Do you really need a life jacket when fly fishing?
Thankfully, drownings aren't that common among fly fishers but they do happen. Anyone in a boat should definitely be wearing a life jacket in my opinion, but they're not that common for bank anglers.
If you're fishing a river, it would be a wise purchase. If you've ever fallen over wearing waders you'll know how hard it can be to stand up again. Add a bit of water movement and it can become extremely difficult - children could find it near impossible.
What is the Bluewave Kids Red Automatic 150N Gas Lifejacket?
These are automative life jackets, so they have a sensor in them that detects water and they inflate explosively via a little gas canister when submerged.
Your child doesn't need to rummage around for a cord to pull. They just need to fall in and the life jacket will go off and keep them afloat with their head above the water so you can fish them out.
Do they fit children well?
We bought three of these for our children - Lily (12), Henry (11) and George (9). As I'm 6'4" and the children have inherited my lanky stature, they're all on the tall side - George is already 5' tall at nine years' old. However, the jackets all fit them well.
There's a good waist fitting which adjusts easily to your child's dimensions, as well as a strap that goes under the crotch to stop the jacket coming over their head if they fall in.
For really tall children, like ours, it would be helpful if this strap were a bit longer, as there's little slack left to allow much more room for height growth.
They're not too heavy or bulky to wear and the children haven't really complained about wearing them. They're also comfortable enough to cast in, so they don't impede your casting skills too much. George has never complained about his and it's seen a fair bit of use.
Does it work?
Yes! It's already prevented one potential drowning for us. George was fly fishing with me on the River Dee and stumbled and went under.
I was downstream and there were 40 GAIA instructors within 100m of us, so he wasn't in massive danger, but the life jacket went off instantly and he popped back up like a cork.
The jacket went off quickly and he didn't even get his hair wet. The worst that happened was that freezing cold River Dee water trickled down his jacket and filled his waders with icy water, so he still got quite a shock.
What was most impressive though was the cut of the inflated part of the life jacket. It's cleverly designed to tuck around the head and the neck so it keeps the head up and it grips so firmly that it's actually surprisingly hard to pull back off. If your child has undone the straps, they'd probably still be fine, so this is a great safety feature.
How much are they?
These cost £59.99 each. Not bad, given that they could save your child's life.