Monday, May 25, 2009

Wading Safety--Part 1

Since I first became a fly fisher 3 years ago, I have always worn a personal flotation device (PFD). When I was a kid, we called them life jackets. If you aspire to become a fly fisher, you will see large groups of folks without PFD's. Unfortunately, this should not be the norm. Rocks are slick. Holes are deep. Stubbing your toe and falling into cold river water is uninspiring, not to mention the possibility of drowning. Originally I wore a PFD with a "shawl collar" and a pull string over my fly fishing vest. You pull the string if you get into trouble, thereby inflating the device and floating to safety. On the day I stepped in a hole and ran icy river water down my shirt sleeve and into my waders, however, I forgot to pull the string. The resulting struggle of attempting to rise upright with waders several pounds heavier, risisting another urge to fall, and holding on to my rod---all at the same time---is not a memory I treasure. After that exciting event, I re-considered my flotation options and searched for a combo PFD/fishing vest. The result was the purchase of a kayak vest, which performs both functions. I now have the security of knowing that if I fall, this outfit will keep me afloat as well as handy zippered pockets to keep secure all the "stuff" we fly fishers like to carry. If you're contemplating a switch to fly fishing and intend to wade, I strongly recommend you wear a PFD. Fly fishers believe in "catch and release". Make sure you're never caught without one!

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