For ASTRAL, a true fishing PFD was a different challenge than our whitewater and recreational designs of the past. In order to clearly identify the needs of kayak fishing, the Astral design team enlisted crucial feedback and ideas from the North Carolina Kayak Fishing Association (NCKFA) a group of expert kayak anglers based in our home state of North Carolina. Most notably, our good friend and NCKFA president, Mark Patterson was instrumental in this process.
Here are a few of the key design elements we identified for the Ronny Fisher:
Comfort and Breathability: Fishing kayaks tend to have really tall seatbacks, so in order to get the perfect fit we knew our ThinVent(TM) back design used in the regular Ronny lifevest would be perfect. ThinVent technology incorporates a super thin foam evenly distributed in the back that is ventilated for maximum comfort in hot weather. Thus, allowing the user to be able to fully recline in the tallest of seats without interference between the seat back and the PFD.
Just like all Astral PFDs, the Ronny Fisher is articulated to wrap the torso and large arm openings provide a natural and unrestricted range of motion when paddling and swimming. The front foam is also skived which makes a shelf in the chest area, making it a great fit for women, just like our Linda lifevest.
Functional Storage: The two large fold down pockets in the front are sized perfectly to fit up to a 6.5” x 4.25” tackle box (sold separately). Included are six strips of peel and stick Velcro so you can mount your small tackle boxes inside the pocket.
On the inside of both pockets are two mesh sleeves with elastic closure and key loops. On the outside of each large front pocket you will find zippered storage compartments sized to hold a fishing license, an iPhone, and other odds and ends, with dual YKK zippers for quick one hand access.
As shown above the Ronny Fisher can hold a variety of tackle and accessories like:
- Zinger with clippers
- Pocket Knife
- Fishing License
- iPhone with case
- Plano #3449 Tackle Box with Misc Spinner Lures
- Small Flashlight
- Gulp softbaits
- Jig Heads
- Small Tackle Box
- Fox 40 whistle
- Shiva IPA Beverage
Safety: Kayak fishing (especially offshore) has some unique hazards of its own and the big one is collisions with motorboats. Because of this we needed our fishing vest to be easily seen so that potential accidents could be avoided. Reflective accents on the front and back will help you to be seen in low light, and the Ronny Fisher is also available in our very own FLASH GREEN.
In particular, one of the really cool new ideas that Mark Patterson brought to the table was the addition of a stowable rain hood. This way, if you happen to get caught out in bad weather just deploy the hood from the neck collar to keep your head dry and make yourself easy to spot.
In case of a swim, the Ronny Fisher is designed with 16lbs of buoyancy derived from 100% PE Foam – its feather-light and recyclable (note the avg weight of Ronny Fisher is only 1.84 lbs)!
On the front of the vest is a square plastic lash tab, that has traditionally been used to mount a river knife to the front of our whitewater designs. This could be used to mount your blade where it would be close at hand if you needed to cut a line quickly.
Durability: We know that kayak fishing can dish out a beating on a lifevest, especially with hooks and sharp objects being used. For the shell material we chose a 500d Cordura®, and then added some 1050d Ballistic fabric in the high wear zones to help reduce abrasion resistance, and to reduce the possibility of a snagged hook on the shell fabric.
Style: Our initial design intention was to create a technical vest for the “working man” with some style influences from both traditional fly fishing vests and work clothing. Through the use of ballistic overlays, the vest truly communicates its durability just like your favorite pair of Carhart™ pants. In terms of the feature layout we strived to attain the fine balance of “form follows function,” where pocket shape and location was carefully considered to provide the utmost freedom of movement when paddling and fishing.
Other unique features of the Ronny Fisher include:
- Covered tool organizer on the right side (as worn) with Velcro closure.
- Zippered beverage holder on left side.
- Multiple attachment loops for all your tools and gadgets.
- elastic keepers to help manage your excess straps (so they don’t get hooked).
Release Date: January 20th 2014
Sizing: S/M, M/L, L/XL
Colors: Green, Charcoal
In our next blog post we will dive deeper into Astral’s emergence to kayak fishing, and meet our original Astral Fishing Team:
- Mark Patterson: Greensboro, NC
- William Ragulsky: Norfolk, VA
- Brian “Vince” Vincent: Farmville, VA
- Jonathan Leavitt: Falls Church, VA
- Philip Ruckart: Mebane, NC
- Mark Lozier: Virginia Beach, VA
- Kris Lozier; Virginia Beach, VA
- Matt Baden: Annapolis, MD
- Chris Tryon: Wilmington, NC