Some time ago, I was told by Sam to expect a call from a fellow angler named Brandon Buckingham. Apparently, Brandon was the owner of a fishing/outdoors apparel company called Tight Lines. As it turns out, Brandon wanted to know what Salty Shores thought of the product; basically a review of durability, functionality and overall design. I figured this would be an easy task-it’s only a clothing company, no big deal. Wrong. With more products, comes more pictures, editing, and more to write about. The review was not as easy as I thought, especially getting good pictures, but I pulled it off, as it shows a good majority of his products. With all that aside, we discussed a review and some gear was sent my way a short time after Brandon and I talked.
First a little background is in order. Tight Lines USA is an apparel company started by avid angler Brandon Buckingham, who hails from the Crystal River area. Talking to Brandon, I found out he was twenty four years old and loved to fish; he sought after all species in the area, and was a regular tournament angler. As with many of us though, inshore fishing for trout and redfish was his passion.
Brandon, friends, and family had been kicking around the idea of having a brand of their own shirts and hats for the beach, fishing tournaments, maybe even wearing out on the town. Ready and hungry to pursue the newly found idea, he discussed the venture with a local screen printer and did some further research into vendors, pricing, designs and what the average fisherman or woman wanted to wear. Brandon’s goal was to put out a quality product that people could afford. On top of all that, a good company name was a tough decision as well.
After careful consideration, Brandon and his crew named the company “Tight Lines”. Not a bad choice in my opinion, as this does not limit the apparel to “inshore only” anglers. Designs do not have to be species oriented. One would be surprised the effect a name has on a business. So with his concept and a good name, in November of 2009, Tight Lines was born.
Tight Lines started with a small amount of shirts, hats, and limited designs, basically to test the market and see what people wanted; more research so to say. By either giving shirts and hats away or selling them for very cheap, he discovered there was a small following beginning to grow in his local area. The people had spoken, and the word was they liked the product. Tight Lines next step was to dig a little deeper into the business with more designs, a quality website, all while showcasing the products at outdoors shows. Networking the product helped increase sales and took him to where he is today. Although this venture is still a part time job for Brandon and the rest of Tight Lines, he is having some fun and making extra money for his angling addiction and tournament fishing.
Speaking with Brandon a few more times to learn more about his product line and background, I was interested in what would be sent from the company. What set his business apart from the many others in the industry? Competition was thick.
Within a few weeks, I received the items and immediately a quick inventory was taken. Being that it was the middle of winter when the products arrived, the package contained a skull cap, two hats (one flex fit and one strap back camo), a buff, hooded sweatshirt, and a couple of long sleeve microfiber shirts. Also included were some board shorts that would be in his spring lineup of products.
The diversity in his products was laid out right in front of me. Not many companies offered hooded sweatshirts and skull caps. In addition, one of the microfiber shirts was a very bright shade of orange, not a very common color used in any clothing company, and another had a very unique design not seen by me on a microfiber as well-a “dancer” hanging off a fishing pole. My favorite one of them all. The buff was not over the top, nor the hats, just standard gear. The hooded sweatshirt and a black microfiber were fairly standard as well, simply basic company logos. There was the variety I was hoping to see. A major plus was the board shorts. In the summer, board shorts are basically all that’s worn by me, so it was great to see a company producing a good looking product that I had an interest in.
After trying on all the gear to make sure it fit, I immediately put it to the test and washed it all, with the exception of the hats of course. Even the buff was washed. It was time to actually see if the gear was worthy of praise, or criticism.
On a clothing review, there isn’t too much that can be said about a hat, skull cap, sweatshirt or buff. I stayed warm in the sweatshirt and cap during the cold nights of winter, and the standard hats looked good while fitting me well. No “hat headache” occurred as some hats give me. That factor is all about the style of hat worn, but the designs were nice as well. Not overwhelming, fairly simple. The flex fit design is great for a hat in my opinion. The buff is pretty simple; basically comfort and coverage was good while on the water and it didn’t stretch badly. Enough said.
Tight Lines microfiber shirts were very comfortable (no scratchy feeling), fit well and held up great with no “threading” errors. Most stains came out well with normal washing. There is also a UPF 50 rating on all of the microfiber products. This is a lifesaver when forgetting sunblock and always works well, keeping one from burning up in the Florida sun. Of course, UPF ratings on microfibers are a must, so I already knew that would be a feature. The choice of colors Tight Lines offers varies greatly. Microfiber shirts can be ordered in very bright orange and yellow, or darker colors like black and grey. Opposite ends of the color spectrum. Designs range from the company logo to more intricate designs. The price is very reasonable for a long sleeve micro at only twenty five dollars each. Very tough to beat.
The board shorts, the most expensive item Tight Lines offers at a massive twenty nine dollars, come in tan and Black, as well as a blue and orange combination. All show the company logo on the front and right side. These shorts are quality made as all the other products reviewed, and the size I was trying fit well. After wearing them in the pool, they dried quickly and looked like new. Again, no itchy feeling from the material, threading issues or staining problems. Board shorts were a very original idea for Tight Lines, at least from a fishing apparel standpoint.
After normal usage, the micros, hoodie, shorts, buff and skull cap survived multiple cycles through the washer and dryer. No fading, shrinkage or abnormal wear of any collars, material, or designs was found. Don’t get me wrong; you have to wash them according to manufacturer instructions, but if followed no issues should occur. This includes all microfiber products and the board shorts.
Overall I feel diversity and cost effective pricing is the key to Tight Lines apparel’s success. When I’m looking at a product, especially these days, price and quality are my main deciding factors. In addition, the range of styles and colors always changes as well as designs. The fact that they have seasonal lines works in their favor too. As a bonus, Tight Lines also makes apparel for women, so if you want to keep your significant other happy when ordering, you may want to let her have a peek too. As with all my other preferred fishing apparel companies, you will see me wearing some Tight Lines gear this year as well. Hopefully while holding up a massive tarpon!
Check out their entire product line and upcoming gear regularly at: http://www.tightlinesusa.com/