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Sport-specific garments can be just the ticket to marginally enhance your experience; whether it’s a pair of flexible rock climbing pants, a breathable running hat, or an airy hiking shirt. To the non-angler, a shirt (or any fishing apparel in general) made specifically for catching fish on the fly or by conventional tackle may seem truly superfluous–surely the fish don’t care what you wear. But for us, wearing a proper fishing shirt designed specifically for a day on the water adds one part style and two parts utility, boosting morale and maybe even the odds of finding a fish in the net.
Read on to join us as we delve into the ins and outs of the features that led us to discovering some of the best fishing shirts on the market at this very moment. Or scroll on past to get right into our top picks.
What to Look for in a Good Fishing Shirt
You really don’t have to be any sort of angler to appreciate the bounty of cargo pockets a fishing shirt can provide. These arrays of small and large pockets provide a home for a variety of fishing gear, accessories, and doo-dads useful on the stream. Readers with an interest in street wear trends will recount the rise of pocket-rich garments in fashion across the scale of retail prices. Turns out, a pocket big enough for a medium-sized fly box works pretty well for some of the gargantuan devices the tech companies are passing off as cell phones these days, too.
Survey enough fishing clothing, and you’ll notice peculiar features with no obvious use. Velcro straps, metal rings, and rubber tabs may puzzle the uninitiated, but rest assured, these add-ons provide quick and convenient accessibility to essential fishing gear like nippers and hemostats as they’re needed throughout the day.
Long sleeve fishing shirts typically have the added benefit of keeping bugs and the sun off, but there’s nothing wrong with a short sleeve fishing shirt if that’s your preference. On many of the long sleeve shirts we’ve picked, you’ll find the sleeves roll and button-up for on-to-go transitions. Plus, bug spray and sunscreen exist to make up for any shortcomings the garment you select may have.
You won’t find an abundance of natural materials on both casual and performance fishing shirts. Carefully blended synthetics typically come with moisture-wicking, water-repellent, and quick-drying properties not found in something as simple as a plain old cotton short sleeve t-shirt. Like the best sun shirts, the best sun shirts are made of a material with UPF protection ratings of 30 and 50+ to provide protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
Field Mag's Top Picks
- Best Overall Fishing Shirt: Patagonia Early Rise Stretch Shirt
- Most Classic Fishing Shirt Columbia PFG Bahama II SS Shirt
- Best Sun Protection: Orvis PRO Stretch Long-Sleeved Shirt
- Most Bug Proof: Simms Bugstopper LS Fishing Shirt
- Best Western Style Shirt: Seager Co El Pescador LS Shirt
- Best Hoodie: Free Fly Lightweight Bamboo Hoodie
- Best Short Sleeve: Manastash River Shirt
- Best Value: Eddie Bauer UPF Guide 2.0 Long-Sleeve Shirt
- Most Casual: Tom Beckbe Tidewater Shirt
- Best for Street Style: South2 West8 Tenkara Trout Shirt
- Best for Hot Weather: Duck Camp Helm Shirt
- Best No-Frills: L.L. Bean No Fly Zone Shirt
12 Best Women’s and Men’s Fishing Shirts of 2023
Best Overall Fishing Shirt: Patagonia Early Rise Stretch Shirt
Patagonia put together a well-rounded fishing shirt that flies well under the radar, easily passing as a casual button-down shirt for off-water wear. The stretchy cotton-poly blend fabric provides a wide range of motion for casting while snaps throughout the shirt help avoid lost buttons and snagging thin tippet. Integrated into the shirt’s yoke are two large fly box sized pockets with a hemostat clamping station under the right pocket flap. For cooler weather, the fleece Early Rise Snap Shirt ($139) wears well on its own or under a lightweight rain jacket. Available in an extended size range, including XXL and 3XL.
Most Classic: Columbia PFG Bahama II Short Sleeve Shirt
Columbia practically wrote the book on styling the classic fishing shirt by taking a lightweight UPF 50 nylon fabric and designing a shirt with abundant ventilation at the mid-back yoke. Above one of the two generous chest pockets you'll find a branded velcro strap, designed to hold a rod once its butt portion is secured in a wading belt–super handy for hands free rigging of terminal tackle or handling a netted fish!
Best Sun Protection: Orvis PRO Stretch Long-Sleeved Shirt
Though any cloth over the skin will provide some level of protection against the sun’s harmful rays, it takes a proper sun shirt like this number from the Orvis PRO product collection to keep the fiery ball of gas from scorching one’s skin. Highly effective UPF 50+ rated stretch fabric provides the maximum UV protection possible with a considered shirt pattern providing the freedom of movement required for long casts to eager fish. A pair of hidden microfiber patches underneath buff sunglass lenses clear and a Polartec Power Dry lined collar helps manage sweat.
Most Bug Proof: Simms BugStopper LS Fishing Shirt
Fishing soft goods specialists Simms tapped the experts at Insect Shield to outfit the entire Bugstopper line of clothing and accessories with its tick and mosquito repellent fabrics. Not only does this light-wearing plaid shirt keep the critters away, but it’s also rated at UPF 50+ for maximum UV protection for fishing through the harsh summer sun. Complete the bug-proof kit with the Bugstopper Sun Gaiter and Bugstopper Pant.
Best Western: Seager Co El Pescador Long Sleeve Shirt
No, we're not talking about the value motel chain here. The western style "yoke" on Seager's shirt is the panel of fabric that starts on top of the shoulders and ends with a vented point above a pair of chest pockets. At each pocket, you'll find an assortment of subdivided compartments and daisy chains for keeping track of fishing accessories and tools. Lastly, classic western cowboy-style pearl snaps finish off a handsome, functional shirt for getting after it.
Women's Option: No
Price: $99 SHOP NOW
Best No-Frills: L.L. Bean No Fly Zone Shirt
Leave it to Bean to come with a no-frills, borderline plain fishing shirt for the average Joe or Jane. Despite its demure styling, you’ll still find a UPF 50+ fabric that’s been treated to repel annoying insects like ticks and mosquitoes. Multi-compartment chest pockets, button-up sleeves, and a hidden sunglass cloth make this sleeper a solid buy.
Best Hoodie: Free Fly Lightweight Bamboo Hoodie
A hoodie might not feature all the bells and whistles that other deluxe fishing shirts have on offer, but the comfort and simplicity in Free Fly’s best seller sun hoodies are tough to beat. The magic lies in a blend of 70% bamboo viscose and 30% polyester, making for a superbly sustainable fabric that’s both lightweight and soft to the touch. This version features only a 20 UPF rating, but checkout the brand’s sun protection line of long sleeve t-shirts, pants, and even more hoodies for increased UV protection options. Available in a variety of solids and unique camos for keeping a low profile while stalking wary trout or carp.
Best Short Sleeve: Manastash River Shirt
This short sleeve button-down comes from outside the world of fishing brands, but the low-key outdoor lifestyle apparel heavyweights at Manastash created a stylish option here in their River Shirt. Don’t let the name fool you, especially in this shade of cobalt blue that would look right at home on sport saltwater fishing excursions for species like tarpon or marlin. Generously oversized pockets easily store full-size fly boxes and assorted terminal tackle. Pair it with the accompanying River Shorts.
Women’s Option: NA
Price: $155 SHOP NOW
Best Value: Eddie Bauer UPF Guide 2.0 Long-Sleeve Shirt
With over 100 years in the game, Eddie knows a thing or two about making gear for sporting folks. This poly-nylon blend button-down shirt boasts lightweight wear and a UPF 50 rating with convertible long sleeves for airing out. Bellowed pockets allow for some oversized cargo while some small attachment points make a good spot to clamp hemostats or clip on a zinger and nipper.
Most Casual: Tom Beckbe Tidewater Shirt
Riding the line of utility and non-sport aesthetic is our go-to sport style; there’s a lot of pressure to “look the part” in many of our beloved outdoor activities, and we’re just not that into it. This classic casual cotton-nylon blend shirt provides a 30+ UPF rating for sun protection and pleated pockets to fit a compact fly box. Available in an assortment of sharp plaids and a pleasing array of solids.
Women’s Option: NA
Price: $145 SHOP NOW
Best for Street Style: South2 West8 Tenkara Trout Shirt
Despite most of South2 West8’s customers wearing its pieces for style rather than function, they’re designed to be completely compatible in sport settings. The brand’s popular Tenkara Trout Shirt features more pockets and gear attachment points than nearly every other option we’ve come across; coming up just halfway short of the kind of portage capabilities a full-blown fishing vest carries.
Women’s Option: NA
Best for Hot Weather: Duck Camp Helm Shirt
This southern outdoor apparel brand made it their focus to design a shirt for hot weather wear down in their neck of the woods. Hidden ventilation and a poly-cotton blend fabric make it a great choice for float days or poling inshore waters for tailing redfish. Choose from four solid colors and an extensive selection of sizes covering small to 3XL, in addition to tall variations in medium through 3XL.
Thrift stores and vintage dealers are well stocked with vintage fishing gear, from bucket hats to fishing shirts and vests. Some might come with a fishy patina, but if you dig deep, you can find some wonderful gems with plenty of wear left in these garments. Our pal Matt from Vintage Sponsor sources some of our favorite pieces, categorized neatly in his Fish N Thrift sub-store.