PFD for warm weather fishing/ paddling?

While I realize that there’s a certain segment of folks around here that don’t consider canoe and kayak fishermen to be “real” paddlers, those of us who paddle in order to fly or spin fish are still more than capable of getting into “real” trouble.

I’m a decent swimmer, and usually paddle relatively shallow, rocky slow rivers sprinkled with with short class I and II’s.

However, as I do more research, I’m realizing that my swimming ability has very little to do with the potential for drowning, particularly on rocky rivers with underwater ledges and foot “traps” like the ones I frequent.

The one thing I have NOT put any money into is my PFD, relying on a 25 dollar big box vest that lives in the bottom of my boat during my floats. I’ve only worn it once while paddling, other than when practicing my deep water re-entry. Hell, that’s just dumb. I’m one of my favorite people…and I hope to be around awhile.

So what have you folks found that works well, for a PFD to be WORN while paddling and fly fishing in warm weather? I’d like to keep my budget under 100 bucks, and, if possible, get a vest that’s both highly vented and has enough floatation for days when I get more serious about “playing” in the boat. I’d also like to be educated on whether those two things are opposing missions.

I’m looking at a few options from MTI, but also saw a cheaper all mesh topped PFD at Dicks ( which makes me wonder about keeping my head up if i get conked…)

Thoughts? Thanks!

Astral V-8 . sells for $104.
Most comfortable and coolest I’ve found short of an inflatable.

Most Importantly
What is comfortable for YOU! I shopped this spring. I tried on MANY taking the time to put on and adjust each one.

second thumbs up on the V-8

– Last Updated: Aug-09-12 11:13 AM EST –

I also give the Astral V-8 a big thumbs up for comfort. It runs around $105 but I have often seen it for under $100. If you are an REI member they often send out coupons for 20% off any full price item so that's a good option to get it down to around $85. I've had MTI, Lotus and Stohlquist and the first time I tried on the V-8 I was sold. Only vest I have ever used that I don't even notice I have on, even on the hottest days. Only drawback is that it has really lousy pockets. They have come up with a newer model that has the same vented body but better pockets and a little more flotation (full back foam) called the Camino.

Good price on it here at $109 (only one color and size though):

I like my V-8 so much (but loathe the poor pockets) I might consider upgrading to a Camino myself.

better price yet
REI is selling the L/Xl for even less ($80!):

I have the MTI Calcutta, which they market as an kayaking/angling PFD.

It’s my first/only PFD so I don’t have much to compare it to, but I have been using it for a short while now and it seems comfortable enough for me. The pockets are big enough to hold all the tackle I need for an outing (and then some). I’m not crazy about the plier sleeve (at least with my pliers) b/c my pliers tend to pull the pocket away from my body and feels loose and “swingy”.