on pulling cord. Seriously. You have to train yourself to do that first.

Just my honest and experience backed opinion.
 

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Oh, what I was referinng to was this.....

"When you look at the label on the package the SOSpenders come in it will rate it at a "USCG Type"; I, II, III etc. The lower numbered rating provides the greater protection in bouyancy and ability to position the body safely in the water. The higher numbered ratings, like type III throuh type V are much less efficient and are not legal equipment in some situations.Especially by Federal standards."

Ok, actually, each classification is different, but not in numerical order. That's what I had meant. A I is not better then a V. Just depends on manufaturer. The class I's are the big bulky things you won't EVER be seen fishing with. Like what you see on ocean liners. They are actually dangerous to use in river boats. They are too big and cumbersome. Each class from there is simply that, a class. A IV is a throw device. A III is high floatation, but still rolls head foward. Is more of a whitewater thing (comfortwise). When you hit a class V, these are vests that are best to have on. Usually tons of buckles and are made to be worn. You can't put them on easily. They're meant to stay on and float you high. A class III/V are whitewater guide vests for clients usually. They are those hideaous Sterns orange vests with huge collars. I do know that the whitewater vests aren't measured off the system above. Of the vests I've had and shopped for, the higher floatation (around 20-25# water weight) have still been in the class III. Which, I do believe they have it rated different in USCG. But haven't looked at them in awhile.

When you get down to it, the best you can get is a class III. It's made for high float, to bring your head up (either with an extra pad, or extra floatation built in near head) and are made for mobility.
 

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Put it this way. ANY PFD is better than NO PFD. Out of ALL the pics that I've seen in the Fish Gallery, how many dudes are wearing PFD's? .... ZERO. Or did I miss one.
I've seen guys only wear their PFD's in pontoons,boats,etc. then they take it off while standing waist deep in the river!!??? Duh! I'm glad that at least that they are some fishermen out there that look at safety first before spending 1000 dollars on a rod and reel. Any PFD should do you good, 9 out of 10 guys never have to use their PFD's in their lifetime. Hope you guys aren't going to be that 1. Good luck!

Peter ><>

"Follow Me and I will make you fishers of Men" Matthew 4:19
 

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>I've seen guys only wear their PFD's in
>pontoons,boats,etc. then they take it off while
>standing waist deep in the river!!??? Duh!

What? Guys having to get out of their pontoon boats to fish slots they have to wade waist deep in? Oh yeah, I forgot, most of you buy those transportation boats, I just anchor safely and cast standing up on my "extended bank". ;)

Actually, just having one on isn't a good thing either. Like I said, I gave good examples why the SOS are bad. But say it this way, there has always been inflatable vests, just not as small. Guess how many usually get inflated in emergency situations (except abandon ships in high seas)? Very few. As I said, the LAST thing on your mind in a slip is pulling the rip cord. Then, if you have auto inflate, there's always a chance of a malfunction. Just having one on isn't worth having if it doesn't inflate.

I will add this. Most people peel those vests off in slots. I will for one admit I don't always have mine buttoned up. Why? You don't always need them on. Accidents can happen, but on slack waters you don't need them. You have JUST as much chance to drown with a vest on in certain situations then without. Guess how many people I had the pleasure to pull out DEAD with their vests on in river running situations? At least half a dozen in quite a few rivers during the years I did swiftwater rescue. Heard of many more. It's knowing when to put them on and when not to. Yes, having them on is great, but even whitewater guys won't have them on/strapped the whole time. Only time is swiftwater guys, which you must ALWAYS have a class V on, you can't float with it simply on your seat. For those who are green, it's best to have on at all times. Accidents can happen, but that's the case with/without your vest.

Plus, if anyone wants to say "It's best to just have one" as an excuse to have an inflatable, why not wear an actual vest then? Why not really make yourself secure. I know if I pull off to fish, I rip that vest off fast. All my pics have no vests on. Why should they? I'm fishing from the bank below the waist. Why wade that deep anyways if you have a boat? Oh well. To each their own. Luckily, the USCG approved those auto inflates (I wouldn't have), but manuals still don't meet the requirements, unless they changed that (they'd be MAJOR morons if they did that). Truth is, if any of you have been in a boating incident in a river (I have been in flipped boats, and have had to deal with others in the water) you have NO time to think about your vest. Your more thinking of getting your butt out of the water.
 

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Not Quite A Luddite, But Can See One From Here
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RiverFishing

This has been one of the more helpful threads I've run into lately. I admit I ordered SOSpenders late last year, but haven't yet gotten them out of the box because...well...I've always felt just a little uneasy about the idea. MOst of the commentary in this thread has renforced that, and I'm thinking I'm gonna send it back and continue with my vest PFD while I research a little more, using information gleaned here.
I appreciate all the input!

Mike:thumb
 
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