If you’re wearing shades when you’re fishing, chances are it’s for functionality and not to make a fashion statement. Plus, looking good when you’re fishing is impossible with a khaki vest and bucket hat being standard attire. So, if it’s not for style, then why bother with shades?
Well, polarized lenses give you an edge when it comes to seeing fish in the water. Like traditional sunglasses, they stop you from squinting when sunlight bounces off the water surface, but they also provide a much clearer image of what’s below. It’s much easier to spot a feeding trout swimming against the current when you’re wearing polarized sunglasses. Most polarized lenses also offer UV protection, which will prevent long-term damage to your eyes.
What are the needs of fishermen when it comes to picking out the best performance sunglasses? That’s a question we’re going to answer first before we set off to review a few of the best sunglasses for fishing on the market today. And although you’re not going to be judged for your style of sunnies in the backcountry, everyone has their own sense of style, and I encourage you to apply yours liberally, but only after you check your shades meet the following fishing criteria.
Our Top 5 Best Sunglasses for Fishing
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How to Choose Sunglasses for Fishing
Let’s review a few of the most critical features in angler sunglasses:
Casual vs Sport
There are two main types of sunglasses you’re likely to see on the water. First off are the casual sunglasses which might look like anything from your standard wide plastic hipster frames, to the classic gold rimmed aviators we can thank Tom Cruise for popularizing. These sunglasses are generally made to fit comfortable and shade the eyes – they’re not optimized for extreme sports and movement.
Sport sunglasses, however, are lightweight and form fitting. They’re usually made to hug the face and often rubberized coatings help them stick to your face even when you’re sweating. These sunglasses might come in Bono-inspired styles with wide lenses or even interchangeable lenses. You can also find them with impact resistant frames and lenses.
Which do you need for fishing? Either one would be a fine choice since you probably won’t be doing any extreme sprinting. Sport sunglasses usually provide a mode all-encompassing fit to help keep out water reflections, and the rubberized nose pads and temple pads add an extra layer of protection to help keep your shades from falling into the tank.
VLT stands for visible light transmission. This rating is extremely important because it will determine how effective your sunglasses are at doing their job. You’ll want to select a pair of shades with an appropriate amount of VLT to meet the brightness (or darkness) of the outdoor conditions.
Keep in mind that photochromic lenses adjust VLT automatically.
For sunny days fishing on the water, you’ll want a VLT rating of less than 20%. This means only up to 20% of all visible light is being allowed to get to your eyeballs. On overcast or dark days, you’ll want something closer to 50% VLT.
Polarized lenses help filter out some of the sun rays that make it to your eyes. What happens, essentially, is that the polarized lens blocks certain orientations of light waves. Manufacturers creatively line up the polarization so that it tends to block light waves which are reflected from surfaces such as water. This means you can see more clearly beneath the water’s surface. This is a must-have in my opinion!
These lenses are engineered to change shades of darkness based on the intensity of UV light around you. Indoors they’re nearly clear or transparent. Step outdoors, and they slowly become dark to adjust for the brightness of the day.
No, it’s not magic. It’s just science. These lenses react to UVB rays to darken and lighten. Unfortunately, this also means they don’t work in your car because car windshields block UVB, so the lenses won’t darken. Sad day.
Fishing Polarized Sunglasses Reviews
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Duduma Polarized Sports Sunglasses
With newly upgraded 7-layer lens coating and polycarbonate frame design, these “unbreakable” sunglasses are well-loved. Hollow frame design helps to keep weight low, though whether or not it’s necessary remains to be debated. With tons of colors available you’ll definitely find something that works for you.
What I like about these sunglasses is that you’re getting a polarized pair of shades (remember, that’s critical for fishing) with rubberized temples and nose pads. Rubberized is ideal to help mitigate any chance of your shades slipping into rest with the fish you’re trying to catch! They’re particularly useful if you’re going to be moving around a lot, such as when you’re kayak fishing or casting out of a canoe.
While the style is definitely a sporty look, you’ll have a good pair of shades you can dedicate to fishing. The full frame lenses should even help block a little more light from reflecting under the lens off the water.
Flying Fisherman Fowey Polarized Sunglasses
Now we’re mixing a little style with function. These wider frame sunglasses are a good choice for balancing the needs of fishing with looking good getting to and from the water. Don’t let the modern aesthetic fool you, though. They’re packing the features.
With polarized lenses, you’ll have the advantage of being able to see more easily into the subsurface depths while choosing your fishing spot. 100% protection from UVA and UVB means that these harmful rays will be shielded from reaching your eyes. This is more crucial than many take the time to consider. You’ll be in the sun all day fishing and UV light reflected from the water leaves your eyes vulnerable. Overexposure can cause real and lasting damage.
I like that they’ve got a one year manufacturer warranty!
RIVBOS 801 Unisex Polarized Sports Sunglasses
If you want to look like you’re peddling the Tour De France while you’re on the river with your buddies, these are the sporty performance shades for you! In all seriousness, you’d be silly to ignore the wealth of features they offer.
One pair of sunglasses nets you a single frame and five interchangeable lenses! Each lens is 100% UVA and UVB resistant, so you’ll have full protection with the wrap around glasses.
Included lenses are:
- Black Polarized
They’ve designed the sunglasses around a lightweight sports frame of polycarbonate. Aimed at the performance athlete, they even throw in a 30-day money back guarantee. I’d be pretty confident trying these sunglasses because they also come with a lifetime breakage warranty! Not bad…
Calcutta Steelhead Sunglasses
Why are these sunglasses unique? It’s because they combine all the performance aspects of good sports sunglasses, with the laid back and classic design of a casual shade. What are those features?
The tortoise shell brown frames are full wraparound frames encompassing the entire lens. This is nice to help block out some of the light from the sides and bottom on the river or lake. Several lens choices offer mirrored or smoky options, but they’re all polarized! Each lens also provides full UV protection just like we’ve come to expect from a top-end fishing sunglasses.
With a one year warranty, they put my mind at ease so that I don’t have to worry about a cheap product breaking after purchase as so often seems the case with sunglasses today. I also love the rubberized nose pads and temples on the casual sunglass – that’s the final performance factor that wins me over!
Gamma Ray Stealth Polarized
These sunglasses made it on to our list for a simple reason: they offer something the others do not. The extra wide frames on these shades provide fantastic protection from peripheral light. When you’re on the water, bright sunlight comes from all directions and even a good pair of shades may not protect you from peripheral light. These do!
With 100% UV protection built into the coated lenses, you’ll also have polarized views of everything around you. As always, this is an ideal and critical feature for your choice of fishing glasses. Gamma Ray touts their shade’s shatterproof features and extreme durability. They also chose to make the frames out of nylon for improved flexibility and weight savings.
Whether or not you want the additional features, these might be an excellent choice of glasses just for the peripheral visual protection.
There is a lot to consider when picking out a pair fishing sunglasses. This list is by no means comprehensive, but I’ve tried to provide several viable options for sunglasses that meet the angler’s needs. No matter what you end up choosing, make sure the sunglasses truly offer the features they advertise – so many cheap glasses are misleading.
In review, the most important factors in fishing sunglasses are polarization, UV protection, secure rubber grip, and peripheral sunlight control. Not everyone needs or even wants all these features, but they’re the most important elements to consider for your next pair of fishing shades.