Orvis Guide to Adventure
Choosing the Best Sunglasses for Sight Fishing
Fishing sunglasses are essential to any fisherman’s gear, regardless of where or how you fish. When hooks are whizzing through the air, there is a real danger of catching one in and around the eye. Ask any guide, and they will probably have a horror story to tell.
Not only do sunglasses protect your peepers, they can go a long way in helping you catch more fish. Because saltwater fishing on the flats is a sight casting game, choosing the right lenses is a must. When you have the correct information, the choice is fairly easy. Here are some things to consider:
Polarized lenses eliminate glare. Most of the glare we see is caused by light bouncing off horizontal surfaces. We see this effect on a highway that appears to be wet. When light rays hit a horizontal plane, the light is reflected at the same angle as the surface. Water has a highly reflective surface making it very difficult to see through it with the naked eye.
Polarized lenses act as mini Venetian blinds, aligned in a way that eliminates about three-quarters of the glare. This will help you see fish as well as rocks and structure beneath the surface. Ability to read the water and find fish, as well as wading safety, will be improved.
You may wonder why there is such a significant difference in the price of polarized sunglasses and if the extra cost is worth it. Glasses can be inexpensively polarized by attaching the film to the outside of the lenses. Two factors make this method less desirable. The film will eventually peel away from the lens; it’s just not as durable. Also, precision placement of the film is crucial. If it’s placed off the vertical axis some polarizing powers will be lost. Higher quality, higher priced glasses feature lenses with the polarizing film sandwiched between lens layers, encapsulating it. Placement is aligned exactly for optimum performance. This process results in superior clarity, better peripheral vision, and lasting durability.
A lot of sunglasses advertised as polarized actually are not. There's a simple test you can perform before you buy them to make sure. Put on the glasses and look at your cell phone. Slowly rotate your phone to a 90-degree angle, and see if the reflective glare diminishes or increases. If the sunglasses are polarized, you will see a significant difference in your ability to read what’s on the screen.
Fishing Sunglasses Lens Color
This is the most difficult aspect of fishing sunglasses to address, since there is not clear-cut right or wrong choice. Everybody sees color differently and everyone’s vision responds to lens color differently. Here are some general guidelines.
Amber Lenses: For an all-around pair of fishing sunglasses, some shade of amber is a good pick. Some eyewear companies have their own names for these tones, but light brown, copper and amber all sharpen contrast by reducing blue light. Increased contrast is very helpful for fishing flats, shallow trout streams and lakeshores. Choose a brown or copper colored lens for normal conditions on the flats, and an amber or yellow lens for cloudy, overcast conditions.
Rose Lenses: This is a specialized sunglasses lens hue that reduces contrast. For fishing stark white flats in the Bahamas and Christmas Island, rose cuts contrast more effectively in these in very bright conditions. Some fishermen prefer them in all conditions, but loss of contrast make objects more difficult to discern on cloudy days or when trying to spot fish on dark river bottoms.
Gray Lenses: One thing everyone agrees on is that gray sunglasses lenses are not ideal for shallow water and flats fishing, where sight fishing is crucial. Gray preserves normal color relationships. Red light looks red, etc. Gray does not increase contrast, compromising resolution. The only situations where gray is recommended are fishing deep, offshore waters and deep lakes where seeing fish under the surface the bottom is not an issue.
Additional Sunglasses Coatings and Treatments
Hydrophobic Lens Coating: The front of sunglasses are always getting wet and dirty, particularly when saltwater fishing. You’re always getting salt spray on your glasses. They must be cleaned carefully with fresh water to avoid getting a film of salt on your lenses. Salt can scratch lenses and create a film. A hydrophobic coating causes drops of water to bead up, making lenses much easier to clean and reducing the chance of damage. You can simply wipe them off with your shirt, if it’s dry. Ease of maintenance and longer wear are the valuable benefits.
UV Protection: Any good pair of sunglasses will give you UV protection, if you buy from a reputable manufacturer. Each pair should be clearly labeled with this information.
Mirrored Lenses: A mirror coating does absolutely nothing for your vision, but they do look cool. Paying extra for a mirror coating will not improve your vision one iota.
Don’t Leave Home Without Them
The right pair of fishing sunglasses will vastly improve your comfort, success and safety when sight fishing. Just a few minutes of careful consideration is all it takes for you choose great shades that will help you raise your game.
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