I’m constantly reminded of how lucky I am to live in the great state of Florida. Fertile waters both inshore and off combine with tropical weather year round for what is truly an amazing destination like no other. Snook, sailfish and swordfish all in the same day…yes please! However, with the amazing angling opportunities found throughout the state, Mother Nature doesn’t give them up without a fight. While fishing is best enjoyed under sunny skies, summer days grow longer and the sun will reach its peak intensity making for truly hellish conditions.
Growing up in tropical climates, I used to be under the impression that cotton t-shirts were the best option for covering up and staying cool, but this is simply no longer the case. When typical cotton shirts become moist from sweat they stick to and prevent the skin from breathing. While the main role of clothing is to provide cover and protection from the elements, apparel companies have teamed up with innovative textile manufacturers to develop advanced fibers and coating processes to help anglers overcome the harshest elements.
Contrary to popular belief, fishing isn’t the glamorous day on the water everyone makes it out to be. Heading deep into the backcountry on a flats skiff with zero shade can be torture, similar to spending a day offshore on an open center console with the sun glaring at you from every angle. While fishing in the summer offers extended hours on the water, you need to protect your skin and stay comfortable while doing so. Otherwise, you could be setting yourself up for serious health issues down the road.
According to the American Cancer Society, your head is the most likely place for skin caner, so it’s important you cover up starting from the top. If you’re really serious about keeping the sun off your face, a straw hat might be the best option, although a baseball cap will help cut glare and reflection. In recent years, breathable face masks like Buffs and Hoo-Rags have been all the rage, providing a new and innovative way to keep the sun off your neck, face and ears. These simple and versatile pieces of fabric serve as a multifunctional sun protective garment that can be worn in a variety of ways. As a South Florida native I’ve had my fair share of sun exposure and never step foot on a boat without one.
It may seem counterproductive to cover up in the sun if you want to stay cool, but ultra lightweight, long-sleeve technical fishing shirts will keep you comfortable while also protecting your skin from harmful UV rays. In addition to keeping the sun off your skin, many of the latest apparel products work hard to make sweat and moisture disappear, eliminate odor and stain, and keep you cool to the core.
Pelagic Gear is a trusted name in offshore performance and has been protecting big game anglers around the world with advanced materials and fabrics. Their newest release is a line of performance shirts that feature special treatments and coatings that result in impressive water repellent and stain resistant properties. The 100% polyester fabric also provides a 50+ UPF rating. With ventilated AirFlow panels providing a noticeable cooling effect in even the most minimal wind conditions, these shirts will keep you cool and comfortable under the most searing tropical sun.
While ExOfficio also offers garments with impressive UV protection and moisture wicking properties, their innovative line of BugsAway apparel provides the added benefit of insect protection built-in to the clothes you wear! The science behind BugsAway is the use of permethrin, which is a synthetic version of a chemical found in chrysanthemum flowers. Invisible, odorless and tightly bonded to the fabric fibers, the permethrin protection lasts for 70 washes and protects against mosquitoes, ticks, ants, flies, chiggers and midges.
Columbia is the leader in high-tech apparel and has been releasing industry innovations for years. Omni-Freeze® ZERO is their latest development that is setting the bar high for groundbreaking apparel technology. Incredibly, the Omni-Freeze® ZERO line features men’s and women’s shirts, performance layers, headwear, sleeves and sneakers that become cooler in humid conditions. You may think this is simply a marketing gimmick, but the entire line of Omni-Freeze® ZERO products feature tiny blue rings embedded within the fabrics. These blue rings absorb sweat and create a cooling sensation by way of evaporation through a specialized polymer and endothermic reaction.
While most apparel manufacturers take the approach of keeping you comfortable and protected, Aqua Design believes your clothing can also be an influencing factor on your angling success. Developed from underwater photography—directly from the fish’s point of view—Aqua Design produces apparel with stealthy camouflage patterns printed on breathable, ultra lightweight fabrics designed specifically for hot and humid conditions. Thanks to Aqua Design, anglers can now minimize detection with water inspired skyward camouflage patterns that perfectly blend in with the surrounding environment, all while remaining cool and comfortable.
The market is saturated with apparel manufacturers producing quality products and no matter what brand of apparel you prefer, it’s extremely important unprotected areas of skin are regularly covered with sunscreen. It doesn’t matter how you do it, but if you don’t protect yourself from the sun’s harmful UV rays you won’t be fishing for long. Thanks to advancing technologies, fishing apparel is more functional than ever before. While you may be considering upgrading tackle and equipment, don’t overlook the importance of the newest functional fishing apparel. Your life could depend on it.