Why Do Fishermen Wear Masks? 6 Benefits

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When you think of a professional fisherman, what you probably think of are fishing rods, hooks, bait, nets, and all of those other fun things.

However, if you haven’t noticed, many fishermen wear masks. No, fishermen don’t wear masks because they don’t want to reveal their identities to fish.  So, why do fishermen wear masks?

Fishermen wear masks to protect themselves from wind, to keep warm or to keep cool, to protect themselves from the sun, for insect protection, and for water protection. Fishing masks actually serve many different purposes, so let’s take a closer look.

What Is The Purpose Of A Fishing Mask?

neck gaitor for fishing

OK, so there are six main purposes that a fishing mask serves, all of which are equally as important. Technically speaking, there are actually seven purposes, but we have grouped two of them into one category.

Let’s take a closer look at why you might want to consider using a fishing mask.

1. Wind

The first purpose that a fishing mask serves is to protect yourself from the wind.

Wind can be extremely uncomfortable, especially when it is a strong wind. This is especially the case when you are out on the ocean, particularly during one of the colder seasons.

Here we are actually talking about something called wind rash.

Consistent and very strong winds can quite literally strip the skin right from your flesh, something that a fishing mask can definitely help protect you from, particularly when there is saltwater involved. 

2. Keeping Cool OR Warm

The next purpose that a fishing mask serves has to do with temperature regulation.

On one hand, if it is a very sunny day, that sun is going to beat down on your neck, and that is going to heat you up.

A very thin and lightly colored mask can help protect your neck from becoming too hot and sweaty.

Just remember that if you want to wear a mask to keep cool, you do need one that is breathable. If the mask in question is not breathable, it will cause you to heat up instead of staying cool.

On the other end of the spectrum, a fishing mask can also help to keep you warm when it is cold outside.

If you plan on using a fishing mask to keep your neck warm, then you need to go for one that is made out of a thick material that is known for being a good insulator, something like cotton.

Moreover, if you plan on wearing a face mask to keep warm, get one that isn’t too breathable. Keeping that hot air inside will keep you warm.

3. UV Protection

The next reason why you might want to consider wearing a fishing mask is to help keep your skin from becoming burnt.

Yes, sunburns are a real problem when you go outdoors and the risk of getting sunburnt is increased just that much more when you’re out on the water. Water is highly reflective, and it will increase the intensity of UV rays.

Therefore, wearing adequate UV protection when you’re out on the water is extremely important. Although it’s nothing huge, a simple mask can help protect your neck from becoming burnt.

A small sunburn may not seem like much of an issue, but if it becomes severe enough it can lead to blistering and extreme pain.

It’s often hard to notice that you are becoming sunburn as it is happening and more often than not, you’ll only notice once the damage has already been done.

4. Insect Protection

When you’re out on the water, especially on rivers and lakes, you will probably be bombarded by a litany of insects.

The worst culprits are usually mosquitoes and biting flies. If you want to keep these insects from eating you alive and from flying down your throat as you try to talk to your buddy, then a mask can come in very handy.

Insects that are trying to eat you alive or some of the biggest nuisances went fishing, something that can outright ruin an otherwise enjoyable fishing trip. 

5. Some Water Protection

Although this is really only the case if you’re out on the ocean, a good mask can help protect you from that water spraying on your neck and going down your shirt.

If you plan on getting a fishing mask for this purpose, then make sure that you get one that is waterproof, or at the very least water resistant.

This will help keep that super cold and salty seawater from soaking you from head to toe.

Although you will also want to wear other waterproof or water resistant gear, a good mask is a great start.

6. Protection from Stray Hooks

The final reason why you might want to consider wearing a mask when fishing, especially if you are a newbie fisherman, is to protect your neck from errant hooks.

If you aren’t good at casting your line, then you might end up hooking yourself.

Hooking yourself can be extremely painful, and moreover removing a hook from your skin may actually require professional medical attention.

A good layer of fabric in between your skin and that hook can help save you a whole lot of pain and trouble.


What Is A Fishing Mask Called?

Generally speaking, a fishing mask is colloquially referred to as a gaiter or neck gaiter. With the covid pandemic and mask wearing requirements, you have probably seen these gaiter masks around.

In case you haven’t, they really just look like fabric cylinders that you stretch over your head and pull down to your neck.

You can wear a neck gaiter like a scarf around your neck, and you can also pull it upwards to cover your nose and mouth.

Now, on a side note, neck gaiters are in no way considered adequate protection from the Coronavirus! For Covid protection, you need a real medical facemask. 

Is a Neck Gaiter the Same as a Buff?

Technically speaking, a Buff is actually fishing mask or neck gaiter that comes from a specific brand name, BUFF Headwear.

So, yes, neck gaiters can be called buffs, but neck gaiters are the actual item, whereas Buff is simply a brand name.

It’s like we refer to tissues as Kleenex, even though Kleenex is just a specific brand name.  

Neck Gaiter vs Sunscreen

OK, so as we have established fishing masks do provide you with a great number of benefits.

If your main concern is protection from the sun, then something else you may be considering is wearing sunscreen.

Sure, sunscreen is fantastic for some protection, probably just as good as a fishing mask. But that said, it really doesn’t have any of the other benefits.

Sunscreen will not help keep you cool or warm. It won’t protect you from the splash of the ocean.

It won’t keep bugs at Bay, and it certainly won’t protect you from stray hooks.

In fact, sunscreen will actually make you quite sticky and can feel uncomfortable at times, not to mention the fact that bugs will quite literally stick to that sunscreen.

So, if UV protection is your main concern, then sure, go for some sunscreen.

But for everything else, you will want to wear a fishing mask.

That said, on a very hot day, any layer of fabric might just be too much. There is an obvious tradeoff that needs to be considered here.

Will You Catch More Fish Wearing a Mask?

While it is a noble thought that wearing a fishing mask will help you catch more fish, this is really not true at all.

Sure, it might keep you a bit more comfortable, but it’s not going to make fish bite more.

That’s up to other factors such as your bait and lures, time of day, location, weather, and more.

Saying that a fishing mask will help you catch more fish is like saying that eating more chocolate ice cream will make you a better NASCAR driver.

There is just absolutely no correlation between the two.

Related: Tips to keep your hands warm and safe while fishing.


The bottom line here is that if you are serious about fishing, you want to keep warm, dry, and free of insect bites, then a fishing mask can definitely be beneficial.


Image Credit: Shannon Kringen/FlickrCC.