Gear We Use: The Best Polarized Fishing Sunglasses

Gear We Use: The Best Polarized Fishing Sunglasses

Sunglasses are to fishing what binoculars are to hunting: you’re not quite doing it right without a decent pair, and any serious participant always has a set glued to their face or hanging around their neck.

Like binoculars, you often get what you pay for. Unlike binoculars, however, fishing sunglasses have a proclivity toward jumping ship. With those considerations in mind, here are the shades our team wears on the water.

What We Look for in Good Fishing Sunglasses

Sunglasses are the epitome of a personal style statement. Anglers may be less conscious of that than your average Los Angeles resident, but most everyone ultimately wants a pair of shades that look good on their face. With that basic consideration aside, here’s how we pick glasses that help us catch fish as well as glances.

  1. Fit
  2. Shape
  3. Lens color
  4. Durability

The Sunglasses We Use

What Makes a Good Pair of Fishing Sunglasses

They aren’t fishing sunglasses if they aren’t polarized. What that means is the glass or composite only allows vertical bars of light to enter, blocking the horizontal light that reflects off the water’s surface. This lets you see into water much better than you could with the naked eye, while also diminishing the negative effects of harsh light reflecting off the water. With that up front, when we’re choosing a pair of fishing specs, here are the elements we’re analyzing:

1. Fit

At the most basic level, fit means that the frames don’t fall off your face without uncomfortably squeezing your temples. This element is unique to each person, so it’s important to try on a few pairs before you pull the trigger. Can you shake your head without them falling off? What about looking straight down? Are they comfortable on your temples and ears or are you going to get a migraine after a few hours of use? Rubber earpieces and nose pads can be very helpful in keeping the rims stuck to your face without applying too much pressure.

2. Shape

This is another subjective choice but one worth experimentation. Many anglers prefer a wraparound style of glasses that blocks light and wind from coming in the sides, which can affect your eyes. That can also have the downsides of making the lenses more prone to fogging or reducing your peripheral vision. A flatter profile with aviator or wayfarer shapes has also increased in popularity in recent years. Proponents often say they appreciate a little space around their face, more periphery, and less fogging. Dress to impress or dress for success, but consider first that the fish don’t give a shit how well you can throw an outfit together.

3. Lens color

For a supposedly clear liquid, water certainly takes on a wide variety of hues. From the pale green of a glacier-fed river to amber rockpiles on a lakebed to tropical white sand flats, there’s a lot of variability and your choice of sunglasses can directly address this. Generally speaking, anglers often select lenses that match the color of the water they fish most often. For offshore deep water, the popular choice is blue. For freestone trout streams, amber and copper are ubiquitous. Bass anglers often go with green. The basic idea here is to block the specific color of the water in order to see fish within it more accurately. Still, it’s a matter of personal choice and many of us have used the same lenses to fish for walleye in Montana and permit in Belize. Gray or silver lenses are a solid move for versatility, and yellow is great for low-light conditions.

4. Durability

We all know that one angler who refuses to spend more than $20 on a pair of sunglasses. Use them, abuse them, lose them, then pick up another pair at the gas station. There may be some strange wisdom to that practice for those who tend to misplace or break shades frequently, but many of us see value in quality construction that will hold out for as long as we hold on to the pair—which can be many years if you’re diligent. Real glass or high-end composite lenses won’t scratch, smudge, or fog up as quickly as cheap plastic. Well-built metal or composite frames, temples, and hinges likewise may be less likely to shatter, bend, or otherwise fail under hard use.

Field notes from the MeatEater Crew

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