There was a day when I would hit the water with just my old torn band t-shirts from high school. That was… well… high school. Now days when I head into the backcountry or out on the lake to cast a few lines I take the right fishing shirts with me.
You’re probably wondering what, exactly, separates a fishing shirt from any other shirt.
That’s a fair question.
In the second part of this article I will answer that question in detail. I’ll help you learn how to pick out the best fishing shirt for you, and what makes them good.
I’ll also recommend a few of the top rated and most functional fishing shirts available right now. With a few words to help you decide which ones make sense for you,
Quick Answer: The 5 Best Fishing Shirts For 2018
- Columbia Plus Tamiami Ii Long Sleeve Shirt
- Columbia Sportswear Bahama II
- ExOfficio BugsAway Viento Long Sleeve
- Outdoor Research Echo Long Sleeve Zip T-Shirt
- Mountain Hardwear Wicked SS Tee
Let’s get started by finding out what makes the top rated fishing shirts different from the rest.
Best Fishing Shirts
Fishing Shirt Reviews
- Convertible sleeves
- Lightweight polyester shirt
- Vented back panel
This lightweight polyester long sleeve shirt earns a top spot thanks to the convertible sleeves and great value. Columbia remains one of the best outdoor manufacturers for the money.
Thanks to the thin polyester fabric this shirt makes a versatile option for summer fishing. You can wear it with the sleeves up or down. Plus, it comes in so many colors you can choose a cool light color to avoid baking in the sun.
The polyester material of the Columbia PFG shirt is at home in extreme heat. Polyester isn’t as durable as nylon however, so if you plan to a bunch of bushwhacking opt for a nylon based shirt which you’ll find next on our list.
Having double breast pockets there’s even some extra room to toss in your clippers and a few extra goodies. Overall, the Tamiani PFG is the best fishing shirt choice for mid-summer fishing on our list.
Best For: Versatility and cool summer time comfort in an adjustable fishing shirt.
- Nylon shirt for improved abrasion resistance
- Integrate rod holder
- Loop for retractable clippers
If you want a durable nylon shirt with adjustable sleeves and a few fishing specific features, look no further. Columbia has done it again and this time they’re offering just as many variations in color for your choices!
While Columbia advertises a rod holder on the chest of this shirt, I just can’t figure out how that would work. Users don’t seem to concerned about it, but maybe it’s a great feature I’m just overlooking!
There is an awesome feature that’s easy to overlook. Sewn in to the right breast pocket is a cord loop that makes a perfect attachment point for retractable clippers or hemostats on a lanyard.
We’ll leave it up to you to decide what to put on there!
Like the Tamiami PFG shirt there’s ample venting in the back panel. Since this shirt is a less breathable nylon fabric the vent is important!
Without it you’d be getting hot and sweaty really quick. Thankfully, they’ve also included clips for the roll up sleeves on those hot days.
Short Sleeve: Columbia Men’s Bahama II Short-Sleeve Shirt
Best For: Anglers looking the best long sleeve fishing shirt that is bug, brush, and wind resistant shirt with adjustable sleeves.
- 79% polyester / 21% nylon
- Hidden zippered pocket for secrets
- SILVADUR treated fabric
Want the best of both fabrics? Get the durability of nylon with the breathability of polyester while keeping the bugs at bay with ExOfficio’s hybrid fishing shirt.
Thanks to the nylon polyester blend of this shirt it’s a bug warding machine. When these fabrics are processed properly they become nearly impenetrable to bugs and that’s what ExOfficio is attempting to do here.
SILVADUR is a chemical treatment that’s meant to keep bacteria growth to a minimum.
While this probably won’t help with reducing bugs, it definitely will help combat body odor on these notoriously stinky fabrics. Polyester and nylon both can become rapidly affected by underarm odor.
While I wish ExOfficio would disclose a bit more information about how they keep “BugsAway” with this shirt, overall it’s a solid fishing shirt with some technical features.
I like the slim breast pockets that keep the look sleek yet casual. The light colors are a good choice for cool summer fishing.
Best For: Anglers looking to stay cool and dry while keeping the bugs away!
- Lightweight long sleeve design
- 13-inch chest zipper
- High collar
Next up is a fishing shirt that can stand by itself and earns one of my highest ranks of shirt-dom. This lightweight polyester shirt keeps sun away and helps fend off occasional bugs during sunny summer and shoulder season days.
This shirt is so light and airy you won’t even notice that it’s there. Breezes pass right through and help keep you cool during summer days casting in the sun. Of course if you’re like me, the long sleeves and high collar also help keep those pesky mosquitoes off as well.
The entire shirt is constructed with flat seams which means they won’t rub or chafe at all. It makes a perfect stand alone shirt on warm days, or a layering companion for something more substantial like the Columbia Bahama II.
This shirt should earn a place in every angler’s closet. It can be a helpful companion on warm summer days or breezy fall evenings. There’s always a situation for the Men’s Echo T.
Best For: Anglers looking for the most versatile, comfortable fishing shirt!
- Lightweight polyester short sleeve shirt
- Antimicrobial finish to minimize stink
- Flat seams for comfort
All good fishing shirts should be layered. Having a lightweight wicking shirt for a base layer sets you up for success as the weather changes daily.
Mountain Hardwear’s Wicked Tee is just that piece of the puzzle.
Like the Echo Long Sleeve shirt, the Wicked Tee is a lightweight polyester garment. This makes it perfect for layering or as a standalone shirt on hot summer days.
Short sleeve shirts make a more comfortable layering option most of the time than long sleeves. Plus, pairing this shirt with something like the Columbia Bahama means you’ve got tons of options to adjust to changes in weather and temperature.
I like that Mountain Hardwear added antimicrobial finish to the fabric because polyester does get stinky all too fast. Pair with the ExOfficio BugsAway for an extra stink-resistant setup that can keep you on the water for days at a time before it’s in need of a wash.
Best For: Ultra lightweight warm weather fishing t-shirt that will keep you cool and fresh.
How to Choose the Best Fishing Shirt
You’re about to learn more than you ever imagined about fishing shirts and how to pick out the right one. I hope to put you on the fast track to having a brand new fishing shirt on your doorstep in no time flat! Buckle your seatbelt, Dorothy.
Fishing Shirt Fabrics
There are two primary materials used in creating most outdoor clothing. Once you understand what they are and how they work, you’ll be able to decide which one makes the most sense for you. There’s never one right answer for everyone.
Nylon is a synthetic material that’s crafted into strands and then used to weave fabric. Nylon comes in all sorts of variations but most notable is the Ripstop Nylon variation. Ripstop fabric has thicker, stronger, fibers woven in a pattern into the main material. This makes the shirt stronger overall without adding much weight or bulk.
Nylon can be made to be bugproof and windproof, simply by the way the fibers are processed and finished. This is a major advantage in many situations. Nylon is also very durable and abrasion resistant.
Is the second synthetic material of choice in outdoor clothing and fishing shirts. Polyester usually has great wicking properties and moves sweat away from the skin. Polyester makes a good choice for hot days or athletic activities because it also allows wind to pass through.
Polyester is much more delicate and snag-prone than nylon. That’s not to say it will fall apart on you, but it will more easily snag on thorns, branches, and other shrubs.
Purposes of a Fishing Shirt
Stay with me for a moment while I walk through a couple common reasons to use a fishing shirt and what type of fishing shirt would be suited to each situation.
Sun protection – can be achieved with any shirt that covers the skin. Ideally a high collar and adjustable neckline are best. White or light colors help keep you cool. For hot sunny days a lightweight polyester shirt like my all time favorite from Outdoor Research makes a perfect companion.
Bug protection – is a close second for me in terms of reasons I choose shirts. Up here in Michigan the mosquitoes can be enough to keep you inside at times. When that happens a long sleeve nylon shirt can help keep a layer between you and the bugs. Some nylon weaves are tight enough that mosquitoes can’t bite through them. Other shirts, like the BugsAway from ExOfficio are treated with bug repellent.
Staying cool – might be best achieved with a simple light colored polyester based T-shirt. Polyester shirts are often woven with a combination of Lycra to give them tons of stretch. One of my personal favorites for this purpose is the Outdoor Research Echo T. Remember, go with a light color for the coolest option.
Brush protection – is important for hiking in to remote fishing locations. If you’re taking an off trail hike to get to your favorite fly fishing spot, chances are that you’ll have to fight your way through the brush and weeds. A lightweight nylon button up shirt like the Bahama II from Columbia makes a solid choice for this.
Ventilation is only a major issue in nylon based shirts. Remember, polyester allows plenty of air movement. So how do we get a good nylon shirt that can protect us from the bugs and brush while still remaining cool and vented?
Many fishing shirts made for this purpose feature a hidden vent on the back. Because the vent is hidden under a layer of overlapping fabric there’s little chance of bugs finding their way in. Most feature some form of mesh as well.
Fishing shirts are going to get wet.
That’s the honest truth and we all know it. During the middle of the summer, getting wet can feel good and help keep us cool. But during fall or spring weather getting wet can lead dangerously close to hypothermia in some situations.
So, how do we pick out a shirt that can dry quickly when wet?
Well, let’s review a few factors that help shirts dry when wet:
- Thinner fabric
- Darker colors
- Polyester fabric
So what type of shirt would be the fastest to dry? A lightweight polyester shirt made of black color.
Because dark colors get warmer in sunlight, thereby speeding up the evaporation. Thin fabrics retain less water and dry faster due to wind and sun. Polyester is a fabric that is good at wicking moisture to the surface where it can more rapidly dry.
That’s not to say you can’t find nylon shirts that are quick drying. Most nylon or polyester weaves will evaporate and dry much faster than standard cotton. For that reason just about every fishing shirt can be advertised as “fast drying”.
Building the right wardrobe for fishing is up to you. We all have our own tastes, but learning to layer means you can make the most of any situation. Combining a handful of the shirts on our list means you can adapt to just about any weather with just two or three shirts.
Pairing two of our shirts with a good fishing vest will put you in the perfect position to spend the entire day landing fish. There’s nothing like being able to stay comfortable all day long while you keep the bugs and sun off with ease.
Before buying your fishing shirts, reread the “how to choose” section to make sure you understand what to look for. Once you learn what each type of shirt fabric is best at, you can tailor your fishing shirts to get the right job done.
Eventually your closet may become dominated by the great fishing shirts that you love!
I hope this guide was helpful for finding the best fishing shirt to fit your needs. If you want to comment or recommend a shirt I didn’t include, please use my contact form to get in touch.
Have fun and good luck!