Best Kayak Fishing PFD [Top 8] – Best PFD For Kayak Fishing

Best kayak fishing PFD

Despite the fact that fishing kayaks are often fairly sturdy, it’s still crucial that you take personal responsibility for your safety. This begins on the water with the use of a personal floatation device. Best kayak fishing PFD comes in a variety of styles with varied features and fittings. Finding a style that works for you and gives you the most flexibility when casting and paddling on your kayak is crucial.

The most crucial factor is choosing a PFD that fits and floats you, but there are also other features, storage, and ventilation to take into account. We outline what to look for when purchasing your fishing PFD in this post. After that, you may select your ideal PFD from our list of the best life jackets for kayak fishing.

Quick Comparison – Best Kayak Fishing PFD

Product imageProduct nameEditor's ratingPrice
Onyx Kayak Fishing Vest4.9See pricing details
Stearns Comfort Series4.8See pricing details
Bradley Adult Basic4.8See pricing details
Old Town4.7See pricing details
Stohlquist Fisherman4.7See pricing details
NRS Shenook4.7See pricing details
Astral V-Eight Fisher4.6See pricing details
Astral Sturgeon 4.6See pricing details

Review Top 8 Best Kayak Fishing PFD

1. Onyx Kayak Fishing Life Jacket

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The Onyx Kayak Fishing Vest has two huge pockets, one of which folds forward to provide room to work with your lures, and plenty of storage for lures, pliers, and line. Its 400 denier nylon oxford outer shell ensures long-lasting life and resistance to wear and misuse.

The fact that its back panel is almost full-length, in contrast to some of the PFDs we’ve reviewed, may annoy some individuals during the course of the day as it presses on the backrest. Some folks may feel warmer than they would like as a result. Numerous buyers have also voiced concerns about the zipper’s quality.

The Onyx Kayak Fishing Vest is a single size that fits kayakers with chests that vary from 40″ to 60″. It is offered in a tan/gray combination with modest orange embellishments. To ensure a good fit, it has six adjustable straps.


  • Good storage
  • US Coast Guard authorization


  • Just one size
  • Zipper performance
  • No luminous marking
  • No option of a high contrast color


2. Stearns Comfort Series Collared Angler Vest

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Even though it’s the most basic PFD available, this collared angler’s life vest from Stearns will do the job. It is still Coast Guard authorized and great for kayak fishing, making it the perfect choice if you’re on a tighter budget. The mesh shoulders and back increase ventilation, and the roomy armholes allow for effortless casting and full range of motion. Storage pockets on the front are perfect for storing your essential equipment.

If it becomes chilly, they may also be used as hand warmers, and the neoprene collar avoids chafing for comfort around the neck. It can be a basic, inexpensive fishing PFD, but it is still a fishing PFD. People who don’t really need or want all the bells and whistles will appreciate the thinner profile, and the tackle pockets that double as hand warmers are a pleasant touch. Use one of these fun fishing float tubes to give it a try.


  • Excellent pricing range.
  • Straightforward design.
  • High praise
  • Breathable and lightweight


  • Limited fishing and storage options.
  • The shoulders cannot be adjusted.


3. Bradley Adult Basic Fishing Life Vest – US Coast Guard Approved

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Here’s another excellent choice if your budget is even tighter. It has a fashionable camouflage pattern, which, as you may know, is often the color of choice for hunting and fishing on the water. It has a sturdy polyester structure, one-inch webbing that is secure, and two front pockets for storing small tackle items.

It is designed for usage by adults above 90 lbs. and has received full Type III US Coast Guard approval. It is adaptable enough to be utilized for a range of water-based activities. You’ve come to the correct spot if you’re searching for a straightforward PFD that will get the job done without breaking the bank. Additionally, you may buy a better inflatable fishing kayak with the money you save!


  • Excellent pricing range
  • Simple style
  • A sturdy build
  • Simple to use
  • Camo pattern


  • Runs narrow
  • There isn’t enough at the back for kayak seats


4. Old Town Kayaks Lure Angler Men’s PFD / Life Vest

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Why not some of the best PFDs for kayaking because they manufacture some of the best kayaks in the industry? This is a top-notch offering from Old Town that is geared for performance anglers for kayaks. It is made of rip-stop nylon, features a high back that is crucial for sitting on kayaks, and completely adjustable shoulder, waist, and side straps.

Numerous zippered pockets and tabs for storing equipment, D-ring connection points for nets and rods, and stretch mesh pockets for tippet and spools are included in the fishing features. And on those hotter days, the AirComfort system keeps you cool.

I would not have expected anything less from Old Town than a world-class PFD from a world-class kayak manufacturer. After all, they have been carrying out activities of this kind for nearly a century. You should also look at their selection of the best river fishing kayaks, which includes many more fantastic yaks.


  • Name to rely on
  • Stylish appearance
  • Lightweight
  • low profile
  • Technology that breathes
  • Outstanding mobility


  • One of the more costly choices.


5. Stohlquist Fisherman Adult Men’s Life Jacket

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The Stohlquist Fisherman PFD, the workhorse of the line, is made for serious fishers who want a vest that will not only be cool and comfortable to paddle in, but it will also provide them the most workspace possible. Anglers are always primarily interested in pockets.

The front-mounted tool pockets are organized so you can quickly locate and utilize your equipment without losing it, or worse, dropping it into your boat. In addition to being safe, these pockets include a protective EVA rigid cover that can be folded to create compact workstations. Beyond these pockets, there are several hooks and loops for safety knives and tools, ensuring that everything you need is both accessible and safe.

The Fisherman features a half mesh back so you can fully appreciate the high backed seat your kayak maker went to such efforts to build while still being well ventilated on the water. This PFD has a lot of adjustment options and may be tightened down at the chest to prevent riding up. You’ll have everything you need and nothing will obstruct your fishing thanks to the tight fit and soft foam distribution.


6. NRS Women’s Shenook Fishing Life Vest (PFD)

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The NRS Shenook PFD, designed specifically for female fishermen, has all the high quality features of the wildly famous Chinook but is fitted for women’s comfort. You may be as comfortable as possible over long days of fishing thanks to the flexible plush panelling, which is ideal for the feminine shape.

This PFD is really simple to fit and has a wide enough range to suit everyone thanks to the front zip and several adjustment points. The high back and mesh design, similar to the Chinook, keep you cool on warm days and let you completely appreciate the comfort of the high-quality kayak seat you spent so much money on.

The Shenook has the same tackle box-sized pockets on the front, along with two gear pockets and a tool pocket that are all closed with hook-and-loop fasteners. Additionally, all of this storage is internally organized to help you locate what you need on the water fast, saving you time and facilitating as simple of a fishing experience as possible.


7. Astral V-Eight Fisher Life Jacket PFD for Kayak Fishing

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The V-Eight Fisher PFD, which is based on the wildly famous Astral V-Eight, may be the most breathable kayak fishing life jacket on the market. Overheating is a thing of the past thanks to the high back, rear mesh design, and front Airescape from Astral.

This understated vest is intended for dedicated kayak anglers. The V-Eight Fisher allows you complete flexibility of movement, whether you have a lengthy paddle to your fishing site or want a PFD that keeps out of the way while you stand in the sun.

A pocket big enough for phones and other necessities is located on the front, and a tool storage area with a clip is located on the opposite side of the bag. Additionally, a fixed-blade lash point and a compartment for a folding knife are included. You’ll always be aware of where your gear is when out fishing thanks to this thoughtful storage.


8. Astral Sturgeon Life Vest PFD for Kayak Fishing

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Have you ever gone fishing and forgotten where you placed your pliers? or what time your phone is? Your issues have been resolved by Astral with the Sturgeon by combining five pockets into one big clamshell-style pocket. This may seem complicated, but because to Astral’s degree of internal organization and the fact that the pocket can double as a shelf, finding what you need is simple.

Now, certain items need to be accessible swiftly and with one hand. The Sturgeon features a tool stow, knife pocket, and lash point in consideration of this. These may be leashed to d-rings and secured to the PFD so that, should you lose control, you won’t have to watch your pliers drop to the lake’s bottom.

The Sturgeon is clearly designed with fishing in mind, but it is so much more than that. Even in the hottest temperatures, this PFD is comfortable and well-ventilated enough to wear all day. The Thin Vent back prevents you from being pushed out of your seat while paddling and keeps you cool on the water. The foam used to make the Sturgeon conforms to the curve of your body, providing you all the mobility you need for paddling and fishing.


Which PFD Type Do You Need?

Every kayaks discipline has life vests and PFDs, and we also have a thorough tutorial on how to pick them. Non-intrusive fishing PFDs are necessary so you may maneuver about your kayaks and fish without any hassles. They often incorporate pockets for tackle boxes and fishing-specific features for holding rods and storing tools.

Apart from the features, a PFD’s main function is to keep you afloat in the event that you capsize or fall out of your kayak. PFDs are divided into five categories by the USCG. Depending on their type, PFDs may float differently or be used in various environments. Kayaks fishermen choose inflatable PFDs for their low profile, and they often inflate to a Type I or Type II life jacket, while the majority of kayaking PFDs are Type III.

Why Use a Fishing PFD When Kayak Fishing?

What makes a specialized fishing PFD better than a standard one, now that that is over? The major benefit of utilizing a good fishing life jacket is that it works in a manner that is similar to that of the fishing vests you may wear on land.

They provide plenty of capacity to assist organize and storing your tackle, which may free up space in the center console of your kayaks and keep your important gear close at hand for when you most need it. Life jackets designed specifically for kayak fishing will feel like you’re wearing a miniature tackle box.

Naturally, you can always use a good saltwater tackle bag for the majority of your gear, but any kayak angler will tell you that having the most important equipment close at hand is critical for effective fishing. Additionally, fishing PFDs may be quite helpful for carrying a variety of other items, including valuables, that you might want to bring along on a kayaking or camping gear even if you aren’t casting a line.

What Should Your Kayak Fishing PFD Contain?

Fishing Features

If a life jacket wants to call itself a fishing life jacket, in my opinion, it has to be loaded with features specifically designed for the activity. PFDs with tackle box storage, zippered compartments, tool holders, D-rings, mesh tabs, hook and loop closures for additional gear, “drawbridge” type pockets that give a work surface, and other practical improvements are what you should look for.

Some could even have one or two-rod holders. To ensure that a kayak angler gets the most out of their time on the water, I have purposefully only selected fishing PFDs for this review, all of which come with these extra features. As a consequence, you won’t discover any recreational flotation devices, Co2/inflatable emergency life vests, inflatable life jacket alternatives, or anything that falsely describes itself as a “fishing” life preserver.


It’s crucial to be comfortable. In general, search for a PFD with plenty of mesh and a style that is made to spend hours in the cockpit of your kayaks. Since you’ll be in your yak for some time, you want to enjoy yourself rather than feel like you’re hurting your back and cooking yourself. Imagine how hot it will be on the water if you feel warm in the shop.

Durability – Your PFD will be necessary to save your life, thus it must be strong enough to withstand damaging UV rays, repeated soaking, and any hooks, cuts, and abrasions you can dish out! If all else is equal, try to get 400 deniers or thicker nylon.

Choose vivid, high-contrast hues and, if feasible, reflecting marks when choosing colors. In low light, thick fog, and other terrible circumstances, you want to be easy to identify if you run into difficulty. For fishers, storage is crucial. Look for a life jacket that offers the space you need for the gear you use, such as additional lines, lures, hemostats, and spare spools. Be aware that certain vests are more appropriate for flies while others serve a variety of functions.

Make sure the vest has US Coast Guard approval (all the PFDs we’ve looked at have). Keep in mind that all of these vests have Type III approval, indicating that they are made to be worn continuously while engaging in sports like kayaking but will not cause the user to go unconscious and end up face-up in the water. PFDs that are heavier and bulkier are designed to achieve this; nevertheless, they are not made for activities like paddling and kayak fishing.


Your comfort and mobility will be impacted by the weight of your PFD. In a bulky life jacket, smaller paddlers may particularly suffer. But lighter fishing life vests often entail flimsier, less robust components, and maybe fewer functions. Finding a balance that works for you and doesn’t restrict your movement in your kayaks is crucial. When you try on your life jacket, it’s crucial to account for the weight of your gear.


It will be more challenging to throw if your life jacket is preventing you from moving freely. Paddling will likewise be more challenging. There is a narrow balance between a PFD that is tight enough to keep you from falling off in the water and one that restricts your movement. As we said before, inflatable PFDs often provide the greatest mobility, but they also have certain disadvantages.

Because you move more while wearing a Type III life jacket, it’s often the best option for kayakers. PFDs come in a variety of body shapes. They do, of course, come in a range of sizes, but if you’re unsure of how you move, try your life jacket on first. Keep in mind that once your pockets are full, this may limit your mobility as well.

Features for angling

The correct angling characteristics in a PFD may make the difference between making a good decision and a terrific one. There are many features available, including large pockets for tackle boxes, tool bags, rod holders, and more. You can determine that you don’t need them all and that they are only adding to your expenses. Make the decision that is best for you.

Heat or air conditioning

In colder areas, a life jacket may serve as an insulating layer. Obviously, if you fish in a warm environment, you want to prevent this. Finding the ideal PFD requires choosing a type that works for both you and your surroundings. You will stay warm thanks to the additional layer of warmth that full-body PFDs will trap for you.

Some even include fleece pockets or hand warmer pouches that you may use to keep your hands warm. PFDs designed for hotter climates often contain mesh backs or ventilation strips. These allow your skin to breathe and keep you from becoming too hot or wanting to take off your life jacket.


Feel free to spend as much or as little as you desire as long as the vest has officially met US Coast Guard requirements to be a type III life preserver (at the very least). It simply depends on whether you like a PFD that just does its intended function without any additional features or the newest in comfort technology.

Movement Range

Speaking about paddling and kayak fishing, both hobbies need unrestricted freedom of movement. Unfortunately, this department may have issues with subpar or, as was already said, improperly fitted life jackets. Look for devices that have been created to provide you with the most movement possible and that have plenty of room around the arms.

In order to acquire the best fit and free up your body for casts and paddles, good kayak fishing PFDs will also be completely adjustable. Remember to take care of your back as well. A kayak fishing life preserver must have a raised part that stands up off your lumbar area in order to fit kayaks sitting and guarantee your comfort throughout the whole day.


Fit and size are crucial. If a life jacket slides off your head, it won’t be able to protect you, and if it’s too tight or thick, you won’t want to wear it. Spend some time getting this properly. Here are a few useful hints.

Make careful to match your chest’s width to the manufacturer’s recommended sizes. Measure instead of assuming! Wear your kayak fishing attire while fitting the vest to guarantee a good fit. If you fish in more than one season, this may get problematic, but the majority of PFDs can be altered to make this work.

Start by loosening or unfastening the PFD’s straps to evaluate fit. Refasten the straps, then put the vest on, ensuring that it fits snugly yet comfortably. Pose the life jacket above your head for a pal to attempt to pull over. It’s too large if it slides off. It must be tight enough to hold your body in the water and keep you afloat.

Try moving your arms as you would when casting and paddling while wearing the vest. It may not be the PFD for you if there is a lot of conflicts. If you can, sit down in a kayak and lie back on the seat. Give the PFD a pass if it causes you any discomfort.

Inflatable or foam?

Both inflatable and foam vests have advantages and disadvantages. The best PFDs for kayak fishing are often foam ones, why? For kayakers, foam-filled PFDs are cozy, reliable, and secure. They don’t need to be rearmed like inflatable jackets, thus they may be used again.

Some kayak fishermen prefer inflatable vests, particularly those who fish further from the shore. They are far cooler than a foam vest and have a smaller profile, which makes them less obtrusive. An inflatable life jacket must be repacked and rearmed once it has been discharged, which is a drawback of inflatable life jackets. That shouldn’t be something you do in the middle of a lake.

However, foam vests are getting more breathable. Many life jackets designed for kayak fishing feature mesh backs, which not only keep you cool but also go well with the high-backed, framed seats that many fishing kayaks have. Additionally, they often have extra fishing-specific characteristics, which we shall examine below.

Breathability and Materials

Fishing PFDs must be tough and resilient because they will be used frequently and subjected to abuse. Look for life preservers that have been built with high-quality materials since kayak fishing may be difficult enough without our gear and equipment failing on us. Pay close attention to the hardware, such as zippers and other fasteners, as well as the stitching.

The best kayak fishing PFDs will also be breathable, have good ventilation, and be made of mesh to keep you cool even on hot days and while you’re exerting yourself. A life jacket that doesn’t run hot or at least textiles that wick moisture is strongly recommended. You’ll quickly get sweaty from paddling and kayak fishing, particularly during warmer months.


Avoid using your vest as a cushion since doing so can compress the foam and reduce the buoyancy of the PFD. Keep it out of the sun while not in use to prevent UV deterioration. Don’t just throw your vest in the bottom of your yak and forget about it until later.

It should be well rinsed, any blood or fish residue should be removed with mild soap if required, and then allowed to water dry naturally. At the start of each season, make sure your PFD is in good condition. Look for signs of weakening fabric such as holes, rips, and fading.

Give it a sniff as well; if you detect mildew, the foam might be in danger. Without a doubt, you’ll need a replacement if you discover damage or mildew. Make sure your buoyancy vest will keep you bobbing on the surface by checking it many times during the season. It’s time for a new life jacket if you notice that you are sinking!


Your weight is important, but only when looking for a PFD with the appropriate amount of flotation. Typically, Type III PFDs contain 50 N or more buoyancy, which is more than adequate to keep an adult afloat. To guarantee that you float securely above the water, you should keep within the weight range provided by the majority of models.


Any water safety instructor will tell you that finding the right fit is just as crucial as picking the appropriate type of PFD. Additionally, fishing kayaks may be big enough without generating size issues because of the additional amenities and storage capacity.

If the life jacket is not the right size, the user may fall out in the water, and if it is too tiny, there will be many mobility and restriction issues, which is a severe problem while kayak fishing. Both scenarios must be prevented.

Always follow the precise size instructions provided by the life jacket maker. It could differ from business to business, however, this is uncommon. Next, get a friend or close relative and ask them to evaluate you. Don’t only go by the letter that is written on the label of the clothing you are wearing.


Making a stylish statement on the water is only one aspect of it. In an emergency, the color of a kayak fishing PFD—or any life preserver—can matter. Brighter vests are simpler to see in dim or difficult lighting, which might be important in certain situations.

Since fish cannot truly perceive color, there is no proof that they have any effect in scaring them away. Although the majority of kayak fishing PFDs maintain the trend of subdued “outside” hues like greens, browns, blacks, and grays, it’s simply something more to keep in mind. And other people, particularly while hunting, like to blend in.


Your preferred kayak fishing life jacket may or may not come with a few additional features, most of which have to do with safety gear. Reflective strips come in handy when it’s dark outside or if you have to portage and stroll beside a road for whatever reason.

An excellent addition is a safety whistle, which may be tucked away in one of the life jacket pockets and used as required. I strongly advise using two-way radio clips to help you stay in touch with your party members. This is a crucial addition to our PFDs because I frequently paddle beyond my wife’s hearing range.

FAQs – Best PFD For Kayak Fishing

Which PFD is best for fishing on a kayak?

There isn’t a single PFD that is superior to the others; it primarily depends on personal choice. For instance, every item I’ve mentioned in this evaluation has gear storage, thus the term “fishing” PFD. Although some fishermen would prefer the independence of a belt inflatable, that design may be thought of as the best life jacket for kayak fishing for that reason.

It just depends on your needs and the things that you will find most helpful. The best fishing PFD, in my opinion, is any that satisfies US Coast Guard standards for a life preserver. And any PFD that happens to be in this study is the best PFD for kayak fishing!

Which PFD type foam, hybrid, or inflatable – is best for a life vest?

Depending on your search criteria. Foam vests are the best PFDs for kayak fishing because they have more storage space. However, some users think they are very constrictive and prone to overheating in warmer temperatures. Hybrid vests make an effort to address this, but you will still lose some storage capacity.

Although inflatable PFDs offer the best possible ventilation and freedom of movement, they are otherwise useless for kayak fishing and require CO2 cartridges to operate. Due to their lack of restrictions, belt inflatables are often paddleboarders’ first option.

Any alternative may be utilized for kayak fishing as long as the vest, inflatable, PFD, life jacket, or hybrid is, at the very least, type III approved. The best option for tools and tackle storage that best supports angler kayaks is simply foam vests.

What distinguishes a PFD from a kayak fishing life vest?

Although the names are often used interchangeably, buoyancy is the primary distinction. Life jackets are intended to keep the user’s head above water for a long time, but a PFD just provides support back enough for a conscious wearer to safely return to the boat or to land.

Additionally, a PFD may have whatever design the maker wishes, while life jackets/vests are required by law to be in bold colors (red, orange, or yellow). Life jackets are much bulkier than PFDs and are not at all appropriate for kayak fishing because they are made to keep the wearer afloat without assistance. To further compound the confusion, a PFD is frequently called a life jacket or vest, but a real-life jacket is not a PFD!

Can you drown while wearing a kayak fishing PFDs?

Even if you’re wearing a certified life jacket that has passed the necessary certification, it’s still conceivable but improbable. The dangers are greatly diminished. However, there may be a significant variance depending on the environment, the user, and whether they are aware or not.

Even if you wear a life preserver, you could not survive. When it comes to kayak fishing PFDs, they help you reach the beach or help you get back on tipping kayaks. Without your assistance, they won’t just pick you out of the water and bring you back to safety.

Best Fishing Kayak FDF Conclusion

When kayaking, there are no justifications allowed—you must carry a personal flotation device. And the best kayak fishing PFDs are a wise option for an avid kayak angler. Please let me know which one you chose and why, or if you favor a totally different look while out on the water. Happy kayak fishing and keep yourself and your PFD safe!

Furthermore, embarking on a fishing expedition with a friend or family member? Tandem fishing kayaks offer a unique way to combine forces and enjoy the sport as a duo. Selecting an ideal tandem fishing kayak is akin to picking the perfect safety gear – both are essential for a gratifying experience on the water.

Best tandem fishing kayaks boast features that ensure a smooth ride, including a balanced design for steady navigation, abundant room for all your fishing necessities, and ergonomically designed seats for two. Some well-regarded options in the market even offer customizations like movable footrests, integrated fishing rod holders, and strategically placed compartments for effortless access to gear. Opting for a tandem fishing kayak could be the key to unlocking new horizons and cherished memories on your upcoming aquatic adventures.

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