Few, if any of us, can remember the days when fishermen overdressed for the occasion. The standard outfit back then started with a business suit and included a shirt with a tie and a felt hat atop one’s head. Fortunately, that had faded from the scene long before my father taught me to fish at a very early age. Back then, we donned the oldest clothes we had (known as fishing clothes) that usually were laced with spots and stains that failed to come out in the wash. After all, fishing was considered a dirty business.
With World War II and Korea behind us, new materials for clothing along with more modern designs began to enter the marketplace and make time spent on the water much more comfortable. Think of the cold weather angler who could now don a snowmobile suit and insulated boots. Polartec (polartec.com) made an appearance, sold at first by Eddie Bauer (eddiebauer.com), L.L. Bean (llbean.com), Orvis (orvis.com), and other catalog houses.
An old time fishermen once told me back when I had time to fish for fun that I could count on it being sunny when they predicted rain and rainy with cool temperatures when they said it would be sunny and warm. That meant packing a bag with a rainsuit and a jacket regardless of the weather forecast. Frogg Toggs (froggtoggs.com) makes lightweight rainsuits that take up little room in a bag and can protect you against spray as well as rain. A number of companies offer heavier rain gear including AFTCO (aftco.com) that just came out with a new, heavy-duty rainsuit for working the cockpit. Of course, low, waterproof boots are also available. An assortment of rainsuits and jackets of various weights are also available from the catalog houses such as L.L. Bean (llbean.com), and Orvis (orvis.com).
The newest items of clothing are often referred to as Performance Wear. The materials from which they are made offer significant sun protection in long and short-sleeved T-shirts as well as regular fishing shirts with two pockets on the chest and, often, breathable flaps on the back. Hook and Tackle (hookandtackle.com), AFTCO (aftco.com), Salt Life (saltlife.com), and others offer these major material breakthroughs in a variety of products including shorts and trousers. You’ll also find sun masks that cover the face and neck plus peaked hats with a back flap that also protects the neck of the wearer against the rays of the sun.
Major retailers such as Bass Pro Shops (basspro.com), Cabelas (cabelas.com), Gander Mountain (gandermountain.com), Dick’s Sporting Goods (dickssportinggoods.com) and others offer a full line of products designed to counter any type of weather and sea conditions on the water. If you live close enough to any of these stores it’s worth checking out their clothing lines. Plus you’ll find an array of boat shoes such as Sperry Topsiders (sperrytopsider.com) that help to keep you from slipping and sliding on a wet deck.
Today’s fishing clothing has been tailored to keep you dry when it is wet, warm when it is cold, cool when it is hot, and protect you against the damaging rays of the sun that could cause skin cancer. When your body is comfortable on the water, fishing becomes even more fun.