Fishing Safety Gear

Be safe and comfortable on all your fishing trips with family and friends. These are some basic fishing safety tips to ensure that your fishing safety equipment covers your needs in all weather.

FISHING FIRST AID KIT

While fishing is a fun and relatively safe activity, occasionally accidents occur. Be prepared with a first aid kit specifically customized for anglers. There are a variety on the market, distinguishable from other kits by their waterproof containers and in some cases, fishing-specific tools like hook removers.

SUNSCREEN

Sunscreen lotion (minimum SPF-15) should be used to keep the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays from damaging skin. Make sure your fishing safety equipment bag includes a bottle.

RAINWEAR

Rainwear is an essential addition to your fishing safety gear bag. Several styles are available. A rain poncho is good, but many anglers prefer a two-piece rain suit with a jacket and pants.

Good rainwear is waterproof, not just water-repellent. It should have a full hood to protect your head, a storm flap over the jacket opening, a zipper, buttons or snaps, and elastic around the cuffs and ankle openings to keep water out.

SUNGLASSES

Another essential item of fishing safety equipment, sunglasses protect your eyes against the sun's glare. Many anglers prefer polarized sunglasses that reduce glare and allow them to see below the surface of the water to spot fish and other objects. Another benefit of polarized sunglasses: they are treated to protect your eyes from the full spectrum of the sun's harmful ultraviolet light rays (UVA/UVB).

PERSONAL FLOATATION DEVICES (PFDs)

Boat safety equipment starts with a PFD for each angler on the boat. There are five different categories of PFDs approved by the US Coast Guard. Type I are recommended for offshore conditions where waters can be rough, as they have the most buoyancy and will turn the wearer to a face-up position if unconscious. Type II are recommended for calmer waters, like that of a lake. Less bulky than Type I, but bulkier than Type III, this type will also turn most wearers to a face-up position if unconscious.

Type III is the most popular and commonly used PFD among anglers, as they allow users maximum freedom of movement and comfort. However, unlike Type I or II PFDs, Type III will not automatically turn wearers to a face up position if unconscious, so their use should be limited to conditions where rescue of a fallen angler can be immediate. Next are Type IV PFDs, which describe floatation devices thrown out to assist one who has fallen in the water. Finally, Type V PFDs are “special use” devices, designed for specific activities (e.g., waterskiing, competitive kayaking, etc.). Unlike other PFDs, most Type V are inflatable or a hybrid of inflatable and buoyant design.

Keep in mind that PFDs are not fishing safety equipment exclusive to boaters. Anyone fishing on the water (including kayaking and SUP) requires the use of a PFD.

HIP BOOTS AND WADERS

Hip boots and waders are designed to keep you dry and protect you against the chill of cool water. For cold water wading, wear insulated boots. Hip boots only come up to your hips and are held in place with belt straps. Waders come up to the top part of your chest. They are held in place by suspenders and you should wear a belt on the outside. They will protect you while surf fishing, wading a stream or fishing in deeper water.

Under most circumstances, if you fall in the water with your hip boots on, do not try to remove them; first bend your knees. Air trapped in the boots will make them float at the toes. This can help keep you afloat as you paddle toward shore.

Thanks to the Future Fisherman Foundation for contributing to this section.