The ABCs of Performance Fishing Apparel - Purposeful and Comfortable Clothing

The ABCs of Performance Fishing Apparel - Purposeful and Comfortable Clothing

April 26, 2022

When you’re looking to buy clothes for fishing or boating, you might see terms like ‘performance fishing apparel’, ‘technical apparel’, and a variety of other phrases that look like they take research before knowing what you’re buying. If that’s when you start to wonder and maybe even get skeptical about what differences there are between that kind of gear and anything else you might buy off the rack, you’re not alone.

It’s not just a marketing ploy though! Clothing has come a long way in a short number of years and you may be surprised at the advantages provided by performance fishing apparel. Such advantages lead to a more comfortable and purposeful time on the water, and doing more of what you love, so here is your easy guide for what to look for.

Performance Fishing Apparel - An Easy ABC Guide

There are many concepts and terms that define performance fishing apparel, but it’s worth the time to understand them because they lead to practical advantages on the water. Though many are familiar and easy to understand, we included them to provide the complete picture along with many ways they connect and provide compound advantages.

Anti-Microbial Fabric - Anti-microbial fabric protects against bacteria, mold, mildew, and other hazardous microbes. Some fabrics, polyester in particular, are naturally good at this while certain treatments can help fabric gain this quality, too. It can be found in a variety of garments, from lightweight, UV protective apparel to fishing jerseys and outerwear. It does both the serious job of mitigating microorganisms that can cause harm and the job of reducing nasty odors, too.

Artwork - Artwork is an important factor for any custom or partially custom apparel, like jerseys and any apparel that goes through embroidery, screenprinting, or sublimation. Artwork complexity is a big factor in the price of a fishing jersey and other garments, but it can be made easier with high quality digital artwork files.

Bamboo Fabric - Some fishing and boating apparel makers are using bamboo fabric. This is because it is a relatively strong, resilient, and soft material from a fairly sustainable and easily replenished source. However, bamboo fabrics can be a challenge to wash and it can shrink more than cotton; be careful if you’d rather just have clothing you can throw in the wash without much thought.

Blend - This is usually referring to what fabrics are used to make a garment, such as polyester, elastane, spandex, bamboo, cotton, and fleece.

Blended Fabrics - Depending on the properties of the fabric, blended fabrics take on the qualities of the fabrics they use.

Brand - Whether it’s ​​T-H Marine, Gemini Jerseys, AFTCO, Simms, Huk, Gill, Columbia, Pelagic, or another brand name, brand names often give you a quick and easy connection to popular styles and the latest apparel technologies that are proven to perform.

Breathability - It may sound like it’s about airflow, which it is to some degree, but apparel breathability is more closely related to allowing perspiration and moisture to turn into water vapor, so your body can feel cool and comfortable.

Camouflage - Mossy Oak, ReelTree, Kryptec, Prym1, TrueTimber, Veil, Xotic… The list goes on, but there are plenty of options for blending into your surroundings, whether that be woods, water, or somewhere in between. For options coming right off the rack, it may come down to the brand reputation and the look, but jersey companies often have licensing with a number of different camo pattern providers, so you can dive into the details with the look and style that you need.

Collar Style - For some, a collar choice comes down to the intended purpose and anticipated weather. For others, it’s purely the preference or look. This can be true for standard gear or fishing jerseys. In either case, there are many options, including collars that have a Banded Zipper, Polo Zipper, Crewneck, V-Neck, Hooded Jersey, Hoodie, and more.

Color Scheme - Apparel colors are largely a matter of opinion, but custom colors and more colors typically mean a more expensive garment, especially for fishing jerseys.

Cooling Features - In performance fishing apparel, this usually means layering options, fabric choices, lighter weight materials, and ventilation.

Custom Jerseys - There are a range of different customizations you can do with jerseys and the sky (or your wallet) is the limit. Top of the line jersey companies can customize just about everything you want, from the fabric to the cut and the colors and more.

Durability - Friction, stretching, and repetitive motion takes a toll on clothing and fabrics handle this differently — delicate versus durable. This often may be at odds with comfort but not always.

Fabrication - Fabric choices are incredibly important, but fabrication matters just as much if not more. Fabrication affects how well a garment will do what it says it does when put to the test in the field (and on the water). It can also make or break a garment when it comes to the look and feel. Sometimes you can get lucky and find a decent piece that is more than adequate, but it is usually not the latest and greatest apparel technology and it often has some drawbacks, too.

Fishing League Requirements / Specifications - Many tournaments / events have specific requirements for apparel, usually relating to logos. Thankfully, this is standard information for top providers of tournament jerseys and apparel; they keep up to date on these requirements and they know exactly how to take the legwork and guesswork for tournament apparel customers.

Insulation - This is usually accomplished by layering built into or put on top of a garment and is usually considered for cold weather gear. It may be down, it may be fleece, or something else, but it is all about enhancing your body’s ability to retain natural body heat. Cold weather gear will also tend to have a comfort rating based on the temperatures for which it is intended.

Jersey - This term refers to the uniform logo-top usually worn for a particular tournament or event. For tournaments, they often have rules and standards for artwork but it can also be something that is worn to unregulated events as a means of promoting gear and sponsors.

Knit - For performance fishing apparel, knit fabric is typically most important when looking at outerwear, sweaters, and other gear designed to keep you warm during colder months.

Licensing - This has to do with a brand’s rules, regulations, and legal right to control how their property (like logos) are used.

Lightweight Fabrics / Lightweight Fishing Apparel - There are quite a few options for lightweight fabrics, including many that boast of relatively high durability, elasticity, and UV protection. Generally speaking, you can find the best fit with lightweight polyester and elastane or spandex blends, followed by bamboo fabrics. Lightweight often means less insulation though, so it’s best when it’s worn on warm days or when layered.

Logos - These are the visual means that brands use to promote their company and their products, usually visible on packaging, clothing, and digital properties like websites and social media. High resolution logos like eps files are generally the best for printing on fishing apparel.

Logo Permission - For fishing and boating brands who sponsor athletes, there can be a wide range of processes for using their logo. Some have a designated place on the website for downloading their logo(s), while some require a permission request, and some give out the file to only a short list of recipients. This is another instance where a top provider of tournament jerseys and apparel can make this process easier.

Mesh - Mesh is a common option for providing ventilation and breathability to a piece of apparel. Not all mesh is the same though. Some mesh is rigid and structural, like the mesh on a snapback hat. Some mesh is soft, like knitted mesh buffer layers inside a shirt. And some mesh is somewhere in between, like the close hole mesh used for underarm ventilation. There are a variety of options and hybrid applications, too.

Moisture Transfer - Moisture transfer is all about letting moisture go from one place to another. Whether it’s the environment, precipitation, or perspiration factoring in, fabrics and structure play an important role in how quickly you release that moisture so you can either cool off, or dry off and warm up.

Moisture Wicking - Moisture wicking is the process of a material absorbing and releasing moisture to evaporation, so it doesn’t cling to you and make you feel clammy.

Polyester - Modern polyester fabrics are vastly different from those that preceded them. With the way polyester fabric threads are made now, along with blends of other modern fabrics like elastane, they stretch better, they breathe better, and they actively wick moisture away, too. Just be sure not to use fabric softeners on performance fishing jerseys and other polyester apparel though, as fabric softeners can sometimes change the pores in the fabric and degrade the breathability.

Recycled Fabrics - In the broadest sense, recycled fabrics are made from materials that would have otherwise ended up in a landfill. Some fabrics may have already lived a life as a piece of apparel (very common with cotton), while others may have had a completely different origin (many recycled shirts are made from recycled plastic bottles), but all have been sanitized and repurposed in a way that makes them no different in look and feel from other apparel on the rack.

Screen Printing - Screen printing may be better for budgets, but it is best used for large volume jobs that don’t need as much quality control or attention to detail for licensed logos. For jobs with more precision and quality, look at apparel companies that use sublimation.

Sleeve Length - Choose the best balance here for what you need to protect your skin and what you need to be comfortable. During the summer boating and fishing months, it’s usually a safe bet to have a short sleeve shirt and a lightweight hooded shirt with long sleeves. This goes for fishing jerseys, too.

Stain Resistance - Grease, fish blood, boat grime, and other dirt routinely threaten how fresh your clothes look, but apparel technology has come a long way in this regard. A clean look may not always matter, but stain resistance is definitely a feature to look for. This is usually accomplished by a fabric’s natural ability to repel stains, a stain treatment that is added to the fabric, or a combination of both.

Stock Jerseys - Opposite of fully-customized jerseys, stock jerseys still provide a number of styles, colors, and other options. If fully-customized jerseys are comparable to cooking dinner from scratch, stock jerseys can be more like ordering from a nice restaurant and specifying components of the meal.

Sublimation - This is a process of shirt printing that uses a special sheet of paper with a printed design, which is then transferred to another material (often a polyester shirt or polyester mix shirt). Then the ink is heated until it blends with the fabric. This effectively dyes the fabric in a precise way. Sublimation may be more expensive, but it usually provides better detail and adherence to brand standards on fishing jerseys.

Sun Protection - See UV Protection below.

Technical Apparel - Apparel that has qualities built into it to help manage temperature, comfort, and on-person storage.

Temperature Management (Cooling / Insulation) - This is the effect of any fabrics, materials, or designs that help you stay cool when it’s hot and warm when it’s cold. Some materials, including some patented ones, are even designed to have expanding pores, providing more ventilation when it’s hot. When it’s cold, the pores close and retain more heat.

Timeframe - This is an important factor for ordering tournament jerseys. Some jobs require more time, especially more complex jobs, and rush jobs are usually more costly.

UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) - This is a number that indicates how much UV radiation (both UVB and UVA) a fabric allows to reach your skin. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, a rating of 30-49 is viewed as good, gaining their recommendation, and a rating of 50+ is even better.

UV Protection - As ultraviolet light radiates toward us, even during cloudy days on the water, it’s important to realize that not all garments do the same thing with that light. Some fabrics allow it to pass through more than others, some have natural absorption, and some reflect it. With this in mind, many types of performance fishing apparel list a UPF rating to help you make the right purchase. In addition to deciding on whether to wear shorts or pants and decisions about short sleeve shirts and long sleeve shirts, consider hats, face shields, and gloves. At the very least, you can pack them just in case.

Ventilation - Between the fabric and/or built-in ventilation points, breathable apparel keeps you feeling fresh, comfortable, and positive, even in stressful situations. For some apparel, you may need a particular fabric that has some great qualities but it sacrifices breathability, so ventilation points become very important.

Waterproofing - Truly waterproof materials are impermeable to water. Of course, garments that claim this feature are only as good as the seals and seams built into them. In any case, waterproofing does a better job at keeping moisture out than water resistance. Waterproofing is typically measured with PSI, where 2 or 3 PSI keeps out most windy downpours and you would need something greater than 9 PSI for the most extreme storms.

Waterproof Breathable Fabrics - As an extension of waterproof fabrics, waterproof breathable fabrics have a structure built into them designed to keep you drier than others. These fabrics perform double duty by keeping precipitation and humidity out while also allowing perspiration and moisture to leave as water vapor. This is largely accomplished through pores that are small enough to let vapor out but not allow liquid droplets in.

Water-Resistance - With each layer you wear, you put a barrier between you and the precipitation or humidity around you. However, water-resistant garments are typically designed to do that efficiently and without absorption. Some fabrics require treatments to help them bead water and resist permeation, while others, including organic fabrics like wool, have a natural water-resistance factor. Polyester and fleece can also be quite water-resistant when fabricated in a particular way, usually with tighter knitting or thicker layering.

Weatherproofing - Weatherproof clothing will have a CFM rating. This rating measures how easily air can pass through it (correlating with the precipitation that wind often carries). This is where hard shell garments shine. On top of that, there may also be a waterproof rating that is important to note.

Weather Resistance - Weather resistance is all about resisting light exposure to wind or rain, as opposed to weatherproofing, which has qualities to help a garment stand up to routine or continued wind and rain.

Weave - The weave of a fabric is all about how the threads are intertwined and held together. Among other considerations, this often matters because of how the weaving pattern makes a fabric smooth, rough, delicate, durable, flexible, or rigid.

Weight - Some fabrics are heavier and some are lighter and this factors into the comfort of performance fishing apparel. It can help to see if the product listing includes a weight that you can compare between similar pieces.

Wear Resistance - Closely related to durability, this is also an important concept for logos and designs integrated into the fabric. The more wear-resistant the shirt, the longer it takes for those logos and designs to fade or disappear, and the longer you can go without having to buy a new shirt or jersey.

Wicking - See Moisture Wicking.

Wind Protection - By their very nature, many fabrics provide wind protection and some provide more than others. However, make sure to look at hats, hoods, face shields, and gloves for apparel that goes the extra mile to protect your skin.

Shop Top-of-the-Line Technical Fishing Apparel

It might not be the deciding detail every time, but when you’re planning long outings or you’re down to the wire during a tournament, every factor counts. If you’re looking to stay more comfortable as you cruise or trying everything you can to get more casts in, make sure you check the selection of options that provide the advantages you need.


Special thanks to Brad at Gemini Jerseys for insight on jersey tips and more!