Fishing sunglasses are usually extravagantly advertised, leaving you unsure whether they could make a difference in your fishing experience. Fishing sunglasses are worth it if you are an avid fisher or often fish in the sun. However, the difficult part is navigating the many options on the market.
Fishing sunglasses are worth it if you find yourself often struggling with glare when on a fishing trip. Polarized sunglasses can help you find fish in these conditions, but they won’t magically make you a better angler. If you often fish in sunny weather, sunglasses will also protect your eyes.
The 5 best fishing sunglasses are:
- Oakley Split Shot
- Yum Polarized UV Protection Sunglasses
- Smith Castaway
- Huk Spearpoint
- Costa Del Mar Fantail
Fishing sunglasses allow you to see beneath glare, possibly helping you catch fish. However, there are more factors to think about when considering fishing sunglasses and whether they are worth purchasing. Below, we cover everything you need to know including details on the best options available.
Table of Contents
What Are Fishing Glasses?
Fishing glasses are polarized sunglasses that are specifically designed to cut through glare and provide better visibility. The polarization offers UV protection as well. With these sunglasses, it can be easier to look through murky water and observe other factors in your environment.
The Polarizing Difference
The difference between polarized sunglasses and regular sunglasses is that regular sunglasses do not address glare and offer little to no UV protection. Polarized sunglasses cut through glare and protect your eyes from reflection of light that bounces off surfaces like water, metal, sand, snow, and asphalt.
How Polarized Sunglasses Work
When light hits an uneven surface, it scatters. If the surface is smooth, light vibrates in a single direction. With water, there are millions of smooth surfaces that appear and disappear with any wave turbulence. The result is a massive amount of glare that obscures anything beneath the surface, essentially creating a wall of light that the naked or unprotected eye cannot penetrate.
That glare can tire your eyes. If it is bright enough, with enough exposure, the light can even damage your eyes and cause several health issues. A good example of this occurring is snow blindness, which is caused by the glare of sunlight on snow being exposed to unprotected eyes.
Polarized sunglasses help reduce that glare. They focus multiple points of light into a single light source, which removes or lessens the glare. With water, the glare is caused by sunlight hitting those millions of solid surfaces that are ever-changing with the waves. Polarized sunglasses focus the light rays, which removes or lessens the glare.
Learning From Eagles
The creation of polarized sunglasses originated with the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The scientists there were examining the superior vision of eagles. They discovered that a naturally occurring oil in the eagle’s eyes manages light properties in such a way that reduces and eradicates certain light wavelengths.
Scientists took that discovery and transferred it to lens technology. They achieved the same effect as the eagle’s eye-oil with a chemical that is applied to lenses and filters the light that meets your eye. Further, the chemical is applied vertically and because glare on the water is usually horizontal light, the amount of light that reaches your eyes is limited.
Glare is reduced dramatically or eliminated, allowing you to see beneath the surface of the water. At that point, what you can see is dependent on the quality of the water. If the water is clear, you can see several feet underneath the surface. If the water is opaque, your vision will be limited.
In clearer water, what you can see is significant. Any structure like tree trunks, branches, rocks, even the flow of water current etched into the bottom of the body of water. Additionally, any fish or debris in the water can also be seen as far as the vision extends. In opaque water, the vision is far less, but the glare is reduced or eradicated, which reduces stress on the eyes.
Non polarized sunglasses do not have the chemical coating to reduce glare. They also do not have any UV protection. When you look at water wearing non polarized sunglasses, the intensity of the glare will be reduced by the sunglass’ shading, but the glare will still be present.
In addition, while your eyes will not tire as quickly as they would without protection, exposing your eyes to glare for any extended period will weaken your vision. Additionally, damage from UV rays and damage that can cause eye health issues, like snow blindness, will still occur.
Do Sunglasses Help With Fishing?
Sunglasses can help with fishing by contributing to locating fish more easily. They allow you to see past glare into the water, which can reveal fish and environmental obstacles. The sunglasses also offer eye protection from the glare and UV rays that allow you to fish for longer periods of time.
The role of fishing sunglasses should be seen as more of a tool rather than a technique for catching fish. If your fishing approach, bait, or technique is not effective, fishing sunglasses will not help you catch fish. They are only useful in addition to your fishing skills. However, there are many factors that sunglasses help improve.
Scoping Out Cover And Structure
Cover affords fish protection from other fish, turbulence, and many non-fish predators. It also allows them to stay hidden when ambushing prey. With both, fish will hide behind, under, and in structure and cover. When hunting they will lie in wait, hidden from other fish and strike when a sufficiently small fish approaches.
Fishing glasses reduce the glare on the surface of the water and allow the angler to get a better look at what lies beneath. With that knowledge an angler can formulate a plan for fishing the cover or structure in a way that puts the bait or lure in front of a fish, tempting them to strike. A well-placed bait or lure around cover or structure could also prompt a reaction strike.
Observing Underwater Activity
Sometimes the only way to prompt fish to strike is to observe their behavior and mimic whatever it is they are eating. Fish tend to be creatures of habit, meaning they will attack prey the same way, frequent the same structure, and cover and approach topographical features the same. By watching what fish are eating and gauging their behavior, you can increase your odds of success.
It is easier to see fish behavior with fishing sunglasses, which can allow you to see about ten feet deep in clear water. Additionally, once you get used to interpreting water features, you can spot fish that are lying in wait for prey and alter your lure or bait presentation to fall into their strike zone. With practice, you will improve and be able to increase your strike production.
Another benefit is that you can see what other aquatic life is active and how it behaves. Being able to see underwater lets you observe insect hatchings and movement of aquatic animals like turtles, muskrats, otters, and beavers. You can use this information to choose what bait, lures, or flies to present and where to cast your offering to increase your chances of landing a fish.
A body of water’s contour plays a key role in the decision making of fish. Polarized sunglasses let you see drop-offs, gradients, current paths on the bottom, gravel, sand, stone, and weed beds. Understanding what and where these are can help you with cast selection. Topographical knowledge also lets you deduce where fish may be lurking.
For example, being able to see how stream inflow into a lake or river contours the bottom lets you figure out where the fish will likely be waiting for passing baitfish. Being able to see where a submerged road heads in a lake or pond can help you locate submerged structures like bridges. Seeing ridges, rock pilings, and other features lets you figure out the best places to put your lure or bait.
Seeing debris underwater is especially helpful if you are fishing anywhere with a current. During early spring runoff, for instance, rivers move along everything that accumulated from flooding and winter ice. If the debris consist of huge branches or other submerged articles, knowing where each obstacle is moving can help you avoid getting snagged.
Being able to see debris underwater also lets you see where it is accumulating, potentially creating fish cover. Debris that accumulate at certain points are also a good indicator of the effect that tides or currents have on that body of water. Knowing this can help you position your lures or bait where a fish lying in ambush can see and follow it.
Current And Eddies
Current and eddies are especially important to fishing in bays, streams, the ocean, and rivers. The current serves as a conveyor belt for transportation and baitfish for ambush predators. While surface current is easy to see, reverse currents can sometimes be difficult to detect. As the sunglasses allow you to see beneath the surface, these water movements become more visible.
Reverse currents and eddies happen when the natural flow of water is disrupted. It can happen for several reasons that include:
- Cold, dense water running into warm, less dense water
- Water being swept from a shallow riverbed into a deeper drop off
- The current squeezing from a wide space into a narrower opening
- The current moving up against an obstacle
- A natural pool becoming inundated with water and pushing back against the current
- Storms surging up rivers and streams
Fish will congregate along the line of an eddy or reverse current and snag food that comes along or gets overwhelmed by the turbulence. Depending on the fish, that food can be other fish, water-foul, rodents, or snakes and a lurking fish will attack each if it senses it is vulnerable or if the fish is hungry.
Are Polarized Sunglasses Worth It For Fishing?
Whether polarized sunglasses are worth it for fishing depends on the type of fishing you do and the value of the sunglasses. Fishing sunglasses come in all styles and prices. You must consider your fishing style and the quality of the sunglasses to determine whether a pair is worth purchasing.
The type of fishing you do will influence whether you need fishing sunglasses as they would provide more benefits with certain types and may not be necessary at all for others. Therefore, considering your specific fishing type before purchasing could save you money.
If you fish several times a week, you should definitely consider purchasing fishing sunglasses. They help you assess a body of water to figure out how to present bait or lures to fish, which is valuable assistance for avid fishers. If you are this type of fisher, investing in a good pair of sunglasses would be well worth it.
If you only fish a few times a month, you can still benefit from fishing sunglasses. However, as you will not be using them as often, you may not find it worth it to invest in an expensive pair. A less expensive, but quality pair should suffice.
An occasional angler goes out a few times every season. For this type of fisher, an inexpensive pair of fishing sunglasses is usually worth it. However, some occasional anglers justify investing in an expensive pair to bring out for those special occasions.
This type of fisher seldom goes fishing. As they rarely go out, they do not particularly need fishing sunglasses. If they wish to have a pair, they should consider choosing an inexpensive option as they will not see much use.
Are Expensive Fishing Sunglasses Necessary?
Expensive fishing sunglasses may be necessary for pro anglers or those attempting to become pro. For others, expensive sunglasses are not necessary. Consider investing in other bits of quality fishing gear, like rods and reels, before deciding to purchase an expensive pair of fishing sunglasses.
Polarized vs Non-Polarized Glasses For Fishing
Polarized sunglasses are typically more popular as they help you see beneath the surface of the water by reducing glare and reflections. Most polarized sunglasses are also UV resistant. Non-polarized sunglasses do not reduce glare and typically do not provide any UV protection.
With this in mind, consider whether glare reduction and UV protection are important factors for you. If they are, you should choose polarized sunglasses. If these features do not matter to you, non-polarized sunglasses will suffice. However, keep in mind that UV protection is important for protecting your vision while on the water.
How To Choose Polarized Sunglasses For Fishing
There are numerous options available for purchasing polarized sunglasses. They vary in color, style, and shape. There are also various places where you can purchase polarized fishing sunglasses. Therefore, you should consider each of the following factors when purchasing a pair.
The most universally effective sunglasses lens colors range from brown to amber. These colors work in nearly all weather and transform visibility of a body of water in most conditions. You want to go darker in color with increased sunlight. Really dark glasses are not as effective in low light but can reduce damage to your eyes in bright sunlight.
Yellow lenses have limited use, but are great at pre-dawn, dawn, dusk, and just after dusk. They lighten the viewing environment significantly and allow you to see clearly into the water, even in lower light. Gray and blue lenses work best for offshore fishing. Other colors, like rose and copper, will suffice but not for extended periods of time. Each color works best in different environments.
The best style is the style that provides the most coverage from glare while blocking light from getting in on both sides of the glasses. Sunglasses with a peripheral block or wrap-around lens and frame are a good choice as they ensure that your eyes remain rested and give you the most coverage and protection from the sun.
Plastic frames work better than metal frames, mainly because they are thicker around the lens and block out peripheral light more easily. Narrower lenses that are surrounded by a thicker frame tend to work better than lenses with more coverage sitting on a lighter frame.
Where To Purchase
Unless you are buying high-end fishing sunglasses, you can find a good pair at any box department store. You can also order online from many places. Generally, if you are looking for an inexpensive pair you should purchase from a big-box store. For moderately expensive pairs look online or in more expensive sections of the big-box store.
For more expensive sunglasses you will want to look online or in sporting goods stores, you won’t find anything you’re looking for at the box stores. No matter where you buy, the most important aspect of purchasing fishing sunglasses is ensuring your choice matches how and when you fish.
The 5 Best Polarized Sunglasses For Fishing
1. Oakley Split Shot
The Split Shot is a wrap-around that provides coverage, hue, and protection with a water-specific frame. This model is designed to reduce and eliminate glare while providing protection from the sun. It has a curved brow line for hat compatibility, and it comes with a 20” steel leash to keep the sunglasses on your face or around your neck.
- Great clarity
- Heavier than other options
2. YUM Polarized UV Protection Sunglasses
Yum makes fishing sunglasses that range from very inexpensive to expensive. At the box store, it sells a very inexpensive iteration of its more expensive models. They are wrap-around, come in multiple colors, and provide 100% UV protection. Their durability suffices, but their shelf-life is only one or two seasons.
- Inexpensive option
- Good clarity
- Easily replaceable
- Lenses scratch easily
3. Smith Castaway
Smith has a great reputation, and the Castaway meets that standard. They come with Italian spring hinges for a secure fit, nose pads, and temple tips to help them stay snug on your face. The Castaway comes in multiple colors, including shades of green and amber. Thicker arms block out peripheral light. These glasses also look great on land.
- Comfortable, snug fit
- Exceptional clarity
- Multiple colored lenses
- Very expensive
4. Huk Spearpoint
The Spearpoint has full wrap-around protection and light blockage. These sunglasses are also designed to be non-slip, even in sweaty conditions. Additionally, they are very lightweight making them convenient for use throughout the day. However, they tend to be less durable than other options.
- Mid-range price
- Good clarity
- Various lens color options
- The nonslip frame can chafe
- Not that durable
5. Costa Del Mar Fantail
Costa Del Mar’s Fantail provides the best glare protection and works well in salt and freshwater. Their polarizing effect reduces glare almost entirely and provides excellent clarity. The lenses come in multiple colors and are extremely durable. The Fantail is also very affordable.
- Crystal-clear clarity
- Salt and freshwater compatibility
- Multiple lens colors
- Moderately priced
- No cons!
Fishing sunglasses may be worth it to get the most out of your fishing experience. Polarized sunglasses cut through glare to provide underwater clarity and protect your eyes from UV light. You must consider your fishing type and preferences to determine the best pair of fishing sunglasses for you.