A buoyancy aid is essential to stay safe on the water out kayak fishing. It will help you to stay afloat if you find yourself in the water. Buoyancy aids, also known as personal floatation devices (PFDs) come in an array of styles. A touring style buoyancy aid is best suited for kayak fishing. These PFDs are shaped for excellent freedom of movement; they zip up at the front to make them really easy to put on; and they often have plenty of pockets – so they’re also a useful place to keep safety gear along with fishing tools and tackle!

The Palm Kaikoura being used for Kayak Fishing

Palm has a great range of touring buoyancy aids – my three favourite designs are the Hydro, the Peyto and my PFD of choice, the Kaikoura.

Palm Kaikoura Buoyancy Aid

The Kaikoura is the top spec touring PFD from Palm. It’s packed with features such a curved foam for a body-hugging fit, four front pockets, a hydration bladder pocket on the back, reflective SOLAS tape and an anti-ride up design that stays put during use. I have been using a Kaikoura for the last four years and it has been brilliant. Comfortable fit for long days on the water and the pockets and various clip points are really handy for storing and attaching items. So what do I keep in and on my PFD?

What’s on my PFD?

I try not to clutter the outside of my buoyancy aid in order to reduce snagging hazards in case I need to haul myself back onto my kayak in a self-rescue. Regardless, there are a couple of safety essentials that need to be in a prominent position and quick to hand.

Rope cutter

I have a Beaver Trigger Line Cutter clipped onto the front tab on the Kaikoura. This handy device is essentially a super-sharp hooked shaped blade held within a sheath. This is within easy reach at all times and can be used one handed by simply pulling on the handle of the cutter. You never know when you may become tangled in lines in the water, or when you may need to cut your anchor line quickly. 

Beaver Trigger Line Cutter

VHF radio

I have my radio clipped into the strap pouch on my right-hand shoulder strap. This sits near my face so I can use the radio without needing to unclip it. VHF radio gives me direct contact with the coastguard and other VHF users on the water. With the VHF attached to the buoyancy aid, which is in turn is attached to me … even If I end up separated from my kayak I can call for help.

VHF Radio on a Palm Kaikoura Buoyanc Aid
VHF Radio leashed to the Buoyancy Aid

What’s in my PFD?

Mobile phone

I use my phone on the water as a camera, but also as a backup communication device. I have a Nite-Ize Hitch tether to keep my phone leashed to the buoyancy aid so that I can’t drop it in the water. The front pocket on the Kaikoura is the perfect size for my phone. If your phone is not waterproof then get yourself a waterproof phone case to protect it from a watery death! Waterproof phones are sometimes just ‘splashproof’, so a waterproof case is a good idea to keep out corrosive salt water.

A mobile phone fits inside the Kaikoura pocket
iPhone 7 Plus leashed to the Palm Kaikoura PFD


I have a small pealess whistle tethered to a clip point in one of the front pockets on my Kaikoura. This is a cheap and simple safety device that can be used to get the attention of other water users over short distances.

Whistle attached to the Palm Kaikoura buoyancy aid


Incredibly useful for fishing – cutting line or bait. I keep a pair of small braid scissors in the front pocket on my PFD so that I always have a set to hand when needed.

Small terminal tackle box

I carry a medium size Greys Klip-Lok waterproof tackle box in the front pocket of my Kaikoura. This is the perfect size for the pocket and allows me to carry a few items of terminal tackle close to hand during a session. I tend to refresh the items I carry each session depending on what tackle I am using on the day. I keep a small selection of hooks, swivels and beads in the box.

Bait elastic

Every bait angler will know how useful bait elastic is. A spool of bait elastic fits easily into one of the small front pockets on the Kaikoura.

Bait Elastic fits inside the small pocket on a Kaikoura PFD

Other items

I have a small hook disgorger stored in one of the small front pockets – for removing small hooks for deep-hooked fish, and is useful for competition fishing for smaller species. The larger front pockets are also a great size for keeping a few loose packets of hooks handy. There are usually a few small cable ties kicking around in my pockets too – I use them for an anti-snag weak link anchoring system so it is useful to keep a few spares.

Top tip – look after your PFD and it will look after you

With all these handy items tucked away in your PFD it’s a good idea to clear out your pockets after each session and rinse your buoyancy aid, the zips and gear thoroughly in fresh water! Then hang it up to air dry so that it’s in great condition for your next session out sea fishing.