You don’t tug on Superman’s cape, you don’t spit into the wind, you don’t pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger and you don’t mess around with a fisherman’s hat. Well, that’s not exactly how Jim Croce wrote the lyrics, but fishermen feel the same way about their hats as superheroes love their capes and masks. That’s because a fisherman’s hat is the source of his superpowers, offering next-level protection from sun, spray, wind and driving rain. But if your head is bare, don’t despair—our picks for the best fishing hat have you covered.
$74 | sheltahats.com
The problem with floppy brim hats is the floppy part. A soft brim makes the hat foldable and comfortable, but in rain and wind the brim wants to flop up and down. That’s why Shelta Hats reinvented the floppy brim hat with no-sag headband and a no-flop brim. The stiff headband and brim keep the hat’s shape no matter the conditions. To customize the fit, the brim is moldable and adjustable.
For fishing, I like the Seahawk model with a wider brim for better sun and rain protection. To keep your head cool, mesh lining and super-light fabric with metal eyelets vent heat and moisture. The hat material is 100 percent recycled, water-resistant and provides UPF 50 sun protection. To round out the fishy features, the Shelta Seahawk floats.
$95 | kokatat.com
The folks at Kokatat are Pacific Northwest paddlers and their gear reflects the rainy, cold, hot and sunny conditions they experience on a typical day. To enable the fishing hat to go from one extreme to another, the Seawester is designed to use wet or dry. Shaped like the classic sou’wester hat with a wide brim that is longer in the back, the Seawester takes the proven seafarer’s design into the next century.
On the outside, the Seawester uses the same breathable, waterproof Hydrus 2.5 layer fabric as Kokatat’s drysuits and rain gear. Under the brim, non-reflective material absorbs glare off the water. A soft, absorbent Polartec Power Dry headband keeps sweat out of my eyes.
The best protection against rain and sun is no good if it blows away in the wind. The paddlers at Kokatat know something about the wind; they gave the Seawester a comfortable chin strap and adjustable bungee around the crown. If you fish rain or shine, the Kokatat Seawester is ready to go.
Kahuna Camper Hat
$32 | twelveweight.com
My first fishing hat was a yellow and white five-panel hat with a long brim. That hat is long gone, but 12 Weight’s brought back the classic fishing cap with the new Kahuna Camper Hat. The low-profile black hat with cool wavy logo is a great fit on and off the water. The short brim and light, waterproof material make it perfect to wear around town and at the marina.
On the water, the compact hat with a tight fit will stand up to wind, spray and pouring rain. The Kahuna is the perfect size to wear under a rain jacket hood. The extended, moldable brim offers more protection from the sun. Unlike most five-panel hats, the Kahuna has a liner behind the front panel for more structure and a modern look.
Floating Flat Brim
$30 | columbia.com
Almost every angler has lost a favorite fishing hat to Davy Jones’ Locker. Kayak anglers are at most risk—a strong wind gust and the best fishing hat is gone forever. Unless the fishing hat floats. Columbia’s PFG is a classic snapback hat with a short brim and mesh back. But the foam front panel and brim allow the hat to float. The mesh back uses tight weave to keep my head cool without the sun burning my scalp.
Inside, Columbia used their Omni Freeze Zero material in the headband with moisture-activated cooling tabs. Almost any hat will float for a few seconds before sinking. Columbia’s Floating Flat Brim waits on top of the water until I retrieve it.
$45 | kavu.com
My grandfather wore one. Your grandfather probably wears a bucket hat, too. There’s a reason old heads like these comfy and practical hats. A bucket hat has a soft fit, it’s sun and wind resistant and it folds to carry in my pocket. For the younger generation, the cool kids at Kavu cooked up the Fisherman’s Chillba.
A new take on the bucket hat, the Chillba is waterproof and windproof. The hat is gently sloped from crown to brim to allow rain to roll off. The narrow, floppy brim and drawstring cord keep the hat secure in the wind. The Chillba is reversible, with a cool pattern on one side and black fabric inside. The brim has a soft, stainless steel hoop to keep its shape. Twist the metal ring and it collapses to fold the hat into a pocket-size package.
The best fishing hats offer high tech for your head. | Feature photo: Courtesy Old Town Canoes & Kayaks