What Do Commercial Fishermen Wear? (Rain and Shine)

fishers working on the boat

Commercial fishing is a dangerous job that takes place in all types of weather. Commercial fishers can choose from various types of clothing to keep them cool or warm depending upon the temperature, but it is essential to dress appropriately for the weather. 

No matter the weather, commercial fishers wear layers, deck boots, hats, and usually impermeable fishing bibs. They’ll wear wicking base layers, insulated mid-layers, and waterproof outer layers in cold and wet conditions. In warm areas, they wear lightweight fabrics with good UV protection.

If you have ever wondered what commercial fishers wear, you may be an aspiring commercial fisherman yourself or a recreational angler who wants to dress like the big dogs. In any case, here is more detail on the basic items fishers need to be comfortable in all types of weather.

All-Weather Gear for Commercial Fishermen

Commercial fishers need to have special gear to protect them from inclement weather or extreme temperatures. They need a few basic staples, whether they fish in the cold Bering Sea or the balmy Gulf of Mexico. Good shoes and a hat are two items fishermen wear at sea regardless of weather conditions or temperatures.


Having sturdy, durable deck boots is essential for keeping your feet dry while at sea. If you’re fishing during cold weather, deck boots can protect your feet from the temperature and help you get traction on slippery boat decks. Similarly, boots give you better traction on a boat, even in hot weather.


Like boots, hats are essential accessories for commercial fishers regardless of weather conditions. A snug beanie may be appropriate for cold weather to help fishermen keep their heads warm. A wide-brimmed hat may be more appropriate in hot temperatures or stormy weather conditions.

While fishing in balmy weather, fishermen who wear hats can shield their faces from the sun. Not only will a wide-brimmed hat protect tender facial skin from sun damage, but it will also help you stay cooler by deflecting the sun’s rays.

Whether they’re in cold or warm weather during a storm, commercial fishers wear wide-brimmed hats at sea. These hats deflect the sun during hot weather, and they also deflect rain and make it easier for fishers to see what they are doing.

Commercial Fishing Gear for Cold and Inclement Weather

Commercial fishermen who work in cold environments such as the Bering Sea need to stay warm. This environment is treacherous and often has high winds with wild waves, so it’s also important for the fishermen who work here to stay dry.

Fisher in cold weather gear

How to Stay Warm at Sea

High winds and freezing temperatures can make it difficult for commercial fishermen to stay warm. The best way to lock in warmth and protect yourself from extreme temperatures is to wear several layers.

A base layer is essential for warmth. Fishers wear a warm shirt and pants underneath their outerwear to help hold in body heat. There are many base-layer fishing boat clothing types, but items such as Grundens’ base layer fishing crew shirt work well to keep you warm at sea.

The middle layer can also serve as the outer layer if the temperature rises enough for you to shed a layer. A hoodie lined with microfleece is a great option that is comfortable and warm. Soft-shell jackets that are wind-resistant and waterproof are also good choices.

The outer layer of clothing is what commercial fishermen wear to protect their base and middle layers from the elements and lock in warmth. Fishing bibs and hoodies offer excellent protection from cold weather. Choose wind-resistant items to help you fight freezing temperatures from high winds.

Stay Dry On a Fishing Boat

Commercial fishers expect to get wet while on a boat, but if they allow themselves to work in soaked clothes, they are more at risk of developing dangerous health conditions due to the temperatures. The best way to stay relatively dry on a fishing boat is to wear waterproof items for the middle and outer layers of your clothing.

Bibs and waders are great options for repelling water. If they get damp, they will still keep your other layers of clothing dry. You can take off this outer layer of clothing and be warm and dry underneath.

However, it’s important to remember that you may need to take off your outer layer if the temperature rises and you get too hot. In this case, the middle layer will become the outer layer. Commercial fishermen wear waterproof middle layers of clothing for this reason. If they need to remove their outer layer of clothing, they are still protected from rain or seawater with a waterproof middle layer.

Related: Grundens vs Simms: Comparing the Best Foul Weather Rain Gear

Summer Gear for Commercial Fisherman

Fishermen who work in warmer environments such as the southern Atlantic Ocean need not be concerned with staying warm at sea. The hot sun makes it difficult to dress in multiple layers, but fishermen in this environment still need to be protected from inclement weather.

Fisher in warm weather gear

Beat the Heat

Commercial fishermen wear lightweight clothing that is both breathable and durable in warm environments. There is no reason to dress in three layers for warmth. However, you may still want to wear a base layer of lightweight, breathable clothing with an outer layer that consists of bibs or waders to protect you from rain or seawater.

Many commercial fishers find it helpful to dress in two layers early in the morning to keep them warm before the sun rises. As the temperature climbs later in the day, they shed the outer layer to stay cool.

Stay Dry and Cool

Rain can be just as much of a hindrance in warmer weather as in cold environments. Commercial fishermen can wear lightweight jackets that are waterproof to shield their clothing from the rain.

If you’re dealing with an occasional drizzle, you may prefer to put a bib on to keep yourself dry without hindering your freedom of movement. By staying comfortable and dry, you can stay safer while working, or even if you’re just out fishing recreationally.

Commercial fishermen have a dangerous job to do at sea, so they must wear the proper clothing to keep them comfortable on the boat. If you are wondering what fishermen wear at sea or looking for fishing boat clothing, look for items in the categories discussed above to find the gear you need for a successful fishing excursion.

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