Dress For SuccessDress For Success Options for clothing and other gear for fishing have exploded in recent years to the delight of anglers. Here's what to consider.
By Mike Gnatkowski
It pays to have the proper attire whether you’re going for a job interview or heading out on the water. Sporting the right clothes, apparel and footwear will help land a job or a big bass and allow you to dress for success whether you’re sitting in a boardroom or standing on the front deck.
Options for clothing and other gear for fishing have exploded in recent years to the delight of anglers. Advances in technology and materials have made it easier than ever to remain comfortable on the water regardless of the conditions. There was a time when you just threw on whatever T-shirt or hoodie you could find and called it good. Today, most anglers are are aware of the benefits of high performance clothing.
“One thing I’ve changed over the years is my head wear,” pro angler Scott Dobson said. “Probably seven or eight years ago I became much more aware of skin cancer either because of what I read or because I had friends who had to deal with it. I used to wear your standard ball cap like everyone else; now I have a big straw hat that I wear that provides more face and neck protection. I look like a Chinese rice farmer, but the hat provides all day comfort even when it’s extremely hot and sunny. A lot of guys wear a buff around their necks. I wear it on my head to keep the sweat from running down my bald head!” Dobson also said the wide-brim hat provides additional shade for his eyes so he can see better when sight fishing.
I always looked down or made fun of the guys with the classic double-ender caps, but I understand their purpose, benefit and function now. Most of us are learning that it’s better to be safe than stylish when it comes to headgear.
Sun protection technology with regards to apparel has improved by leaps and bounds in recent years. Anglers these days resemble aliens covered from head to toe for good reason. Today’s garments feature new-wave cooling know-how, moisture transport, venting, spandex and antimicrobial technology that functions and protects better than anything ever available before. Even the highest SPF sunscreen doesn’t protect like modern-day sun-blocking apparel.
“I’m more conscious about the affects of the sun now and take advantage of sun-specific gear like shirts that feature sun-blocking technology that are quick drying, vented and comfortable,” Dobson said. Companies like Simms, Huk, Columbia, Under Armor and many more that make high-tech outwear that wasn’t available just a few years ago.
Dobson pick of the pack is Simms (www.simmsfishing.com) SolarFlex® line of garments. “Simms is basically a fly-fishing company that has expanded their line of high-end garments,” he said. “I really like their SolarFlex tech-enhanced long sleeve crew neck shirts. They’re great for all-day sun protection and I like the crew neck. I also have one of their SolarFlex hoodies that I wear a lot.”
The SolarFlex crew neck blocks harmful rays with powerful UPF 50 protection, while the 100% polyester COR3™ fabric provides quick-dry, wicking, and anti-odor performance. The shirt’s flat-seam construction maximizes comfort. Raglan-sleeves promote unrestricted movement. The crew neck design has a higher backed collar which increases coverage on the neck.
Huk (www.hukgear.com) has been a leading manufacturer of sun-resistant, high-tech garments for several years now. Huk’s Icon Long-Sleeve T-Shirt is one of the premier shirts for sun-protection and comfort. The Icon is made of premium 90% polyester and 10% spandex blend and the mock-neck design delivers increased mobility and the most comfortable, most breathable wear on the water. The shirt’s embedded SPF protects you from the sun's harmful UVB rays. The shirt provides superior, fast-drying moisture transport, enhanced stain release and anti-microbial odor erasing technology so you don’t smell like your quarry. Advanced cooling technology and integrated under-arm and lower-back mesh vents help regulate your body temperature. Huk also has a complete line of gaiters, shorts, pants and outer ware.
Your face and ears are one of the most critical surfaces to protect from the sun. 50-SPF sunscreen can do the job, but you have to keep reapplying it and make sure you cover all exposed surfaces. Just the other day I missed a one-inch line on the back of my neck and I paid dearly. A better option is a gaiter. A gaiter covers you from head to neck, you don’t have to reapply it and it’s easy to store.
Shorts are always comfortable to wear if the conditions and temperatures are right, but I like to have an option. Most time it starts off cool in the morning and then warms up. Zip-off pants are the perfect solution during warm fishing conditions.
Two places often get ignored by anglers – the back of your hands and the tops of your feet. UV killing, sun-screening gloves, like Simms' UPF 50 SolarFlex® Guide Glove or SolarFlex® SunGloves, shields the backs of hands from blazing sun and potential harm. The half-finger design makes knot tying easy while smooth stretch fabric enhances mobility across the back of hands. In addition, full coverage around the cuffs saves wrists from being subject to the harmful rays of the sun. Lightweight, grip-ready palms bolster a slip-free hold. Another leading manufacturer of gloves for fishing is Glacier Glove (http://www.glacierglove.com). They offer a complete line of gloves, gaiters and hats.
The other potential sore spot anglers overlook is the tops of your feet. Tops of the feet are tender, shielded from the sun most of the year and ripe for cancer if you insist on wearing flip flops. Flip flops are a poor choice anyway because they provide little support and zero sun protection.
“I like to wear a pair of good cross trainers that offer moisture wicking, traction, comfort and support,” Dobson said. Wolverine (http://www.wolverine.com) is famous for their rugged line of boots and footwear. Anglers should consider their Jetstream work shoe featuring CarbonMAX nanotechnology safety-toe technology for all day comfort and performance.
The Jetstream (www.wolverine.com/US/en/jetstream-carbonmax-safety-toe-shoe) is the ultimate combination of lightweight comfort, support and reliable protection. The athletically influenced Jetstream has durable, breathable mesh uppers and slip resistant outsoles for unparalleled performance and comfort. The safety toe might not be a necessity for fishing, but you never know when a wayward anchor, tackle box or Thermos might end up bouncing off your toes. The nylon shank, high-performance RMAT® rubber EVA blend, memory foam foot beds and slip-resistant lug soles makes them a great choice on the boat.
Some anglers still opt for Docker-style footwear on the boat. They’re a reasonable choice, especially when fishing from boats that have fiberglass floors. Angler Joe Balog prefers a closed shoe that is breathable like the Olukai Nohea Mesh (https://www.olukai.com/mens/nohea-mesh). Designed for the amphibious life, the Olukai Nohea Mesh features lightweight, breathable canvas mesh and all-weather rubber footbeds. The outsoles use rubber pods for traction. The manufacturer claims the shoes are perfect for all weather, year round conditions.
Of course not every day is sunny and 80 degrees, especially if you live in the Great White North. Weather can change in a hurry. Wind and storms can drop the temperatures quickly and some of the best fishing of the year takes place in the spring and fall when things can be a little chilly. Layering is the key during these times of the year. Add a layer of Polar Fleece under a quality rain suit and you can weather just about anything.
Buying a quality rain suit is a wise investment. Frabill’s (http://www.frabill.com/) F4 Cyclone Rain Suit can be a godsend not only when it’s raining, but also as a windbreaker when it gets gusty. Resist the temptation to skimp on a rain suit. A quality suit is going to have a waterproof, windproof and breathable membrane with 20,000MM Hydrostatic resistance, be 100% seam sealed, have water resistant external zippers, feature full elastic shoulder straps with cam buckles and an adjustable waist cinch system, gussets behind front zippers to provide superior waterproof protection and ergonomic articulated knees with internal knee pads and rugged 500 denier nylon. Don’t settle for any less.
Joe Balog has witnessed first hand how extreme bass fishing environments can be having fished most of his life as a tournament pro and guide on the Great Lakes and now as a resident of Florida. “Spend one day in central Florida in the sun with the temperature at 96 degrees and the humidity at 90 percent and you quickly learn what dressing for success is all about,” he said.
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