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With the recent tragedy of FLW coangler Nik Kaylor and a  string of other pro anglers being thrown from their boat ie. John Cox 2 years ago, I am curious to hear how many others have made the switch to the type 3 life jackets that do not require inflation either manually or auto. I made the switch two years ago back to type 3 jackets instead of the inflatables after hearing of failures,  to me a little more bulk is worth the slight inconvenience vs the risk of a failure of an inflatable. How many other folks are doing the same or have had an issue with their inflatable?

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Ono note in reference to John Cox.  The vest he had on was a manual vest, and not an automatic as many assumed.  In my opinion, a manual vest has no place.  As for auto-inflate vs non-inflatable, good question.  The advantage of inflatable is comfort, and because of that the vest tends to stay on at all times.  How many use a non-inflatable, and as soon as the big motor shuts down, off comes the vest and jump on the trolling motor.  Thing is, go off the bow, and get knocked out (hit the boat, rock, stump, or whatever), and you are unconscious in the water with no PFD.  Of course, the advantage of the non-inflatable is not having to rely on anything else to occur to provide flotation, other than having it on.

So, what's the better solution?  I wish I knew. 

I prefer the hydrostatic inflatable vest by Mustang Survival. I feel that brand is the most trusted and most tested brand in personal flotation. The regular foam PFD that most bass boat guys wear are usually only rated at 13 pounds of buoyancy. Most Mustang hydrostatic vests range from 28-38 pounds of buoyancy, plus when inflated the vest glows in high visibility yellow with reflective tape. The foam style vest also becomes water logged over time and reduces buoyancy. If the two types of vests the inflatable vest has a chance of failure, but is the only one that is likely to float you face up if unconscious. In the case of Nik Kayler if you look at their photo from blast off Nik was wearing a regular foam vest. His boater had on an inflatable vest. Hard to say what happened to Nik, but he may have been knocked unconscious when he went out of the boat. It does make an argument for a dual console boat for the safety of your co-angler. Many more factors than this to consider when choosing the right PFD, but given what research I have done, mine will always be a Mustang Survival inflatable vest.

Very good point about turning an unconscious person face up, Doug.  While neither style is guaranteed to turn a person, as the inflatable style we are used to has all the flotation in the front, it does have a higher probability of doing so.

Curious where you heard Cox and his marshal were wearing manual inflated vests? The interview makes it sound like the both should have inflated but didn't. http://www.bassfan.com/docktalk_article/14632/cox-involved-in-accid...

I saw the initial reports on the Cox incident, and thought the same thing.  The statement that Mustang released says otherwise, however. 


"Cox clarified that the PFD he was wearing at the time of the accident was a manually-operated model and that’s why it didn’t inflate upon his hitting the water."


Jordan Doucet said:

Curious where you heard Cox and his marshal were wearing manual inflated vests? The interview makes it sound like the both should have inflated but didn't. http://www.bassfan.com/docktalk_article/14632/cox-involved-in-accid...

Interesting. I figured both would be wearing the auto inflating models. The manual ones seem much less useful should the unexpected occur. 

My point to this conversation is know your types of PFD's.  I will only use something with Type II Performance and if you read the standards in the link I provided you'll see why.  Always maintain your PFD, I had a friend go in the water and the type III vest basically exploded and was virtually useless because the sun had deteriorated the threads holding the flotation in place.  The vest look brand new and in good shape prior to the accident.  Here is the link.


Sorry this is long winded..

This tragedy I think is a good wake up call to be aware of what we are doing out there. We all need to be aware of the dangers presented us.

I personally switched from the manual auto inflate to a submersion auto inflate last year after watching the video of the college anglers being tossed from there boat. https://youtu.be/1AkgjPkCQXc.
One thinks that all accidents happen due to recklessness. That video above is none of that and was a mechanical issue. Notice though there auto inflates worked exactly as designed.

Just recently another angler died from falling overboard.

I don't believe Niks tragedy was a fault of a life jacket choice. Pictures show him pre launch wearing a std pfd. What I do believe was hypothermia. Nik was not dressed to be in the water. 50 water temps leaves one less then a hour in the water before hypothermia kicks in. That time frame is much much shorter if your wearing cotton clothing or older in age out of shape etc. It's an absolute tragedy that the events that occurred in this accident that the boat was not able to recover him after falling out. Who would ever guess that your boat would not be able to get back to you or you to it?.
The second tragedy on center hill lake I think could happen to everyone of us and that one is the reason why I will always wear a auto inflate or a pfd at all times in cold water fishing. I prefer the auto inflate. Why because I wear it always.
If you read that story sounds like the gentleman fell overboard as he was fishing (trolling motor down) he had no life jacket on or one that didn't inflate (only know this because of the recovery story). Now he may have had a medical condition IE: heart attack. But i think the most likely scenario is that he was dressed in lots of clothes to stay warm and fell overboard. The clothing prevented him from either being able to swim or reboard his boat. This would be even more likely if the boat was not equipped with a boarding ladder.
I still remember to this day, several years ago when I jumped into the water for the first time from my boat to cool off. I COULD NOT REBOARD MY BOAT. And I was a fairly in shape 40yr old in swim shorts and warmish water. Had I been clothed for cold water and the water been cold I'm not sure i could have gotten back in. I bought a boarding ladder for my boat right after that.

I whitewater kayak and have some experience in cold water swimming. It's not fun. Even dressed correctly it's difficult. When you first hit cold water your bodies reaction is to breath in even under water. I cannot imagine falling overboard fully dressed in clothing meant to keep you warm off the water. Without a life jacket i don't think a normal person could even swim or stay afloat without a life jacket.

My point being is that if this does cause you to change life jackets wear it!!! Don't just wear it while driving. I have both types. I love my auto inflate because I forget that I'm wearing it and I keep it on all day. I believe it will inflate when needed. Hard to prove me otherwise. I like my std pfd also but it does get in the way and I want to take it off then it becomes pointless as you need it when u least expect it.

Secondly dress for falling in. DON'T wear cotton or heavy boots, big coats etc remember you have to swim in what you are wearing and you will need to be able to reboard your boat right away and be able to drive yourself back to safety before hypothermia kicks in. 30 mins or less is all you got on a mild winter/spring day. Way less if it's super cold out.

These recent tragedies are just that. Do they need to make us quit fishing or change tournament fishing etc I don't think so but they can make sure your prepared and have a plan and be aware of the dangers we put ourselves in.



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