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The Evolution of Saltwater Fishing Apparel

Updated on March 15, 2015
Modern saltwater fishing apparel is far more comfortable and high-quality than what fishermen once had to use.
Modern saltwater fishing apparel is far more comfortable and high-quality than what fishermen once had to use. | Source

Times have changed and so has saltwater fishing apparel. Years ago fishing gear was any old clothing you could find. As long as it stayed on it was considered perfect for battling fish and the elements. The outfits were often torn, tattered and paint splattered. If it could button, zip or snap closed, it was considered fit for saltwater fishing apparel.

Saltwater fishermen today, however, have many more high-tech options. The industry truly has seen a clothing revolution. Today's fishermen often wear specially-made saltwater fishing outfits that keep them warm, dry and safe from the elements. Believe it or not, fishing apparel is now even stylish, at least in many cases. In fact, fishing apparel is a large and growing segment of the fashion industry.

1970s

The change began in earnest in the 1970s with the emergence of professional fishermen who were beginning to appear in major fishing tournaments all over the country. Some of those tournaments were televised, so torn, muddy clothing just would not do. The simple solution was a large, water-proof coverall. Even though it was not particularly fashionable, it was practical, had large pockets and it kept the fishermen’s clothes dry from salt water. There were even places to put patches from the sponsors. The first salvo in the saltwater fishing clothing revolution had been fired and fishing apparel would never be the same again.

Improved apparel for fishing in salt water allows you to easily adjust to changing weather and temperature conditions.
Improved apparel for fishing in salt water allows you to easily adjust to changing weather and temperature conditions. | Source

1980s

The 1980s saw the most dramatic evolution in saltwater fishing apparel. Everyday fishermen began demanding to look as good as the fishermen they saw on television. Style, something which had never been important until then, began to matter. Whether they caught any fish or not, the 80s fisherman wanted to look good. The material the fishing apparel was made from was also beginning to change, with the emergence of new water-proof fabrics. These allowed the fishermen to stay warm and dry – and to look good. As fishing became a more and more televised sport, even novices realized the potential features and conveniences of “real” fishing apparel.

The development of saltwater fishing gear that could keep you dry was revolutionary when it was first introduced.
The development of saltwater fishing gear that could keep you dry was revolutionary when it was first introduced. | Source

Modern Day

Today, several companies offer specially designed year round fishing clothing. These pieces of saltwater fishing clothing include accessories, belts and suspenders, bibs and chaps, coats and jackets, footwear, gloves and mittens, hats and caps, long johns, pants and shorts, shirts, sweaters, vests and liners. All of these items are now specially designed and constructed using new technology to withstand rough weather conditions that range from summer temperatures north of 90 degrees with near 100 percent humidity to winter temperatures below zero with biting winds. You can now find specialized fishing wear optimized for any conditions.

Clipper Hooded Parka
Clipper Hooded Parka

The rise of online retailers has further boosted the evolution of saltwater fishing apparel, as the added demand and competition has helped make this type of equipment affordable for everyone.

 

Specialized Gear

A number of companies now make saltwater fishing apparel to withstand extreme, unpredictable fishing conditions. Made from durable, comfortable, cutting-edge fabrics, they are the highest quality, most technically innovative year round fishing apparel on the planet. Most new saltwater fishing apparel combines functionality, durability and simplicity. Style is important, but not as important as ensuring that these clothes are durable enough to protect saltwater fishermen from extremes in conditions and climates.

For example, you can purchase fishing gear created from unique 50/50 organic cotton/recycled poly material which resists dirt and stains, water releasing footwear or clothing with sweat-activated cooling systems. Or, you could try a special U.S. Coast Guard-approved rainsuit that protects the wearer from hypothermia and is also a flotation device. It features a waterproof outer layer to battle the elements and an inner layer that lets air circulate to cool or warm the body. The jacket includes lined pockets to help keep you warm and reflective patches to make sure you are visible.

Freezing cold fishing trips can be a thing of the past with modern apparel.
Freezing cold fishing trips can be a thing of the past with modern apparel. | Source

Shoes and Misc.

Saltwater fishermen can also have apparel made from a specially treated 100 percent polyester fabric with 50+ UPF rating. The fabric resists water, stains and odors and includes mesh panels that act as vents. If you wish, you can find shoes that remain dry in any weather and feature a cooling liner that is sweat-activated and a quick-lace toggle system that never comes undone. The sole is cushioned with patented non-marking material that grips the deck for added traction.

Do you prefer modern, high-tech fishing apparel or the old-fashioned wear?

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Evolution of Saltwater Fishing

This type of new saltwater fishing apparel has been good for the sport's mass appeal. Being able to endure the elements used to be as important as knowing how to fish. Depending on the weather, fishermen often had to risk their health in order to reel in a few. The new apparel helps minimize this factor; nowadays you can fish in any kind of weather and still remain warm and dry, which has saved the health of many a fisherman. Some people say they miss the old days when the weather was more of a factor. But if you miss shivering in a swaying boat while soaked to the skin, feel free to enjoy the old-fashioned wear to your heart’s content!

The saltwater fishing apparel available today is incredible. It is lightweight, stylish and made to last – plus it is waterproof and it looks good. Saltwater fishing gear has come a long way. No longer do you have to stuff yourself into your old moth-eaten jeans; you can now reel in fish while actually staying comfortable.

Regardless of the type of apparel you choose to wear, the best part of saltwater fishing is the memories you create on the water.
Regardless of the type of apparel you choose to wear, the best part of saltwater fishing is the memories you create on the water. | Source

What is your favorite piece of fishing apparel?

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