Gordon Lyall doles out some rough treatment to the smart two-piece Fisheagle Floatation Suit exclusive to Glasgow Angling Centre. He reports his findings after 12 harsh months and two hellish winters of abuse.
I was given the Fisheagle two-piece floatation suit exactly a year ago and instructed to do my merry worst. Rather than give a flat list of my first impressions, my different review brief was to press the suit into regular active service and to report back with my findings 12 months down the line. A gamut of rain-lashed rocks, windswept beaches and pitching boats later here I am with my lengthy experience of Glasgow Angling Centre’s exclusive Fisheagle floatation suit.
I have had something of a love-hate relationship with various floatation suits over the years. On the one hand I happily embrace the need to fish safely and welcome the peace of mind that a good floatation suit affords, but this is offset with a tight claustrophobic panic of being zipped into something as physically restrictive as a straightjacket. The ability to move freely in any item of fishing clothing is essential in my book, and this is an area where many fishing suits fall short. It is a fine line of course, as manufacturers seek to address both the ‘recreational’ and the most important ‘survival’ aspect of suits.
I found the Fisheagle suit pleasant to fish in and didn’t court that horrible bound-and-gagged feeling unless I overdid it with thick under layers. A T-shirt, shirt and hoodie worn below the floatation suit were more than sufficient, and this three-layer arrangement saw me through the freezing weather presented by two consecutive Decembers and Januarys. Needless to say, this FE suit meets stringent offshore safety standards. For transportation it isn’t overly bulky and packs down into a neat space-saving bundle.
Jacket and Salopettes
The detachable foam-lined hood is fully adjustable and has a highly reflective strip sewn on at the back. As someone who wears glasses, I found the peaked hood front a good defence against rain when staring up at rod tips. The front hood flap secures with strong Velcro to protect the face from the elements. A thick fleece-lined inner collar provides excellent neck protection and warmth, and the interior lining is made from comfortable water-repellent fabric. The jacket’s chunky HKK double-direction front zip is saltwater resistant and is further protected by a full-length Velcro-locking storm flap. There is no shortage of convenient pockets, with two exterior chest pockets and two large lower front jacket pockets; all of which have covering storm flaps. A further external chest pocket is located clear of the main zip and under the protective storm flap, while there is a large inner chest pocket also.
A strong adjustable waist belt with quick snap-buckle is held in place with stitched-on retainers. Scotch Lite reflective tape also features on both the arms of the jacket and legs of the salopettes. All seams are rigorously taped and stitched for improved strength, while the jacket’s internal grid-like stitching pattern ensures rip-proof integrity. Cuffs are elasticated with Velcro adjustment. And a robust crotch strap is fitted to stop the garment riding up in the unlikely event of the wearer falling in the sea.
The bib & brace bottoms are hardwearing and highly waterproof – I have endured some horrendous wet conditions, and thus far, never experienced damp knees or a wet rear as a result of water penetration. The bottoms are fitted with long zips on the lower leg sections, making it easy to shuffle into them without having to remove bulky footwear like walking boots or Wellingtons. The salopettes sport a large zipper chest pocket and a further two big flap-covered thigh pockets.
After Hell and High Water
Besides a little superficial wear at the seat and knees; some white salt staining on the back of the jacket and smelling a bit fishy, this suit is as waterproof, warm and reliable as the day I got it. I don’t like scrubbing down float suits after fishing for fear of compromising the waterproofing barrier. However, I would suggest that the FE would be fine scrubbed as long as no detergents are used. I have no doubt that this well battered suit will continue to be warm as toast and protect me for seasons to come.
Available in S, M, L, XL, 2XL, 3XL …and even 4XL if needed to encase some hopeless cake-monster and NHS-draining catastrophe in waiting! RRP is £129 but the Fisheagle Floatation Suit is currently available direct from Glasgow Angling Centre at the special knockdown price of £69.99 for all sizes.