You look so stupid. Buffs are dumb. Why are you wearing that trout fishing? Are you trying to be a gangster? Just wear sunscreen! Any of these sound familiar? They might if you’ve ever worn a buff or a flat-brimmed hat while fishing and posted a picture online.  Now, I’m going to get this out of the way now and say that I wear both buffs and flat-brimmed hats, but that’s not why I’m writing this. This isn’t a “tell me why you’re being mean to me!” post cause I genuinely, from the bottom of my heart don’t care what some stranger thinks of me (a stranger) based on what I wear. Not even a little bit. It’s a topic that’s come up in a number of different ways lately and I just wanted to open up a subject that I’ve poked fun at for awhile for discussion. This post is about the weird infatuation that anglers have with critiquing other anglers’ wardrobe.

The Haterade Distribution Network Seems to be Growing

Now where’d this come from? Well if you’re an avid angler and spend time online or around fishy circles you may have heard the phrases mentioned above or the term “bro” thrown around referring to a “type” of angler. The first time I heard an angler use the term “bro” my eyes rolled to the back of my head, did a floaty no-grab 180 and I shook my head. Maybe I’ve had my head in the sand but I didn’t even know that was a thing (in fly fishing)Apparently we recently stepped into a new age of elitism. Now it’s not that serious. Elitism doesn’t really effect me. It doesn’t effect my love for fly fishing or how much I enjoy my days on the water. However, it does cause a face palm every now and again when I’m perusing the internets. Example: the pic below was posted online (happens to be me). One of the comments? “I hate bros.” I was dumbfounded. #15ish laker on the fly and the only thing dude can muster up is “I hate bros”. Fur realz? Don’t know the dude, nor dude know me – I think that most hater/hatee relationships are the same. What possesses one to overlook everything in a fishy photo and focus on someone’s choice of apparel? In short, I have no idea. Do they not even like fishing? Are there a bunch of closet Joan Rivers fan club members in the fly fishing community? Are dudes wearing flat-brimmed hats actually gang members that steal and sell drugs to children?

thick-lake-trout

So there’s a lot of mixed feelings out there regarding these small pieces of tubular breathable fabric and uncurved pieces of headwear. Is all the hoopla justified – both the popularity and the accompanying hate? I’d like to briefly address both separately.

Buffs have grown to be a popular accessory for those that spend time out on the water. They’re a viable solution for helping keep bugs away, you can spray them (instead of your face) with repellant, they obviously protect your neck and face from the sun, and they are quite comfortable for cooler/cold days on the water.  For whatever reason, for every buff user there seems to be one (or three) in the counter-culture that has uncontrollable distaste for them. We’ve all seen the comments online. But why? In short, I have no idea. Could the buff wearer just use sunscreen? Yes. Could the buff wearer just use bug repellant on his face? Yes. Could the buff wearer just wear a scarf? Yes. Could the buff wearer just wear a buff? Now, that’s questionable.

Flat-brimmed hats – a very common style of hat that’s been around for decades. I personally don’t think I’ve worn a “traditional” curve-billed hat in 20 years. Don’t really know what to say here. They’re hats. Their brims are flat (or less curved) instead of fully curved. Some say it’s a trend but I’d strongly beg to differ. I think it’s just more reflective of the individuals that are fly fishing. There are obviously more young folk getting into our sport as well as those of  different walks of life.

For a good portion of my life I was immersed in the free skiing/snowboarding community. This type of “hate” was common there. Whether it was pants that were “too tight”, skiing with no poles, and the list goes on, it seems that there were countless reasons to bag on other skiers/snowboarders. There is a big difference, however. The snow-sliding community consisted mostly of people between the ages of 14-25. With the buff and hat ordeal (and all the other trivial nit-picks in the fly fishing world) we’re talking about mostly guys over 25 – with a good portion over 35. So why are grown men bickering and back-biting over each other’s choice of apparel? In short, I have no idea. How is it different from bagging on people for wearing collared, button-up shirts? Or t-shirts? Or basketball shorts under their waders? I don’t hear people talking about that.

Fly fishing is rad. For a million different reasons. Why is it that we let the most insignificant parts cloud the awesomeness of the sport? Any ideas? I’m fresh out.

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About The Author

Chinese Boy
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The ringleader at OSF, Nathan likes well-proportioned fish, moonlit walks by the river, and stripping streamers through dark lies on the dreariest of days. View full bio.

98 Responses

  1. Eddie

    With my skinny head, flat-brimmed hats don’t look so good. I just don’t get the fad where guys leave all the stickers on the bill!

    …And, I realized a while back that sunsleeves and a buff are MUCH cheaper and less painful than sunburns and skin cancer!

    Reply
    • Greg

      This is the “Flyfishing” fraternity in the nut she’ll for as long as it’s been in existence….from tweed jackets to deerstalker hats it’s been an elitist sport and the fraternity dictated as to what is the done thing in regards to suitable attire. Lol nothing has changed hence it’s a billion dollar industry. People won’t change, I know guys that go on the river with basics and a pill box full of flies that rain down a bunch of hurt on the fish and I got guys that look like like thy are better suited to a Hardy’s catalogue and strut down the jetty like a diva in Milan and low and behold some of them also slay the fish. So who care really? I don’t, if that what blows your hair back the each to there own…

      Reply
  2. Cbrooks406

    Bit too much steeze these days…there’s more focus on “How will I look when I get my pic taken” than there is on the task at hand…social media aids the issue and brands follow trends in the industry…I don’t really mind the trend, but as with any trend, it’ll become a fad and fade once the novelty wears thin. The intention of crossover ‘athletes’ (said with a hint of sarcasm) and a more ‘moto mafia-esque’ mentality is a marketers paradise and hopefully the gentlemanly roots of wetting a fly will supersede the Ricky Fowlers of fly fishing and simply let the rivers paint there own canvas on which we play…but that’s not the point of capitalism and these days flat brims and buffs make mag covers so ’tis what it ’tis…as long as we’re all catchin’ fish and sippin’ cold brews at the end of the day…brim and buff ’til your heart’s content!

    Reply
    • Nathan Leavitt

      I definitely think there’s validity to your points. I do personally think that the hat/style thing is less of a trend as it is just a representation or indicator of a new crowd that’s participating in fly fishing now. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to share your thoughts!

      Reply
  3. Kyle Brooks

    There is just too much hate out there in any industry. To each their own. Who cares if you wear a buff, or a flat-brimmed hat. I have about 10-15 hats of each style, and I have worn both while fishing. Any hat is better than no hat in my opinion (when it comes to being out on the water). I’ve been personally attacked online by other anglers because they didn’t like what I was doing. Whether it be posting a pic of a fish that wasn’t huge, or a picture of a fly that I’ve tied etc. I just don’t get why we can’t all just leave each other alone. Nate- I think your style is rad. It fits your personality, and it works for you. The guy who called you a “bro” missed out on an awesome pic of a HUGE Laker on the fly.

    Reply
  4. Jon

    Flat brimmed hats have been a part of my repertoire on and off the river for a long time. I may have a bit of a gansta-crush, I don’t know. More importantly, I don’t really care about the opinions of people around me, when it comes to what I wear. I do what I want. As far as the “buff” is concerned…it totally make sense form a physical health-slash-functionality standpoint. Sunscreen is a drag…not to mention the terror inducing side effects on all things monofilament. The bonus is that there is a crazy selection of materials, designs, and companies out there capitalizing on the “trend”. Also…fishermen love mosquitoes, right?

    Reply
  5. RodsReels&Heels

    I have a love/hate relationship with buffs; I think they’re uncomfortable (possibly because I have longer hair and it’s itchy. Or if I put it in a ponytail then I have a odd shapes bump going on) but think they’re practical. Bug spray is gross, I don’t want it on my face! I also don’t like bugs getting in my mouth/ears/nose….

    Flat-brimmed hats…. Eh, not so much! I think the “bro” thing comes from non-anglers wearing flag brimmed hats & thinking they’re tough little homies!

    Regardless, I could careless what you look like on the river…. WAY too much drama these days…. Don’t even get my started on how women treat other women!

    It’s fishing …. Seriously, just fish! Catch a fish, drink a beer & enjoy life!

    Reply
    • Nathan Leavitt

      I totally agree. They’re very practical but uncomfortable when it’s crazy hot or I have a scragly Asian “beard” scruff thing going on. I get where the bro thing came from but I just don’t know when/how it made it into fishing as a “thing” you know?

      I’d actually be really interested to hear more of the dynamic between fly fishing women. Do tell!

      Reply
  6. Brandon

    This article is right on. I personally don’t wear flat brims but I don’t see why anyone cares if someone does. Some people just need to hate on things, if you weren’t wearing a flat brim they would find something else. As far as buffs, I do wear a buff and I think it’s great sun protection. I have seen people really going for the fashion show with the buffs though, which I found a little goofy, but i’m not about to call em out for it… Literally have seen people tying flies at trade shows with buffs over their face or posting buff selfies from inside their house – thats a little fashion over function, but in the long run – who cares?

    Reply
    • Nathan Leavitt

      I’m totally with you. We all have thoughts this way and that but there’s little need to bring the negative stuff out over such trivial stuff!

      Reply
  7. RockstarCaddis

    I love me a buff for more reasons than just the sun. I don’t like to lather up with a bunch of messy chemical, especially on my face. They keep me more cool than sunblock and sometimes help keep the biters away from my money maker. They also help in the cold for obvious reasons. I’ll buff it about 85% of the time.

    As for hats. Just pick one and go. I have too many. I prefer a trucker style or a flat cap/cabbie style hat. Something like a Brixton or kangol 405. Flat bills just ain’t my thing. However like I said, grab it and go, it’s all about you. After all, I rarely go on a trip with only one lid.

    Reply
  8. TJ Orton

    Funny you write on this topic. I was out on the water yesterday and someone asked if I was out to rob a bank. I thought buffs they were silly at first, but they have grown on me. I like that they keep me warm as the day gets colder in the evening and good protection from the sun and bugs.

    Reply
  9. bob

    I love buffs for the sun protection ( I have fair skin), I do feel like people dress up a little too much for the fish. But I guess if you got the money and like to have swag and named brand apparel that’s perfectly fine. I’ll wear my no name brand buff and Wal-Mart shirt and any hat I don’t care if it gets sweat stains and faded by the sun. You find it in all sports or all hobbies those people that like named brand and want to make sure they look good and you got those that maybe look homeless like me and don’t care about the photos of themselves but of their fish. To each their own.

    Reply
  10. The Arched Angler

    I wear a buff for many of the reasons stated. I just got my first flat-brim too. Haters gonna hate. Plain and simple. If the “fad” is ruining fishing, look at history. Are many people wearing tweed jackets, knickers and a creel out fishing? Fishing is fishing. Get your line wet or go back to the arcade.

    Reply
  11. Timmy J

    Form vs. Function, right?

    I remember the last time I made a style choice to try to fit in… 8th grade I bought a pair of brown leather boots that the cool kids were wearing. They cost more than I wanted to spend and I had to ask myself how far this was going to go. It was almost existensial: Was I going to start wearing $70 Abercrombie T-shirts, puka shell necklaces, and start frosting my tips to fit in?

    Ummmmm… Nope.

    That’s when I decided clothes were supposed to keep me un-naked, comfortable, and able to best perform whatever I was going to do that day. If I wanted to communicate something about myself, I’d do it by talking. I asked myself “If I really don’t give a crap about what anyone else thinks, what would I feel most comfortable wearing to class tomorrow?” The answer turned out to be a T-shirt, baggy grey sweat pants, and my old wrestling shoes that were so well broken-in they felt like socks with soles on the bottom. Never looked back. (Some non-wrestler kids eventually started buying wrestling shoes for style, but that’s a whole other story)

    Now, for work I’ll wear what I need to wear. I’ll show up to church, or dinner with friends, or your wedding reception dressed to respect our unspoken social contract. But when it’s “Me” time, I’m sure as hell going to wear what makes ME comfortable, not you.

    Being a ginger, I’ll ALL ABOUT the buff: wet down, it’s super cool in the summer. Warmer in the winter. Keeps me un-cancered in every season. I can spray my (curve-billed) hat and buff to keep the bugs and carcinogens both off my skin. If I don’t have a buff, you better believe I’m popping the collar (and extended bonus collar!) on my grungy, button-up fishing shirt.

    I’m not a flat-billed guy, but this has more to do with curve-billed hats being free far more often, and I think the curve makes me feel like my temples are better protected form the sun. My fishing hats are truckers in the summer because I like them to breathe. Not in the winter. Regardless, they’re sweat-stained early after reception and sometimes signed by fishermen I respect and want to remember fishing with (probably looks stupid to anyone else). I see some guys wearing ball caps with their ears tucked in. I thought that was weird and probably a fad, but for me it makes functional sense to keep the melanoma off those tips, so I do it sometimes… with a curve-billed hat! Does that look stupid? I don’t care. If the sun is to my left as I’m facing predominantly upstream, I’ll wear my hat sideways. Does that make me look “like a bro” or anything else? I.. don’t… care.

    I once fished an entire day wearing a Nacho Libre mask because I’d forgotten my sunscreen and this was pre-buff. The fact that I looked ridiculously awesome was only fortunate by-product.

    Here’s the crux: I find that, by far, the single best way to become a better fisherman is to get to know, befriend, and fish with as many other great fisherman as you can. But here’s the catch: if you’re too busy being a judgmental douche about what others are wearing when you first see them, you’ll pass over some the best anglers on the water, because unlike you, truly great fishermen tend to care less about fashion and more about… get this… fishing.

    -One of Utah’s most knowledgeable old school anglers is equally well known for his weird green sweatpants.
    -By FAR the best euro-nympher/competition angler I’ve ever known wears a big funny hat… opened my eyes to the real benefits of Czech Nymphing.
    – One of the best guides on the San Juan dresses really goofy and even wears camoflauge – totally opened my eyes to more efficient midging one day on the braids.
    – On a personal note — my first day ever fishing with the guys I would eventually guide with I was wearing a big vest and a tan hat from Mexico with a giant embroidered largemouth bass on it. Total ugly tourist shop gift from my inlaws, but it was drab colored and I was into blending into the foliage back then. Rather than ostracize me, I got welcomed into the club of the best guides I know.

    Sorry, that got long, but here’s the bottom line: If you want to fish, meet me on the water. If you want to have a walk-off, meet me and my buddy Billy Zane at the Member’s Only warehouse.

    Reply
    • Nathan Leavitt

      Loved it. Thanks so much for taking the time to share. I’m glad you made the realization you did when you did. I bet your life has been much happier as a result. Lance’s does where big hats…and he’s a total nice guy and boss! Thanks again for enriching the conversation here!

      Reply
  12. Brian

    I have to admit I am a reformed buff hater. Then I won one at a carp tournament and when I realized I could wear the buff in lieu of sunscreen– and I really do hate sunscreen– I ended up wearing every fishing trip since.

    I also have to admit that it bugs the heck out of me when I think someone is trying to establish themselves as a serious angler via aesthetics. For me, it’s a sincerity issue– let the flies you tie and fish you catch speak to your level of accomplishment rather than spending too much time trying to imitate LL bean models, Brad Pitt, or trying to make yourself look like an uber stealthy gangster-ninja who pwns 20-inchers erryday (even if you do). Fishing, in my mind, is where we get to escape from having to worry about what we look like to an extent– save that shite for board meetings and weddings. I say wear what’s functional, wear what you like, and then go fish in complete ignorance how others will perceive you.

    In my book that means I wear a hat (I prefer a flatter bill) and a buff. But then I also pull off the buff to take a fish picture so people can see my shit-eating grin because that’s way more indicative of how I feel inside at the moment.

    But overall– stop the hatin’– it narrows the diversity of anglers on the water and keeps people out of the sport. Which in turn only hinders conservation awareness, keeps equipment prices high, and makes it tough for your local fly shop to stay in business.

    Cheers.

    Reply
  13. bumb

    Don’t bro me if you don’t know me… haha this is an awesome article! I have been subject to lots of bro hate especially living in Jackson… and all of it comes from jealousy. People hate to see other people following their own path and succeeding at it!

    P.S. Flat brims provide more sun protection than a traditional curved bill

    Reply
    • Nathan Leavitt

      Don’t bro me if you don’t know me???? That is friggin funny stuff. It’s a bummer that you have a Haterade Distribution Center up there. People are funny that way.

      Reply
  14. Dave

    I don’t give a rat’s ass what people wear while fishing (or anywhere else). That said, I reserve the right to make fun of any style that looks silly to me. I’m boring. I’ve been a t-shirt and jeans or shorts guy since I was a kid. I’ve been around long enough to see trends come and go and come around again. If you’ve ever been a trend/fad person, at some point in your life you’re going to look back at your “look” and laugh. I guarantee it. If you want to be original like everyone else, go get a tattoo or two.

    Reply
  15. Braden Smith

    I don’t give a crap what people wear. I don’t care for flat brimmed hats, but that’s just my opinion. It doesn’t bother me if others wear them. I’ve been considering wearing a buff as of lately. I’m sick of sunscreen.

    Reply
    • Nathan Leavitt

      Dude. Do it. I promise it’s so much better. I still don’t love them when it’s hot out but you can dip them in the water to cool yourself off. Either way, way better than sunscreen.

      Reply
  16. roughfisher

    same shit different story. Remember when the haters used to hate on neoprene? and the Orvis boys after “the movie”? and dudes in tweed sipping scotch and smoking cigars? I’m glad the heat has finally moved on to something else and off of us carpers as the stink was getting thick! Never understood the hate behind their game (or lack of game).

    Reply
  17. Cort

    I think fishing is stupid, and buffs are lame. Hats are for dumb people that are sissy’s. Skin cancer is awesome, getting bit by bugs makes me feel like a man again, and I will fight anyone who argues with any of these facts. The end…

    Reply
  18. Cobb

    At H&H we get a lot of sideways looks and backhanded comments about who we are and what we do because it is outside the norm. My answer every time is “WHO THE F*&K CARES”! I have seen so many people fully outfitted in elitist approved gear and you know what, they can’t fish, they kill fish they shouldn’t, or they’re just huge jerks on the water. Wear what you want, wear what you like, be comfortable and be safe and if you don’t like what someone else is wearing, SHUT UP!! That goes for all negative comments, if you see someone doing something wrong in a pic or video then teach them how to do it right. Calling someone stupid or putting them down just makes you an a giant ass*&le and may just turn them off of this great sport all together. We need as many people as possible caring about our water and the fish that are in it and negative comments do exactly nothing to help that number grow.

    Reply
  19. TenkaraGrasshopper

    As a guide and avid angler I wear a Buff each and every day I go fishing. Sometimes I even wear it when it gets cold here in Denver during the fall and winter as a beanie. That being said, my wife hates my Buff and the only reasone she hates it is that it is the Rainbow Trout print. She thinks it is ugly.

    I will always wear my Buff when fishing because it does protect my skin and also keeps the flying things out of my mouth while I am on the river during a massive hatch. I have skin that has been burned more than a few times so my Buff helps me out and it does function as a method of breaking up glare as well.

    As for flat brimmed hats, it is a hat, not a gang symbol. Not to say that there are some gangs who do where flat brimmed hats as a gang sign which I think is actually really funny considering that I started out wearing flat brimmed hats way back in the day. No need to go into detail on when that was.

    I think anyone who judges an angler on what he or she is wearing and bags on them has more issues than fishing can help with. These people need to learn that we are all different yet inherently the same.

    That being said, Nate why keep your head down and hide your eyes? Afraid someone will recognize you and ridicule you for wearing a flat brimmed had and Buff, a Loon Buff at that. LMFAO

    Reply
    • Nathan Leavitt

      Haha, usually in those moments I’m not really concerned on how I’m “posing”. I’m more concerned on taking in the moment of landing a pretty sweet fish. I think Derek intentionally bows his head cause for whatever that’s his thing but I’m pretty much looking wherever cause I’m in lala land. Loon’s not cool?! Dang it!!!!!!!

      Reply
  20. Bill Bundy

    I use a buff mainly to protect myself from the sun.. if you’re fishing the flats or the mountains the sun doesn’t discriminate.. and Round Bill for sure !!

    Reply
  21. David Lee

    I live in a wide-brimmed , floppy bush hat (gonna pick up a kinda cheesy straw cowboy-type hat pretty quick , just for the really hot days) . Almost always long sleeves , and nylon pants . I’ll wear a Buff if I’m going to be out mid-day . All you have to do is have several dozen ‘interesting’ Freckles burned off (in my case , closer to 100 now) , and you will be willing to wear a gunny sack , if that’s what it takes to keep you from being damaged –

    I could give a squirt what anyone thinks about how I look when I’m on the water , and photo opps ? I look like an idiot in EVERY fishing photo anyways !

    Reply
    • Phil

      I can TOTALLY relate David. I don’t have skin cancer yet, but both of my parents have had multiple “spots” burned off. I thought about even using a Tilly hat myself.

      As far as looking like an idiot in fishing photos? THAT’S ME MAN!!! Haha! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      Reply
  22. Brandon Mena

    I find it funny that even while reading thru the comments people have to justify why they wear the things they do! I wear a buff because I like/want to. I wear the hats I do (curved and flat) because I think they are rad. I spend 2-3 days a week on the water and can count the times on one hand that people have said something about what i’m wearing to my face, and usually its because I wear two buffs: one fabric and a beard (organic buff). The social networks on the other hand are different. Something about the internet makes people more judgmental and brave, I guess. If you were to ask me I think it is dudes that are jealous! The most frequent times people post hater like comments are when the fish are big, and you dudes catch a lot of big fish! I feel you have to have empathy towards those haters. They are probably mad about not being as successful on the water or being stuck in the office! Keep living the dream and I’ll keep reading about it (probably while wearing my buff)!

    Reply
    • Phil

      I’m going to say it… This is my favorite comment thus far Brandon. What is wrong with “wanting” to wear something just because you like it/want to?! You are also spot on with the internet making people more judgmental and brave. It comes along with the ability to be anonymous. Great thoughts…

      Reply
  23. Zach

    Great Article! I’ve personally experienced that the fly fishing community (and most other sports: mountain biking, skiing, mountaineering etc.) is all about opinion. It’s comical how strongly opinionated fly fishers are; if they don’t like something, they REALLY don’t like something – and vise versa. On the topic of attire, I posted a classic hero shot of me with a fish, but I had a flat brim, neck bandana and my rod balanced (it was an opti reel so yeah, pretty flashy). The comments received were all about the aesthetic of the clothing, nothing about the fish. One of the comments was, “fly fishing has become a fashion show”.
    Aside from clothing, if people hate a certain brand of gear, you will get ragged for it. I get the margin between using low and high quality gear, but when certain people discriminate when you use a brand… It seems a but extreme to me.

    Reply
    • Phil

      I feel ya Zach! I recently watched one of my buddies post a pic of himself holding dang nice pike with his flat brim and buff. Someone immediately left a comment saying, “Oh no… you are one of THOSE guys…” I wanted to say, “Oh no, you are one of THOSE guys” to HIM!

      Regarding the gear, I like loop too but I don’t give a CRAP what other people want to use? Am I going to judge and comment because you are using a cabelas $20 reel? No, I have owned many in my days…

      Reply
  24. Eric

    I have worn “Flat-bill” caps for years off the water. But I always wore traditional curved bill while out fishing, up until about a few years ago. Once I discovered the flat bill truly works better for me while out fishing. I get much more coverage out of the flat bill. It reduces glare coming from the sun through the top of my glasses drastically compared to the traditional curved bill cap. I still alternate between the two styles, but flat really works better. I also have some sun spotting in the center of my forehead where the highest part of the curved bill is. I cannot cover that area with a mask, so it’s exposed to the sun rays. Might not be an issue when you’re out on a river or stream somewhere, but out in the south florida sun on a flat in the Florida Keys, the sun is very much amplified. The flat bill covers that area of my face more so than the traditional fit caps. I still see a place for both in this sport, but I have gotten a lot of heat for wearing flat bills.

    I mean, a traditional MLB cap comes flat. One can curve it to their liking. Aren’t these Baseball caps? What’s the big deal?

    Reply
  25. Trout sniper

    I think it was spawned from all of the snowboard, skiers that are flyfisherman. They realized how great it was for protection from the sun and wind. And they just carried that over to the summer when they Flyfish.

    Reply
  26. Robert Matthews

    Great read and you are spot on with your opinions.
    I’m thankful for Buff’s and have a lot of them.They keep me from having to put sunscreen on my face which is sensitive to the chemicals that are involved. Now the face no longer burns. It’s hot in the summer here in Texas and its easy to dip the buff in water and keep you cool as another advantage.
    Just don’t forget to lower it before walking in a store. But that’s another story.
    The perception about flat brimmed hats is pretty funny. Personally don’t wear them because they just don’t fit my face and I prefer to wear low profile hats. Really don’t care what people think about me when i’m on the water and I don’t judge what other people wear in return.

    Reply
  27. Justin

    amazing article and point of view. thanks so much for posting.

    Reply
  28. Nick

    I grew up in SoCal and was around the “Bro” scene with the black socks, fox racing and glamis. But I can’t believe we now have it in fly fishing or fishing period. I have since left Califas with more tattoos than I can count so now when I walk in a fly shop I feel like the circus freak…flat billed hats and buffs are least of those people’s issues…in the end let um hate the fish don’t care…

    Reply
    • Phil

      Haha.. We can relate for sure Nick. Sometimes when we are on roadtrips to small/remote towns we get out or walk into a store/shop and get those looks for sure. Thanks for the comment!

      Reply
  29. Erik

    Here in Northern, WI mosquitos are the size a small birds, so the buff actually helps with something to spray 100% deet on instead of your skin (still they will find a place to peg ya’). Yes, and sun protection too. Personally I don’t care what hat, what shirt, buff, no buff… I’m gonna be me and be ‘comfortable’ fishing.

    Reply
  30. Brock

    What hat, what buff, check out that toad, that’s what I am talking about.

    Reply
  31. Justin Craddock

    Waders, hoodie, wide-brimmed straw hat (or bomber hat in the winter), and sunglasses. Sometimes I’ll go without the big hat if it’s windy and rely on a ball cap and the hood. I look ridiculous, but I don’t mind. There’s usually nobody around me anyway. 😉

    I still get the reflection from the water in my face, but I hate trying to breathe through fabric and would likely hate wearing a buff. Never liked the flat brimmed look either, but to each their own. I’d wear one if it was the only hat around. Bald anglers always need a hat!

    Reply
  32. Gabe

    I see it a lot, this kind of bickering I really think it’s just high school drama! I’ve got a lot of friends in different walks of fly life we all fish and that’s our common thread, I normally can be found in cargo shorts a howler gaucho shirt chaos a trucker or tula and a buff fishing an eagle claw featherlight off a kayak, I don’t care if you’re Mr Orvis or the guy in tweed, or the guy in the flat bill with a buff be you but be fly

    Reply
  33. Ross Slayton

    Who cares what you wear? Joke ’em if they can’t take a F#$%!!!

    Reply
  34. Lee

    I started wearing Buffs about 6 years ago in Baja because sun screen would get in my eyes when I wiped my brow. With a Buff/Simms I not only don’t have sun screen in my eyes, it keeps my hat on.

    As for hats? As long as it works with my sunglasses i don’t care which brim I have.

    I guide full time on Southern California beaches and I wear my Buff all the time there too.

    Reply
    • Phil

      Great point Lee about a buff keeping your hat on. When I fished the bahamas, the wind was CRAZY! It was nice being able to keep my hat at a comfortable fit and not worry about it blowing into the ocean!! What species do you guide for in So California?

      Reply
      • Lee

        Phil, I guide for anything with in casting distance of the wet sand from perch to leopard sharks. Check out the website.

  35. Shawn

    We’re discussing the merits of what people wear and hating on things? Maybe time is better spent on conservation?

    Reply
    • Phil

      Great thought Shawn. I feel you 100 %. I just feel like at some point someone needs to say SOMETHING so that MAYBE we can initiate ACCEPTANCE among a few more fishing folks. We thought it was a growing problem… So is the lack of conservation awareness. Thanks for your input!

      Reply
  36. Rich Johnson

    Thought I’d log in as an “old guy” (60) that’s been around long enough to have been the young buck when I became active in the fly fishing world. All cultures, and fly fishing is a culture, must grow to remain healthy. And growth means change. Unfortunately, humans are inherently resistant to change. When some of that change is visual cues (clothing/apparel) many are quick to judge against social stereotypes. It’s my opinion that the fly fishing world is going though a major growth (renewal) period, and the anglers becoming active in our world are from a much different social culture than mine. I love the guys at SCOF and trust me, I’m from a whole other world. It’s young anglers like yourself, and scores of others that, regardless of what you wear, are proving to be great stewards of our sport. Just remember, it’s people with closed minds that most often have open mouths. I have no problem with a little hip-hop/gansta look on the water; as long as you keep your ear-buds in.
    I don’t wear hats unless I’m fishing; and anymore it’s to keep my scalp from sun burning as much as shading my eyes. I wear a buff like a neck scrunchy most of the time; to keep the mosquitoes from getting to my neck. And my nylon wind shell is the same one I’ve had for the last 35+ years. A fashionista I am not.

    Reply
    • Phil

      We appreciate your perspective and vision Rich! Great point regarding the closed minds having the most open mouths… I agree.

      Reply
  37. Ben Wong

    The problem isn’t born from people wearing buffs for functional reasons, no, it’s caused when the wankers wear them in the most inappropriate scenarios just to look hip. And you don’t have to leave them on your face for a photo, that is clearly gasping for attention.

    Reply
  38. Ron

    Hats? Who cares? Trucker hats were the go to hat when you forget yours. Cheap and quick at almost any gas station. Didn’t want to waste the time forming a curved bill on a $2.99 hat.
    Buffs..my first thought when I started seeing them(mainly on younger guys), was smart thinking. Don’t end up with skin cancer because your sunscreen wore off/forgot/didn’t have time. I’ve used them on and off. They work. I also use them when I’m working on my mini farm. Great to keep the sun and dust out. A real life saver. Just gave one of the free F3T buffs to a older rancher/neighbor of ours and they now want to know where to pickup more.

    Reply
  39. Space Angler

    Personally can’t stand getting a new hat where the bill has already been folded for me. THIS is a fad. I prefer a slight bend in my brim, but remember the good ole days of wrapping a brim around a baseball with a few rubber bands.

    I wear a buff but really can’t stand it over my face unless its cold. I find it a bit suffocating.

    Bottom Line: Haters Gonna Hate!

    Reply
  40. CJ

    Quit worrying about others and go fish. We are all in this game for one reason… to enjoy our time on the water! I wear a flat bill and a buff, big whoop, wanna fight about if? I will be the first to laugh in your face cause I am catching fish while you are spending your time judging others. All of you with an ego, remember that trouts brains are about the size of a pea. We love this game we play because we are happy playing the game. If you wanna hate on others for playing the same game you love, you need a good dunking in the river by a so called “bro.” Go fish in your style!

    Reply
  41. Phil

    “…remember the good ole days of wrapping a brim around a baseball with a few rubber bands.”

    DONE THAT!! Haha! Thanks for sharing Space Angler!

    Reply
  42. Phil

    I think the whole flat brimmed, sticker still on it, hat barely on your head look is retarded, but to each their own. Im not gonna chastise anyone for doing it while fishing, ill just chuckle and shake my head. Im sure people think I dress funny. Flat brimmed hats have their place the same as upside down spinning reels. As far as buffs go, I HATE spraying myself down with sunscreen every 10-15 minutes so I dont turn into a steamed lobster, and the buff keeps me cooler/sunburn free when im out on the water for hours at a time. Just my .02.

    Reply
  43. gard saxon

    I’m too busy fishing to re-apply sunscreen every few hours.
    I’m too busy fishing to give a flying f#&k what other dudes are wearing.
    I’m too busy fishing to worry about what other people think about what I’m wearing.

    Reply
    • Phil

      I’m with you GS. ANYTHING that makes me stop fishing (including food) drives me crazy. Buffs are quick, convenient, and work well.

      Reply
  44. Dustin Schouest

    I am of a different walk than most any angler. I am a big time metal head, I am a big time retro gamer, but I am also a life long angler. I grew up with Penn reels and Ugly Stick rods and recently got into fly fishing as of last year. I wear black most of the time on the water, coupled with a Guy Harvey or Columbia shirt. I wear my hair and beard long and jam Viking metal while I peddle my Hobie on my Louisiana waters.

    You see too much hate from people these days in the community. People give others slack for keeping too many fish or handling them differently or again on the way they dress. And to be honest, I hate it.

    We are a community of like minded folks. We all love the water. Why can we not accept that we may be of different walks and styles? I get dirty looks when “pro” anglers see me with a Pantera shirt over my Omni-Freeze shirt and my hair in a pony tail. However, I’ve also made friends in the community who could care less how I dress: they treat me like a friend and at times like a student.

    We have to stop looking at the Buffs and the hats and the clothes and realize that we are all the same: we are children of the water and students of the fish. Before fish We are all the same. Why can we not treat each other like that?

    Reply
  45. Eric Partin

    I grew up surfing for all my life. I have always loved the style that the surf culture produced. I am older now (52) and i just started fly fishing 2 years ago. I never thought I would fly fish….ever. Because the image I had of fly fishing was some old guy in a tweed vest. I also couldn’t ever see myself telemarking…nope, snowboarding it is for me. But then a couple of years ago, I was bringing a boat back to FL from Puerto Rico and we stopped in the Bahamas and did some bone fishing and was hooked on flats fishing. As I started watching videos of flats fishing, I started seeing videos of guys fly fishing and catching bones, tarpons and reds on the fly and I said, “I gotta do that.” But one of the things that attracted me to it, besides the thought of hooking to 25 lb. red on a fly rod, was the cool style that I saw. It looked like to me, a bunch of surfers started fly fishing. It wasn’t tweed and khakis and pipes. so I didn’t get into for the style, but I have to say the style to me, has helped open up to younger people. Or maybe you can say that the younger people have brought style to the sport… I don’t know, but i love it. I am hooked. I can’t get enough. And I will be out there on my boat with my buff, curved trucker hat and Howler Brothers shirt and Volcum board shorts and you won’t know how old I am until I slip my buff down to take a picture of me with that 32″ redfish, and you see my gray hair. And if you want to call me bro, go for it.

    PS – One of the funniest things happened to me last year when my wife was dragging me around shopping on 5th Avenue in NYC and we ran across on Orvis store. They didn’t have one fly rod in the store and it was hilarous to see all these young “urbanite” salesmen dressed like they were about to “enjoy their pipe and scotch in the library” right in the middle of Manhatten.

    Reply
  46. Chris

    There are plenty of things to dislike about the fly fishing industry but Buffs ain’t one of them. I’ll take the Buff shots over the hero shots where the angler is either doing a Zoolander facial pose or a stern gaze that let’s you know how serious and important his fly fishing is. I think fishing is fun, but so many shots look like the angler is being forced to fly fish at gunpoint.

    Reply
  47. J Kear

    I have had a day ruined, and I mean absolutely ruined because of sunscreen. Maybe I am a 3rd grader and cant apply the stuff properly but my eyes are sensitive to the stuff. Like any other day out in the sun I grab a tube of the banana boat spf 30 and rub it in to arms and legs and feet to keep them from burning. I then dip my hands in the river to clean them and then go about my fishing day. with out fail I inadvertently rub my eyes and BAM! game over. I could not get the leftover sunscreen residue from my fingers and rubbed the corners of my eyes resulted tearing up and not being able to keep eyes open at all and thus couldn’t see my fly couldn’t see the take, missed fish and hook sets. It was awful oh and it was painful and burning in my eyes too. I was on an out of town 2 day trip and of course that comes at no small expense in time and money. I lost a whole day of good fishing to an error in mis-use of sunscreen. I tried to wash it out, take a swim, splash clean water, everything I could and to no avail. Ever since that day, I will never let sunscreen near my fingers. I wear long sleeves/ long pants and buff with a hat. When using sunscreen on wrists, hands, (never the fingers) or feet I will use only the spray screen and usually will ask a friend to spray it on me as to not risk exposure to fingers nor eyes.

    Reply
  48. speckhunter80

    I have three buffs. I wear one of them and long sleeve fishing shirts every time I fish even if it is 95 out. I either wear a curved bill ball cap with the buff over the top or I wear a “California” lifeguard hat. I also wear sun gloves on my hands. Skin cancer is no bueno. Don’t give a rodent’s arse what folks think I look like. I know what I would look like with cancer scars and it isn’t pretty. Fish hard, fish smart, fish often.

    Reply
  49. Chase Adams

    I’m a friend of the authors and, although I in no way participate in any type of fishing and know nothing of the trends/fashion/culture, I have commented on his photos on Facebook and specifically mentioned how sweet he looked with his fishing getup and that it enticed me to maybe want to try my hand at it. So in short, “anglers”(?) dressing in what some might consider a more “hip,” “trendy,” or “cool” way might actually bring new people into your sport. Note for the slow: that’s a good thing.

    Reply
  50. CK1

    If you really want to feel the disdain, put on a pair of Vibram 5 fingers….strangers will stop you just to tell you they hate your “shoes”!

    Where is the love???

    Reply
  51. eliza

    That was fun to read… I rock the buff! I was born with fair-fair-skywalker skin. Skin cancer runs in the family. My Dermatologist, Board Certified, brother in law recommends the Buff to all his patients. In fact, I think he gave me a 3-pack of buffs for Christmas? Or was that Mom?! Sunscreen can be harmful within itself, pain to reapply/lather on, contaminate the fly/line and cause acne. So why do I wear a buff? For convenience, cancer and breakout prevention. Damn it feels good to be a gangster…
    “did a floaty no-grab 180 and I shook my head.”
    🙂

    Reply
  52. Will

    I drink Deet for breakfast and fish in the buff wearing only a flat brimmed hat. O_o

    Simms vs. Orvis. Spin vs. Fly. Same old stuff different gear. As long as my wife and dog dont hate me, then I’m good. If people are concerning themselves with what I’m decked out in, I probably don’t want to be around them anyway.

    Reply
  53. Dorian

    Love my Buff. So versatile in both hot and cold weather. Don’t give a shit what people might/might not think about it. I my opinion the buff is one of the best 20 bucks I’ve ever spent on outdoor gear!

    Reply
  54. Fishbreath

    Hats and buffs are tools like boots and waders. Use the right tool for the job. I’ve found some sunglasses can’t be worn with curved brim caps, you can’t get the shade where you need it because the frames are too fat. I’ll wear either depending on which shades I can find. What I want to know is what’s up with guys tucking their ears inside their ball caps?

    Reply
  55. dirdybirt

    flat brims and buffs big deal. hows about smiling in some of your photos. The best photo you guys have ever put out is with your buddy grippin and grinning on that massive bull trout. I could tell how stoked and happy and how much fun buddy was having in that single picture. The other pictures you post with the “look away” makes me look less at the fish and think about what idiot caught the fish. its kind of a “look at what a stud I am, Im so freakin sick” thing that is laaaaameee! smile more-I know for a fact that most of us are absolutely freaking out when you have a big fish on the line. let that shine through in your photos

    Reply
    • Nathan Leavitt

      Thanks for popping by. I’d agree that the picture of Derek with the bully is one of the greatest photos ever. Pure emotion. I can’t speak for Derek and his “look away” thing, that’s what he likes to do I guess. I think you may be thinking a bit too hard about things though. Anyone that’s ever met us or fished with us can attest that nobody is having more fun on the water than us. You’re probably right that we could do a better job showing that through our imagery. It’s tough though cause honestly, when I’m in front of the lens I’ve already celebrated during the hookset, the fight, and the landing of the fish. By the time I’m in front of the lens I’m pretty much just taking in the moment. I’m not one to “pose” per se. Anyway, definitely good feedback and something to think about!

      Reply
  56. Jared

    I live in south florida and id say 50% of the guys i know wear flat bills and buffs. Myself included. Unless you want to smear greasy sunblock all over you face 3 times a day (and your flies and lures for that matter) then a buff is a necessity. Flat bill hats hold down closer to my sunglasses preventing the sun from getting on my forhead. Plus they trnd to be wide to keep it out of my eyes. Anyone whos ever spent the day poling the flats in south Florida knows the sun is brutal down here. Exposed skin burns in hours. You dont like how i dress? Dont look at my pictures. #SWC

    Reply

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