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Looking for opinions from actual fisherman, not store reviews.


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I was fishing with my son today at the Niagara Glen. I was helpless as I watched  my son slip on algae and fall towards the fast rushing water. Thankfully he was able to catch his fall. He lost his rod, but more importantly he did not fall in. I will never fish near the river again until I find the best life vest I can for both of us. That moment was life changing. We both love fishing, and have never thought about life vests while fishing from shore. After playing the what if out in my mind, I realized I almost lost my son. I’m reaching out to anyone and everyone to give their opinions and recommendations. 
 

Id like to add. I’ve notice that several people have read this post without commenting. I’m just wondering if I’ve posted this question in the right place. I understand I can easily go and get advice from a store who will promote their products for the sale. I figured I would ask here and hopefully get responses from people who actually use the product I need. 

Edited by Josh721
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Unfortunately a life vest with the water temps is not going to help.  Any life vest approved in Canada will do it more about comfort and personal choice.

I personally away use a floater suite for cold and mustang Deluxe Sportsman in the warmth.  I add lights and whistle to both.

Just always make sure to put it on.

 
 
Deluxe Sportsman's Vest
Model: MV5901 SKU: 062533782228

Deluxe Sportsman's Vest

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First thing we have to do is get over the stigma of looking different, not sure if you are a boater but why not get some of the Mustang HIT inflatable PFD? They are so comfortable you wont know you are wearing one. They are all i have in my boat and one day my buddy had to leave early so i dropped him off at the dock and went back out, he calls me that night to make arrangements to return the inflatable to me . Seems it was so comfortable he didn't realize it was still on till he was in the line of the grocery store. 

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IMHO, an inflatable is not a great choice for a kid: will they be calm enough to inflate the vest after falling into cold, fast moving water? Maybe Autoinflate works better than I think it does. A good lifefacket - not PFD - seems to be what you are looking for. Just make sure it fits and is rated for his weight. 

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I’d personally recommend and auto inflatable. They are so comfortable you will forget that you are wearing it. 
 

I personally use a cabellas guide wear and love it. I made the switch from only wearing a vest while under power to basically always wearing the inflatable. There’s stories about them not inflating, but I think a significant component of that is people not storing and maintaining them correctly.

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I appreciate the comments. I like the thought of the auto inflate. The way they turn you over in case your unconscious. My son is in his early teens and a good swimmer but with that current and temperature of the water it was definitely an eye opener. 
We use a vest style when boating, but after all the videos I’ve watch, I will be switching them out as well. 
 

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I would personally agree with @singingdog and not recommend an inflatable.  Partly my personal bias - I don't use one myself when on my kayak, I need 0% chance of failure.  And partly because as a parent I want max safety for my child, meaning a lifejacket (not a pfd).   That's just me, every parent has to decide for themselves.

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I think guys aren't familiar with the Niagara, it's crazy fast, heavy water, for those who don't know

I'd use a lifejacket and have it tethered to a tree like Wayne suggested, a short leash too

 

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Biggest fear fishing the lower is falling in during the cold weather.  I bought a fishing pfd from FishUSA, it was practical, economical and doubles as a fishing vest.  I have a float suit for severe cold weather.  You also need to make sure you have excellent condition foot wear, just bought some winter boots from north face and you can add screw studs for ice.  Safety is so important, no fish is worth dying for and being prepared and safe is paramount.  I would recommend a straight pfd and you could probably wear it under a jacket if you are that concerned about how it looks, but really who cares, just wear it as is.

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That's a life lesson he'll never forget, probably scare the crap out of him (which isn't a bad thing).  There are some rivers I fish you've gotta watch every single step you take or else you're going for a dip.   I'd probably look at what were on his feet when he slipped.  Running shoes?  Hiking boots?   A cheap pair of hiking boots with a few sheet metal screws in the bottom will make a world of difference on slippery algae.   I think the key here is prevention, a life jacket or PFD is great, but let's not even get to that point next time.   Perhaps even a old ski pole to use as a wading staff until he gets more comfortable around that type of water.    

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I have two sons and if I tried tying either one to a tree when they were teenagers, I’d be the one tied to the damn tree. 
OP, regardless of the jacket you pick, make sure you set the example and wear the same one. 
As far as the auto-inflates go, yes there is a small failure rate. However the rate is extremely small compared to the rate of people that won’t wear a regular pfd because they’re too hot, too bulky, too restrictive, etc.  
I wear an auto-inflate 100% of the time I’m fishing alone in my boat. I wore a regular pfd 0% of the time while fishing previously. 

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