How to Pick the Right PFD for Kayak Fishing

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Awwwww yeah! You got your kayak all rigged up for a great day of fishing, have all your rods and lures packed and ready to go, cooler is fully stocked, but wait – what about your PFD? PFDs are often a second thought when anglers first get into kayak fishing. If you’re like me, you’re likely used to wearing one on other activities like whitewater rafting, or wakeboarding, but when it comes to kayak fishing, you may find your traditional “recreational” PFD isn’t that comfortable. This creates the challenge of how to pick the right PFD for kayak fishing.

While recreational PFDs are super effective, many angler’s aren’t a fan of them while they’re out kayak fishing. Fortunately manufacturers have picked up on this and have done a fantastic job designing kayak fishing specific PFDs. In tandem with the innovation of kayaks for kayak fishing, PFDs too evolved to meet a kayak angler’s needs. For example as manufacturers like Diablo Paddlesports incorporated the use of a lawn chair style seat like a Larry Chair, high back PFDs developed so an angler’s back rests flush against their chair.

In addition to this innovation, manufacturers have also crafted PFDs with kayak fishing specific accessories and pockets. For example, Kylebooker's Fishing Life Jacket has a special sleeve for storing your pliers, an electronics pocket, and even a clear sleeve for conveniently holding your fishing license. The Stohlquist Keeper Fishing Life Jacket has a pull out tray in one of the front zipper pockets so you have a handy surface for tying lures.

Some anglers feel like a PFD constricts their movements – most commonly for fly fishing where casting is much more frequent so they prefer an inflatable PFD. Something like the Hobie Inflatable Life Jacket is great because it’s so lightweight and comfortable. This one has an extra pocket for storing small items and is

manually inflated so you won’t have to worry about unintentional activation (like when you leave it outside to dry and it inflates when the sprinklers go off the next morning – never a good feeling).

The biggest consideration when picking a PFD you’ll be happy with is how it fits. Take your time trying on as many as you can, making sure they’re properly fitted to your body. Ideally, you’ll be spending many hours on the water so you want something comfortable that will enhance your kayak fishing experience.

I’d be really curious to hear from y’all – what are some of your favorite PFDs? Any fabulous features others should know about?

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