Fishing Kayak Life Jacket

FISHING KAYAK LIFE JACKET: INTRO’s #1 goal is to build awareness for the sport of kayak fishing and to ensure that its readers, and the greater kayak fishing community, learn how to stay safe while partaking in the year’s hottest new water related activity.

If you are on this site, you’ve surely heard of kayak fishing. But did you know that there is a particular kind of life jacket that has been designed specifically for kayak fishing enthusiasts of all levels of experience and ability? There is! Yes, a fishing kayak life jacket! Ready to learn more about this particular kind of life jacket and all of the benefits that it will provide you in your kayak fishing career? Let’s get started!

Fishing Kayak Life Jacket

Fishing Kayak Life Jacket: Ultimate Guide

Fishing Kayak Life Jacket

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KFC’s Fishing Kayak Life Jacket Ultimate Guide contains everything you need to know about the various kinds of fishing kayak life jacket on the market today as well as all of the reasons why we suggest that you such a life jacket as soon as possible. This Ultimate Guide has been organized into a number of separate categories so that we can relay all of the helpful information in an easy to follow manner. We’ve begun the ultimate guide by going over the basics of this exception piece of kayak fishing gear before getting into a short and helpful checklist that you can reference to make sure you are using your fishing kayak life jacket safely and properly!

After you’ve learned the basics, and have discovered how to use the fishing kayak life jacket properly, you’ll see that we’ve added a list of the features to look for when evaluating among the hundreds of kayak life jackets on the market today. Each highlighted feature includes illustrations of the component we are describing so that you follow along with ease. We’ve also included a summary about why we think the showcased life jacket feature is so important for kayak fishing, regardless of ability or experience level!

Next, we’ve linked to a particular model of fishing kayak life jacket that we know from experience is the absolute top of the line, best of the best. You can visit the product page to learn more about that particular fishing kayak life jacket to see if you want to buy one for yourself! Finally, we’ve explained our own experience with the model referenced above. You can learn from our real world experience and opinion! Ready to get started?

Fishing Kayak Life Jacket: The Basics

Fishing Kayak Life Jacket

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Shortcut to Fishing Kayak Life Jacket Review

As a kayak fishing enthusiast, we are sure that you’ve been around the water in a number of different situations. If you have been, then we are certain that you’ve seen life jackets, or life vests (as they are sometimes referred to) of a number of different styles which have been built for a number of different purposes. There are life jackets for hanging out in the back yard pool. Life jackets for participating in motorized water sports like wave runners and seadoos. Life jackets for wake boarding and tubing. The list goes on and on. Our favorite life jacket, however, is the one that is specifically built for the best type of water activity – the fishing kayak life jacket!

Yes, the fishing kayak life jacket is a very unique life jacket. It is one that is perfect suited for kayak fishing purposes. This particular type of life jacket (so long as it is properly used – as you’ll learn below) will protect you while you are out on the water and will also add to your fishing expertise by providing a number of features that directly impact and enhance your kayak fishing experience! Kayak fishing involves a ton of gear! Large gear like paddles and and kayak carts, and small gear like rod holders and dry bags. Any time we can make extra space, we’ll gladly take it. And extra space is just one of the benefits of a fishing kayak life jacket. Want to learn the other benefits? Let’s get started!

Fishing Kayak Life Jacket: How to Use Properly

Fishing Kayak Life Jacket is concerned for the safety of all of its readers. This is why we wanted to be sure to include within this Ultimate Guide an image, like the above, illustrating the proper way to use and wear a fishing kayak life jacket. Do you see how the fisherman has adjusted the straps of the life jacket to fit snuggly to his chest, shoulders and back? Do you see that the under arm straps have been pulled tight to ensure that the kayak life jacket does not slip side to side while the fisherman conducts the movements associated with kayak fishing (like casting, paddling and using a kayak trolling motor)?

Perhaps the most important take away from this Ultimate Guide is that even the best fishing kayak life jacket is not going to protect you if you do not wear and use it properly. We’ve found that most of our readers know they need a kayak life jacket, and they have good intentions when making the decision to buy one for themselves and their loved ones. One common mistake, however, is buying a fishing kayak life jacket that is of low quality or comfort. Do not make this mistake. A low quality or uncomfortable life jacket will encourage a kayak fisherman NOT to wear the life jacket  – a possibly deadly mistake! Let’s take a look at some other “Do” and “Don’t” suggestions relating to the kayak life jacket:

  • DO – Buy a correctly sized fishing kayak life jacket. You’ll want to consider what you are going to be wearing underneath the life jacket. (Example: Do you kayak fish in the winter? You might be wearing extra layers, so you should get a little larger size of life jacket).
  • DO – Adjust the straps to ensure a snug fit. Remember, the life jacket should  be tight enough to keep from moving up or sliding over to one side or the other (if you inadvertently fall overboard), but not so tight that it causes you pain or discomfort (remember – comfort is key).
  • DO – Keep the appropriate amount of fishing kayak life jackets with you at all times. Be sure of this PRIOR to venturing out onto the water.
  • DON’T – Put too much kayak fishing gear in the pockets of the life jacket. Fishing kayak life jackets have tons of great pockets, but you should avoid overloading these pockets. Why? Putting too much gear on or in the life jacket may throw off the level of buoyancy of the life jacket, potentially defeating the level of floatation it is supposed to be capable of.
  • DON’T – Improperly store your kayak life jacket. The life jacket should be totally dry prior to storing it for periods of non use. Fishing kayak life jackets are, of course, manufactured to hold up to wet conditions. That said, they should not be left in a wet condition when you have decided to store it for more than a day or so of non use. Always let your life jacket fully air dry. Only after it is 100% dry should you then store in a cool, non-humid area for future use!
  • DON’T – Allow sharp hooks or exposed blades to be stored in concealed pockets! It is very easy to get hurt if you have forgotten where you have placed these dangerous items! If they are kept in a concealed pocket, and then forgotten, it is highly likely that you (or a loved one) could be hurt when reaching within the pocket to pull out its contents! Keep your dangerous pieces of kayak fishing gear in a safe location and never in your life jacket pockets! Trust us, you don’t want to learn the hard way!

Fishing Kayak Life Jacket: Important Features

Fishing Kayak Life Jacket

Remember, a fishing kayak life jacket is going to be different than the life jackets you see that have been designed for floating in a pool. They’ll also be different than those designed for surfing, water skiing, and so on and so on. We’ve included the image above so you can quickly see just how many ways a fishing kayak life jacket will differ from other types of life jackets. Let’s take a look at several of the other features that you’ll want to find on a fishing kayak life jacket of your own and let’s see why each of these features is so important for kayak fishing purposes! Ready?

  • Attachment “Ladders” and Accessory Hoops. Have you ever heard of “attachment ladders” or “accessory hoops”? We are sure that you have seen them, even though perhaps you may not have known the right name for them. These are basically connection points for carabiners. As an experienced kayak fisherman will tell you, carabiners are a great piece of kayak fishing gear, and any high quality kayak life jackets will feature a durable and logically located ladder or hoop to which the carabiner can be connected! If you need a bit of a reminder as to what these look like or want to see them within the context of a fishing kayak life jacket, check out the image below:
Fishing Kayak Life Jacket

We’ll often times use the lateral attachment ladders for clipping on filled water bottles and our extra dry bags. The connection hopes are good for attaching an iPhone holder or other electronic device. It keep the device conveniently located, but allows you to devote your hands to more important things, like reeling in fish! There are surprisingly several kayak life jackets that did NOT include these handy features. Some that DID have them were actually of low quality (which we think is far more dangerous than not having them at all).

  • Customizable size/Adjustable straps. Remember the section on safety above? Make sure your fishing kayak life jacket has features that allow you make adjustments to customize the life jacket to your body. You need to remember to think about your sizing needs AFTER you are dressed to head out to kayak fish. If you kayak fish in the cold weather, and wear extra layers to stay warm, you’ll need to enlarge the size of your life jacket to make sure there is room for the extra layers of clothing. The fishing kayak life jacket should fit you comfortably, but without compromising safety. Look at the close up below to see the appropriate located shoulder adjustments:
Fishing Kayak Life Jacket

We like fishing kayak life jackets that adjust at the shoulders AND the waist. This dual adjustability creates the highest level of customization. The adjustable straps should always, always, always to be tightened down snuggly to the fisherman’s waist.  A life jacket won’t work unless you are wearing it properly – which means nice and snug (but not too tight). Remember, don’t forget that part of the safety equation is avoiding a fishing kayak life jacket that is uncomfortable or is non-adjustable. Why? You will be far less likely to wear it! Adjustability and customization go hand in hand and are arguably the most crucial feature in any kayak life jacket! Find a quality life jacket wth the right amount of adjustability needed for safety (and for your convenience)!

  • Rod “Loop” Holder. Have you ever heard of a “rod loop holder”? We were surprised to se how many KFC readers had never seen such a feature. It is however, easily missed because it is quite small and it may be overlooked if you don’t know what you are looking for. The feature is perfect for providing an “extra set of hands” as it allows you to “hold” you rod in a convenient locations while freeing your hands to tend to other matters. The image below shows a rod loop holder on a fishing kayak life jacket while in use:
Fishing Kayak Life Jacket

On the model shown above, the rod loops are located diagonally across from one another. One near the waist and the other near the shoulder. You’ll see the this allows the handle of the rod to rest safely between the two large fishing kayak life jacket pockets – keeping the rod safely stored and out of the way. We use this feature frequently when we are walking form the car to the kayak, or when we are done fishing for the day and have our hands upon our paddles or kayak trolling motor (as opposed to our rod). Very, very convenient and a feature not to be take for granted!

  • Front Zipper Pockets. This next important feature will come as no surprise to those KFC readers with many seasons of kayak fishing under their belt. You know as well as we do that the more locations into which we can place and store our kayak fishing gear, the better! After all, space is quite limited on a kayak, so we’ll take every single extra inch that we can get! You’ll find that the highest quality fishing kayak life jackets have pockets are generally approximately 5 by 8 inches. The best part? These pockets expand outward about 4 inches from the vest itself. That’s some serious size! Take a look at some exampled with the included measuring chart so you can get a feel for the size:
Fishing Kayak Life Jacket

You’ll want your kayak life jacket to feature enlarged pockets. More often that not, you’ll find that you’ll end up using these pockets for holding extra weights, pliers, backup fishing line, bobbers, power bait, and more. One more tip regarding pockets. You’ll want your fishing kayak life jackets to have zippers (as opposed to velcro) on the pockets. We’ve learned, from experience, that zippers are better at securing the content within the pockets and they tend to stand up better over time. Velcro will wear out and doesn’t perform too well when wet. Also, if you bend over while grabbing something from your tackle box, you could lose the pocket’s contents UNLESS the pocket is securely zipped shut! Velcro just isn’t reliable enough, at least in our experience!

  • Hanger.  One feature we are certain that you haven’t thought about, unless you have very thoroughly researched this market (like we have) is the presence or absence of a hanger.  Yes, a hanger. Boring right? Wrong! It is actually very, very important. You don’t want to hang the life jacket by the shoulder straps because continually doing so will surely result in a crease where the strap is folded over. A crease will lead to a wear pattern and a wear pattern will weaken the material of the life jacket over time! Not good!
    Fishing Kayak Life Jacket

What’s more? Having a built in hanger actually encourages you to take better care of your life jacket. It will allow you to properly hanging the life jacket (just like you learned about in the helpful hints section above). A fishing kayak life jacket with hanger is also quite convenient because it will let you to place several life jackets side by side on a rack (this type of storage is perfect for not taking up too much room).  Hang kayak life jackets on a rack is the preferred method of storage. The longevity of life jackets that have been hung on racks , instead of jammed them onto shelves or stuffed into boxes, is far superior!

Buy a Fishing Kayak Life Jacket

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Great for Kayak Fishermen!

When set out to do market research, we discovered that there were hundreds, if not thousands, of life jackets on the market. This is not a product for which you can try a “one size fits all” approach. Remember, with a  fishing kayak life jacket, you are actually taking care of two needs/products at once. How can that be? Well, first you are buying a product that will keep you safe while on the water and second,  you are buying a product that actually advances your kayak fishing experience by containing vest type features that have been designed specifically for kayak fishing!

After hours and hours of research, personal fittings, trial and error, and even a trip across state lines, we decided that our favorite fishing kayak life jackets is the one showcased above. Why? It contains all of the features that we’ve listed in this Ultimate Guide, but it doesn’t end there.  Built with a ripstop polyester outer shell, this kayak life jacket is perfect for ensuring a long lasting nature, giving it the ability to stand up to season after season of use in harsh weather conditions. We found it very convenient that the sides of the life jacket are “open” rather than “enclosed”. This kind of design allows the kayak fisherman to use his or her paddles, the trolling motor, or even stand and cast, all without interference from an enclosed style kayak life jacket that would restrict movement.

We also find a lot of comfort in the reflective material on the front and rear shoulder pieces. This is perfect for those of our readers who like to kayak fish at dusk and dawn (when there isn’t much sunlight) as the reflectors will help indicate your position on the water to boaters. The mesh on the back of the life jacket provides maximum breathability and comfort. Remember, and we cannot stress enough, that comfort is key! If you are not comfortable, you are not going to wear a life jacket! This is a big mistake! Trust us. Go ahead and spend the few extra dollars to buy a fishing kayak life jacket that is adjustable and comfortable, you’ll be glad you did (and you’ll be much safer for it)!

Fishing Kayak Life Jacket: My Experience

Fishing Kayak Life Jacket

Believe it or not, I used to kayak fish with no life jacket at all! I ended up paying for this decision as  I was pulled over and ticketed by my local lake’s governing regulatory authority ($180). The authorities were right. I needed to realize that the I wasn’t only using the life jacket to protect me from myself, but to protect me from the other boaters on the water! If one of them were to collide with me, at no fault of my own, I would always be on the losing end of the battle. I decided to buy the fishing kayak life jacket that we’ve linked to above and I could not be more pleased with it.

Had I known how much reassurance this particular fishing kayak life jacket would provide me, I would have probably bought it much sooner. The comfort is complete. The functionality is ideal. The cost is reasonable It isn’t only the safety aspects of this life jacket that make it so great, either. Believe it or not, this particular fishing kayak life jacket actually makes me a better kayak fisherman! All of its above listed features have been specifically designed to be ideal for kayak fishing. I truthfully view it more like a kayak fishing vest or accessory, rather than a piece of safety equipment. The best part is, it is both! Try one out for yourself, I think you’ll really like it (and be sure to let and the rest of our kayak fishing family know your opinion by posting in the comments below). One additional thought. If you are kayak fishing in the ocean, especially in a tandem (like in the Best Tandem Sea Kayak), you should never, ever be without a life jacket! Even if using a tandem pedal kayak, you need one jacket per occupant!

By the way, if you are carrying a life jacket (with your other gear of course) you may soon be running out of hands! We fixed this problem by using a kayak cart built for kayak fishing! Its been very helpful in terms of  moving all of our gear in one trip, maybe it will work for you too!


Fishing Kayak Life Jacket

I hope our Fishing Kayak Life Jacket Ultimate Guide has been helpful in serving as your guide to all of the important details and considerations for this awesome kayak fishing product. Remember, if you have any questions about whether you should buy a fishing kayak life jacket, or what features you ought to consider when doing so, be sure to write to us and let us know! We’d love to bounce ideas around with you and are we’re certain that there is tremendous mutual benefit in having a conversation with you! Remember, you should always consider your fishing kayak life jacket as a kayak fishing accessory – it just so happens that this accessory has the added benefit of increased safety on the water! Good luck and stay safe! One final thought – a life jacket will be even more important if you are using a pedal kayak (especially a Tandem Pedal Kayak) because you will likely be rocking from side to side more severely! Be safe! Learn more about how to be safe on the water with this article by the National Safety Council.

Looking to test your skill against fellow kayak anglers? Consider entering a kayak fishing tournament!

Fishing Kayak Life Jacket: Comments

Do you own a fishing kayak life jacket?  Would you like to share your experience?  Will you share how it performs for you during kayak fishing? How comfortable is it? What features do you like the best? Is there anything that you would change about it? What overall score would you give it?  Please share your experience and knowledge with the KFC Community! Post below in the comments!  We read and reply to every comment and love interacting with the kayak fishing community!

6 Replies to “Fishing Kayak Life Jacket”

  1. This looks like it fits pretty close to the body, which is good. My concern is that most life jackets are so bulky. This one looks like it will stay out of your way and keep you safe. Good suggestion!!!

    1. That’s one of the best parts! It won’t get in the way of your casting motion. Its also very light weight. Be sure to let us know how it works out for you!

      David Scott

    1. Actually, very quickly. Its material is “quick dry” meaning that it doesn’t need to be wrung out or placed in the sun to dry quickly. Whatever life jacket you decide to go with, make SURE that it is quick dry. Otherwise, you’ll feel uncomfortable and will be tempted to take the life jacket off. Dangerous! Be safe out there!

      David Scott

    1. Hi Joe,

      These life jackets are for floatation only. That said, they are adjustable and will easily allow for you to wear a jacket underneath to keep warm!

      – David Scott

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