With today's fishing clothing, you can protect your body from UV rays, and still stay comfortable.
Here is the scenario. It's 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning. The boat is hitched to the truck, the hooks have all been sharpened and the cooler is brimming with snacks and beverages to get you through the long day ahead. As you wander past the mirror on the way out, your reflection tells a sad tale -- ripped jeans, a heavy sweatshirt and not much else.
Fishing certainly doesn't have to be a fashion show, but the clothes you choose to wear can have a direct impact on your comfort levels when out on the water. And in my mind, the more comfortable and relaxed you are, the greater your chances for finding fishing success.
Covering the Noggin
The most important part of my fishing wardrobe has to be my hat. The reason for this is twofold -- protection from harmful UV rays and a barrier to stop blinding glare and reflection.
With cases of skin cancer on the rise, covering your head is your best defense against this harmful affliction. (For those that are experiencing a "thinning" trend on top, such as yours truly, head protection is even more important and necessary.)
Hats come in all shapes and sizes, although the most popular and obvious has to be the regular baseball cap. A ball cap will provide ample protection from the sun for the top of the head, while also covering the top half of the face. The bill of the cap functions great for blocking glare, especially when pulled down tight against a pair of polarized glasses. The downside to ball caps is the lack of protection offered for the ears and the back of the neck -- two prime spots that can get scorched by the rays.
For those looking for more protection from the elements, a switch to a cap with a convertible sun protector flap is a step in the right direction. These hats offer the same quality as a regular ball cap, yet allow an angler to "roll" down a flap at the rear to nicely cover the neck and ears. These hats have proven to be very popular with fly fishermen and flats anglers, and I'm sure they'd be the perfect fit for you.
The "Tilley" style hat is a wide brimmed hat that offers ample shade from the sun, covering the ears, top of the face and most of the neck. Besides the obvious health and comfort benefits, they also reign supreme as one of the sharpest looking chapeaus to hit the fishing scene. Another famous alternative is the good ol' booney hat. It offers plenty of protection from the sun and is now being produced with some of the more "high-tech" materials.
Sleeveless fishing shirts are light and breezy, allowing the body to stay cool during the hot days of summer.
Not Any Old T-Shirt Will Do
Although a simple t-shirt is still a mainstay on many boats and waterways, many of the new shirts that have hit the marketplace offer additional value for the money.
My favorite style of shirt to wear for a day on the drink is a sleeveless button down with a collar. When made of a material designed to wick moisture away from the body, these garments are light and breezy, allowing the body to stay cool during the hot days of summer. Many are also manufactured with a built-in vented cape back, which allows those cool breezes to "air condition" the body.
Storing nail clippers, glasses, or a package of plastics is a cinch with these shirts as many come standard with a variety of large Velcro or zippered pockets.
Looking for the ultimate in skin protection? Some newer shirts hitting the market offer built-in sun protection. Others even repel mosquitoes, ticks and flies. Due to a revolutionary process, bug repellent is built into the fabric, providing resistance to bugs for upwards of 25 washes. (And the best part is, the repellent cannot be seen or smelt.)
For those looking to cover up from the shoulder to the wrist, most of these same styles can be purchased in a long sleeve version -- great for early mornings or when a cool wind starts to blow.
Selecting a Sweatshirt
If I could choose one sweatshirt to be a mainstay on my boat, it would have to be the one that is commonly referred to as a "hoody." These garments sport a large, cozy hood with drawstrings -- a great addition for extra heat when blasting down the lake on early mornings. (During fall musky trips, my hoody is permanently strapped to my body, keeping me toasty warm while engaging in those 10,000 casts.)
Most hooded sweatshirts also offer large pockets at the front, making them useful in terms of storing bits of tackle, or your chilly hands whilst your partner is driving the boat.
In terms of overall warmth and comfort, these sweat tops just can't be beat. By layering your clothing (fishing shirt underneath) you can cover all the bases for any weather or conditions that may come your way.
Besides the material benefits, most convertible pants come with a wide range of pockets.
Covering Up the Bottom Half
When fishing during the hot summer months, anglers should look for lightweight garments that are cool and comfortable to wear.
For the best of both worlds, choose a pair of pants that can be converted into shorts. Convertible pants are one of the most popular fishing garments these days and for good reason. No more struggling to change from your pants into shorts, as this can be accomplished with a quick pull on the zipper. I have found these to be great for chilly mornings, and equally great as the sun starts to heat things up.
Most of these "quick-dry" styles are made from 100-percent nylon, which is a lightweight material that wicks moisture away from the body while also resisting stains. Quick-dry pants certainly are the coolest to wear (in terms of dissipating heat) and have managed to make their way onto many more clothing racks over the years.
Besides the material benefits, most convertaible pants come with a wide range of pockets (all of varying sizes) and an elasticized waist for extra comfort around the mid-riff. Of course, those that aren't interested in convertible pants can purchase each product separately.
When conditions are more inclement during the spring and fall seasons, a heavier and warmer pant is most definitely needed. Some materials to keep an eye out for would be 100-percent cotton or fleece. Both provide added warmth, and can be updated by wearing thermal underwear in conjunction with them. Layering these garments is the smart way to dress when Mother Nature doesn't feel like co-operating.
Depending on the severity of the weather, most thermal underwear can be purchased in a light, medium or in a heavy-weight format.
Thermal underwear is one of life's greatest achievements. This "state of the art" fabric has the capability to keep the body cool and dry on hot days and warm and dry on cold days. The ability to wick moisture and perspiration away from your skin will leave you feeling dry and refreshed, even on those days when you're sweating up a storm.
Most thermal wear can even neutralize odor-causing bacteria -- a great feature for maintaining your "fresh" scent when out on the water.
I have found that thermals are a great addition to the fishing wardrobe. They can be put to many uses, and you'll find yourself slipping them on time and again whenever heading out the door. Depending on the severity of the weather, most thermal underwear can be purchased in a light, medium or heavy format. Having the option for varying warmth can be great for changing weather conditions.
Sheltering the Feet
Socks come in a wide range of fabrics, cuts and styles. Depending on the season (or the weather conditions), you will either need a pair to keep you warm or a pair to keep you cool.
For maximum heat, nothing can beat an insulated wool sock. These will keep your feet feeling nice and warm, even on the most bitter days.
When faced with summertime temperatures, a switch to a light and breathable pair would be your best bet. Most summer socks are blended from a selection of different fabrics, allowing the sock itself to wick moisture away, ultimately keeping your feet dry and comfortable all day long.
Whatever style you choose, keep an eye out for socks offering a cushioned sole -- this can be a godsend for those long days spent standing up in the boat.
As you can see, clothes certainly can make the angler. Not only will you look sharp when heading out for a day on the water, you'll also feel comfortable, and that my friends is the next best thing to catching fish.