These days, every tackle maker and fishing brand sells a generic polyester long-sleeve fishing shirt with its logo on it. That doesn’t mean they’re worth buying. Avid anglers should at least consider investing in some premium fishing shirts made by one of the companies that do it right.
Premium shirts should be breathable, block the sun, be comfortable to fish in and include some fishing-specific features that have a purpose on the water.
The AFTCO Jason Christie Hooded LS Performance Shirt checks every box. It’s a comfortable shirt with a unique hood design I really liked. I reviewed it recently on a few fishing outings in my kayak and on a bass boat, plus during several days spent shooting photos on the water at FLW Tour and Costa FLW Series events.
Here’s what I found.
I’m generally a fan of the old-school collared, button-up fishing shirts – especially the kind with vents in the side or back. They let perspiration out, and the breeze in. And they look nice enough that I can wear them to work or meetings.
That’s why I was a little surprised by how well I liked the AFTCO shirt. Some other shirts like this that I’ve worn have been really clingy and stuffy – like I’m wearing a plastic bag. Not this one. It vents well and has a soft inner texture I liked.
AFTCO says the fabric is a blend of 92 percent polyester and 8 percent elastane, which provides four-way stretch. The little bit of elasticity is great for full freedom of movement when casting and any other activities around the boat.
Like all premium fishing shirts should do, this one provides UPF 50 sun protection. AFTCO also gives it an antimicrobial treatment and incorporates AFGUARD stain-release technology. I didn’t purposely test the stain-release treatment, but I did wear the shirt on a few sweltering days and didn’t notice that it was any more or less smelly than other fishing shirts I own. It’s definitely better than cotton.
There’s also a zippered breast pocket. Honestly, I probably won’t use it. There are better, more comfortable places to store stuff. If anything, it might be a good place to stash a lens wipe for your sunglasses.
AFTCO calls the cut of this shirt an athletic fit. That usually means a shirt that fits a little closer to the body than a more traditional fit. I wear XL shirts, but some brands are a little big on me. The AFTCO fit just right.
If you’re between sizes and aren’t sure what to order, I’d suggest going up a size. Too tight is not a good thing in a sun shirt, in my opinion. A loose but not baggy fit is better. Let personal preference be your guide.
AFTCO stitched in thumb loops for keeping them in place when sliding on a jacket, which is a nice addition and pretty standard these days.
More importantly for me, though, is that I could slide the sleeves up my forearms from time to time without totally stretching out the cuffs.
I waited on describing the hood, mostly to save the best part for last. I really dig this hood.
It’s a loose-fit design with wide face flaps that guard the cheeks from the sun and an elongated top portion that extends out over the bill of a ball cap. A small pocket on the front of the hood fits over a hat bill to keep the hood in place.
The hood blocks a lot of sunlight, without smothering your face. I still applied sunscreen because I could feel the light reflecting off the water, and so I could shift the hood around from time to time to catch the breeze and not worry if my nose was partially exposed.
In addition to sun protection, the loose-fit hood design is more comfortable than a face buff or tight hood, in my opinion. It lets air circulate and your breath to escape. I still got a little fog on my sunglasses on a couple occasions, but it was far less severe than what I experience when wearing a mask and was corrected simply by adjusting the part of the hood in front of my mouth. Folks with different face shapes might have different experiences.
When the hood is fully forward, it felt a little bit like peering through a porthole, which takes a little getting used to but is not really a negative. You might want to slide it back when running on crowded waters just to be safe.
My only quibble is minor. I wish the zipper in the front went down another inch or two, so when the hood is down, the zipper wasn’t stuck right at the base of my neck. Like I said, that’s nitpicking.
I only own one of the AFTCO shirts, so I’m still packing sun masks and a handful of other shirts that I really like from AFTCO, Columbia and Simms when I go to multiple-day tournaments. I’ll also carry a mask to cover my face on spring days when the wind is howling and windburn is an issue, but that’s not really what this shirt was made to handle. It’s a solution for sunny, hot days when your skin would otherwise be roasted.
Also, sun hoods, in general, protect the ears and neck really well. If you haven’t tried one, this is a great option.
I really think AFTCO nailed it.
Colors: nautical blue, steel (dark gray), gray and olive
Material: 92 percent polyester/8 percent elastane