Is Flat Where It’s At?

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By Brian Kozminski

Flat-Brim~ Does it actually improve your ‘sixth’ Fishy sense?

While fishing last fall with John Schmidt of Au Sable Angler, he implored me to open my eyes and give the ‘flat-brim’ a try. Over the winter, I won a great Rep Your Water cap from WindKnots and Tangled Lines, so I kept the brim in its preferred lay flat style. I’m giving it a go to see if all the hype is true. It is rumored you can see into the water better with a flat brim, and of course a quality pair of Polarized Sunglasses (see Native Eyewear, Smith Optics, and Costa). I had to take this investigation a step further. I was going to make myself a deliberate test subject for the next several months. I am alternating my hat choice and keeping a fish log to catalog how many fish were caught with what headwear.

There are relatively few scientific studies I could base my hypothesis on, just my pure gut feelings.

Rep Your Water

Rep Your Water

I do believe that there is some commonality with a particular fly working best for each angler on the exact same river and evening. The fly that is your favorite is your Go-To fly, because in past experiences, it has always provided beneficial results, and you often fish it more because of these experiences, hence it is your favorite fly. Much like my favorite hat, it’s fit, it’s style and many memories of great nights catching multiple fish are why it is and shall be a favorite. I have had to retire many favorite fishing hats, they have just been played out and didn’t provide the protection and catch rates they once promised.

A few weeks back, I had the chance to sit around the campfire and exchange deep thoughts with fellow angler, writer and buddy Dave Karczynski. After a dinner of fresh Lake Charlevoix walleye with sautéed morel burr blanc, we took our dessert course fireside. The best S’mores near the 45th Parallel, cinnamon graham crackers with Godiva milk chocolate. There is really isn’t a better resource than bouncing literary debates off a U of M English adjunct professor around the glowing embers of melted sugary confections. We were heavy in conversation about fishing and conservation when I brought up the topic of head gear.

Rounded brim suites me fine

Rounded brim suites me fine

“Why can’t we pull off that swagger look like all the cool cats like Schultzy, Haselhuhn and Barber?”

“Our faces are too long and narrow. It seems those guys have a square jaw line and it allows for the perpendicular cut of the hat.”

My cousin of Polish descent was clearly on to something. I could never pull it off. It doesn’t keep me awake at night. I have accepted that certain styles, especially the tight jean fad, are definitely not for me.


So does the hat make the man? Or does the man make the hat?

If it really mattered, I would stick with my felt fedora from Eddie Bauer, my most fishy of all hats, it just gets too warm in the humid days of summer.

Don’t hold back, let us know where your brim stands!


Brian Kozminski
Gink & Gasoline
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22 thoughts on “Is Flat Where It’s At?

  1. I am a firm believer in the flat brim. I fish exclusively with them. They are not only “in” but extremely practical. Check out some flat brims featuring my artwork on my website!

  2. I hope all the new guys wear the stupid new hats, it tells us who to avoid- they and the trucker hats look stupid!

    • Got to defend the mesh back trucker hat, not for looks, but for practicality.

      It is my drying patch, and I never lose the flies. The flies typically end up staying there for a few weeks, so if I need a quick hit, all I need is the rod, my pliers, a tippet spool, and the hat

      In the surf, its my fly box. hook a couple clousers, a couple candies, some EPs, and a few topwaters in the mesh and that is all I need.

      My hat looks (and probably smells) like Quint’s from Jaws, so I am not in the flat brim camp though.

      • Agreed – Im a big fan of trucker hats, and even rotate a few select flat brims when the mood strikes me. Its a personal choice honestly. When I’m fishing in the rain, I find my flat brimmed hats keep my hood more open when its up and over the visor – better field of vision and I don’t feel so closed in. The sunglasses I wear are also fairly flat across the top, so my flat hats rest nicely on top of the glasses and just do a better job closing out the sun and eliminating glare. No hate for whatever hat you wear – Ive fished alongside douchebags and perfectly respectable fishermen alike that wear flat hats, and the same goes for fedoras and super curves. You can dress like a skater or boarder all you want, but if you can’t fish for shit it doesn’t really matter how “fly for a white guy” you think you look.

        • Does anyone notice that the “flat brim” cap is also a mesh backed trucker hat? Best of both world’s? Not rocket science

  3. There is a reason baseball players have curved their brims….it shades your peripheral vision. Trucker hats just offer a lot more air flow and ventilation in the summer.

  4. The hat is personal choice. I think flat brims and jeans that are falling off look Stupid. But, I am of an age.
    I’ve got two old baseball hats that have seen a few fresh or salty fish each. But my favorite is an old Stetson with a horsehair band and a 4 inch brim that lets me carry my shade anywhere.
    Hook ’em up, we’re burnin’ daylight!

  5. I like my long brim with the flaps that protect my ears and neck from the sun, and a cord to keep the thing on my head in wind. I think Tilley makes it and there are two designs, one with mesh and one without. I colour the underside of the brim with a flat black marking pen and as you said, with appropriate polarized sunglasses I can see almost everything under water that I need to see. I doubt if its considered a “cool” hat, but its practical and works for me.

  6. I like being able to put a hood up if it gets chilly or starts to spit, so the baseball/trucker helps with that. Being able to cup your hands over the brim and get a nice dark “tunnel” to look through helps me focus on spotting fish. My big “fishin” hat has a retainer cord and shades my neck, but you cant wear it in the car without looking like a loon or getting it caught on the rear view. Both have their advantages, and both have their place.

  7. I’m youngish, 23 to be exact, and I wear flat brims pretty much exclusively. I didn’t get into fly fishing until just a little bit ago up at college and I lucked out. The Henry’s Fork is only 15-30 mins from my apartment depending on the section. Needless to say that river and a lot of the other rivers in the area can get crowded. I don’t bully my way into others people’s water, I don’t yell and ruin the tranquility of the river, and I’ve netted more fish for people who I don’t know who are at the river alone than I can count on my hands. I’d say my friends and I have pretty damn good etiquette, and we can fish like hell. So for people to say that they should avoid fishing near people with flat brims, please don’t put us in a box. We hate that.

  8. Being much closer to 50 than 30 puts an ” I’ve been there, seen it and worn it” perspective to this post….. It feels like everything comes around as a Fad every 20 years or so….In hats, there are some things I’m glad that have come around again and some not so much.. Truckers hats are what I grew up and I own a few … So, I’m glad they are back and even with improvements as some companies offer the “low profile” option which makes a better profile than the old Bill Dance model from my youth…..

    Fedoras, Straw hats and traditional ball caps all have a place in my closet . They adorn my head when the season or river fits the hat…. If a hat catches fish, its hard to part with and I’ll wear it until the magic wears off…..3 fishless outings and a hat gets retired….

    BUT, I’ll leave the “Flat Brims” to the younger generation , the Skateboarders, Snow Boarders and rest of the up and coming little leaguers of the world… When I was a kid we bent the Brims, used rubber bands to speed up the process and even used the dishwasher to shape a ball cap…..

    I get a laugh every time I see the flat lids on the river.. They just seem more appropriate for a skate park or X games event..

    But, , Wear um if you got um. As long as you like the hat, nothing else matters……. Unless your still fishless after 3 attempts!

  9. I used to think flat-brim hats were stupid, mainly because they don’t fit my skinny head, and also because I grew up playing baseball and the FIRST thing you ever did was wrap the hat brim around a soda can or baseball and rubber-band that sucker for a night to get the bend to stay.

    My opinion has changed recently though, I don’t give a rip what hat you wear as long as you don’t show up to the river in skinny jeans!!

  10. I have moved away from the ball cap style hats and now have a floppy brim hat that goes all the way around. I find that the extra coverage on my neck and ears keeps me more comfortable and prevents sunburned ears.

    Also, thank you for mentioning Native Eyewear. I’ve been wearing a pair of Natives for a couple of years now and won’t give them up. Great optics and an awesome warranty! It’s so good to see an alternate to the “big” names mentioned.

  11. Who cares??? Wear whatever you want, if it keeps the sun out of your eyes and face then great. I didn’t know we were all so concerned about how stylish we should be when we fish! I personally like the trucker style though, lets a nice cool breeze through.

  12. Of course, when I’m not on the trout stream and I warm water pond hopping it’s one of my favorite camo hunting ball caps, and the bill is bent. I played way too much baseball as a kid and there is no way I’m not bending a bill.

    I tuck the bill through the hole in the back where the “one size fits all” strap is to shape my bill.

    Also, having been a work outside guy for a long time too, the mesh back hat is a godsend when it’s hot. Allows the noggin to breathe and assist in temperature regulation. You lose more heat out of your head, that’s why we cover it in the winter. So don’t knock the mesh, just bend the damn bill.

  13. While I normally wear a hat on the water, I do occasionally break out a tour visor. The high crown and wide brim may look out of place on the stream, but the visor does a great job of blocking out the sun when paired with good polarized lenses.

  14. Meh. Flyfishing is changing, it’s getting younger and more people (especially girls, fuck yeah) are doing it. Remember when most fly fishing gear was heavy, ugly and expensive? Now its light, has pretty colors and is super expensive. I think that’s a good thing. It’s really interesting because there is a dichotomy between the generation that wears conservative clothes and fishes a ton of private water and exclusive lodges, and the new generation that does not necessarily have the fundage to do a trip to Kamchatka but can make a carp trip in Indiana look like the most fun thing ever. I think at the end of the day the new generation cares about conservation as much if not more than the old guard (see: Repyourwater), and the more people we convert to fly fishing the better.

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