I know it looks great to have tan, that healthy, ruddy glow you see in the mirror after a long day on the salt water. But, in truth, that handsome, George Hamilton tan can eventually turn into skin cancer and take it from me, there is nothing glamorous about getting a piece of skin cut off your face because you did not take the time to put on the sun block.
Over-exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays is very dangerous. Take it from a guy (me) who has spent the better part of his life on the ocean and is now paying the price for not having used sun block earlier in his life.
The recommended strength for sun block varies. Some doctors say SPF 15 is adequate; many dermatologist say use nothing less then SPF 30. Whatever the accepted strength it is the wise angler who, during his day on the water and in the sun, takes time to frequently reapply the sun block, especially to the nose, ears, hands, and face, parts of the body that take the brunt of the sun’s rays. After application be sure to clean the palms of your hands thoroughly as some blocks may coat your fly or fly line both of which is detrimental to your success.
Setting aside all the advice from experts, the best way to protect your skin is by completely covering your body with proven protective clothing. Today’s outdoor wear has been researched and field tested to assure the outdoor man or woman that they are wearing clothing that will protect them. Most new outdoor wear are not only protection against the sun but are also comfortable as well as functional, many made of cloth having an SPF rating of 30-plus which provides you extra protection. For those concerned not only with their skin’s health, these outfits come in an assortment of colors and styles designs for even the most fashion conscious saltwater fly rodder!
A hat is one of the most basic elements of sun protection. There are such a huge variety of hats available these days it’s largely a matter of preference. There’s the standard baseball cap. Watch out for the mesh trucker cap. The sun penetrates right through the mesh and if you’re “follically-challenged” this will deliver a nasty sunburn. There’s the wide-brimmed hat that covers your ears as well. There’s what I call the “Lawrence of Arabia” hat with the flap of cloth that covers your neck for good overall protection. The baklava headwear is currently very popular, and can be worn completely over the face, on the neck, or merely on the head. There are several different versions that adapted to warm, mild or even colder weather conditions.
Being kind to your body parts will assure you of many years of fly fishing the saltwater.