When a recent study came out declaring many sunscreen lotions unreliable, it proved once again that the best way to deflect the sun's rays is to stay indoors, or stay clothed. If you fish more days than not (or would like to) option "A" is no option at all. But when the sun is beating down and the heat intense, traditional fishing shirts fall short. Plus, who wants to dress like a fishing stereotype? The solution: long sleeve microfiber t-shirts. They're lightweight, loose fitting, dry quickly, and offer sun respite. Now I won't fish in the sun without one. Allow me to shed some light on four I tested both inshore-on a bonefishing trip, and offshore-during a pelagic tournament.
Pelagic Aquatek Shirt UPF: 50 High Points: This shirt has the highest sun protection factor, yet it feels lightweight-almost like a surfer's rash guard. It also dried the most quickly after wearing it while jumping off the transom. Low Points: It has the biggest, most visible logo of all the shirts, so wearing it makes you a walking billboard for Pelagic. Clinginess gives it the highest "nip" factor. Colors: Navy, White, Gray Price: $50, www.pelagicgear.com
Old Harbor Outfitters Hydro Performance Shirt SPF: 30 High Points: The most relaxed fit of the four test shirts, it feels almost non-existent on an extremely hot day. It allows the best range of motion for an active caster. It has a cool understated thresher shark logo. Low Points: When the wind kicks up, this shirt offers the least protection from chill. After extensive use, the thresher shark starts to wear off. Colors: Navy, White Price: $35, www.oldharboroutfitters.com
Patagonia Sunshade Shirt UPF: 30 High Points: It's the only one that features a chest pocket, key for holding extra fishing gear, your hotel room key, or emergency bail money. The reinforced collar, sleeves, and waist make it the most durable test shirt. It's also the most wind proof. Cool tarpon logo on the back. Low Points: The quasi v- neck may not be for everyone. It had the heaviest fabric of the test shirts. Colors: White, Blue, Green Price: $48, www.patagonia.com
Columbia Titanium Omni Dry South Peak UPF: 15 High Points: It had the best record in re-use without washing, having survived three consecutive soapless days without turning rancid. Good in both temperate and extreme conditions. Low Points: The lowest sun protection of the group. It's more prone to "thread displacement" from snags on wayward fish hooks than the others. Colors: Red, Gray, Black, White, Coal, Green, Yellow, Orange Price: $30, www.columbia.com