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How DEET Deteriorates Fishing Gear & Repels Fish

Mossy Oak Thermacell Mosquito Repellent

No one likes bug bites. Though the itchiness can be annoying, the real fear is the diseases that can arise from mosquitos. Bug repellents are a necessary tool for health and safety.

It’s no secret that DEET is harmful for the skin and body. In fact, people who have left the chemical commonly found in insect repellent sprays on their skin for extended amounts of time have experienced redness, skin irritation, and swelling on the applied area. 

More side effects of DEET include nausea, upset stomach, vomiting, and in the most serious cases, seizures. It’s certainly no chemical to mess around with.

But did you know that DEET can damage your fishing line, your waders, and your breathable fabrics as well? 

That’s right. 

According to Harvard Health, “DEET is a strong chemical that can damage plastic, rayon, spandex, leather, and painted or varnished surfaces. People who fish must be careful to wash DEET off their hands because it can dissolve fishing line, wader material, and related gear.”

According to Trout Unlimited, “Even a small dose will, over time, eat through the line coating and begin to break down the nylon fly line core.”

Protecting the pricey gear is a number one priority for most fisherman. Waders certainly aren’t cheap, and the idea of them being ruined by bug spray is absurd. 

Plus, most fishing clothes are made out of the very fabrics that are proven to be ruined by DEET. 

To further hammer in the idea that DEET is bad for fishing, there is speculation from many fisherman that the DEET scent will spook the fish and destroy their plastic lures. Whether or not this is true, it’s not a risk we’re willing to take with our fish.

According to Berkeley Fishing, “Though specifically made to repel insects, DEET repels just about everything that swims, crawls, flies, walks or runs. Laboratory research at Berkley has shown that bass detect DEET at concentrations of less than one part per million.

Fish really, really do not like DEET and bass spew out objects with the chemical in no time flat. 

Merely touching a lure after a single application of DEET to the hands is enough to contaminate a lure. And the contamination on the hands is long-lasting, enduring at least ninety minutes after the application.”

Kevin VanDam Mossy Oak Fishing Red Hook Thermacell

Thankfully, we have a solution for all of y’all still worried about being attacked by bugs and mosquitos out on the water. It’s important to stay protected from mosquito-carried diseases.

Thermacell is a product that uses heat activated repellent mats that provide a mosquito protection zone of 15 feet. It uses absolutely no harmful chemicals like DEET, so it’s perfect for fisherman out on the water on a buggy day.

No longer do you have to choose between damaging yourself and your gear and being eaten alive by bugs. Thermacell is the perfect product for fisherman battling the bugs.


We trust Thermacell to keep us free from any bites other than the ones on the end of our line. In the battle of the bugs, Thermacell comes out on top.

If you have any questions, check out our general Thermacell and FAQ article.

Buy the whole kit! Check out the graphic below to see what’s included.

Mossy Oak Thermacell Mosquito Repellent


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