Anglers tend to focus most on catching more fish, which can distract them from protecting themselves from the sun’s UV rays on hot sunny days. It’s easy to forget to re-apply sunscreen, for instance, until it’s too late and you’ve developed sunburn. It’s best to approach the subject from a clothing standpoint in addition to using sunscreen.
When it comes to clothing, you need to use every protective measure possible. This takes the form of fishing shirts, hats, pants, neck gaiters and even gloves for extended periods on the water. And don’t forget polarized sunglasses to protect your eyes and cut the glare to help you see better into the water.
When out on the water without tree cover and shade, sun protection is a must, and so finding a fishing shirt that provides excellent and consistent sun protection is one of the first things you need to think about. Long sleeves are generally the best option, and with today’s lightweight, breathable fabrics you’ll barely notice them, and use far less sunblock. They will also offer protection from biting insects.
More and more clothing and outdoor companies are carrying garments promoting an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF). These clothes are sometimes treated with colorless dyes or chemical UV absorbers that block both ultraviolet-A (UVA) and ultraviolet-B (UVB) rays. UPF is similar to the sun protection factor (SPF) that is used on cosmetics and sunscreens. A UPF rating of 50 indicates the fabric will allow 1/50th — or about 2 percent — of the ultraviolet radiation from the sun to pass through to your skin. A UPF 50+ rating offers the ultimate in skin protection.
Venting is a common solution to keeping cool in a fishing shirt. Some of the better fishing shirts will have built-in vents around the armpits and back, where most of the sweat comes from. This helps to keep the shirt and you as dry as possible, and helps you enjoy fishing in comfort.
One example that utilizes all of these advancements is the Helios Fishing Shirt: https://www.windrider.com/collections/sun-gear/products/helios-fishing-shirt
There are two types of fits you need to look for in fishing shirts: tight and loose. This might sound stupid, but when you factor in the levels of mobility fishing requires, it makes sense. Tighter shirts feel as if you weren’t wearing a shirt at all, and the breathable fabric and vents keep you cool. Loose-fitting shirts provide mobility by offering freedom of movement and natural venting. When casting a line, you need a wide range of motion to get enough power and control over the rod and line. The choice may come down to preference and the demands of where you’re fishing regarding weather and climate.
Through the warmer months of the summer and fall, most anglers prefer to fish in a pair of shorts. While shorts may seem more comfortable, a pair of lightweight, quick drying pants are a great way to protect yourself from the sun—especially in tropical areas.
If you do choose shorts, go with longer ones that cover your thighs and knees. This is especially important for boat anglers, as your thighs will cook in the sun if they’re exposed. Stick with lighter colored clothing instead of darker colors and always choose lightweight, breathable, quick drying material.
Multiple, secure pockets are also essential, as anyone who has lost keys while fishing will attest. Velcro makes for quick accessibility, and zippers provide the ultimate security. The bottom line is pockets play an important role in your choice.
Wearing a hat is truly a no-brainer for anglers, and a good solid brim is a must. Again, a hat should be breathable and be able to wick perspiration away from you. The better ones will also be vented to offer comfort and cooling properties. Full brimmed nylon hats are also good ideas, as they’ll protect your forehead, face and neck. Ball cap styles are fine as long as they feature a long bill, and you are able to provide protection for your neck with a collar or neck gaiter.
Speaking of neck gaiters, these are all-around utility players when it comes to fishing apparel. They can be used in summer or winter, and double as a face mask or headband. They offer comfortable protection from the sun and wind, and ride easily around your neck without fear of ever losing them. Look for ones with a high UPF rating.
Gaiters will wick moisture away from your skin and dry quickly. This helps you keep cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Light colors tend to keep you cool and darker ones will help absorb heat when you need it most.
And of course you’ll want a decent pair of sunglasses. Polarized ones will offer the advantage of cutting through the glare of the water, and there are even floating models that prevent you from adding to all those that have sunk to the bottom: https://www.windrider.com/collections/apparel/products/helios-polarized-floating-sunglasses
Above all, sunglasses need to be light and comfortable. They are essential on a sunny day on the water. It will also help if they are water and oil repellent. Most of us are familiar with the annoyance of constantly needing to wipe them. Bear those factors in mind when selecting a pair to use for fishing.
It may not seem obvious, but they are incredibly beneficial to anglers, especially if you spend a lot of time rowing or paddling. A lightweight pair of fingerless sun gloves will cover the backsides of your palms and protect them from the harsh direct sun.
A mesh back on fishing gloves will keep your hands cooler in warm weather, and will dry faster when your hands do get wet. The fingerless design offers you the mobility to tie knots and pull hooks, even when ice fishing. Extra padding is another perk to look for depending on the rigors you have in mind for your gloves.
So no matter where you’re fishing, paying attention to sun protection can be one of the wisest investments you can make in guaranteeing you’ll make memories as opposed to misery. -WR