Choosing Women's Fishing Apparel

News & Tips: Choosing Women's Fishing Apparel

Today's woman angler is as serious about her fishing as she is her sense of style. She's looking for top-notch equipment and fishing clothing that will contribute to her success and encourage long, carefree days spent on the water.  

Lucky for us, the modern lady angler will find a variety of fabrics, styles, and colors to choose from when heading out. Here are some guidelines to follow when searching for quality clothing.

Fishing Shirts  

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Lucky for us, the modern lady angler will find a variety of fabrics, styles and colors to choose from when heading out.

Women's shirts, both short and long-sleeved, should feature a trimmer cut by being more fitted through the waist, with radial sleeves (roomy arm holes) and a pleated or yoked back enabling unrestricted arm movement routinely required for casting and retrieving.

Look for an assortment of tropical and earthy eye-catching colors appealing to the fashion-conscious angler. These bright colors are undeniably cooler (and more fun!) to wear in the sun than hot, darker colors.

Seek these specific features when shopping:

  • Roll-up sleeves with button or Velcro tabs
  • Sun collars — "extendable" collars that unroll to offer additional sun protection for your neck
  • Mesh-lined or vented arm pits and front and back yoke for cooling air flow in hot weather
  • Chest pockets for miscellaneous gear and sundries
  • Zippered pocket for valuables or fishing license
  • Velcro tab to secure your fishing pole when your hands are busy tying knots
  • D-ring or loop for attaching essential equipment to be quickly accessible
  • Built-in sun or bug protection
  • Lightweight, quick drying material

Pants and Shorts  

Pants and shorts for women anglers can be found in a variety of styles, so choose based on your personal preferences. You'll find styles with fully elasticized waistbands (many with built-in elastic belts) or side elastic waistbands with button and zippered fly, or the traditional set waistband with button and zippered fly.

For long days spent bending, twisting and turning, many women favor the comfort and ease of either a partial or fully elasticized waistband.  

Perhaps the nicest pant feature to surface over the past several years has been the addition of the "zip-off" pant legs that quickly convert a full-length pant to a capri or to shorts (both options are available on some pant styles). This highly desired feature keeps packing for trips simple and is extremely functional for long fishing trips where weather can change easily.

Look for these features in pants or shorts:

  • Deep front pockets to keep items safely pocketed even when bending over
  • Cargo pockets with button or Velcro closure
  • Zippered security pocket for valuables
  • D-ring or loop to attach fishing tools
  • Zippers on pant-leg bottoms, for easy on and off over boots, shoes or sandals
  • Light, Quick-drying fabrics
  • Built-in sun or bug protection


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Perhaps the nicest pant feature to surface over the past several years has been the addition of the "zip-off" pant legs.

Regardless of the garment you're searching for, you'll want clothing that keeps you cool in hot weather, doesn't wrinkle easy (travels well) and is quick-drying.  

You'll find a variety of fabrics offered from all-cotton to cotton blends, to nylon, polyester and synthetic blends. While cotton is thickest of these and may keep you warmer on a cool morning than a synthetic garment, it also will retain moisture and does not dry quickly once wet. Fleece would be the optimal choice if you're seeking a garment for warmth during inclement weather. It keeps you cozy, yet it's lightweight and will dry quickly if it becomes wet. Fleece is wonderful for layering under wind resistant or waterproof jackets when the weather turns nasty.  

The nylon or nylon/synthetic blends are the best choice for keeping you cool, wicking perspiration, being wrinkle-resistant and quick drying. You'll find these blends to be soft to the touch, lightweight to wear and extremely advantageous for travel. Their excellent cooling properties will keep you feeling good and fishing longer.  

Cotton or Cotton Poplin Fabrics: Soft and comfortable medium weight fabric, absorbent; may shrink or fade.

Polyester: Lightweight, high-strength fabric (but lower strength than nylon). Will resist wrinkling, stretching or shrinking. Dries quickly and is abrasion resistant.

Nylon: Lightweight, synthetic fiber know for its high strength, flexibility & abrasion resistance. Will Resist wrinkling, stretching or shrinking and dries quickly.

Nylon Ripstop: Nylon properties but with a special, tighter weave that prevents tears from spreading.  

Supplex: State of the art lightweight, nylon fabric that gives the look and feel of cotton with the strength and durability of nylon. Softer than standard nylon, won't shrink, wrinkle or fade and is tear, odor and wind resistant. 

Supplex Gore-Tex: Supplex material laminated to Gore-Tex membrane for lightweight, yet excellent waterproof, windproof and breathable comfort, great for warm weather outerwear

Gore-Tex: 100-percent waterproof, windproof, breathable outerwear fabric, lightweight

PVC/PVC-coated (Poly vinyl chloride: a plastic): Outerwear that's 100 percent waterproof, but not breathable, weights will vary, ventilation a plus.

Polyurethane Coating: Waterproof, breathable coating applied to the inside of clothing.

Specialty Features  

Additional specialty features have become quite popular in outdoor wear in the last few years. Not only are fabrics designed to be resistant to wind or dampness, fading, shrinking or wrinkling; now manufacturers have added "bug resistant" features and built-in "sun protection" to the mix.

Forgot the bug spray or the sunblock? No problem if you've invested in outdoor gear already equipped with all the essentials you'll need for a sunny, buggy day on the water. 

You'll now find some fishing clothing noted for its "UPF" rating; this is clothing's "Ultraviolet Protection Factor," a rating similar to "SPF" or Sun Protection Factor used to rate a sunscreen's effectiveness. 

Fabric, weave and color all add to the UPF rating of a garment and heavier, close-knit fibers will generally increase the UPF rating, although shrinkage and wear can effect it's rating also. The main points to consider are the higher the UPF rating of a garment, the greater the sun protection. Keep in mind that only clothes with a UPF of 15-50+ can be labeled as sun-protective and that sun-protective clothing may lose its effectiveness if it becomes stretched out, wet, or has faded and been worn repeatedly.

According to U.S. guidelines, the classifications for sun-protective fabrics are:

  • Good UV Protection (UPF 15 to 24)
  • Very Good UV Protection (UPF 25 to 39)
  • Excellent UV Protection (UPF 40 to 50+)  

Bug proof clothing is another bonus you might find offered in fishing clothing. The protection of this odorless, invisible feature will be welcome when you spend long hours where pesky mosquitoes, ticks, chiggers, or flies are present...but beware; like sun protection clothing, clothing that's been treated with special bug protection bonded into the fabric can also lose its effectiveness when worn and washed repeatedly. The other alternative for wearable bug protection is to simply use a lightweight suit (head net, jacket and pants) of netting material worn over clothing. Look for suits that are flame retardant, offer UV protection and are snag-resistant.

When considering fishing clothing choices seek specific features you'll utilize most in your fishing apparel and be picky about the fabrics you choose to wear. Consider the climate and humidity levels of the location you'll be fishing. If you're searching for rain wear, be cautious in selecting "water-resistant" vs. "waterproof" gear. The first will keep you dry only for awhile; the latter will guarantee you stay dry. 

Selecting garments that have functionality and a sense of style will not only improve your odds at remaining comfortable and sharp looking throughout your journey but should assist you in netting some trophies as well by prolonging your time on the water.