A good fishing shirt is light, comfortable, and UPF-rated. And it can make or break your time on the water.
If you’re fishing in warm weather, you deal with a double factor when it comes to the sun. First, the sun’s rays glower down with might from above. And second, the bounceback of these rays from the reflection on the water can be just as brutal.
This is a lesson you don’t want to learn, I promise. An under-the-chin sunburn is not only a pain in the ass, it’s not a great look. And I’d be remiss to say that, as a woman, I’m also taking into consideration the sun’s toll on my skin in the long term.
Personally, I wear these shirts all summer. Long sleeves and light hoods paired with buffs don’t just translate to hot days on the water. I keep cooler and more protected when hiking, riding my horse, or even hunting in the early fall season.
Between sun protection, stain resistance, odor-beating, bug-repelling, moisture-wicking capabilities, and — of course — stylish silhouettes, these are my picks for the season. And whether you’re freshwater fishing or saltwater fishing, there’s something for you on this list.
Scroll through to see all of our recommended buys or jump to the category you’re looking for:
- Best Button-Down
- Best Lightweight Sun Hoodie
- Best Bugproof
- Best Sun Jacket
- Best Midweight Hoodie
- Best Short-Sleeved
- Best Long-Sleeved
- Best of the Rest
Let’s move on to the best fishing shirts of the moment.
The Best Fishing Shirts for Women of 2021
Best Button-Down: Columbia PFG Lo Drag Shirt — Short-Sleeved or Long-Sleeved
The Lo Drag shirt from Columbia PFG ($45-50) is by far the favorite technical button-down that I’ve worn. It’s extremely light, comfortable, and does its job. But, really, it’s the styling on this shirt that ups its wearability.
A lot of fishing button-down shirts tend to be bulky, with technical pockets, big flaps, and giant sleeves. If I wanted to dress like that, I’d ask for Grandpa’s hand-me-downs. So, to be frank, I don’t want that. I’m assuming most women don’t.
To me, the Lo Drag Shirt takes the technicality of the bulky fishing button-down and streamlines it into a shirt that isn’t embarrassing to wear. The vents on the shoulders add a breathable component, the pockets are utilitarian but not overwhelming, and the line of the shirt is just nice enough to sneak into a lot of different events.
In addition to fishing in my Lo Drag shirt, I use it for showing horses, dress it up for occasional casual nights out, and wear it on the trail. I wore it just yesterday in 85-degree heat with no wind. I stayed cool and comfortable, and I didn’t feel like a grandpa. Win-win-win.
And luckily, they offer the same style in both a long-sleeve shirt and a short-sleeve shirt. Nicely done, Columbia PFG. The one caveat here is that if you have boobs, I’d order a size up. It runs a tad small.
- UPF: 40
- Omnishield odor treatment
Best Lightweight Sun Hoodie: Orvis Women’s PRO Sun Hoodie
Ah! The hoodie. The ubiquitous fly-fishing look! I love my hoodies, and I can’t get enough of them.
When the Orvis PRO hoodie ($59 on sale) arrived, it felt like the Shangri-La of fishing hoodies. It was super light, not skin-tight, and oh-so-breathable.
Orvis, to me, really nails their sizing. For transparency, I’m a pretty normal American woman, average, 5’6″, a classic L/12 in sizing. I have boobs and curves and a constant nagging feeling that when most companies make sizing for women, they forgot about boobs. It’s just a thing.
Orvis didn’t forget about boobs! It’s honestly a miracle. And every time I wear something of theirs, I’m reminded this is clothing made for women, not in spite of us. A privilege and a joy, it is.
Anyway, with sun hoodies, I find they’re often tight. And tightness tends to negate a lot of the coolness. We need a bit of breathing room, but too much and you look like you’re wearing a trash bag. Too little, and you look like you’re in a sausage casing.
So, with this long digression, what I’m saying is Orvis nailed this hoodie. It’s all the right stuff.
- UPF: 50+
- Polygiene odor control
Best Bugproof Shirt: Simms BugStopper Hoody
All hail the Simms BugStopper collection ($79)! If you’re not privy, welcome to the club. I know no one loves mosquitoes, but I particularly loathe them. And yet, I can feel confident going out in Simms’ BugStopper gear. It really works. This hoodie in particular is an awesome addition to the closet.
Treated with Insect Shield, this permethrin-treated shirt is a bit heavier than a classic sun shirt but not by much. At 100% polyester, it wicks sweat and dries quickly. It has pockets for phones and keys but not much more, and a nice long half-zip.
If you find yourself in buggy areas, this shirt will change your life. Simms also offers BugStopper leggings, hats, gaiters, and sun gloves. I’m telling ya, this Insect Shield stuff is where it’s at on days you’re beating back the hordes.
- UPF: 50
- Insect Shield technology
- Anti-odor technology
Best Sun Jacket: Columbia PFG Tidal Spray II Jacket
This is the newest addition to my “I’m gonna wear this all summer” collection. This super-lightweight pullover jacket ($65) is an ideal weight for nearly all warm temperatures, and the hood pulls up easily for even more protection from sun, wind, or light rain.
Velcro closures at the wrist allow for easy adjustment, and a snap-button closure goes from chest to chin for varying situations. I kinda wish the dual pockets were a simple kangaroo pocket, but they work just fine.
A vented back allows for serious breathability. And for storage or easy transport, it packs into its own pocket easily.
It’s also just really cute and comfortable. This is one of those garments folks ask about. The batik floral prints are really vibrant and fun.
Although I’m not a fan of the ponytail hole (Seriously, who uses those in anything?), it doesn’t bother me that it exists. It runs a tad small, but not enough that I would go up from my normal size.
- UPF: 40
Best Midweight Women’s Fishing Hoodie: BUBBA Bahura Hoodie
I live in Montana, so I get maybe a month of wear out of my hot weather gear. About 90% of the time, I’m looking for something midweight. And the Bahura Hoodie ($60-68) is always at the top of my list.
The weight of the bamboo material is perfect for cool summer evenings or breezy days on the water. And the heavier fabric is also forgiving and wildly comfortable. BUBBA also researched eco-friendly and sustainable materials in making their apparel line, so you can feel good about your purchase.
It’s a bare-bones hoodie. There aren’t any pockets, zippers, bells, or whistles. But it’s the perfect grab-and-go, stuff-in-your-pack kind of garment. And it’s only $50. Stash a few of these. They’re freakin’ awesome.
- UPF: No stated rating
- Sustainable material
Best Short-Sleeved Shirt: Patagonia Women’s Capilene Cool Merino Shirt
Wool in the heat? I know. It’s probably not the kind of wool you’re thinking about. This is a recycled wool and polyester blend you can feel pretty dang good about in a lot of ways.
I’m practically a religious convert to Patagonia’s lightweight merino wool when it’s hot out. The feel of the shirt ($59) is soft, silky, and barely there.
But, when you’re out and about, the wicking and staying power of merino once again proves its worth, even in the hottest conditions — especially in the hottest conditions.
As a layering piece for temperamental conditions, it’s perfect. And on its own, it’s just a dang good shirt. RIP to all your favorite cotton tees. Merino continues to take the cake on so many levels.
- Fair-Trade certified
- Recycled materials
- Naturally odor-repelling
Best Long-Sleeved Shirt: AFTCO Samurai Long-Sleeved Sun Protection Shirt
One of AFTCO’s most popular women’s shirts, their Samurai long-sleeved fishing shirt ($35) offers 40+ UPF sun protection, tech that beats back odor, and elastane for comfort.
It also has AFGUARD stain protection for when the boat hits a bump and your coffee hits your chest. We’ve all been there, right? Thumbholes keep hands protected and folks just love these shirts.
It’s got a 5-star rating, and for good reason. And at $35, you almost can’t afford not to buy it.
- UPF: 40
Best of the Rest
Another shirt that protects against bugs, the Jack Wolfskin Lakeside Roll-Up Shirt ($90) is a nice option. Made from organic cotton, it’s heavier than the shirts above. But it’s great for buggy days or evenings that aren’t blazing hot.
It’s a little more barebones than the other button-downs. However, it does offer a zippered pocket for peace of mind while on the trail or on the boat.
This shirt is also true to size, offering some roominess for activity and breathability.
- UPF: 40+
- Bug-repellant technology
Ever the fan of pulling gear intended for one pursuit into another pursuit, Patagonia’s Self-Guided Hiking Shirt ($79) also makes for a perfectly perfect fishing shirt. It’s cool if ultra-technical fishing shirts are your thing. But I love it when gear pulls double-duty.
This Fair-Trade sewn, recycled polyester button-down is simple, soft, and — dare I say it — kinda elegant. The two pockets are open, and the sizing is flattering.
The feel of this shirt is next-level comfort. It has vents right below your armpits that allow for ample breathability. And the pretty buttons and nice lines add a feminine touch.
- UPF: 50+
- Recycled polyester
- Fair-Trade certified
The Simms BiComp Fishing Hoodie ($89) is a super-duper light hybrid between a button-down and a fishing hoodie. And I’m here for it. For extremely hot days, the weight of this fabric is legitimately feather-light. And the snap-button feature makes it feel a little bit more like a cover-up than your typical hoodie.
Thoughtful components like extra long sleeves with thumbholes add sun protection for the tops of your hands. A sunglass wipe is built into the corner. And a zippered pocket protects things from getting lost in transit or casting.
I really like the BiComp. It’s gonna see a lot of wear this summer.
- UPF: 30+
Another high-quality button-down, the Tropicwear Pro ($89) from L.L.Bean sports a few really nice components that make it an easy addition to this list.
The back caping on this shirt is minimal but efficient. It has a corner sunglass wipe and a hidden zippered pocket for safekeeping. The collar snaps into place, and the sleeves easily roll up and stay up thanks to built-in stays.
The logo is a little big according to commenters, but that certainly doesn’t affect performance or ease of wear. It’s a nice shirt with a lot of great options for the active angler.
- UPF: 50+
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Fishing Shirt
The three tenets of technology we see most in fishing apparel are UPF factor, repelling bugs, and beating back odor. So, let’s talk about them.
Sun Protection: What Does UPF Mean?
I’ve always sort of laughed when shirts say they have a certain measure of sun protection. It’s easy to think, “Well, duh, I won’t get sunburned if I’m wearing a shirt.”
But, ultraviolet rays do penetrate garments and add to potential sun damage to skin. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends clothing with an Ultraviolet Protective Factor rating from 30 to 49 at the very least, and 50+ receives an excellent rating from their team.
Typically, a UPF rating is good for up to 30 washes. Much of the rating is made up by how tight the weave of the fabric is. This presents an issue as fabric loosens and changes, but it’s also something to think about when considering breathability.
What this means is — if you’re looking for light fabrics to keep you protected in sunny spaces — it’s imperative to check the UPF rating of the fabric to better protect your skin.
Insect Shield and Permethrin-Treated Fabric: Does It Work? And How?
Yes. And here’s how. Insect Shield is a fabric treatment that bonds permethrin to the garment. This works for the lifetime of the shirt, or pants, or whatever, and then some.
It started with the military needing to protect soldiers in a variety of climates from bug-borne diseases. And now, thankfully, it’s in the hands of civilians.
Bug protection via fabric is not only a relief, it also cuts down on the amount of stuff you have to spray on yourself. I absolutely love Insect Shield and how effective it is in buggy conditions. There’s really no going back once you’ve tried it, so get on board.
Beating Back Odor
Listen, it gets hot out there. We all know this. The best fabrics I’ve found to beat back odor are wool and bamboo. Synthetics — even treated synthetics — just aren’t a match for more natural fabrics.
So even with many synthetics claiming to have odor-beating technology, this is where I’d keep expectations low and use of deodorant high. It’s rare a synthetic garment gets more than one use in my closet before hitting the wash.
But they sure do a great job of keeping you cool for less money. So it’s certainly not a dealbreaker for me.