I’ve spent my entire life on or around the water at every chance I could get. Now after 24 years of fishing professionally, I feel like I’ve gotten more than my share of sunshine. I’ve always been conscious of the dangers and have worn sunscreen, hats and glasses. But not until the loss of my Dad to skin cancer five years ago had I taken the plunge to wearing long pants and long sleeve shirts during Florida summers.
Of course fishing in tropical places, the hot temperatures make contemplating wearing long sleeve shirts and long pants a daunting thought. I began to try various brands and styles and had limited success at first.
Let me tell you, when you get it wrong, you will burn up.
Now I cover up religiously and lucky for me it is at a time when the industry has drastically improved their ability to create breathable, lightweight performance clothing for just that purpose.
Coverage for my head also came into play and one favorite became a straw hat. While some may laugh, the coverage it gives you is a welcome aspect, but it is not without negatives too. While the straw hat is great in the yard or a calm day inshore, it is not user friendly while running offshore or in a breeze. In addition, they don’t like to get wet. Wearing a visor was great in my younger years and is the coolest version of a hat, but time ticks on and lets just say my head has more exposure than it used to, so the visor was out. A standard baseball hat was the obvious choice for head protection but warmer by the nature of that same coverage.
AFTCO Samurai Shirts
Now I believe I have just found the answer to both issues without sacrificing comfort or function. AFTCO has come out with the Samurai performance fishing shirt. The Samurai is a thin, lightweight performance shirt that features a built-in hood of the same material for the ultimate in sun protection.
I first tried the shirt in the Indian River near my home in Central Florida. The Samurai also proved first hand that it helps fend off our local population of mosquitos and no-see-ums. If you don’t know what a no-see-um is then count yourself lucky, except that means you may not have enjoyed our Florida coastal waters.
The Samurai as well as AFTCO’s Fish Ninja shirt give you protection early and late from the bugs, and cool, complete protection from the harmful rays of the sun in the middle of the day. The Fish Ninja features a vented face shield built in, in addition to a snugger fitting hood
The next test was to take the Samurai shirt offshore, and I got that opportunity on a recent trip with some friends. I have two Samurai shirts, a white and light blue. I picked the lightest colors for maximum reflection of the burning tropical sun.
Of course the only trade to light colors is the possibility of past fishing trips leaving their mark. I washed out plenty of bloodstains, and only the most stubborn remained, but I’ve also never had a piece of clothing that did not get stained while fishing. A very fair trade for the cooler colors in my book.
I wore the shirt from sun up to dark-thirty as they say, and could not have been better protected and comfortable. When the sun really started to roast you in the cockpit, I flipped the hood up over my visor and felt the temperature drop instantly. Yes I said visor, because with the protection of the hood, I went back to the cool feel of the visor.
I found two ways to wear the combo.
When in calm weather and not running the boat, I wore the hood over top of the visor. This did two things; it held the hood off of my head and created a pocket where air could flow to my head. The brim of the visor also kept the hood up and away from getting in your way. If we were running or the breeze comes up, I would put the visor down on top of the hood locking the hood in place to maintain protection, while adding just enough extra thickness to help keep the visor from blowing off in the wind.
The cut of the hood is just right. It does not hang down over your eyes, even without a hat, and when that late afternoon sun is burning one side of your face as you watch the baits, you can pull just enough slack in the hood to one side to offer relief from the heat.
Luckily we had laundry facilities because I washed the shirt each night so that I would not have to wear something else the next day.
Go ahead and buy two and save yourself a trip.