The only thing that stands between you and raw saltwater conditions are the clothes on your back. From extreme heat to extreme cold, modern outdoor clothing will protect you from the worst elements.
Even on a bright sunny day, you can get soaking wet from salt spray. A good set of foul weather gear is required attire on any fishing trip. Breathable materials have their place, but in the wet world of saltwater fishing, nothing beats a set of PVC bibs, boots and rain jacket. PVC attire will keep you dry and clean all day, and you can simply rinse it off and hang it to dry so it is ready for your next trip.
If you fish in the surf or from a kayak, a good pair of saltwater waders will be the key to comfort. In water that is warmer than 65 degrees, a quality pair of breathable saltwater waders will be as comfortable as your favorite jeans. In cold water, neoprene waders will keep you comfortably warm. Look for saltwater waders with reinforced knees, seat and booties. Boot foot waders are cheaper, but bulkier and heavier than stocking foot waders that require a separate boot. Even if you’re fishing in warm water, a solid pair of wading boots will protect your feet.
The most dangerous condition you’ll face on the water isn’t wind or waves, but the sun. Sunburn isn’t just uncomfortable — it could lead to skin cancer. The best way to shield yourself from the sun is to wear sunscreen. Another way to protect yourself and stay cool is by wearing a loose-fitting, lightweight long-sleeved shirt and long pants. Fabrics that have an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) greater than 40 will protect you from the sun all day. The newest generation of fabrics is designed to dry very quickly and cool the skin. Add a wide-brimmed, well-ventilated hat, and you’re wearing your own personal air conditioner.
A good pair of sunglasses will protect your eyes from the sun’s rays and help you catch more fish. Look for high-quality polarized lenses with wraparound frames to cut through the sun’s glare and see fish and structure below the water. The best fishing shades will have a thick frame that blocks light from entering the eyes. Grey lenses are best in bright conditions with clear water, while amber lenses work better in low light or cloudy, off-colored water. Some anglers even go so far as to wear light-colored gloves and a face mask to completely block out the sun.
Some of the hottest fishing is done in some of the coldest weather. Today’s high-tech fabrics allow you to layer on warmth without a lot of bulk. Start with a base layer of breathable fabric that will wick moisture away from the skin. Add a mid-layer of breathable fabric with thick loft to trap warmth. Finally, put on a windproof, waterproof layer to keep out the elements.
Since 80 percent of body heat escapes through the head, a waterproof, windproof hat with thick insulation will help retain warmth. The body’s weakest links are the extremities. A thin pair of neoprene gloves will keep your hands warm even when they’re wet. To keep your feet warm and dry, start with thin silk-based socks under thicker insulating socks.
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