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Guide to Sunglasses for Fishing

Guide to Sunglasses for Fishing

Occasionally, I see avid fishermen for an eye exam. And, that’s no surprise since fishing is a very popular national pastime.

People spend thousands of dollars on the right fishing gear. From rods, reels, bait, boats, and other equipment, it’s all designed to make the fishing experience much more rewarding and enjoyable.

Believe it or not, one of the essential pieces of fishing equipment is a pair of sunglasses. So, I’m going to talk about the ins and outs of choosing the best pair of sunglasses for your needs, whether you’re off-shore, in-shore, or on a river or lake.

Best Sunglasses For Fishing

Choosing the appropriate sunglasses for fishing purposes is a little more complicated than you would think. Environmental conditions, where you’re fishing, and personal taste all factor into choosing the right sunglasses for the angler. Here are some factors to consider…

Polarized Or Non-Polarized Sunglasses

So, what’s the difference between polarized and non-polarized sunglasses? The visible light that we see is made up of different wavelengths going into our eyes at different angles. Light coming in at vertical angles is the light that is clear to us. Anything else, which is also known as “off vertical” and is predominantly horizontal, is perceived as glare.

Polarized sunglasses have an extra filter that blocks “off vertical” light from getting into our eyes and causing glare. Oceans, lakes, and rivers all have light bouncing off them and landing into our eyes, causing copious amounts of glare. Polarized sunglasses help with that, to make a day on the water more comfortable.

Additionally, since polarized sunglasses can cut through the glare coming off the water, they allow fishers to see below the water’s surface and other contours and landscapes to fish more efficiently.

Non-polarized sunglasses don’t have that extra filter that blocks “off-vertical” light, so glare protection is minimal compared to polarized sunglasses.

Best Polarized Sunglasses For Fishing

Quality polarized sunglasses have certain aspects in common…

First, they are usually lightweight and often made of polycarbonate lenses. Polycarbonate lenses are very durable and light compared to glass lenses that are tough but also very heavy. If you’re out fishing all day, you’ll appreciate lightweight sunglasses that won’t bear down on your face.

Second, your polarized sunglasses should be the wrap-around type that fits your face well without being too loose or too tight. Wrap-around eyeglasses help keep the sun out of your face, even at peripheral viewing. It will also protect you from wind, rain, and UV radiation, especially on a moving boat.

Third, you should have a suitable coating or tint for the type of fishing that you do. Here are some tints/coatings to consider:

  • Yellow – Good for soft light conditions such as dusk/dawn, under piers/docks, and trees. Also suitable for foggy days.
  • Green – Good for the dual purpose of increasing contrast while decreasing glare. Good all-around-lens for both bright days and low light situations.
  • Amber – Cancels out blue light coming off the water. Suitable for foggy, cloudy, or hazy fishing days and makes underwater features, such as weeds, more perceptible. Comfortable to the eye on bright days. Can distort colors.
  • Grey – Great for very sunny days. Reduces eye strain from glare and keeps the eyes comfortable. It does not distort colors as amber does.
  • Mirror – Great for sunny days and can decrease glare coming off the water significantly. Flexible to use and can be added to any tint.
  • Hydrophobic – Repels water and moisture that would otherwise distort vision, which is especially valuable when on a boat with water spraying in all directions.

With these factors to consider, good quality polarized sunglasses are a must-have for maximizing your enjoyment as a fisherman. Your vision is more precise, eyestrain is minimized, UV radiation is blocked, and you can see more of the water and what’s below the surface.

Polarized Sunglasses With Readers For Fishing

For those who spend a lot of time on the water and find it a little challenging to thread or bait a hook, polarized fishing sunglasses with readers are a natural choice.

The inability to see up close after your 40’s is called presbyopia. It is an age-related eye condition where the lens inside the eye, which is responsible for focusing, loses its flexibility. This makes it more challenging to focus your near-vision.

Nowadays, there are many options to choose from in terms of different magnifications and powers for your polarized sunglasses with readers. If you wear generic readers regularly, it is usually the same power that you will use for your fishing sunglasses.

If you wear prescription eyewear, it is the same as your prescription eyewear since nothing changes other than choosing the options that are right for you, such as different tints, coatings, styles of frames, and other options.

Bifocal or Progressive Reading Sunglasses for Fishing

Whether you're baiting a hook or tying off your line, both bifocal and progressive style reading sunglasses offer outstanding benefits to any avid angler seeking sharper vision on the water. That said, while conceptually equal, there are vast differences in the two lens types.

A bifocal is a type of lens that provides distance correction at the top and a reading portion at the bottom. In the case of non-prescription readers, the distance viewing area is clear, with no correction.

Rather than two distinct segments, progressives have a continuous field of view and gradually increase to your full reading power at the bottom of the lens. They are not limited to just distance and near. They have “no-line” which is the only accurate comparison between bifocals and progressives.

Read more about the difference between bifocal and progressive lenses.

Final Thoughts

Much like your fishing equipment, the right polarized sunglasses are essential to maximizing your experience fishing in your favorite body of water, whether it’s an ocean, lake, or river. Polarized sunglasses are an invaluable tool. Choose yours wisely, so wherever you decide to go fishing, it will always be rewarding and enjoyable!


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