Need a new pair of fishing shorts? In this review we detail our list of recommendations when you’re next upgrading to modern day sport fishing shorts.
A great pair of fishing shorts is essential for maximum comfort when out on the water. Whatever your taste is in terms of style, there are qualities that must be present in a solid pair of fishing specific shorts.
Durability, quick drying, stain resistance, pockets, UV protection and comfort. Below is a list of must have properties to look out for when purchasing your new pair of fishing wear.
What to look for
For all day comfort, you would want your shorts to be breathable, quick drying, water shedding and stretchy. Stretchiness or elasticity in today’s modern fishing shorts are the norm as they provide us anglers with maximum mobility.
Gone are the days when fishing was a stationary activity. We move around a lot, on foot or on boats, and we need to be comfortable in doing so, thus the need for water repellence and quick drying characteristics too.
Heavy, waterlogged clothing is uncomfortable to have sticking on your skin all day and will eventually result into chafing, which is detrimental to our performance.
Standard pockets on both sides and the back for your phone, keys and other essentials are a must have. The bonus reinforced tool pocket is almost a must have nowadays in the world of fishing. “Reinforced” or lined with durable fabric for the tool pocket is a must, as metal tools and accessories don’t pair well with soft and stretchy fabrics.
There are options out there that offer zippered pockets which are really great for keeping the stuff inside from falling out. Just remember to wash the zips well with fresh water after the day’s fishing to prevent corrosion.
Different waistband options for different tastes. I personally prefer the elastic waistband with drawstrings up front but when a lot of action is going on in the boat, but they tend to slip and cause embarrassment.
Buttons and belt loops are a great option for good fit and security, but are not as comfortable as the surfing style board short closure systems. The board short closure system with a stretch waistband, front ties and a zipper offers the best of both worlds. Comfort and security.
If you want to keep your shorts clean for as long as possible, some sort of stain resistance is recommended. If lucky, our clothing may contact a fish, and along with it its slime, blood and guts. They are a pain to remove once they dry up from sun exposure.
Some look at them like battle scars, but most anglers want their stuff clean so stain resistance is a must. Most brands and manufacturers have their own stain prevention technology along with odor prevention so keep an eye out for that.
Protection from UV rays are a must and most clothing manufacturers provide UPF 50 at the least.
I’ve arranged the list below alphabetically. This isn’t a ranked list, but a compilation based on the criteria and qualities needed to be a good pair of sport fishing shorts.
Aftco – Cloudburst Fishing Shorts
These shorts easily tick all the boxes to make it a great pair for fishing. It is made with durable 4-way stretch and quick drying fabric for amazing comfort plus AFTCO’s AFGUARD tech help release stains from slime, blood and guts.
The tool pocket is reinforced with Cordura for extra durability. No shortage of pockets too as there are 2 hand pockets plus 2 back pockets. None of the pockets offer closure systems though but this isn’t a deal breaker.
Columbia – PFG Terminal Tackle Shorts
The fact that it comes with a bottle opener in the tool pocket makes this my favorite. Alright, it isn’t a necessity, but it is great to have when fishing and find yourself with a stubby in your hand. Not as stretchy as the others, this pair still offers great mobility due to some stretch provided by the nylon fabric.
Like all Columbia PFG apparel, they made these with fishing in mind. Stain resistant, quick drying, light and UPF 50 rated, it easily passes the “for fishing” test. I love the zippered utility pocket not just because of the bottle opener, but the pouch for the bottle opener can be used as a second utility pocket as well. 2 hand pockets and 2 back pockets make for great storage.
The only downside is the button and zip waistband. Not really stretchy so you’d have to really zero in on your size. There are belt loops though so order a size bigger and wear a belt.
Huk – Kryptek Freeman Boardshort
I have a couple of these that I personally use for my fishing trips and they have served me very well in terms of comfort and fit. The pliers pocket isn’t the best as it doesn’t have any special lining apart from an extra layer of the same fabric the shorts are made of.
A zippered back pocket is the only other extra storage option, so its best to pair it with a sling bag when fishing. The quick drying, lightweight, stretchy and SPF rated fabric is why I consider this as a great pair for fishing. It is super comfortable and breathable, like wearing nothing.
The closure system is also a winner as it is a stretch waistband with front ties and a zipped fly.
Pelagic – Ocean Master Fishing Shorts
Another pair I’ve got in my closet, the Pelagic Ocean Master shorts may be my current favorite due to because of the tool pocket. They call it the triple threat tool pocket, which is a reinforced pocket with a durable lining and has a hook and loop closure to keep things from falling out.
Then the rest of the pockets have zipper closures and are mesh lined for quick drying purposes. Pelagic also claims that their fabric is made with recycled fibers from Repreve, which always tickles the environmentalist in me. The standard features like water repellency, stain resistance and 4-way stretch fabric are top notch. The waistband is also very secure and comfortable.
Simms – Guide Short
The least stretchy of the bunch, the Simms guide short still offers great mobility due to the gusseted crotch which allows enhanced range of motion. The fabric is also very light, quick drying and is rated UPF 50. A zippered cargo pocket for pliers is also lined for durability.
Standard hand pockets and 2 back pockets make for great storage for the essentials plus a couple of bags of soft plastics and a fly box. I love the stretch waistband with belt loops. It allows me to use a belt for carrying extra stuff like a knife, glove clips and rod butt pad.
The shorts listed above are just recommendations. Please feel free to click on the links provided to see what else they offer. As anglers, we perform our best if our gear is up to the task. We need a kit that we are most comfortable with to up our chances of success.
From rods, reels, and terminal tackle, to the clothes we wear, they are part of the anglers’ ecosystem of gear that need to work well together. Your old pair of rugby shorts will work well and will be comfortable, but a proper pair of fishing shorts will have features that you never knew you needed.