The right lenses: By Capt. Tim Egenrieder - Originally published July 2013, Coastal Angler of Boston
I have several friends that have $100,000+ boats, several $1000 reels and titanium pliers in a custom leather holster - that wear $15 sunglasses. I don’t know about you, but my eyes are far more important to me than a glorified hook remover.
Whether you are looking to sight-cast to trout in a small stream, stripers on the flats or trying to find a school of pogies in the harbor - The right polarized sunglasses will make the difference between a great day and tired eyes with a lot less fish.
What is Polarization?:
Sunlight is both refracted and reflected (polarized) when it hits water. Refraction is the bending of light into water. This is why fish both appear smaller and higher in the water column than they actually are. Reflection of light (glare) is the mirror like effect that makes seeing into water difficult. Polarized lenses block this reflected light with a special polymer film that has crystals electrically or magnetically aligned to block light waves traveling parallel to the viewed surface. This is why two polarized lenses rotated perpendicular to each other will block all light.
Polarized sunglasses are an absolute must have tool in any fishing situation. There are many considerations for choosing the perfect pair for your intended use.
Sunglass frames should fit snugly on your nose and ears without pinching or rubbing. Make sure that there is rubber on the nose and ears to prevent sliding from sweat. To prevent light from hitting your eyes from overhead, choose a pair that fits close to your face around the brow area without making contact with your eyelashes.
Gray: Great for bright sun in offshore, clear water situations.
Brown/Copper: My preferred inshore lens color. They work equally well in clear and stained water. Great for sight fishing in most light conditions.
Rose: Great for trout streams, driving, and low light inshore days
Yellow: Great for target separation. Perfect for shooting sports, terrible for your eyes while in bright sun and fishing
Mirrored lenses have a highly reflective coating on the front, also known as flash coating. These reflective surfaces reduce the amount of light that comes through the lens. Mirrored lenses help reduce eye fatigue on a bright day on the water. These lenses are available in several different colors. I prefer blue-mirrored lenses offshore and on very bright days. I wear green-mirrored lenses on 90% of all my fishing trips in Boston Harbor
Just as the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage skin, they can also harm the lens and cornea of the eyes. Ultraviolet radiation is composed of three classes: Ultraviolet A (UVA) 400 – 315 nm, Ultraviolet B (UVB) 315 – 280 nm, Ultraviolet C (UVC) 280 – 100 nm. You should look for lenses that are UV400 (to 400nm) certified. These lenses will block the vast majority of all harmful UV radiation. Eye fatigue is best prevented with lenses that block yellow light in the 580 nm wavelength. This is the wavelength of light that makes you squint and generally hurts your eyes.
The only thing worse than paying $200 for sunglasses is having to do it again from lack of care. I keep mine in a rigid case with padding inside when they’re not being worn. I also wear a lanyard around my neck that attaches to the temple pieces. This is far from a fashion statement, but I have never damaged sunglasses in any way by having them dangling from my neck. Always start with clean fresh water and a microfiber cloth for cleaning. If necessary, use a small amount of mild detergent soap (as always, Dawn works great). Do not use windex or ammonia (high ph) based cleaners
And of course cost:
Sunglasses are a lot like rods and reels. There are cheap versions that work fine and often better than mid priced models. The best in consistent clarity, preventing eye fatigue and blocking UV light are also the most expensive and around $200.
I am now on my 4 year of wearing Costa Del Mar Fathom 580’s daily. I have never felt eye fatigue in over 500 days on the water with them. They are the best lenses that I have ever worn and worth every penny. See you out there…