The 9 Most Recommended Fly Fishing Shirts
Stay cool, warm, dry, insect-free, and sunproof on the water this season! Fly Fishing Expert Josh H. takes you on a shopping spree of some of his favorite shirts.
Table of Contents
- Key Factors
- Orvis PRO Stretch and Hybrid Long Sleeve Shirts
- Orvis Fairbanks Elk Creek Jaspé Long-Sleeved Flannel
- Orvis Performance Quarter Zip
- Simms SolarFlex and Bugstopper SolarFlex Hoody
- North Face Wander Sun Hoodie
- Simms Bugstopper Fishing Shirt
- Simms Stone Cold Shirt
- Simms Intruder BiComp Fishing Shirt
- Simms Challenger Hoody and Print Hooded Sweatshirts
- Final Thoughts
Some people say, “I throw on what I pull off a hanger or out of the dresser when I fish.” To some, that is fine. I, on the other hand, am a firm believer that there is more to fishing apparel than whatever is clean and/or available.
The sun is a gigantic contributing factor while fishing, especially during extended periods in pursuit of the fish, where spending 10 to 12 hours navigating a blue line on a map is normal. If you don’t respect the “big orange ball,” you will find yourself in a world of hurt, quite literally.
Another key factor of consideration is the bloodsucking insects that share the same airspace as our coveted aquatic variations. The difference between fish food and the vampires that try to keep us from catching fish is huge. A swarm of biting flies or mosquitos will drive any diehard fisherman from their favorite pool within minutes if not quelled or repelled.
With serious skin and insect-borne diseases on the rise globally—not to forget heat and cold weather injuries—it is not a surprise that our beloved fishing brands are rising to the challenge of protecting us while we are out doing what we love. They do this using UV-blocking fabrics, tight or loose-knit solutions, tech-forward fabrics, conscientious adaptations, permeation properties, and infusion. Read on to learn about some of my favorite fly fishing shirts and the characteristics I love about them.
1. Orvis PRO Stretch and Hybrid Long Sleeve Shirts
When you absolutely have to have a garment that has incredible sun protection, is ultra-lightweight fit and ultra-fast drying, and keeps the funk at bay, the Orvis PRO Stretch and Hybrid Long-Sleeved Shirts are the ones to have. They even have an integrated sunglass chamois patch to clean your sunglasses or phone when you need to get that lasting memory of Billy Bad Brown. The stretch fabric and gussets under the arm make it fit wonderfully and give you room to be active.
The shirts come in a variety of colors for personal preference. I really liked this light green and gray plaid as a river camouflage entry. Two zippered horizontal access pockets help keep accessories at hand and most importantly, secured. The flat-laying snaps keep the shirt together without annoying rub points (which I prefer to buttons).
UPF 50+ is perfect to keep the sun from harming the skin. The odor-stopping treatment means that regardless of how hard you fight that fish of a lifetime, your loved ones won't have to smell it. I have four of these shirts and consider them the best fly fishing shirts I own. I love the way they look and feel, but more importantly, the way they perform. These shirts are perfect for the seasoned angler and the novice alike.
When Pale Morning Duns and Baetis blanket the water during cool mornings here in Idaho, nothing is better than a comfy flannel to keep out the chill and help focus on fishing rather than shivering.
The Orvis Fairbanks Elk Creek Jaspé Long-Sleeved flannels are 100% cotton with constantly changing patterns. Made with twisted yarns that are not only warm but comfortable, their looks are a shame to hide under a fishing vest or waders. The spread collar keeps the tips out of my way when looking down my nose toward my fly. Its locker loop is helpful to hang the flannel on a nearby branch, should it get damp and need a quick drying. Its classic fit and incredible comfort with casual looks make it at home under wader straps and for dinner at the lodge.
Flannel is one of my favorites to warm the blood and drive the spirit. I am never caught in open water, or in the river, without at least one to throw on when the weather warrants it. I recommend flannel to all my late-season fly fishers.
I wear layers a lot. I really like the Orvis Performance Quarter-Zip as a base layer; it wicks away moisture and its OutSmart Fresh treatment controls odor so I don’t have to pack as many on long trips. Plus, I can throw it over my Under Armour Men's ColdGear Base 2/3/4.0 as a mid-layer, should the flurries fly.
You can’t always walk into the fly shop or lodge wearing your skin-based under-layers, so the Performance Quarter-Zip saves you some shame. I like that if I should get a little overheated, I can zip down to get some much-needed airflow, thus regulating my overall temperature. Contact me or any of the Curated Experts about the newest patterns and Orvis product lines.
4. Simms SolarFlex and Bugstopper SolarFlex Hoody
When people ask me what shirt I wear most often, there is one answer I give: “a sun hoodie.” There are two brands I absolutely love that perform flawlessly.
The first is the Simms SolarFlex Hoody and the second is the Bugstopper SolarFlex Hoody. Simms has created gold with this garment. It dries quickly, is moisture-wicking, has built-in anti-odor properties to stave the stink, and protects at the highest levels of sun-scoff, touting UPF 50. They pack all that in a shirt that is light but feels substantial. I love that the flatlock seams don’t chafe, the hood that is designed to wear over a cap, and the raglan sleeves that make for unrestricted movement. The SolarFlex Bugstopper has InsectShield that will prevent the itch from sunup to sundown by making those bugs find food elsewhere.
The next on my list is the North Face Wander Sun Hoodie. North Face aptly calls this hoodie’s fabric FlashDry and it does exactly that.
Lighter than the Simms offering, I pack this shirt with me everywhere. The lightweight fabrics of the Wander Sun Hoodie keep me incredibly cool on the hottest of days, and I don’t worry about the burn because it boasts UPF 40+ sun protection. Sporting the same cut in the sleeves and hood as the Simms Solarflex, I own at least ten of these in the light gray color and highly recommend them.
Speaking of Simms, the fishing shirts they produce deserve every bit as much attention as those previously mentioned. I have several of their garments and they're thoughtfully conceptualized to perform for the pickiest of fishing enthusiasts.
My favorite shirt for my off-path freshwater adventures is the Simms Bugstopper Fishing Shirt. It is made with woven nylon that stretches and a treatment called brrr°, which has a refreshing, cooling effect that works great on the backwoods hike to my favorite pocket water fisheries. It also is equipped with InsectShield insect-repellent technology that will keep those pesky bloodsuckers away all day.
This is an absolute lifesaver when the horseflies are not only numerous but relentless in the Idaho backcountry. UPF 50 sun protection will keep the sun from making things burn. It is buttoned down to keep the shirt placement correct, and even has under-collar buttons to secure the collar on windy days. Zip chest pockets for my in-water essentials keep things where I need them, and yes, Simms has sunglasses chamois as well. The Bugstopper is one of my most recommended fly fishing shirts.
The Simms Stone Cold Shirt has the same stretch woven nylon and the same brrr° technology that provides cooling, moisture-wicking, and rapid-drying performance. If you don’t require the insect-repelling qualities of the previous shirt, this shirt doesn’t have that feature.
Lightweight material vents heat efficiently, and it also has two zipping pockets, UPF 50, and the sunglasses chamois. When you need to be in the office at nine and want to be on the river at noon, it makes a great addition to a fly fisherman’s wardrobe.
My most frequently recommended shirt for saltwater anglers (other than a sun hoodie) is the Simms Intruder BiComp Fishing Shirt. This long-sleeve shirt dries almost immediately, wicks away perspiration, has anti-odor treatment, and protects with UPF 30.
Innovative knit cuffs stay in place when pulled up and provide extra protection. The shirt is super light, incredibly soft, and is made with breathable fabrics. Two zip chest pockets and the sunglasses chamois provide storage and function.
Lightweight, breathable spandex shirt sides and lower sleeve panels provide unrestricted movement and mobility for those lean-over-the-side-of-the-boat releases, or fighting explosive flats fish. The shirt is comfortable and has snap closures that are made of sturdy plastic. I really like them because I can rapidly remove the shirt with a single pull when I need to.
Offered in light blue and light gray (colors that resist absorbing rays), the Intruder BiComp fits perfectly into any inshore, coastal or offshore adventure. These fly off the shelves because they are that good. Reach out to any of the Fishing Experts at Curated to get you dialed in.
Who doesn’t want a hooded sweatshirt or a fleece-lined hoodie to throw on when you are at the morning fire making coffee, or when the wind picks up late season? I like the Simms Challenger Hoody and their multiple patterns of hooded sweatshirts. The Challenger has performance tech fabric on the outside and is fleece lined internally, so it feels like a warm blanket on cold mornings.
Simms makes great print hooded sweatshirts and I have several, whether it be the trout, or their self-branded versions, they are all durable, thick, and warm. I always have two or three with me on my fishing adventures. It is good to have one if the river gods determine I need a drink and throw that unexpected rock in my underwater path.
There you have it; my most recommended fishing shirts. I hope this shines some light on how I use my gear to protect me from the adversity of the water-world in which I frequent so often.
Don’t forget your neck gaiter, cap, sun hats, and stripping gloves to further protect yourself. Whatever your style, whatever your favorite brands, reach out to the Fly Fishing Experts at Curated and we will get you outfitted to ensure you are safe and comfortable on your next adventure. Tight lines!