We interviewed Twelve Weight ambassador and field-tester Captain Will Benson. Will spends 250+ days a year on the water working the flats around Key West running grueling full-day light-tackle trips. Here is what he recommends his clients and fellow guides gear up with for the upcoming spring and summer 2018 fishing season.
Will believes that having a really great hat that is lightweight, comfortable, and stays on your head when you're running around in the boat all day is critical. He believes that seeing these fish is a huge part of the game, and the Optic Black underbrim built into the Cotton Linen Hat Collection is a game changer when it comes to cutting through the glare and seeing fish.
He mentioned that wearing a mask that is lightweight and allows you to breath easily is super important. Your face gets a ton of sun, all-day long, so pairing a mask with sunscreen is a must if you're planning to spend the day on the water.
As far as shirts go, Will is a firm believer that you need a shirt with a high collar so that there is no gap between your shirt and mask, leaving no burn line. Long sleeves and breathability are also a must so you stay protected while staying cool. The 7 Mile is great. You can wear it on the boat all-day or you can wear it out to dinner after a day of fishing.
"I live in this stuff every single day. For some of it I'm still wearing original prototype stuff that we schemed up 6-years ago. I think it is a real testament to how well this gear holds up when put to the test."
In Will's opinion, the FREEwt Long Sleeve Shirt is the best technical fishing shirt he owns. They are unbelievably comfortable and cool, making it his go to shirt since day one. He wears them hard all season and they stand up to everything he puts them through. His wife calls it his guide uniform when he throws it on in the morning.
Will says it's always great to have a fresh pair of gloves to start the year. Not everybody wears gloves - but once you get into the habit of having them on your hands and you get comfortable fishing or polling with them - the gloves are a lifesaver. The tops of your hands get a ton of sun exposure and sunscreen wears off quickly. Having gloves that allows you to feel as you work is crucial.
He is a huge fan of the Ghost Boxer Briefs, Will believes that if you're not comfortable in that region, you're not going to have a good day. The boxer briefs are by far the best pair of boxers I've ever owned. He thinks he is absolutely the most comfortable thing to be out on the boat in. Nobody really talks about how important base layers are, they're so foundational and fundamental in what we do.
The don't leave home without it list.