As fly anglers, protecting ourselves from the sun's harmful rays is absolutely vital. The most hardcore of us often spend entire days on the water—that's a lot of exposure! With skin cancer being so common, I often wonder why some people don't seem to take this too seriously. I don't know about you, but I like to minimize my risk for serious health problems, and wearing sun-protective clothing is an easy way to do that.
Over the years, I've worn many lightweight, long-sleeve "technical" fishing shirts and currently have several hanging in my closet. Despite this, I'm always open to checking out new brands in the space, so I was intrigued when asked if I'd like to try out one of the new Brackish sun shirts from BlackStrap. Although the company has been around since 2008 (why had I not heard of them?!), the name was certainly new to me. Headquartered in Bend, Oregon, the brand offers a selection of apparel and accessories while emphasizing sustainability through various methods, including the use of non-toxic inks, recycled packaging, and using leftover "waste" fabrics to craft other products.
My sample Brackish shirt arrived in the Tiger Sage color and was manufactured in the USA like all of BlackStrap's offerings. Featuring a UPF 50+ rating, the shirt's SUNsoft fabric is stretchy, breathable, lightweight, quick-drying, and naturally antimicrobial. Additionally, there's a contoured hood and full-length sleeves with thumb holes for more extensive sun protection. Right off the bat, the smooth, refined feel of the fabric and the quality of the print impressed me.
After wearing the BlackStrap Brackish shirt for a couple of months, it's undoubtedly the best-fitting sun-protective shirt I've worn in recent memory. It has a sleek, trim cut, a comfortable hood that's easy to get on/off, and the hem is a bit longer than average, which I love. My size L sample literally fits my 6'3" 200-pound frame like it was specifically designed for me!
Thus far, there have been no major defects or damage to report, but I do see some minor pilling on areas of the back. I alternate between a waist pack and a shoulder sling when I fish the beaches, and the rubbing/chafing from these is undoubtedly the cause.
So, how does the shirt perform in high temps? The SUNsoft material is extremely comfortable to have on, doesn't impede motion whatsoever, and remains pleasant in the blazing heat. So far, I've gone on a few beach fishing adventures that each required two to three miles of walking in the hot, humid Florida summer climate, and this shirt didn't hold me back one bit.
I'm usually not the biggest fan of hooded sun shirts, but this one fits so well that I wear the hood more than I anticipated. Even when the hood isn't worn, the neckline keeps the end of a sun mask tucked in very well.
BlackStrap Brackish shirts are machine washer and dryer friendly as well as chlorine and salt resistant. As a bonus, the material is safe for cleaning your sunglasses—no surprise considering how smooth and pleasant it feels.
Brackish shirts currently come in crewneck (four colors; $59.99 each) or hooded (four colors; $69.99 each) and in sizes S–XXL.
BlackStrap sent over some of their new stripping guards, which come in packs of three and assorted colors. Stripping guards protect your finger or fingers from pesky line burns and also help keep your fly line clean. These guards are actually constructed from recycled waste fabric left over from manufacturing other BlackStrap garments!
Featuring many of the same qualities as the Brackish shirt (4-way stretch, UPF 50+, antimicrobial, etc.), these stripping guards are easy to get on/off and are thin enough to transmit plenty of fly line feel right through to the stripping finger. Price: $7.99 for a three-pack.
Check out all of BlackStrap's offerings at