Sunday Classic / 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

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 “Sunday Classic / 3 Reasons Fly Fisherman Should Consider Wearing A Long-Bill Hat

  1. I’ve been wearing them since 1978. I was game fishing in those days and a trick I learned was to put your hand to your nose and look between it and the bill and yow had a beautiful view as there was little glare off the water.

  2. Thanks. Made me go into the closet and dig mine out again. Yeah, it looks goofy, but I’ve had enough flesh cut from my face to realize what’s really important. The sun don’t play, folks. Protect yourself.

  3. Ohhh. Who cares about how you look! Not sure why skin cancer didn’t pop into this as the number one reason to wear long-billed hats c/w with ear and neck protection flaps. I’ve worn the long-billed hat for over 20 years now. They used to be difficult to find, but not anymore. The only hat that comes close (sun protection wise) is a stetson. I used to think they looked stupid, but for all-weather protection, hard to beat!

    A buddy used to wear a baseball hat. Has had 2 small malignant tumours removed from his nose; yes he fishes a lot and is exposed to the elements. He used to tell me he looked stupid wearing a long-billed hat, but not anymore. So don’t worry about how you look out there. Be smart and protect yourself. We only live once and we all love fishing.

    Oh, by the way, I guess your reason #2 describes my scenario, but to me it should be #1 on the list! And yes, I totally agree with your other advantages to the long-billed hat.

  4. They seemed more popular in the 70s. Long bill caps are inseparable from offshore trips to the Gulf Stream in my mind. Blue water, outriggers, stormy petrels…. what a time that was.

  5. At the end of the day, a long-billed hat is just a baseball cap with a longer bill, isn’t it? Why not go all the way and wear a full-brimmed hat? More shade = better visibility. You’d need to constantly hold your hands on either side of the brim of a long-billed ball cap to create the same effect as a full-brimmed hat.

  6. I wear an Outback hat. In addition to its longer bill, it has a bill in the back, to keep the rain from going down the back of my neck. Baseball caps are for baseball and fashion, nothing more.

  7. Or how about a wide brimmed hat instead of just a long peaked one? Skin cancers on the tops of the ears can kill you too. I’ve just had a couple cut off. Looking macho like Flip is pretty cool. But being skin cancer free is cooler 🙂

  8. One added note: a black underside of the bill cuts down greatly on glare. But amazing how many caps don’t have that. I couldn’t get myself to set aside my favorite (long bill) hat with a white brim underside. So just five minutes with a black felt tip marker made it right.

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