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Updated Jan 5, 2023 3:38 PM

The best fishing shirts depend on your body shape, how active you are, and the conditions you’re facing, but there’s no doubt that a plain white or giveaway t-shirt doesn’t get the job done. There are myriads of options out there that’ll keep you comfortable, look cool, and keep you safe. On that last prong, whether it’s preventing hypothermia or sunburn, or wicking away your sweat, a shirt is as much a tool as a garment.

I tested the best fishing shirts out on the water to see which ones performed optimally in a range of conditions and scenarios. In recent years the shirt options available to serious anglers have grown exponentially. Whether you’re an XS or a 6XL, fishing in Amazonian heat or the Arctic chill, there’s a shirt that will allow you to cast more effectively and stay comfortable all day. It might even earn you a compliment when you walk into the bar that night with a big fish story.

Best Fishing Shirts: Reviews & Recommendations

Best Fishing Shirt for Sun Protection: AFTCO Samurai Sun Protection Hoodie

AFTCO

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Key Features

  • AFBLOCK UPF 50 sun protection
  • Built-in hood
  • Antimicrobial material
  • Moisture wicking

Pros

  • Wide range of colors
  • Quick-drying technology prevents sweat from building up
  • Hood cinches down comfortably

Cons

  • Only solid colors available

Traditional saltwater brand AFTCO has spread their wings into other portions of the fishing universe in recent years with great success. This simple, lightweight hooded shirt explains a large part of their success. It’s so lightweight and comfortable that it never gets in the way yet prevents the sun from penetrating. Sweat in it, crumple it up in a ball, and it still looks fresh at the end of the day. Perhaps most importantly, it’s flattering to a wide range of body shapes and protects them all equally well. Anglers who want a built-in mask as well might opt for the similar AFTCO Geo Cool, which incorporates much of the same technology with added protection.

Best Fishing Shirt for Bug Protection: Simms BugStopper Hoody

Simms

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Key Features

  • Treated with Insect Shield
  • Lightweight
  • Sleeves cut for full range of motion in arms

Pros

  • Full coverage
  • Odor-wicking
  • Doesn’t stretch excessively when wet

Cons

  • Pricey

There’s no doubt that Simms has built a shirt to provide maximum performance while keeping no-see-ums and other critters off you. There are quite a few shirts out there that offer some sort of repellent fabric or additive—and you can do it yourself to any shirt with a dose of consumer-strength permethrin – but many of those shirts leave key areas exposed. When the insects are particularly bad, you need a “belt and suspenders” approach, so a crew neck or traditional button-down just isn’t enough. This one has an athletic build with tight sleeves that prevent anything from getting inside. Even with all this coverage it’s still eminently breathable. It stretches where you need it to stretch and protects you from both the sun and bugs.

Best Quick-Drying: Eclipse 37.5 Hoodie

Eclipse

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Key Features

  • Unique fabric provides cooling
  • UPF 50+
  • Hood and thumb holes

Pros

  • Sun protection never washes out
  • Dries exceptionally quickly
  • Environmentally-friendly, made from recycled bottles

Cons

  • Only solid colors available

On the outside, these solid-colored hoodies look pretty standard, but once you put one on you’ll realize that they’re made for comfort. Not only does it drape comfortably over everything from athletic physiques to the more-common “dad bod,” but it wicks away sweat with ease. That’s due to the proprietary Cocona/37.5 Fabric, which increased surface area by a substantial amount to prevent cooling. That also means that if it rains you won’t be wet all day. When I put it in the washing machine I didn’t need the dryer – the spin cycle alone was enough to make it fresh. Perhaps most importantly, this is a shirt that feels good to wear, both because it’s comfortable and because it’s made with environmental consciousness in mind. Eclipse only use recycled fabrics and has a supplier code of conduct. They even offset the footprint of shipping by planting a tree for each order.

Most Versatile: Kuiu Gilla LS Hoodie

Kuiu

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Key Features

  • Sizes: Small to 3XL
  • Solid and camo colors
  • Hooded
  • UPF 50+ rated

Pros

  • Wicks sweat well
  • Hood is cut perfectly for little obstruction

Cons

  • Heavier than some fishing shirts

I tested the Gilla LS Hoodie for four months while fishing and getting ready for the 2022 USA Archery Outdoor Nationals. My testing started fishing for stripers in Roanoke Rapids where the temps ranged from 60 to 70 degrees and I wore the Gilla as a base layer. As the temps rose my fishing moved to saltwater for redfish and striped bass, where high humidity and long kayak paddles tested the Gilla’s moisture wicking ability. During that time I was also training for an archery national championship, which meant being in the summer sun for two hours a day. I also wore the Gilla while competing at the championship.

Best Fishing Shirts of 2023, Tested and Reviewed
The author wore the Kuiu Gilla hoodie in a variety of conditions and for a variety of outdoor pursuits. Scott Einsmann

While I own many of the best fishing shirts featuring SPF, the Gilla became my favorite this summer. The fit is loose, but not too loose and runs true to size. The hood lays flat when not in use and doesn’t obstruct your peripheral vision when it’s up. The SPF protection worked fantastic when I spent over 8 hours in the sun. I live in the southeast where the humidity stays above 80 percent all summer, and the Gilla managed to wick the inevitable sweat, which kept me comfortable in triple degree heat. Another noteworthy feature is that the shirt’s material didn’t hold odor like some synthetics do.

Best Lightweight Fishing Shirt for Brutal Heat: Under Armour Iso-Chill Shorebreak Long Sleeve

Under Armour

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Key Features

  • UPF 50+
  • Articulated sleeves for unrestricted movement
  • Iso-Chill fabric disperses body heat

Pros

  • Sun-protection in a fitted package
  • Wicks sweat and dries quickly
  • Built to move
  • Nice selection of solids and camo patterns

Cons

  • Not available with built-in hood and/or gaiter

If not for the fish camo patterns, you might not be able to immediately distinguish the Iso-Chill from Under Armour’s other athletic wear, and in this case that’s a good thing. The company has made its name building sport-specific gear that allows top performers to reach their peak. If the bass bite is on, or the tuna are rampaging while you’re on the verge of heat stroke, that’s going to hamper your efforts. The fabric is light and pulls heat away from your skin, which means humid 90 degree days—or even triple digit scores—won’t keep you from landing your personal best.

Best Button-Down Fishing Shirt for Hot Weather: HUK Tide Point Long Sleeve

HUK

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Key Features

  • Super lightweight material
  • Quick-drying, moisture-wicking fabric
  • Two-way stretch
  • Built-in microfiber sunglass wipe

Pros

  • Breathable and quick drying
  • Button down collar stays put
  • Traditional, timeless style

Cons

  • No hood or gaiter built in

The Tide Point is the modern iteration of the Classic button-down fishing shirt, keeping anglers cool in a timeless style. It’s built to breathe and keep you cool without ever letting anyone see you sweat, and it even has a built-in microfiber sunglass wipe so you’ll continuously see your quarry clearly. The Tide Point is available in a number of standard solid patterns, plus gingham and plaid, which means you can wear it on the boat and then directly to dinner or possibly a casual business environment.

Best Button-Down Fishing Shirt for Cold Weather: Grundens Windchop Insulated Shirt

Grundens

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Key Features

  • Front snaps
  • Handwarmer pockets
  • Available in sizes up to 3X

Pros

  • Surprisingly lightweight-yet-effective insulation
  • Handwarmer pockets for times when you can’t fish in gloves
  • Billowing chest pockets keep small items accessible

Cons

  • Limited color selection

Grundens made their name building rain gear for commercial fishermen who operate in the most unforgiving environments possible, so when it came time to build a cold weather shirt, they applied that technology and came up with a winner. This insulated shirt, available in a quartet of traditional solid colors, is made to beat back the frigid air. While it’s not waterproof, it’s water- and wind-resistant. When others are heading back to the dock or shivering as they wait for a bite, the Windchop takes on all comers. If you’re not fond of the straightforward solid patterns, the company’s Kodiak Insulated Shirt provides a comparable effect in a variety of hearty plaid patterns as well.

Best Budget Fishing Shirt: Hanes Long Sleeve Cool Dri Shirt

Hanes

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Key Features

  • FreshIQ odor protection
  • Cool-dri technology dries quickly
  • UPF 50+

Pros

  • Remarkable number of features in an inexpensive package
  • Solid range of color options, including neons for times when enhanced visibility is needed
  • Durable hems and borders

Cons

  • No built-in neck gaiter or hood

American t-shirt and underwear manufacturer, Hanes hit a sweet spot in the budget with this simple long sleeved crewneck shirt packed with moisture-wicking, odor-resistant, UPF 50 protection. It’s possible to buy two, three, or even four of them for the price of many of the other best fishing shirts, and that would be warranted if they ever wore down—but these are made to last. Simply put, they fit and wear like a much more expensive shirt. They don’t come with a bunch of fancy features or doodads, but if you need something to cover up your torso and arms, and you want something wallet-friendly, this widely-available option should be at or near the top of the list.

Best Fishing Shirt for Big Guys: Columbia PFT Tamiami II Shirt

Columbia

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Key Features

  • Omni-Shade UPF 40
  • Mesh-lined back vents
  • Quick drying material
  • Available in sizes up to 6X

Pros

  • Proven design available in both short and long sleeve versions and a wide variety of colors
  • Antimicrobial material minimizes sweating, but also protects this shirt from bacterial growth
  • Wide range of flattering color options

Cons

  • Extra pockets and rod holder may be superfluous

Columbia offers a wide range of both button-down and crewneck shirts for anglers up to size 6X, but let’s face it, sometimes crewnecks are less than flattering. At the same time, a button-down can be constricting, but they’ve mastered the fit of the best fishing shirts. Not only does this shirt allow maximum unrestricted movement, it’s flattering for all body shapes and sizes. This one is also meant to keep you cool on the hottest days, so roll up those sleeves using the hidden tab holders and enjoy the breeze through the vented back. Bigger anglers who want a button-down but find something objectionable about the Tamiami, can look to Columbia’s Bonehead and Bahama options. There’s even a “Blood and Guts” version for those of us who tend to spill or get dirty.

Most Fashion-Forward: Gill XPEL Tec Long Sleeve Shirts

Gill

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Key Features

  • Water and stain repellent
  • UPF 50+
  • Available in hoodies and crew necks

Pros

  • Material is smooth to the touch and comfortable against the skin
  • Comfortable flat locked seams
  • Numerous patterns not available elsewhere

Cons

  • Material stays slightly warmer on triple-digit days than some others

We tested the Gill sun shirts throughout the spring and summer, most notably during a 90 degree trip to the Florida Keys. Our friends complimented the bold yet tasteful patterns consistently, everything from Shadow Camo to Palm Prints, as well as some standout solids. That made both the crew necks and the hoodies fine for walking around town, but it was on the water where they proved their mettle. They repelled spray and fish blood, and whatever stains got on them washed out with ease. Moreover, the hoods stayed in place and the tailored sleeves were a fine combination of form-fitting and comfort, not too tight, not too loose. It doesn’t hurt that these shirts look fantastic in grip and grin pics. You may want to order a size up, as they run a little small.

Methodology

I’ve sweated my way through many of the best and priciest shirts on the market and found that not all of them are created equally. When you get wet or sweaty and stay wet or sweaty, that’s a bad sign. Similarly, a sleeve that prevents you from casting or slides up your arm every time you go to fire out your lure quickly becomes annoying. Obviously, not every shirt can be everything to every angler, but quality and fit are much more important than you might immediately think. While there are shirts not specified “for fishing” that can (and will) do the job, I prefer those designed by anglers, for anglers. It never hurts if they keep you safe, too. I tested these in freshwater and salt, while casting, trolling, and waiting for a table for four, and these are the best fishing shirts that cover those scenarios.

FAQs

Q: What is special about a fishing shirt?

While a “regular” shirt can get the job done on the water, the best fishing shirts integrate special features that protect you from the elements while also recognizing the unique physical elements of the sport. Those might include articulated sleeves, a built-in neck gaiter, or a way of securing your rod while you unhook the fish of a lifetime.

Q: How much does a fishing shirt cost?

As fishing shirts have become more advanced, with added features like hoods and insect repellent treatments, their cost has increased, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some bargains out there. Also, a cheap shirt that falls apart may cost you more in the long run than one with a higher initial price tag that lasts you multiple fishing seasons.

Q: Is it better to wear long sleeves or short sleeves?

While short sleeves are acceptable in some circumstances and may seem more “free,” it’s generally better to wear long sleeves while fishing. They protect you from the sun, biting insects, and even your buddy’s flying hooks. Just make sure the cuffs are comfortable and don’t hang down over your hands or ride up while casting.

Why Trust Outdoor Life?

Since 1898, OL has been a leading authority in testing and reviewing hunting gear, fishing tackle, guns and shooting equipment, and much more. We have more than a century-long history of evaluating products, and we’re now bringing that expertise to online reviews. Our editors are experienced outdoorsmen and women, and most importantly, we’re trained journalists. We prioritize field testing and objective data when reviewing products. We conduct interviews with gear manufacturers and engineers as well as outdoor experts so that our readers have an understanding of how and why a product works—or doesn’t.

Advertising does not influence our gear reviews and it never will. While we always focus our coverage on standout products—because we want our readers to be aware of the latest and greatest gear—we also cover the flaws and quirks of any given product.

Final Thoughts

Even though a fishing shirt might seem like least important piece of gear you’ll need when hitting the water, it can be the one thing that keeps you fishing longer. And more time on the water means more opportunities for landing fish. If you haven’t given much thought to your fishing shirts, this review is a great place to start. These are the best fishing shirts for keeping you dry and protected from the sun, so you can spend more time casting for those personal bests.

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