As spring turns to summer, being prepared for anything on the water should be every bass angler's mantra. That applies to fishing tackle with fish willing to bite many different lures and in various depths and the gear you bring along with you on your trip.
Longtime pro anglers Wesley Strader and Matt Arey fish the Bass Pro Tour and Bassmaster Elite Series, respectively, and share some of their must-have gear options for fishing the summer transition.
Protect Your Skin
As the summer weather heats things up, Strader puts an emphasis on protecting his skin and uses sun gloves, masks, hats, and sun shirts to keep the rays off of him.
"Skin cancer is a big thing and as much as we fish as professional anglers, up to around 300-days a year between tournaments and fun fishing for myself, it's a must," he said. "I like to keep my hands protected with the AFTCO Solago Sun Gloves. I almost feel naked if I'm fishing in the summer without them anymore because they are so comfortable and you get used to wearing them every day."
He likes the design of the gloves because they help to protect but don't hinder his fishing in any way.
"They are open on the inside, so you can still fish like nobody's business and you don't lose any sensitivity," he said. "They don't get hot and will protect the back of your hands and your fingers. They keep you cool and protect your skin at the same time."
Strader's shirt of choice is the AFTCO Samurai Sun Shirts. "I honestly wear them all seasons: spring, summer, fall, and even when hunting as layers; they are great for all the seasons," he said. "They keep you warm and cool at the same time; it's a weird deal. I've come to the point where I can't hardly wear a cotton shirt anymore because these are so comfortable on my skin. It's a great product with some really cool colors; AFTCO really has it together with their gear."
Another of Strader's must-haves for the summer is a big straw hat like the AFTCO Westside Straw Hat.
"I break that hat out for the really hot days and it protects you very good from the sun," he said. "It's a little awkward because it's so big and you have to find a place to put it when you are running down the lake, but they're great hats. Plus, it's always a big hit in the summertime when we take the boat out to Sand Island on the lake to hang out."
Late Spring and Early Summer Rains
During this transition between seasons, rain can be a common theme in some parts of the country. It's part of the annual weather cycle, and fishing it is necessary many times this time of year. Arey has learned that not all rain gear is going to work as those that do so well in the colder months will be much too warm.
"I wear my AFTCOO Hydronaut suit when it's cold out and it does a great job at keeping me both warm and dry," he began. "For the warmer months, it's the Barricade for me. It's a phenomenal suit that's not insulated and lightweight and it does a great job at keeping me dry and comfortable all day long."
He likes this new suit, which won the Best of Category award at ICAST 2021, because of how it performs on the water for him.
"There are some light suits out there, but they're not nearly as breathable as this is," he said, referencing what AFTCO says has 20K waterproofing and 15K breathability. "There are others out there that just don't keep you dry as the Barricade does. Everything AFCTO make is quality and they have products for all seasons. My whole closet is full of their stuff; it's about all I wear on and off the water."
Strader echoes Arey in his appreciation for the Barricade suit. "It never leaves my boat in the early summer and all the way into fall, basically anytime the weather is warm," he shared. "It's lightweight and packable; you can roll it up real tight, so it's not taking up so much room in your boat. It's a great, great waterproof rain suit and you don't get wet with it at all."
Protecting yourself from the elements is just as important as finding the right baits and patterns and for those who fish often, it's a must and the key to longevity in the game. Wesley Strader and Matt Arey make their livings on the water and know that the right gear is essential to stay comfortable and protected while they wait for the next bite.