When it comes to performance fishing shirts, there are an endless amount of customizable options that make a shirt great for certain situations yet ineffective for others. If you are in the market for a new fishing shirt there are seven things that you should consider in order to ensure you have the perfect shirt for the occasion.
You should consider factors like the weather, UPF rating, features like pockets or hoods, stain resistance, material, colors, and breathability. Satisfying all seven of these aspects will ensure that you have the perfect shirt for the occasion.
1. Weather Conditions
The first, and most, important factor you should consider before buying a new fishing shirt is what the weather conditions are like at your favorite fishing hole. To select the perfect shirt, your local climate should influence five of the six attributes listed within this article.
If you spend most of your time fishing in 90℉+ with little cloud cover and high winds, you are going to need a shirt with a different UPF rating, features, material, color, and breathability than someone who fishes in calm 60℉ weather.
There’s nothing quite like fishing on a clear day when the sun is shining but long days on the water can turn the sun into an angler’s mortal enemy. Long sleeves are definitely the way to go, they will keep your arms protected and you can always roll them up if you want to get some vitamin D and work on your tan.
2. UPF Rating
Wearing sun-protective clothing is all about shielding you, the angler, from the elements to maximize your time on the water while being comfortable. A shirt’s protective factor is one of the most important things to look for, especially considering how water can intensify sunlight and UV ray exposure.
What Does UPF Stand For?
UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor, and is a measure of how much UV radiation a piece of clothing can block.
UPF measures the total amount of UVA and UVB radiation that will penetrate the fabric of your clothing and come into contact with your skin. The higher the rating, the more UV radiation will be blocked.
UPF Vs SPF
UPF and SPF are ratings that measure the amount of time UV rays will take to damage your skin, but, contrary to popular belief, they aren’t the same thing. Though their ratings are interchangeable, UPF applies to clothing while SPF applies to sunscreen.
SPF, or sun protection factor, measures how much time it will take for your skin to show signs of sun damage (reddening). In theory, SPF 30 will protect you from the sun’s rays for 30 times longer than unprotected skin, though it should be noted that SPF only accounts for UVB radiation.
How Is UPF Rated?
Like SPF, UPF is rated as a factor of the percentage of UV rays that are blocked from coming into contact with your skin. For example, a fishing shirt with a UPF15 rating will only let 1/15 of the sun's UVA and UVB rays through the fabric.
Common UPF Rating
% Of UV Rays Blocked
25, 30, 35
40, 50, 50+
Anything with a UPF rating below 15, like a standard cotton t-shirt, isn’t considered sun-protective clothing, and therefore doesn’t receive a protection classification.
Factors That Affect UPF Rating
- Color - Darker colors are better than lighter colors at blocking UV radiation.
- Material - Cotton, hemp, and rayon block UV rays less effectively than wool, silk, nylon, or polyester.
- Additives - Special chemicals can be added to fibers to boost UPF
- How The Shirt Is Woven - Tightly woven and thick fibers will allow less UV radiation to pass through
- Stretch - Old stretched-out shirts will let more UV rays through to your skin, be sure to replace stretched out shirts regularly!
- Moisture - Water reduces UPF in most materials.
- Wear - Fading and thinning from the sun, washing machine, or abrasions will allow more UV radiation to penetrate your shirt.
What UPF Should I Use?
Skin damage from UV rays builds over time, so it is paramount that you protect yourself as much as possible. In order to maximize a fishing shirt’s UPF you will want to cover as much of your skin as possible, and long sleeve fishing shirts are the best way to accomplish this.
The lower the UPF the quicker your skin will start to burn, so if you want to maximize your time on the water you should use the highest UPF garment that you can get your hands on.
UPF30 shirts can provide ample protection for the occasional angler who only wants to spend an hour or two on the water, but serious anglers who spend every waking second fishing will need the best of the best when it comes to sun protection. UPF50+ fishing shirts block 98.5% of the sun's UV radiation from reaching your skin, ensuring that you don’t have to quit fishing until you have caught your limit.
3. Additional Features
A great way to increase the protection and accessibility of your next fishing shirt is to consider one with built-in features like a hood, gaiter, or pockets.
Hoods and gaiters provide a shield to your head, face, and neck from the sun, wind, and rain. This is especially helpful when you are fishing in an area where the weather is known to change at the drop of a hat. No need to carry extra clothing because it is already attached!
If you prefer to wander around the shoreline in search of hidden honey holes, you should strongly consider purchasing a shirt with pockets. They provide extra storage for your important equipment such as needlenose pliers, gloves, sunglasses, leaders, sunscreen, or just about anything else you might need when carrying your entire tackle box is unrealistic.
Your fishing shirt material should strike a balance between comfortability and durability. Although anglers have historically used cotton t-shirts, the advantages of performance fishing shirts made of polyester blends have blown cotton shirts out of the water.
Pros Of Polyester
- Durable - It is made from strong synthetic materials that far outlast the life of natural fibers like cotton.
- Easy to clean - Since polyester naturally repels liquids instead of absorbing them, it is much easier to clean and keep stain-free.
- Lightweight - Polyester is much lighter than fabrics like cotton or wool, and its ability to wick away moisture instead of absorbing it makes it a prime candidate for fishing shirts.
- Resilient - It is naturally elastic, allowing it to stretch and snap back into shape without being damaged.
- Synthetic - Unlike cotton polyester isn’t prone to getting eaten by insects such as moths, even during long periods of storage.
- Versatile - Combining polyester with other fabrics is where this material really shines. Adding it to other elastic fabrics makes polyester the most pliable and most durable option on the market.
- Tear resistant - Polyester is naturally resistant to abrasions and tears, which is key for protecting the UPF of your favorite fishing shirt.
Cotton is undeniably durable, but it collects moisture causing anglers to overheat, which can be dangerous when fishing all day long. Polyester, on the other hand, helps wick away moisture allowing itself to breathe keeping the angler cool and dry even on the hottest days.
The addition of elastic materials like elastane, spandex, and nylon allows for lasting durability as the fibers can stretch without being damaged like cotton, perfect for those huge hook sets and fishing around densely wooded rivers and streams. This combination of materials proves to be the best for overall long-lasting comfort.
When considering the color of your next fishing shirt it is important to know that certain color fabrics will vary in the amount of sunlight they absorb as well as block UV rays differently. Darker colored fabrics will provide a higher level of protection while absorbing more heat, lighter colors will do a better job of reflecting heat but won’t provide as much UV protection.
Solid Colors Vs Bold Patterns
Solid colors are great when your fishing conditions are consistent day after day. If the weather is consistently hot and sunny you may want to go with a solid color to ensure that you will stay comfortable day after day.
If style is high on your list of requirements for your apparel then you should definitely consider buying a patterned shirt. Patterned fishing shirts make more sense for fishing in unpredictable climates or when you need one shirt to suit all of your different fishing needs.
The breathability of a fishing shirt is key for anglers who plan on spending the entire day on the water, especially those who live in a hot or humid climate. The addition of mesh vents can be the difference between a soggy day on the swamp and a day to remember.
In a cooler climate, it makes more sense to have a smaller vent. Small enough so that the angler doesn’t get cold, but sizeable enough to let air flow through and reduce moisture build-up.
In a particularly humid environment, it is advantageous to have larger vents, like on the sides and back of the shirt, that will allow more air to pass through the shirt, ultimately keeping the angler drier.
Moisture loves to collect on our backs, chest, and underarms which is why a well-placed vent along the sides and back of the shirt can help keep you dry and cool all day long.
7. Stain Resistance
While the stain resistance of a fishing shirt might not be as paramount as its material or UPF, it is helpful for saving money by keeping your style intact. Why invest in bleach pens and special detergents when you can just purchase a shirt that can be more or less hosed off and used again the next day?
Let’s face it, fishing is a dirty pass time that can leave your clothes trashed. Between slime and dirt from live bait and the guts and blood from cleaning your fish, it doesn’t take much time to cover your clothing in stains. Springing for a shirt that can repel grime will not only keep you looking fresh, but it will also save you time on laundry day.
Stain-resistant additives to a fabric can slightly affect breathability, but as long as you purchase a fishing shirt made from a piece of breathable fabric or with mesh vents you will stay comfortable sun up until sundown.
Selecting the perfect fishing shirt takes a little more thought and consideration than buying just another t-shirt for your collection, but taking this extra time to consider your specific needs and particular fishing situation is definitely worth it.
Having the right gear is what sets apart the days on the water that feel like work and the ones that keep us coming back for more. Before you drop the cash make sure you have considered what conditions you will be using your new shirt in.