We view fishing clothing, and in this specific case a fishing shirt, as a piece of equipment. It is as important to our fishing experience just as the rods, reels, boat, line and other fishing tackle we use. We always set out to use the best equipment, so naturally we set out to build the best fishing shirt. When we started to build Lateral Line over two years ago, we sat down and began to map out what our fishing clothing line was going to look like and what we were going to make first. We decided the best place to start would be with the piece of fishing clothing that was core to our year-round striped bass fishing, the fishing shirt.
The first thing we did was ask ourselves and our hardcore fishing friends, both recreational anglers and professional fishing guides, if they could have the ultimate fishing shirt what were the qualities, features and factions that they would want. We also asked what they did and did not like about other brands of fishing shirts. We got great feedback, but faced a serious dilemma; there was no way to get all the features and qualities that we came up with into one single fishing shirt. As we kicked it around for a few weeks it became obvious to us as year-round fishermen that as the seasons change so does the demands of a fishing shirt. In the summer you need light weight breathable fabric, a venting system and strong sun protection. In the spring and fall you need a medium weight material, sun protection and some limited air flow in the shirt for the days when it gets warm in the mid-afternoon. In the winter you need a material that will keep you warm, yet wick moisture away from areas of your body that still perspire and become heated while you are fishing. It was obvious to us, we needed to create a year-round "fishing shirt system". We decided to set out on that mission. We weeded out the "core" qualities that all of the fishing shirts had to have, and then the ones that were applicable to each season. The core qualities that emerged were: a functional design, high SPF rated sun protection and sun protection features, stain resistance, wrinkle resistance, a comfortable functional material, all built with the most durable highest quality construction possible.
From this point forward we took the core features and applied our Lateral Line design framework around them to begin the design process. Functionality, simplicity and durability were worked into to our fishing shirt system design. While we have an appreciation for design style, functionality comes first and would never be sacrificed. We had to see clear, truly functional reason for something to be built into one of our shirts or we would not incorporate it into the design. You will never find useless extra pockets, zippers or buttons on our clothing. If it does not add to function or durability, the concept is eliminated.
From this point we kept re-sketching our concepts, we re-surveyed our friends and the cycle continued until we finally got a clear conceptual idea of what a Lateral Line prototype fishing shirt would look like. Next, we decided to start with a summer fishing shirt, for no other reason than summer was soon approaching and we knew we would be fishing the shallow water stumps in Crisfield, MD for striped bass. This would prove to be the perfect summer-tropical testing environment.
The Crisfield Fishing Shirt thought process
The first thought was to figure out how the pocket opening would be positioned for the best accessibility and ease of opening, even one handed. Opening from the top had its advantages as well as opening from the side. We let the pocket closure mechanism drive that decision.
How many pockets should a great fishing shirt have? The consensus was that a great fishing shirt needed some pockets, but not too many. Everyone surveyed said too many pockets made it hard to find what you were looking for, and if you tried to put things in all of them all the weight made it look and feel like you had a “boobs”, which for a guy is not too flattering. (This design is for a men’s shirt, we are working on a woman’s fishing shirt now. If you are a lady angler and would like to be part of that design process please email us, we would love to hear from you!)The pockets needed to be easy enough to access, but also have a latching mechanism so the items in the pocket did not fall out when you bent over. This is a common problem we discovered with many fishing shirts on the market today that we wanted to stay far away from.
Securing what is in your pockets successfully turned out to be the next step:
We tried velcro, but decided against using that for a few reasons.
1) when we tested it the velcro edges rubbed against our skin given our lightweight material.
2) when we tested it in the washer and dryer, and surveyed everyone, there was a consensus that velcro collects lint after several cycles. This embedded lint is difficult to remove and impedes the inter-lacing of the two pieces of the velcro, thereby reducing the strength of the pocket closure.
Next we tried zippers, which we initially liked, but discovered that they too posed several problems that we could not get past
1) zippers are hard to open with one hand regardless if the pocket is vertically or horizontally positioned. The feedback was when fishing you usually have a rod, the boat wheel, an oar or something in one hand, and only one free hand to get into a pocket. A zipper can often make achieving this one handed task that much more difficult.
2) when a zipper is sewn into the material it makes the actual opening to the pocket smaller. We tried making the pocket wider, but there are design limits as to how wide you can actually make it on the front of the shirt.
3) the zipper that would be needed for a pocket on a shirt would be a small one with a small teeth; small teeth and saltwater to not make for a good combination. When we tested it in the ocean, salt crystals would get stuck in the teeth causing the pull to skip, and even further jam while out in the field. We opted not to have a zipper.
The button closure proved to be the best system for closing the pockets on our initial summer fishing shirt. By using medium sized buttons we were able to achieve both function and purpose while not irritating our skin, not collecting lint, and conforming to our initial requirement of one handed open ease-ability.
The Glasses Pocket
One interesting piece of feedback came back from our older fishing friends, the need to a pocket inside one of the front pockets to hold reading or and extra set of glasses. When you put your glasses in front pockets they usually fall to the bottom of the pocket and rest horizontal. This is uncomfortable and also lends itself to bending glasses when you are fishing. To fix this we designed a very simple lightweight glasses pocket into the right chest pocket for an extra set of glasses. This keeps your glasses resting vertical and easy to access.
The consensus was that we needed a lightweight, breathable, comfortable material for summer/tropical fishing. We started with nylon, but nylon did not work because it proved to be rough on the skin and did not breathe or wick moisture efficiently. Next was was cotton, there was no way we could make 100% cotton shirt, it simply would not dry fast enough. We tried it anyway as an option; we wound up abandoning the idea, the shirt felt like we were wearing a wet mop. Next we tried 100% polyester. It did not wick moisture as well as we wanted, it more or less does not absorb anything. It can wick moisture, but does not hold any, if you sweat faster then the moisture can be absorbed into the atmosphere it simply runs down the inside of your shirt creating a very wet feeling that when air enters the shirt can give you goose bumps, not the experience any of us wanted. So we continued to search for a blend and a texture that would fit our requirements. We could not find a material or blend that any of us really liked. So, against some advice that it would way too hard for us to design our own fabric on our first fishing shirt, much less first piece of clothing that we actually designed and built….. we decided to do it anyway. It was not easy, but after endless testing, many prototypes, dozens of color swatches, textures and material blends we finally got something we really liked, and even more importantly worked. We took it to friends, asked what they thought, and the response was excellent. What we had built was a lightweight, moisture wicking, breathable, and comfortable Lateral Line material with a texture that offered both stain and wrinkle resistance.
Our material is a blend of 35% cotton and 65% polyester . Together this blend wicks moisture and keeps you cooler in brutal hot and/or humid conditions as well as offers wrinkle and stain resistance.
To make sure the shirt keeps you dry and wicks moisture efficiently, we located a soft polyester mesh in critical zones in the shirt, in the upper chest, shoulder and upper back areas which enhances moisture wicking, ventilation and keeps you dry. Our fabric has also been designed to be washed in cold water and hung dry, so there is no need to use or have access to a dryer, often a common problem when traveling and washing your stuff in the shower. Wash it, hang it out to dry, give it a shake or two and you are ready to go.
When it is hot you need ventilation, the more airflow the better, everyone agreed on this. So we built in front and rear vents to allow the air to flow from the front around the top of the shoulders and down the back to keep the air flowing around the body. The one thing that came out of some brainstorming sessions was the ability to close the front vents so when you are heading home in the evening and it's not quite as hot you can keep a bit warmer. To accommodate this we built in a simple latching system that goes right over the two pocket buttons from the front vent. This allows anyone to adjust the airflow to his comfort level given the time of day and weather conditions.
A very important feature of our clothing that needed to be addressed as an overwhelming concern from our field testers was the issue of incorporating maximum sun exposure protection into our clothing. This feedback led us to a few features we built directly into our fishing shirt: 1) We opted for a long sleeve shirt for maximum sun protection. However, we did build in easy to use button sleeve holders so that the sleeves can be rolled up. 2) We have also treated the material to assure a high SPF protection rating that is already inherent to all fabric, just in different levels. 3) Everyone said that the back of the neck was one place where they almost always got sun burn when fishing. So to help protect the back of the neck area we developed a flip up collar that gives protection above the main collar of the shirt. When not on the water or fishing off the banks it can be flipped down with out a problem.
The feedback from everyone was that while you wear your fishing shirt while fishing, you also wear one after you get cleaned up for dinner whether that is hitting the local restaurant, bar or just cooking at home on the grill after a long day fishing. So the shirt had to have some style and a cut that would allow this. Some people said they left their shirt untucked and others tucked their shirt into their pants. Both user groups had problems with other fishing shirts. The anglers that left their shirts out said that the cuts were not fashionable, meaning they were basically square which made them look like they were wearing a sail. The people that tucked their shirts in said that the general square cut of shirts did not allow for them to keep their shirts tucked in, a square cut will stay tucked in like a dress shirt that has a shaped bottom seam. So we went to work at the design board and came up with a shirt that has some style, a nice fit and can we worn tucked in or out. It has enough material in the chest and stomach area to be roomy, but not so much you feel like you are wearing a drape. The bottom cut has enough of a curve to be stylish left out and look good and enough of a curve to allow the shirt to stay tucked in when you want it tucked in.
After reading about our adventure in building the best fishing shirt on the planet, we know that you will find the Lateral Line Crisfield Fishing Shirt to be the perfect solution for your angling expeditions, whether you are fishing for the day or out for a month. Having said that, we are always looking for ways to improve, we believe things can always be made better with feedback, so shoot us your ideas, we would love to hear them! We will update this page soon with information on our Fall/Spring Susquehanna Fishing Shirt and our Choptank Winter Fishing Shirt.
Thanks for visiting and check back soon to learn more about the processes we tackle at Lateral Line with relentless testing to bring you the very best year-round fishing clothing system. We do not, and will never, make clothing with empty promises and useless functions. We will constantly inform you, our customers of our efforts to better design our products for both your and our angling adventures.
CORE FEATURES IN ALL LATERAL LINE