Let me just start this post by saying that you don’t need a fly fishing shirt to catch fish. So don’t go out and buy one thinking it will help. Nor do you need one to be part of the “club”. You don’t have to wear fly fishing clothing to be a fly-fisherman. I preface with that because this was a non-traditional review for me given the item in no way enhanced my ability to catch fish. That said, the Eddie Bauer Guide Shirt definitely makes fishing a whole lot more comfortable!
Eddie Bauer is an icon in the clothing industry. I grew up knowing about and wearing their clothes and browsing their catalogs that came to our house. They always struck me as a catalog that catered to outdoors loving people who didn’t want to sacrifice style. Not until the last 10 years have I seen the company return to its roots of adventure inspired products. I was tickled pink when their catalog arrived this Spring introducing their fishing collection taking the company back further to its roots.
The Guide Shirt
OK, OK, let’s talk about the shirt. What do you want from a shirt when fly-fishing. I considered that a bit while preparing for this review. Based on long days on the river and the conditions I normally fish, I decided on three things:
- Protection from the elements
- Breathes well and dries quickly
- Fits well
I hate sunscreen. I rarely put it on, and I know I’ll probably get skin cancer one day because of it. That’s okay though because the Eddie Bauer Guide shirt has UPF 50+ sun protection built into it. Hands down – the best reason for wearing a fly fishing shirt. If I’m going to fish for multiple days straight, I don’t want a sunburn on the first day to make the rest un-enjoyable.
Protection from the sun – that is what it’s all about for me. If it’s cold, I’m going to have a wading jacket on – so the shirt underneath really doesn’t matter. Since it was hot outside I fished the Eddie Bauer Guide shirt in the long-sleeve version. It comes in short sleeve, but I prefer the added protection on my forearms which bear the brunt of the summer sun.
That said, if you’re feeling a bit too hot, or want to work on your farmer’s tan, just roll up the sleeves and button them up on the tab that’s located on each sleeve.
Breathing and Drying
With zip open vents above both the right and the left breast as well as a large rear mesh shoulder vent you’re not going to get too hot in this shirt. The vents actually do work well. I found myself closing them in the morning and opening them during the day, even alternating them being open or closed based on the wind speed.
I don’t sweat a lot by nature, but this shirt certainly does a fantastic job of maintaining the temperature to a comfortable setting. And if you do start to sweat, the FreeDry material technology will wick away any moisture quickly. With a 68% polyester / 32% Nylon blend, there’s not much moisture absorbing fabric present.
The third thing I require in fly fishing clothing besides protection from sun and breathe-ability is quick drying. Come July, I tend to leave the waders in the car on summer afternoons and primarily wet wade. I need a piece of clothing that can dry quickly upon exiting the water so I don’t have to hike back to the car near hypothermia!
The Eddie Bauer Guide shirt certainly dries fast. As mentioned previously it isn’t made with any moisture absorbing materials so you can be assured that the sun will sap out any moisture quickly instead of leaving you sticky and wet for the remainder of the afternoon.
More size options the better. I’m tall and I’m skinny, so nothing bothers me more when I get a button up shirt that makes me look like I’m wearing a puffy pirate shirt. The sizing system of Eddie Bauer prevents that. I fished the Guide shirt in a Medium Tall and I weigh about 165 lbs and am 6’1” tall. The shirt fit perfectly.
It wasn’t too baggy, yet the sleeves and length were perfect for my longer torso. Fishing is all about confidence, right… so get a shirt that fits right so you’re full of it.
Another style feature that I want to point out, rolled-off shoulders. I hate it when the seam of my shoulder is right where the strap of a wader or pack would sit. The rolled-off shoulder seams prevent that.
Another great feature, the tool loop above the left breast. I actually used it quite frequently to hold my sunglasses when I momentarily had them off. It worked out perfectly. I suppose you could also use it as a place for your forceps as well.
It’s a winner. The Eddie Bauer Guide shirt has tons of great features, but more than anything it was really comfortable to wear and fish in. It gave great protection from the sun while still keeping me cool and dry. And if you’re planning on buying a shirt specific for fly fishing, why not trust on a company that you’ve been able to rely on for years.