Cotton vs Sun Shirts for Fishing

Cotton vs Sun Shirts for Fishing

Whether you’re a competitive fisherman or entirely new to angling, you likely have a growing collection of fishing shirts. If you’re looking for a shirt that will withstand the unpredictable conditions of the sea, you need a durable and high-quality piece of fishing gear: the sun shirt. 

While it might be tempting to throw on your raggedy cotton shirt before heading out on the boat, your skin needs all the protection it can get. Today, we’re getting serious about sun protection and providing 3 reasons why sun shirts for fishing are superior to their cotton counterparts.

Best Sun Shirts for Fishing

The best fishing sun shirts have three must-have features: they're water-resistant, sun-protective, and ultra-comfortable. 


Your old college shirt might work wonders as a pajama shirt or gym outfit - but keep it out of your boat! Cotton is notorious for absorbing any water it encounters, making it a subpar option in a wet and unpredictable marine environment. In addition to being uncomfortable, wet clothing is significantly less protective against the sun’s harmful rays. To spare yourself the torment of wearing damp clothing for hours on the boat, choose a fishing sun shirt constructed with polyester, nylon, or even a lightweight satiny silk. These fabrics are known to resist water and effectively block UV rays. 

Sun Protection

When shopping for a fishing sun shirt, consider its Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF). A typical cotton shirt has a UPF rating of 5, which is virtually ineffective at blocking harmful UV rays. Whether you’re fishing daily, monthly, year-round, or only seasonally, you still need a sun-protective garment with a UPF rating between 30-50+. The best sun shirts for fishing are designed with UPF 50 material, which blocks 98% of ultraviolet rays and allows a mere two percent (1/50th) to penetrate the garment, even when wet. These high UPF shirts are excellent protectors against pesky UV rays, which are associated with skin cancer, premature aging, and other sun-related health concerns. 

  • If you’re shopping for a sun shirt for fishing, add long sleeves to the list. It might seem basic, but more skin covered means less skin damaged from UV exposure. 
  • To increase your skin coverage, add a hood, a gaiter, and a fishing visor. A hooded fishing shirt covers the neck, shoulders, and head, all of which are especially vulnerable to sneaky sunburns. With this essential fishing gear in tow, you’re ready for a rainy morning on the boat followed by a sunny afternoon.
  • In addition to cotton, steer clear of shirts made with rayon and hemp, which offer minimal sun protection compared to sun shirts specifically designed for fishing. 


In addition to UV protection, sun shirts for fishing are often designed with athletic stitching, moisture-wicking technology, and stain-resistant and antimicrobial fabric. You should also consider any printed images or wording on the fishing shirt: when done poorly, screen printing can make a fishing shirt hot and/or sticky in certain areas. A quality performance fishing shirt should be dye-sublimated, which prevents any print on the shirt from cracking, fading, or heating under the sun. When touched, a dye-sublimated print just feels like the material of the shirt, making it more breathable for the wearer. 

Custom Captain’s sun shirts for fishing - including our popular dri-fit custom boat shirts - are notoriously comfortable. Our skilled artists create custom digital boat artwork, which can be printed on any of our custom and sun-protective fishing apparel. 

Custom Captain Dri-Fit Custom Boat Shirt: SPF 50

When chosen and cared for properly, a fishing sun shirt will last for years and guard your skin - and your fishing record - for the same amount of time. Save your cotton shirt for the late-night beach party: it’s time to find a water-resistant, sun-protective, and comfy sun shirt, and you’ll be ready to tackle a full day of fishing ahead.