3 Reasons Fly Fisherman Should Consider Wearing A Long-Bill Hat

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I look goofy, but the long-bill hat helped me catch this redfish. Photo Louis Cahill

By Kent klewein

When I look at a long-bill hat, images of Ernest Hemingway, swinging wet flies on one of his favorite trout waters pops into my head.

Next, I see the silhouette of the legendary fly fisherman and guide, Flip Pallot, with his masculine beard protruding beneath his long bill cap, as he stands on the platform of his skiff, pointing out a pod of tarpon to his client, at 11’oclock. There’s something really macho about dudes that can pull off wearing this type of hat. For the record, I’ve never seen myself capable of pulling off this machismo look, and in turn, I’ve spent the majority of my fly fishing career, opting instead for wearing the conservative short-bill cap. Plus, there’s no doubt that I look like a complete tool in a long-bill hat. That said, looking good on the water doesn’t help any of us catch more fish, it only helps the photographer looking through his/her lens shooting us. I’ve learned that performance is really what fly fishers, that get it at least, are really after when it comes to searching out what gear they use. For this reason, I made the decision recently to set aside my biased stance on long-bill hats, and actually wear one during a recent fly fishing trip of mine to the salt. Thank you Louis for being the friend that loaned it to me for the day, because it opened my eyes to how special and functional long-bill hats can be for not only me but to all fly anglers. Below are three reasons fly fisherman should consider purchasing and wearing a long-bill hat on their next fishing trip.

Reason #1: Less Glare and Sun in the eyes, equals better vision on the water. 

Polarized sunglasses work great for allowing anglers to see into the water they’re wetting their flies in, but they will perform twice as good if they stay in the shade. The extra roofing area atop your head that a long-bill hat provides, is substantially larger than what traditional or short-bill hats provide. No longer will you need the sun high in the horizon before the bill of your hat begins to block out the suns rays. Wearing a long-bill hat will give you an edge, helping you to keep your vision acute and your presentations accurate.

Reason #2: The extended roof will keep your nose from burning to a crisp

For decades, I’ve told my Mom she cursed me with her fare skin genes. Take one look at my Dad’s bronze skintone, and you’d swear he spent his days lounging poolside or walking the beach. Fact is, he spends less time outside than the average person. I’ve always thought it was poor luck, with how much time I spend outside in the sun guiding, that I was gifted with my Moms fair skin instead of my Dad’s. There’s been many of days, that I came home with a cherry red nose. If only, I would have adopted the long-bill hat earlier, I probably would have been able to avoid the dermatologist from taking his razor sharp scalpel to my nose. Make no mistake, a long bill hat will do a fine job of keeping a much larger area of your face out of the sun during your fly fishing adventures. Compliment it with a buff, and you won’t find a need to have to put down your fly rod every two hours, to lather your face up with SPF sunscreen. After all, sun tan lotion, mixed with salty sweat, spells bad ju-ju for the eyes.

Reason #3: Extra Shade on the face will keep you fresh on the water

On many occasions, I’ve found myself on a drift boat or skiff, two clicks away from heat exhaustion. For a fly fisherman, that’s bad news, because if you’re not physically and mentally stable on the water, you’re going to have zero chance at performing at your highest levels. And that my friend, will end up costing you fish. This past trip, during the heat of the day, I found that a long-bill hat did a great job of keeping me much cooler and comfortable, and that provided me increased stamina, which allowed me to stay focused fly fishing, from dawn to dusk. For $25, this is a piece of gear I’d recommend to all of my fellow fly anglers. I’m no longer a hater, instead a believer.

Keep it Reel,

Come fish with us in the Bahamas!

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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10 thoughts on “3 Reasons Fly Fisherman Should Consider Wearing A Long-Bill Hat

  1. Even better is a hat with a rim all the way around. The problem with baseball hats is they do not cover your ears and there are more and more cases of skin cancer on the ears as they are always exposed with baseball caps. There was a sad letter from a widower in one of the U.K. Fly fishing mags warning anglers of the above as she had just lost her husband to skin cancer which started on his ears and spread. He was a life long fly fisherman.

    Keep up the great blog.

    • Could not agree more about ditching the baseball caps and instead get a fully brimmed hat. Here in New Zealand, we have one of the highest incidences of skin cancer in the world, and ears top the list. Some bright lad looked back over old outdoors type photos and found that cancer rates began to increase exponentially after baseball caps became increasingly popular here, in the sixties.
      The issue is for me personally very real – I average a skin cancer or two being ‘burnt off’ each year.

  2. As folks become older, they do become wiser. My wife, at 75, has had a melanoma removed from her arm, and a few small pre-cancers removed from the top of her ears. On the water, you wonder if there is a person under all that covering. I wear a long-billed hat, with tie-down side flaps. We both grew up on the beaches of southern California and long ago decided we have had enough sun for one lifetime. Enjoy, and be smart.

  3. Amen to all of this. Although I’m usually in a traditional ball cap, I do rock a Lefty-style long brim / neck flap number on lakes or big rivers.
    I did dabble with cowboy hats when I was guiding and teaching casting, as a Clouser to the ear isn’t as desirable as one might think.

  4. What reason other than skin cancer does one need. Not to mention facial skin that has permeant damage that makes you look much older. Agree with the previous posts wear a het that has a full brim like the one I wear “Sun Day Afternoons”.

  5. Don’t forget sun tan lotion on the top of your head, even with a hat. Most hats are not blockers of the Suns rays and for those of us with a light covering of hair, either by choice or nature, sun tan lotion over the crown of the head provides added protection.

  6. I have always worn a straw cowboy hat on the river as it provides more than sun protection when your two casters are green horns; it is essential body armor. They are good in the rain also as the water drains off behind you instead of down your neck. It’s all good if you are on the river.

  7. About 20 years ago my wife and I bought four Desert Rhat long-billed, side flap caps made by Sequel in Boulder, Colorado. What attracted us was the foil lining inside a double mesh top. Just seemed like a neat idea. Those hats have been to flats throughout the tropics and are still going strong. Sadly, Sequel no longer makes the caps

  8. Pingback: Tippets: Modern Fly Design, Fishing Hats | MidCurrent

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