August 26, 2022
As a full-time angler who is as fair-skinned as they come, I have learned that to be more comfortable and safer in my body I need to take a few steps to avoid the sun’s harmful effects. Back in the day, it was routine to see fishing guides shirtless, but today they more closely resemble mummies. Talk to a few dermatologists and you’ll see exactly what the sun can do to you and you’ll think about looking like the later as well.
The biggest misconception is that by covering up you will be warmer. With today’s fabrics nothing can be farther from the truth. Here are seven ways to help beat the heat this summer.
1. Microfiber Shirts—Lightweight shirts help keep the sun’s harmful rays off of you while also staying cooler. Shirts such as the Simms Solarflex are superlight, stretchy and dry very quickly. Without a doubt my favorite models are those that offer a hood. These hoods are cut so that they typically will stay up even when going down the lake and offer protection around the neck and ears where we often get burnt the most. Simms offers additional models like the Guide Cooling Hoodie that aside from the hood also include a neck gator built in for additional coverage.
2. Sun Gloves—Fish more than a couple days and you’ll quickly learn your hands take a beating. In particular, the tops of your hands rarely get sunscreen and if they do we typically don’t reapply it enough since it gets washed off so easily. This is why sun gloves have become so popular with fishing guides. You can avoid getting burnt hands and also reduce the number of cuts thanks to reinforcements on the fingers and palms. Since they typically get dirty and bloody, I’d recommend several pairs to always have a clean one on hand.
3. Sunscreen—In all honesty, I cover up so much while on the water I don’t require hardly any sunscreen at all, but that’s not to say it’s not needed. Look for a good waterproof brand that won’t require you to reapply as often. Most anglers reapply sunscreen as much as they floss. Also look to avoid aerosol types that provide thin coverage with more ending up on your boat and gear, which it tends to eat by the way.
4. Big Hat—Fortunately for us fisherman, the big straw hats are in fashion. A large brim hat does wonders for keeping your face and ears from burning. When traveling or fishing on a boat these straw hats can be difficult to store and keep inside the boat and why I favor models like the Simms Sombrero. Essentially does the same job but can be rolled up in a pocket for easier transport before and after fishing.
5. Neck Gaitor—It’s amazing how much cooler you feel when you keep the sun’s direct rays off your skin. One of my favorite pieces of gear in the heat is a neck gator. These simple and inexpensive items help keep your neck, ears, nose and really most of your face protected. When traveling long distances or in stronger winds I will place a neck gator over my sun hoodie in order to both protect my face but also to keep the sun hoodie up. An added benefit is they keep annoying bugs at bay as well.
6. Sunglasses—If I don’t wear sunglasses on the water, I quickly get a headache. When looking for a good pair of sunglasses for fishing look for a pair that fully wrap around to keep both the sun and wind out. Leave those wire frame aviators for the pilots and opt for something polarized that will provide full coverage. Companies such as Costa del Mar specialize in offering many models to fit all head and face types with a full coverage type of glass. Their new pro models offer sweat channels and adjustable nose pieces to improve fit and function.
7. Pants—I know most of us are barely short of crazy, but on the water long pants keep us from getting lots of bug bites and burnt legs. Microfiber pants are so lightweight that you don’t really notice them and you don’t have to keep thinking about reapplying sunscreen. Models such as the Simms Guide Pant are a favorite for these reasons. The multiple zippered pockets also help keep items such as your wallet and phone from taking an accidental dip as well.
There certainly are more than seven things to consider when dealing with the sun’s harmful effects, but if you take some basic steps before your next fishing trip you’ll be amazed at how much more comfortable you are. Most anglers that haven’t tried today’s modern sun gear don’t understand how more clothes actually allow you feel cooler until they try them. The days of it being cool to be burned are long gone.
Capt. Ross Robertson