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Why a Fisherman´s PFD Makes Sense for Canoe and Kayak Camping

Updated: Aug 25, 2019

Whether you are a kayak or canoe fisherman, or a wade fisherman or camper who wants to carry a lot of items in their vest, the fisherman´s pfd makes sense.

Photo by Liran Yushinsky‎, Facebook group Kayaking gear and more

There are at least a dozen well known PFD manufacturers with their own version of the fisherman´s PFD. My favorite is Stohlquist.

There are actually two different Stohlquist PFDs for fishermen and I like them both, a lot. The quality is first rate and the designs are superb. 

The first one is called the Stohlquist Fisherman Personal Flotation Device and it is an absolute wonder for serious fly and wade fishers and canoe and kayak campers.

More attachment points, loops, pockets, clips, keepers for everything; nail clippers, scissors, forceps, fillet knife, fly rod keepers, tippets, lures, and even with a clip point on the back of the neck to attach your trout net.

Some fishermen's PFDs are bulky and ill fitting, but this one is form fitting, low profile and shaped so it does not interfere with casting or netting.

It has a high mesh back that fits high back kayak seats and the shoulder straps are padded which offers protection when portaging the kayak or canoe.

The second Stohlquist vest, the Stohlquist Fisherman Lifejacket PFD, is the one I use most. It has a lower profile and fewer attachment points and pockets, but it has more than enough features for me to enjoy fly fishing and trolling with the kayak. The large pockets hold all the emergency items anyone might need if they get separated from their boat.

I like the low-profile, compact design. It fits my body snugly without being hot or cumbersome. The design does not interfere with high back kayak seats or with the tunnel on my spray skirt.

The lash tab for the rescue knife is accessible with either hand and is high enough on the vest to be out of the way during re-entry or rescue operations. A lash tab on the front and another on the back provide a solid connection for a strobe light.

In the above photo I am wearing the older style Stohlquist Fisherman Lifejacket PFD and the old style CRKT Bear Claw rescue knife, the black handled one. I now prefer the orange handled Bear Claw for visibility underwater. The whistle is attached with a retractable lanyard.

You can see the newer style Fisherman Lifejacket has re-positioned the lash tap on the right lapel which makes it more accessible with either hand. 

Either of these Stohlquist vests weigh about 1 pound, so they are not onerous during portage, I usually just leave mine on while portaging. They are compact enough to store in a dry compartment of the kayak. 


What advice would you give new paddlers who are looking for their first PFD?


Andy Lee is the admin of the Facebook group Adventure Canoe and Kayak Camping. His latest book is Five Hundred Miles to the Sea.

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