I spend a lot of time fly-fishing the backcountry rivers, lakes and streams in Idaho. One of my “musts have” fishing gear is a good fishing shirt. More and more anglers are moving away from the typical fishing vest and towards fishing shirts and fishing lanyards. I always have my fishing shirt when I am fishing, whether on warm days or cold days – It makes a huge difference for my trip!
So, What makes a shirt a fishing shirt? Fishing shirts are designed with features that make fishing easier and more enjoyable for the angler. These features may include many if not all of the following:
- Two or more utility chest pockets that can hold a fly box or other small fishing equipment
- Built-in ventilation in the front, back and underarm
- Inner mesh lining
- Accessory clips or loops
- Fly rod holder
- Sleeve tab holder
- Lightweight, breathable and moisture-wicking
Utility Chest Pockets
Fishing shirts will have slightly larger pockets located on the upper chest that is designed to hold a small to medium fly box. Most fishing shirts will only have two pockets, one on each side. However, some will have up to four pockets, two large pockets and two small pockets.
If you are only packing one box of flies, use the other pocket for your other small fishing gear.
You can work up quite a sweat when fly-fishing. The back and forth rhythmic casting style, hiking for miles in the hip-deep water, and of course the blaring sun and added heat from the reflecting water can all raise the temperature.
Fly Fishing shirts have built-in ventilation flaps and holes to help prevent overheating. The ventilation flaps are located in up to three possible places.
- Underarm: two to three holes (ventilation grommets) allow hot air built up in the underarms to escape out.
- Upper Chest: Two chest ventilation flaps that allow excess hot air to escape are usually located below the chest utility pockets.
- Upper Back: One large ventilation flap located across the back of the shirt is great if you are packing a backpack or fishing vest.
Inner Mesh Lining
The inner mesh lining is designed as an added ventilation feature as well as for comfort. It will help prevent the shirt from sticking to your skin when you are sweating after the hike to your secret fishing spot!
Accessory clips or loops
Small clips or nylon loops may be sewn above or below the utility pockets. These are great for attaching additional fishing gear such as pliers, clippers or retractable gadgets.
Fly Rod Holder Strap
Tired of awkwardly holding your rod in one hand while trying to change your fly with the other hand? This can be frustrating. That’s why having a rod holder strap is a useful feature on a fly fishing shirt. The straps are designed with a strip of Velcro that allows you to strap the rod to your chest – effectively freeing your hands to change your fly or take a photo of the huge brown trout you just caught without dropping your rod!
Sleeve tab holder
Sometimes the designed ventilation features aren’t enough to keep the heat out. So rolling up your sleeve is helpful. What’s not helpful is having the sleeve fall down after a few casts. Fly-fishing shirts are designed with an inner built-in button or Velcro strap that prevents the sleeves from falling down again.
One of the best features of a fly-fishing shirt is the UV-protection. After all, skin cancer is a serious thing. Depending on the shirt, you can get between 30-50+ rated UV-protection. This feature really is a “must-have” for any serious fly fishing angler!
I own several different brands and styles of fly-fishing shirts and never go fishing without one! If you are interested in getting a fly-fishing shirt for yourself or a friend then I would suggest checking out our line of fly fishing shirts by clicking HERE.