According to recent figures from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, drift gillnetting for salmon is currently number one in fatalities in Alaska, with most deaths caused by falls overboard.

Not like we do not all know this, but most fatalities could be avoided by the consistent use of PFDs. And of course we all know the counter arguments, especially in drifting. The snag points that most PFDs add make it difficult to work around nets, but there are options.

The Kent Rogue or Rogue II are the most unobtrusive vests with the fewest snags. These neoprene flotation vests are not Coast Guard-approved and will not keep you afloat all night or buoy you if you bonk your head, but it has 12 pounds of flotation and can save lives by providing enough flotation to shed heavy raingear. It can easily be worn under a coat and is actually a nice core layer on cold, stormy nights when danger of swamping or stumbling is high.

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Brian Hagenbuch is National Fisherman's products editor, a contributing editor to SeafoodSource and a Bristol Bay fisherman. He is based in Seattle.

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