It is commonly known, that one of the must-have items while standing in the river, is a pair of polarized fishing sunglasses. While even unpolarized fly fishing sunglasses will bring advantages with them, polarization will benefit you a lot more. Some of the advantages are more practical, while others just make the sport a lot safer, especially for beginners. Keeping that in mind a pair of good fishing sunglasses is an investment worth the money and nothing you should postpone buying. Even on cloudy days, you will see fly fisherman wearing shades and there are several good reasons for that. In this guide, I will try to give a basic summary of the possible choices and what features you should look out for.
The Benefits Of Fishing Sunglasses
Protection From UV-rays
Polarized fishing sunglasses will prevent a big chunk of UV-rays hitting your eyes. Even on cloudy days, these rays will enter your eyes and especially with the reflection of the water this effect is enhanced, coming from two sides.
Reducing glare On The Water Surface
This one benefit results in a lot of advantages while fly fishing. Starting with the most fun one, yes, you will actually see through water, and hence a lot more trout or other game fish. Since the polarization removes most of the reflection on the surface, it will be way easier to follow the movement of fish with your eyes, and therefore casting your flies to the right positions.
Following that, the improved visibility is also a big advantage for your safety, since wading through fast flowing streams can be tricky. Polarized glasses will support you here, by making it easier for you to see through water and judge, where you should take your next step. You will spot slippery stones, that otherwise would have been hidden behind the reflection on the surface, and therefore avoid possible injuries. This will also give you the ability to define the depth of certain areas in streams, which adds greatly to your overall safety while fly fishing.
Physical Eye Protection
Another big advantage, especially for beginners still working on their casting technique, is the physical protection of your eyes. When you have sharp hooks flying around your head constantly, it should be common sense to wear something protecting your eyes at all times. Even a slightly misplaced movement while casting, can result in a fairly unpredictable outcome of the flies trajectory. In a worst case scenario, the fly lands right in your face, and at this moment, wearing a pair of good fishing sunglasses is way more worth than their actual price. This is one of the most common accidents while fly fishing and even a cheap pair of glasses can prevent it.
Clear Vision – Even On Sunny Days
The last major benefit is one, that every good pair of shades provides. Even on sunny days, you won’t be distracted by sun rays blinding you. As mentioned earlier, while standing in water, said distraction can be twice as strong and can simply limit the fun you have while fishing. It will also limit your ability to follow the fly on the water, making it harder to predict and recognize strikes. Good fishing sunglasses can certainly improve your success while trying to land fish.
How Polarized Sunglasses Work
Polarized sunglasses reduce glare on surface otherwise strongly reflecting light. While in its normal state light is radiated in all different directions. The glare we see on the water is in most cases just the reflection of horizontal light. Polarized sunglasses provide the benefit of absorbing said horizontal light using a chemical film, which is either embedded in the lenses or applied on top of them, creating a microscopic filter. Following that, only vertical light will pass the lenses reducing glare on flat surface tremendously. Since they only block out polarized light, objects keep their visual details and clean outlines. In comparison, normal tinted shades only reduce the brightness of the reflection.
Best Lenses For Polarized Fishing Sunglasses
Benefits of different colors
There is a huge selection of polarized sunglasses on the market. They come in all different shapes and colors. While the shape is probably more a matter of taste, the lens color you choose for your fishing sunglasses can make a difference on the water. While darker colors will be suitable on bright sunny days, yellow lenses will do the trick during cloudy skies. Popular choices are:
- Bronze, Amber, Copper: A good fit in almost all conditions. Even on darker days without direct sunlight or during rain, they provide great contrast, while at the same time filtering out a big chunk of UV-rays.
- Gray: Remarkable light and glare reduction in direct sunlight. Offers a rich color contrast while at the same time having the least amount of color distortion.
- Purple: Best choice for pure sight fishing on overcast days. Enhances color and strengthens outlines of objects in front of or in blue/green background, making it perfect to spot fish in rivers or streams. Makes early morning hours or twilight appear brighter than without and therefore provides a remarkable low-light vision.
- Yellow: Limits blue light but generally lacks in color separation. Yellow enhances sight in fog or haze and therefore is also a good choice in early morning or twilight since it provides the best sharpness clarity.
- Blue/Green: Outstanding glare reduction even on sunny and bright days, while at the same time providing the best contrast and color under said conditions. Blue is a really popular color when the depth of a spotted fish does not really matter, for example, while fishing deep saltwater.
Since you probably want to avoid buying multiple pairs, which is by no means necessary, I would recommend going only with one color, giving your eyes the chance to get used to it. If you want a color with an outstanding overall performance, you should get bronze, copper or amber. Said colors will perform well in almost all situations you will encounter while fishing, no matter if you plan on fishing flat saltwater, rivers or lakes. They will also work in the early morning or in the evening, when you will encounter weak light conditions, providing enough contrast to practice sight fishing. If you need help choosing the right pair have a look at our list of best polarized sunglasses for fishing.
Benefits of different materials
When it comes to lens material, you can usually choose between glass, polycarbonate and CR39 lenses. While glass lenses provide better visibility and scratch-resistance, they are also heavier and polycarbonate lenses are generally more durable. They will withstand falls or impacts more reliable, are shatterproof, and therefore usually outlast glass easily under rough conditions. CR39 is more similar to polycarbonate in its features, as it is strong and lightweight but at the same time more scratch-resistant than poly.
If a pair of glasses is something you do not want to be constantly worried about, polycarbonate or CR39 should be your choice.
In some cases, you will have the option of a special coating. There are water-repellent coatings which will shed water faster when it somehow splashes onto your glasses and mirror-coated lenses which tend to reflect light, giving you greater vision on really sunny days. This coating can be applied to the inside or the outside of the lens. Another choice is an anti-scratch coating, obviously limiting the glasses vulnerability against scratches.
The Best Frames For Fishing Sunglasses
Generally, you want your frames to be made from a flexible and lightweight material such propionate or nylon. You can usually choose between spring hinges or pin hinges. While spring hinges tend to fit better they are often less resistant than the more sturdy pin-hinges.
Since your sunglasses will be exposed to sunlight constantly a frame that has a UV resistant coating is a good choice. Even more important, when you plan on fishing saltwater, is a salt resistant coating. Without that feature, using them next to the ocean will greatly reduce their durability. Avoid using metal frames, even though some people prefer their look, they will corrode quickly limiting the glasses longevity.
Features To Look For
Non- Slip Frames
Fly fishing is casting and casting is constant movement. Said movement will demand a pair of glasses that won’t constantly slide off your face, every time you replace your fly on the water. There are honestly not many things more annoying while fishing, than constantly having to adjust your glasses to prevent them from eventually completely falling off your face. An adjustable frame can do wonders here and it’s generally wise to choose a frame, that suits the form of your face.
Unfortunately, you can’t determine from where the light hits your eyes. Therefore a pair of sunglasses with wide lenses will protect even the more sensitive parts around the corners of your eyes. Since this generally also prevents more light entering your eyes without being filtered, your vision will be enhanced as well.
This will also benefit your peripheral vision, letting you see fish that you would have missed out on otherwise.
Floating fishing sunglasses
Imagine that you found the perfect pair of shades and on your first day on the river or boat with them, they somehow fall into the water. While this can turn out to be only a mild warning in shallow, slow water, when you stand on a boat or in a fast and deep river this can be an expensive mistake.
You can avoid this by buying a pair with an inbuilt floating feature. Try to avoid glasses with glued foam pads, since they might limit your vision and tend to fall off over time. You should look for a product, that floats without the need of said foam pads.
How To Clean Fishing Sunglasses
Since one of the main benefits of good fishing sunglasses is their improvement of vision, keeping them clean should be in your interest and self-evident. While it was a popular belief, that dish soap works best, we know today, that the surfactants contained are too aggressive and can damage the lenses of polarized sunglasses. You should also avoid using alcohol-based eyeglass cleaner for the same reasons.
The best way to clean your fishing sunglasses is by simply using hand-soap and lukewarm water. Afterward, you should dry them carefully with a piece of linen cloth.
An accessory that has the chance to greatly improve the longevity of your fishing sunglasses is a protective case. A lot of pairs already come with an included protective case, if yours does not you can buy one fairly cheap. Nearly every case will prevent scratches while you are not wearing them and limits the chance of crushing the frame by accident.
Even with a non-slip frame, you will have to face that there is a chance that your shades fall off your face. Even with a floating pair, this can turn out to be a problem, as soon as it does not happen on the water. Therefore an eyewear retainer can save you money, while at the same time being a fairly cheap purchase.
Buying The Right Product
There are many facts you should consider before buying a pair of sunglasses. Knowing these things before your purchase, will not only save you money but also help you making the right decision. The result of that is more fun on the water and safer fishing. As mentioned at the beginning, a pair of good fishing sunglasses is one of the must-have items only comparable to good waders or wading boots, and should be purchased early in your fishing career.