The North American Fly Fishing Forum

The North American Fly Fishing Forum (
-   General Discussion (
-   -   Inflatable PFD Advice Needed (

zerolimit 07-07-2007 11:04 PM

Inflatable PFD Advice Needed
Hello All,

I recently bought a float tube and am getting ready to fish some coldwater high elevation lakes. I also fish a few big rivers with high flows for steelhead and salmon. Up until now I've not used a PFD while wading and tubing but I have been in a few hairy wading situations and I don't want to get stuck with a long swim in a cold lake without floatation so I'm looking at inflatables. I'm looking at Stearns, Mustang, and Suspenders. I don't see this topic discussed very often so I'd like to solicit your opinions on the options.

Auto inflatable is out of the question for wading so I'm looking at manual ripchords.

Thanks in advance.

Fish Bones 07-08-2007 12:42 AM

Re: Inflatable PFD Advice Needed
I'm not the best swimmer in the world so when I'm fishing from a kayak I use the Stearns Inflatable Fly Vest

zerolimit 07-08-2007 01:15 AM

Re: Inflatable PFD Advice Needed
Thanks. I was trying to figure out how I was going to wear the suspender style on top and still have access to all my flies, tippet and tools. Incorporating the PFD in to a pocketed vest makes a lot of sense.

Frank Whiton 07-08-2007 09:20 AM

Re: Inflatable PFD Advice Needed
Hi Mike,

You will be a lot safer with a PFD. You can wear a Suspender style under your vest if you just close the front with a small Velcro closer. The inflation of the PFD will pop open the fly vest with no problem. You can't do this if you zip up the vest.

Another good option is the belt style that goes around your waist. The problem with them is they are no good if you are knocked unconscious. Of course any manual vest is no good if you are unconscious and can't pull the cord. This is more of a problem for people in high powered boats then it is for the fly fisherman.

Mustang is making some of the best on the market but are expensive. I have been using the SOSpenders for several years and they are well built and a lot cheaper. The jacket style is fine for winter fishing but too hot in the summer. To me they seem bulky.

zerolimit 07-08-2007 11:46 AM

Re: Inflatable PFD Advice Needed
Hi Frank,

Thanks for the input. Have you experienced an inflation situation with the pfd under your vest as described? I ask because as I picture the scene, I have a couple of concerns.

As it inflates and I'm on my back, the vest is forced open like it's being taken off. Arms go to the side and I'm wondering if it (1) ends up at the bottom of the lake with all my gear, or (2) hangs up aound my forearms inhibiting movement.

In a safety situation, I know I shouldn't be worried about my gear as much but... Maybe I'm over complicating things.

Frank Whiton 07-08-2007 12:53 PM

Re: Inflatable PFD Advice Needed
Hi Mike,

That is a good question. I experimented with the PFD under the vest using the mouth inflater. The velcro did not impede the PFD from filling and released easily. I felt that with a charged filling it would be no problem. I could see the vest flying open and the fly boxes hitting your arms but never felt it would fly off or be a problem. If a person falls down wading or from a boat the first thing he should do is turn onto his back and get oriented with feet facing down stream. It is at this point I would inflate if I couldn't get back up. If you are in really violent white water this is not the vest of choice.

I have fallen while wading and there was always time to get oriented and figure out what I was going to do to recover. There was plenty of time to inflate the PFD with the ripcord if I felt it was necessary.

zerolimit 07-08-2007 06:45 PM

Re: Inflatable PFD Advice Needed
Thanks Again Frank. I paid a visit to a brand new Sportsman's Wharehouse (man what a candy store that place is) nearby this afternoon and picked up a Mustang Deluxe Manual Inflatable. it was a bit more than the Stearns but a little more comfortable for me with the neoprene collar and just seemed to fit a bit better. Any of them would have done fine really.

Good thing I've got family members that are worry warts and got on my case for not wearing one or I probably would never have gotten around to it. There have also been a couple of drownings on two of the rivers I fish during the past year that really got me thinking. That and I can be a bit of a clumsey wader toward the end of a long day.

Frank Whiton 07-09-2007 08:17 AM

Re: Inflatable PFD Advice Needed

I think you made a good choice. The Mustang is a really nice PFD. I always wear mine in my pontoon boat and my bass boat. Make sure you blow it up with the mouth tube and see that it doesn't have any leaks. As a matter of fact I need to do that to mine. I have had it since 2000 and I need to check it out for leaks. Did you look at the PFD that goes around your waist? It might be the best one for a wader. What do you think?

zerolimit 07-09-2007 12:03 PM

Re: Inflatable PFD Advice Needed

I pretty much came to the same conclusion. Probably the suspender style for the float tube, canoe, and kayak, and an inflatable waist belt for wading. I was hoping for a one product solution and the Stearns vest could do that I guess but I like the vest I have.

The Mustang manual says not to inflate by the blow tube before the PFD has been inflated once with CO2. Not sure why that would be but that means the first test is a $20 rearm. Doesn't seem right.


tbrillinger223 07-09-2007 02:19 PM

Re: Inflatable PFD Advice Needed

you might want to try the faq section of mustang's website.

Mustang Survival :: Immersion suits, inflatable life jackets, flotation vests, dry suits...

hope this helps.

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 08:50 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Search Engine Optimisation provided by DragonByte SEO v2.0.40 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
2005-2017 The North American Fly Fishing Forum. All rights reserved.