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Tuesday, 06 January 2015 09:17

An Open Letter to the Kayak Community About PFDs

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I was contacted yesterday about a concern that arose while kayak anglers debated, argued, and plead their cases for wearing or not wearing a lifejacket (PFD) in their kayaks. I thought the plea that was made needed to be heard so I've decided to publish it here. PFDs may be an easy issue on the surface but it can get complex when you start to really dive into the details. Some states require it, some don’t. 

Some states like Florida have thousands of people who fish in 70 degree water most of the year and in less than three feet of water. Others, like our friends in Hawaii have grown up in the ocean, some before they could walk, and a PFD is as foreign on a kayak as a bike helmet. I appreciate Doug’s response below. We should all take a beat, breathe, and realize choices are made on an individual basis. Bashing someone doesn’t educate anyone; it just shames them. This is Doug Pomeroy’s open letter to the kayak community about PFDs.


Fellow Kayakers,

Recently the topic of wearing or more specifically not wearing a PFD has been under fire in many of the kayak fishing social media circles. It is as if the online kayakers have been circling like vultures waiting for this topic to arise and as soon as an unsuspecting Facebooker chimes in with “I don’t wear one” they are on them. Some even go as far to insult the person’s intelligence.

This needs to stop.

The kayak community has almost solved this debate problem when it comes to kayak brand talk. Each of us makes a friendly recommendation of our favorite or what we think might suit the soon to be buyer best but following it up with “Be sure to demo or the standard ‘Demo Demo Demo’.” We know those who wear one all the time are going to chime in all extra proud like they deserve a gold star for safety. I have never heard a fellow kayak angler tell someone “No you shouldn’t wear a PFD” and doubt I ever will.  Why is it that some people get so fired up on this topic? To me, it’s because it’s an easy topic to be right on. It’s hard to argue that not wearing a PFD is safer. They get to be right and flaunt their infinite wisdom on kayak safety. The attitude that some people take is what makes this a hot topic.

We need to change how we talk about safety.

I will always err on the side of safety when it comes to being in a kayak but, if the kayaker is following their respective state and local laws for PFDs there is no room for criticism. We can encourage people to make sound and safe decisions, but the type of in your face “My way or the highway” preaching that is taking place can make it a very uncomfortable place for new or non-kayakers looking to get into the sport or the discussion at hand.  If a fellow kayaker asks me about a PFD choice I will give my opinion with some options that could help direct them in a positive direction. I won’t make them feel as if they are less of a kayaker or person because of a personal decision they have made. Let’s come together on this issue not apart. Is wearing a PFD a good idea? Yes. Please remember it’s a choice not a law.

Thanks for reading,

Doug Pomeroy

Read 4558 times Last modified on Wednesday, 07 January 2015 07:16
Chris Payne

I've been fishing over 30 years and the majority of my time on the water has been spent in Texas with the occasional trips out of state. In 2003 I bought my first kayak and a new era in my fishing life was born. I learned the ropes quickly about gear, paddling, fishing, packing, safety and got a degree from the school of hard knocks with a major in kayak fishing. I learned a lot of ways to not do something.

I love kayak fishing and I want to share it with as many people as possible. That's the bottom line. 


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