A day of fishing leaves anglers open to barrage of ultra violet light (UV) exposure from both above and below. In addition to the relentless blast from the sun overhead, the reflective surface of water throws damaging light back up onto unwary fishers. I’ve had the unpleasant experience of having the underside of my chin burnt by reflected UV, and it isn’t something I’d want anyone else to ever have endure as well.
Avoiding burns and the long-term threats associated with UV exposure has become a major industry, and those working on solutions have noted the angling market is a ripe plum for the picking.
Topical sunscreens can be and should be used, but these solutions can sometimes make fly lines greasy, affect the performance of flies, and get prematurely rinsed away as anglers repeatedly get hands and legs wet as they wade.
For clean, safe protection, a physical UV barrier is suggested. Anglers who routinely hit the warm salt water flats of the Caribbean and Gulf coasts have long leaned on the protection offered by Buffs — a tubular headwear/bandana product made by the company of the same name. More recently, freshwater anglers have begun to discover the utility of the brand’s products as well.
The Buff UV DeYoung models specifically target dedicated fly fishermen. These UV-resistant Buffs feature the fishy artwork of celebrated painter Derek DeYoung. Worn around the neck, up over the face, or pulled all the way over the head, the UV Buffs provide lightweight, breathable protection to sensitive skin. Price: $25
But that’s not good enough for some of us. UV protection is great, but when fishing beaver ponds, creeks, and alpine lakes, some of us are plagued by a more immediate threat than UV: mosquitoes. For us, the Buff UV InsectShield products are invaluable. These provide the same breathable UV cover while also repelling mosquitoes, black flies and even ticks. Price: $29
For this reason, I also prefer lightweight, long-sleeved shirts that sport InsectShield technology, like the Simms Bugstopper LS Shirt. This garment offers UV 30 protection with InsectShield treatment integrated into the supple, lightweight nylon fabric. Zippered breast pockets come in handy for storing fishing tools and sunscreen tubes while on the river too. Price: $99
Finally, the simplest solution to UV cover is a cover —in the form of a wide-brimmed hat. Tilley Endurables has been making hats for outdoor enthusiasts for decades, and their LTM6 Airflo has proven to be a near perfect hat for fly-fishing. A pair of mesh strips around the crown of the light nylon hat allows for great ventilation to prevent overheating in the summer sun. The foam-lined brim has enough structural support to stay in place for maximum UV protection without being so wide it gets in the way of good vision for clear casting. That brim is also just stiff enough to support clip-on magnifiers for anglers suffering vision issues that require a bit clearer sight when tying on new flies. The hat includes a chinstrap for use in windy conditions, but it you forget it, the LTM6 floats for easy retrieval should it be lost to an errant gust. Price: $85