A good, breathable hat, plus water-and-blood-resistant shoes, makes for a good day on the water.
A good, breathable hat, plus water-and-blood-resistant shoes, makes for a good day on the water. (Photo: Robert Ingelhart/iStock)

7 Essentials for Saltwater Fishing

Make sure you're prepared for sun, unpredictable weather, and fish guts

Young man getting fishing rods ready for a day of ocean big game fishing

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Maybe you’re a trout bum making the crossover to saltwater flats or perhaps you’ve booked an offshore fishing trip this fall. Either way, you’ll need more than just your guide’s boat and tackle—you’ll want to bring along these seven must-have accessories. From helping you spot fish to shielding skin from intense UV rays, these items will optimize any day spent stalking saltwater trophies. Consider them your Lucky 7.

Costa del Mar Manta sunglasses ($249)

(Costa del Mar)

You probably know you need polarized lenses to see beyond the water’s surface glare. But the Manta’s blue mirror 580G lenses do so much more: The azure tint improves definition in saltwater, allowing you to sight tarpon or discern the difference between a rising marlin and a porpoise that’s trying to steal your bait. Glass lenses offer better clarity and scratch-resistance than plastic, so they’re preferable for ocean fishing (where you’re constantly wiping away abrasive, salty residue). And the broad, full-coverage frames limit sun exposure and prevent the eye strain that can result from a full day on the water.

Croakies ARC Endless Retainer ($15)


Lighter and sleeker than leashes made of neoprene strips, the ARC system was inspired by something that fly-fishing legend Lefty Kreh rigged for himself: He took a span of monofilament fishing line and attached it to holes he drilled in his frames. Croakies ARC Endless improves upon Kreh’s concept by using thin-as-floss steel cable that’s adjustable and articulated—so you can angle it down or up for comfort. Because it absorbs no water, it doesn’t grow heavier when splashed or dunked.

UV Buff ($25)


What’s with the bank-robber look? Saltwater guides know that no amount of sunscreen can protect skin as well as simply covering up, and the UV Buff (made of Coolmax polyester that blocks 95 percent of harmful UV rays) masks everything between your sunglasses and your collar. 

Sunday Afternoons UV Trucker Cap ($26)

(Sunday Afternoons)

That spaghetti-strainer mesh on typical trucker caps may feel nice and airy, but over eight full hours on the water, it lets in enough UV rays to scorch your scalp. Sunday Afternoons’ version keeps the cool-kid trucker styling, but subs in sun-blocking polyester mesh that shuts out more than 98 percent of UV radiation. Additional mesh on the sweatband mops your brow.

Columbia Megavent shoe ($105 men’s, $95 women’s)


Sure, you could wear running shoes on the boat, but they’re guaranteed to get wet, heavy—and possibly stained with blood. Better to wear something designed for H2O. The Megavent PFG has ports in the midsole that drain water, and the meshy polyurethane upper sheds moisture and stains (the women’s version receives this upgrade for Spring 2016). Even when splashed or doused with fish guts, these shoes feel cool, dry, and airy. Plus, the razor-siped sole keeps you from slipping on wet decks and docks.

Patagonia Shelled Synchilla Snap-T Fleece Hoody ($199)


During bouts of wind or rain, pull on this rugged jacket. The midweight polyester fleece (with 80-85 percent recycled content) stays cozy in wet conditions, and the nylon shell across the chest, sleeves, and hood resists snags and abrasion.

Hummingbird 40 WideMouth Carry-On ($75)

(Cascade Designs)

Stash electronics, snacks, and extra layers in this waterproof, 40-liter roll-top tote, which keeps contents safe and dry from splashing waves and soaking puddles. The broad opening makes it easy to see inside and retrieve your gear, and the side buckles let you secure the bag by clipping it to the boat.

Lead Photo: Robert Ingelhart/iStock