For over twenty five years I have made a living from being on the ocean, it’s been a great life but all that sun and wind sure has been hard on my skin. Over the years I have really battled with the sun and during the hotter summer months my lips would be constantly split from sunburn to the point where I get comments like “I have never seen you without a spilt lip!”.
MY CASE AGAINST TOO MUCH SUNSCREEN
For years I really struggled with sunscreens, most would make my skin sting and ironically after continuous days on the water I would get rashes from a reaction with the creams that were supposed to be protecting my skin.
I am also pretty fussy about not getting sunscreen smeared on my leaders and live-baits, if you’re going to go to all the trouble of using expensive fluorocarbon leaders that are less visible in the water then getting sunscreen all over them sort of defeats the purpose of using such a product in my eyes? I would call myself a minimal sunscreen applier and really found it a hassle to stop what I was doing to apply sunscreen.
SIMMS SOLARFLEX SUN PROTECTION
Back in the early 2000’s I did seven years fishing in Central and North America, it was hot, really hot, and humidity levels were super high - some days it felt like you were sitting in the cockpit or helm area in a pool of sweat. I still remember looking down from the tower and seeing my deck hands sitting in the cockpit with their feet in buckets of ice water trying to cool down.
This is where I was first introduced to the Simms range of specifically designed fishing clothing, breathable shirts, gaiters (breathable face coverings), light weight breathable pants, gloves etc. All these products were designed by fisherman for fisherman, and Simms certainly leads the way in quality and design.
The areas I find I get the most sun damage are my ears, my bottom lip, back of my neck and the tops of my hands. My lips and tops of my hands are always an issue (even with sunscreen) as they are constantly wet and fully exposed to the sun. I have gone away from trying to keep reapplying sunscreen and zinc to these areas and now prefer a full cover up to just keep the sun off 100%.
MY GO TO SOLARFLEX GEAR
I use the UPF50 Simms SolarFlex Guide Gloves and Simms SolarFlex Sun Gaiters to keep the sun off my hands, face, ears and neck. The neck gaiters are great, nice and loose fitting, with vent holes in the nose and mouth area so you can breathe nice and easy as well as getting rid of the moisture that might otherwise fog your sunglasses up.
I still remember the pain of sunburn in the inner leg area and damn it hurts, especially if you're on the water the next day and the sun is beating hard onto your sunburn. For years now I have been a big fan of wearing the lightweight, breathable, Simms Bugstopper pants when fishing, not only do they keep the sun off your pegs but they also have some great features like plier holders, dry really quickly if you get wet, and are fantastic for keeping the bugs off you when you’re sitting around at the end of the day having a few cold ones.
The Simms breathable guide gloves are a game changer, they have hard wearing leather patches in areas that give me grip when fishing, gaffing, casting and even lip grabbing kingfish. They have the tips of the fingers removed so knot tying is easy and the UPF50 SolarFlex material keeps the sun off the back of your hands. They dry quick and are easy to wear all day as they breathe and are light weight, plus the big bonus you can throw them in the washing machine at the end of the day making clean up even easier.
My heavy leading gloves now just stay in the tackle drawer and ready for leading bigger pelagic fish and the Simms SolarFlex Guide Glove covers all my other options as well as protecting me from the sun all day.
LAYERING PROPERLY FOR ALL DAY SUN PROTECTION
New Zealand’s weather can change at the drop of a hat, and some days it can be super hot and then a few hours later it feels like the middle of winter. Even in Northland the mornings can be a little nippy so wearing a breathable shirt only might not be enough to keep you warm.
I run with the layers theory and always start the day with a Simms thermal shirt under my SolarFlex or SolarTech breathable fishing shirt and as the day heats up I just take off the thermal layer and put the breathable fishing shirt back on.
When you’re handling fish all day the SolarFlex fabric is hard to beat. It dries quickly, keeps you cool and protected from the suns damaging rays, plus it’s a lot less prone to staining like a cotton shirt would be.
My wife has me trained well and after a day on the water I spray on some stain remover on the bad spots, into the washing machine with my gloves, pants, gaiter and somehow it finds it’s way to my drawers a day or so later in perfect condition!
The great thing about all this specifically designed and made fishing gear is it reduces the amount of sunscreen you need to apply so if you’re like me and a little lazy on the old slip-slop-slap then covering up completely is a great option!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Tony Orton is the man behind Offshore Adventures and Journey Of A Fisherman. If there's water nearby he'll be out there getting people into some great fish, and if he's off the water then he'll be turning those amazing memories into some great video content, so be sure to check it out.