What you wear when you’re fishing is as important as your reels, line, rods and lures. The best fishing apparel not only makes you more comfortable, but also helps you catch more fish.
There is no place to hide on a kayak, so fishing clothing protects you from the elements with ergonomic design and high-tech materials. Features like pockets and camouflage make fishing easier and more effective. Add colors and patterns, and advanced fishing clothing looks cool, too. In the sun, wind, rain and cold, look for the best fishing apparel for protection.
[This article is part of the Kayak Angler Buyer’s Guide for The Best Kayak Fishing Gear For 2021. Find all the best kayak fishing gear from the top brands for all situations.]
Best fishing shirts
The best fishing shirts are so comfortable people wear them when they aren’t fishing. Summer fishing shirts are loose-fitting and cool to protect from the sun. The most popular types of fishing shirts are button-up and pullover. Button-up shirts feature pockets in the breast and roll-up sleeves. Pullover shirts are lighter and more breathable—some even have a hood for further sun protection.
Summer fishing shirts have long sleeves and hem for total skin coverage with panels of breathable material to regulate heat. Wearing a summer fishing shirt is more effective skin protection than sunblock. For winter fishing, and in the shoulder seasons, an insulating shirt can be worn as a primary defense against the cold or as part of a layering system. Synthetic materials will be water-resistant and breathable. Natural materials, especially wool, have excellent insulation and stay warm when wet.
Our favorite fishing shirts are stain-resistant and bug-repellant to fend off fish slime and mosquitos. For the latest technology and fashion trends, check out our Best Fishing Shirts article.
Best fishing pants
Sitting in a kayak exposes areas on your legs that may have never seen the sun. Light, breathable, long pants are some of the most important fishing clothing to protect against a very painful sunburn. But the best fishing pants also resist water and stains. Fishing pants are usually made of light, breathable material that moves easily.
They should provide plenty of room to move and have articulated joints with a waist that doesn’t bunch up when you are seated. To keep the pant leg from riding up and exposing your ankles to the sun, our favorite pants have a hem that won’t ride up. To keep your legs protected from the elements, check out our Best Fishing Pants article.
Best fishing shoes
Kayak fishing is tough on the feet. Anglers may stand all day, wade through oyster shells, climb over rocks and pedal for miles. A good pair of water shoes will drain and dry quickly while protecting your feet from sun and sharp objects. For pedal kayaks, comfortable shoes will turn the crank for hours without producing blisters. To stand and fish, shoes with a soft rubber insole provide padding and increase stability. For a list of our favorite fishing apparel for the feet, check out the Best Fishing Shoes article.
Best fishing gloves
You can tell a hard-core angler by looking at his hands. Blisters, cuts, calluses and chalky dry skin are the tell-tale sign of hours on the water battling fish. To protect your hands from small cuts and sunburn, wear a pair of light, sun-resistant fingerless gloves. To handle big fish, rubber-coated gloves will grip a slippery surface.
Paddling anglers like padded gloves for miles of churning butter. In the winter, anglers wear thin, neoprene gloves that stay warm when wet and still allow you to tie knots and operate fishing equipment. To get a preview of the most comfortable protection for your hands, read Best Fishing Gloves.
Best fishing hat
The lucky hat is an icon of fishing apparel. Weather-beaten, crushed, stained and sun-bleached, if a hat produces fish, the angler won’t leave the launch without it. For kayak anglers, a hat has to be more than lucky. In the summer, a fishing hat should protect from the sun and release body heat. During the winter, you’ll need a hat that traps heat and protects against biting wind. Some anglers like a wide-brim hat for 360 degrees of shade.
Anglers fishing windy conditions choose a snug-fitting baseball hat that won’t blow off. Look for a mesh crown to improve airflow. To reduce glare from the water, choose a hat with a dark brim. In the cold months, a warm hat can be a lifesaver. Not only should the hat trap heat, but it must resist wind and water. We like a hat that can be adjusted for warm activities like paddling or pedaling, and cold activities like sitting and waiting for a bite. For a look at our lucky fishing apparel, read the Best Fishing Hats article.
A drysuit is hands down the best protection from cold water. If an angler goes overboard, a drysuit is sealed at the wrist and neck with bootied feet to keep in heat and seal out cold water. Even when you’re not in the water, the drysuit stays warm with fewer base layers.
The most comfortable drysuits have soft, rubber gaskets at the openings. A heavy-duty waterproof zipper makes it easy to get into the suit. High-quality suits use breathable, waterproof materials that are reinforced in the knees, elbows and butt. Anglers fishing in extreme cold with a high-probability of ending up in the water should consider a drysuit essential fishing clothing. For some of the most comfortable examples, read our Best Drysuits article.
How we chose the best kayak fishing apparel
We consider several factors when choosing the best apparel for kayak fishing. From ensuring we judge the apparel according to its intended purpose to making sure you’re actually able to buy it, here are the things we consider when picking the best kayak fishing apparel in each category:
- Purpose. Comparing apples to apples.
- Performance. How well does it do its job?
- Features. Sometimes we’re all about bells and whistles, sometimes not.
- Real-world testing. We put them to the test on the water.
- Price. Is it affordable? Does its performance justify its cost?
- Sales. Best-selling models are best-sellers for a reason.
- Availability. It won’t be good if you can’t buy it.
- Designer and brand interviews. We ask the people who made it why.
Let’s find you the perfect kayak fishing apparel
Use the Kayak Angler Buyer’s Guide’s reviews, specs and expert rankings to help you find the right gear at the right price.