Fishing Umbrellas, Day Shelters and Bivvys

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People who love fishing will know how the weather changes so quickly in the UK: sunshine one minute, rain the next. Then there is the problem of potentially harmful UVA and UVB rays. So you need an umbrella to be ready for all eventualities. As a result, the fishing umbrella has evolved with many different names and combinations. To some, it is just a plain brolly, but others will term it as a day shelter.

Angling umbrellas have evolved into complete shelters in some cases, sometimes classed as Fishing Brolly Systems, which transform from a basic day session umbrella into an overnighter. This is done by adding an overwrap to the umbrella to make it fully enclosed. Then some bivvies are based on the umbrella concept, where the front panel can be zipped out to form a decent opening, just like an umbrella provides. There are also some fishing umbrellas with storm sides, which can be pegged down for extra security and protection from wind and rain. This type of design will also allow a bedchair to be fitted underneath.

Brolly Systems

As previously mentioned, umbrellas have evolved into systems that can be opened up for more freedom of movement while fishing or fully enclosed into a proper shelter with an overwrap, similar to a bivvy. The only problem with the latter format is it can be restrictive, even a bit claustrophobic.

Many anglers like to store most of their gear under the back or sides of a brolly, with 50-inch models being the most popular. When pegged down, an umbrella this size will cope with everything the weather can throw at it. However, if you want to incorporate a bedchair, you will need to add sides or an overwrap to stop the ends from being exposed and getting wet when it’s raining.

Anglers who prefer an umbrella over a proper bivvy mainly do short day sessions and might only need protection for a few hours or just the occasional overnight stint.

The only problem with an umbrella is that it is quite open and can let in some water in lousy weather. On the other hand, a simple umbrella used by a coarse angler is just big enough to keep them and their seat box dry, similar to those who use chairs.

Main Brolly Designs

There are three kinds of umbrella-style shelters. The first is a basic umbrella or brolly, which can be connected to a seat box with a special umbrella arm for extra stability. It is large enough to protect the angler and most fishing gear from the elements. This will also help to protect your bait tray when it’s raining or very hot, stopping maggots from getting wet and escaping from their box or overheating in bright sunshine.

Most umbrellas feature angle adjustment, allowing the top to be tilted to allow for the direction from which rain or wind is coming. You need to position your umbrella carefully to get maximum protection because staying dry and well protected helps you to fish more competently.

The second type of umbrella is designed for coarse anglers who use fishing chairs, offering a wider span of shelter by having storm sides that can be pegged down. Most of these umbrellas have flat backs that rest on the ground for better stability, being easier to peg down securely. With this format, the pole supporting the umbrella right at the back provides more room under the shelter to move about. The advantage of this setup is your chair is completely covered while leaving enough room at the front to continue fishing unhindered.

The third umbrella type is a bait brolly designed to protect your bait tray or table from the elements. This mini brolly can be adjusted at the perfect angle to protect your most important bait, using an extension arm connected to your seat box or chair. Bait brollies can be circular or square.

Features to Consider

Some brolly manufacturers quote their products' hydrostatic head rating, which needs close to 10,000 to be waterproof. This rating tells you what water pressure the fabric can take before leaks.

Most umbrellas and shelters are waterproof like this, and the best ones have taped seams for reinforced sealing. This would otherwise be a potential weak point.

Another good selling point is the thickness of the fabric used for the main canopy. If it feels good quality, you will get a good idea of how the umbrella will withstand constant use week in, week out. The material’s thickness depends on having higher denier ratings, something you should consider because it’s likely to last longer than cheaper, lighter-weight products.

In most fishing umbrellas, you will find a central boss. This is where a support pole meets the canopy part, engaging the support spokes. The best shelters have the boss as close to the ceiling of the brolly as possible, which creates more head height.

If you are using a bait brolly attached to a seat box, you also want the boss as close to the ceiling as possible to give you plenty of space to get at what you are feeding and using on the hook. This mini brolly will need to be angled over to protect everything and allow uncluttered access to bait shielded by it. Seat box accessories like this help to keep your fishing trouble-free in all weather conditions.

When evaluating different types of umbrellas, you need to consider all the aspects we have covered, also the weight factor, especially if you carry your kit around without a trolley or barrow. Some more lightweight brollies are made with carbon parts, followed by aluminium as the next best thing for less heavy components. Fibreglass is another material used for the arms of some umbrellas, being not too heavy and more flexible.

The shape of fishing brollies can be just like standard umbrellas, while flatback umbrella designs are specially developed for angling resting on the ground. This makes them more stable, easier to peg down and helps rainwater cascade well out of the way. Shapes vary from round to square, with big umbrellas and smaller bait versions.

With umbrellas and shelters, some come with a central spike telescopic pole and spiked end, while pegging points hold others down after being fully erected. In addition, many standard umbrellas can be connected to your seat box or chair with special brackets, which we sell as useful extras.

Coarse and carp fishing want their umbrellas or shelters to be specific colours. Most anglers prefer green or camouflaged designs, although match brands lean towards blacks and blues.


Fishing in the sunshine is very good, but long-term exposure can be hazardous to your skin and eyes unless you wear sun creams and sunglasses. Besides being useful in wet and windy weather, an umbrella can protect you from the sun, protecting you from harmful UVA and UVB rays. These can eventually cause skin cancer and cataracts.

Size Matters

If you are over 6ft tall, you will need a fishing umbrella with extra ceiling height. Constantly hitting your head on the canopy or frame is not fun and quickly gets annoying. Low-level shelters are only good with low-slung chairs. You will need a brolly with a long telescopic centre pole if you fish from a seat box.

Selecting the best size of shelter for your requirements is obviously down to your style of angling and what you sit or lay on. The leading manufacturers of umbrellas are Matrix, Fox, Daiwa and Preston. Many anglers like to buy matching gear from their favourite brands, which can be a natural step forward with umbrellas.