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What are the best fishing sunglasses?

man fishing on a lake wearing fishing sunglasses

For such a small device, quality sunglasses affect the fishing experience in a big way. That’s because light conditions play an important role in fishing, whether you’re out on open water in the middle of the day, fishing in a shaded inland lake or river, or casting your line in the dimly-lit hours before dawn. 

Two of the most common issues fishermen and women struggle with are visibility and eye fatigue. In sunny conditions, light reflects off the water, dazzling human eyes and making it nearly impossible to glimpse the fish darting beneath the surface. Even on cloudy days, light glare can affect how well you see the water, as well as how your eyes feel after a few hours keeping watch over the waves. This is why the most important thing to look for when selecting good fishing sunglasses is a pair with polarized lenses. 

Be sure to include polarized sunglasses with your fishing essentials, like rod, hooks, line and tackle box, plus plenty of sunscreen — it’s one of the very best ways to prepare for a safe and successful day out on the water.  

Why do polarized lenses make the best fishing sunglasses?

Polarized sunglasses are anti-reflective, and dramatically reduce glare by blocking out horizontal light waves that bounce off smooth and reflective surfaces like water and cause glare. It’s why the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends polarized lenses for all kinds of outdoor activities, including fishing and boating. 

There are lots of benefits to wearing polarized sunglasses when you’re out on the water. They can improve visual clarity and help minimize eye strain and fatigue in bright, sunny conditions. Your surroundings might seem a little darker through your polarized fishing sunglasses, but objects will appear clearer and more detailed. 

What does that mean for anglers? By reducing glare and enhancing visual contrast, polarized lenses can help you see past the water’s reflective surface more easily. For sight fishers, this is a huge advantage, as it allows you to spot the perfect catch below the surface, while it helps deep-sea fishermen and women to better see what’s on the line before reeling it in. 

How to tell if your fishing sunglasses are polarized

No matter what level of UVA or UVB protection your current pair of fishing sunglasses offers, it’s important to remember that polarized lenses will always do a better job when it comes to protecting your eyes, reducing eye fatigue, and helping you spot fish more easily, no matter what the light conditions are. 

Make sure you check the labels when looking for polarized fishing sunglasses. Just because a pair offers UV protection does not mean that its lenses are also polarized — look for sunglasses that are clearly marked “polarized.” 

If you already own a pair of sunglasses but aren’t sure if they’re polarized, don’t worry. A simple test can help you check — and all you need is a computer. First, hold your sunglasses horizontally up to a bright computer screen. You should be able to view the screen through the lenses without any issue. Next, turn the sunglasses so that you are holding them vertically. If they are polarized, the lenses will appear to turn black. 

What if I need prescription fishing sunglasses?

If you need prescription lenses, don’t worry. You can find many options for polarized prescription fishing sunglasses online, each suited for different settings, light conditions and vision needs. Think of it this way: Polarization or colored lenses won’t help you much if your vision is blurry while you’re out fishing. 

So, how do you go about finding a good pair of prescription fishing sunglasses? It’s easier than you might think. Many brands and retailers offer the option to add your prescription to a style of sunglasses you like, and sometimes your insurance will even cover the cost. If you already have a pair of sunglasses you like to use while fishing, you can ask your favorite eyewear retailer if they’ll replace the existing lenses with prescription lenses. You can usually request additional lens treatments like polarization and specific lens coloring, too. 

Does the color of the lenses matter? 

Lens color is nearly as important as polarization when it comes to finding good fishing sunglasses. Like regular sunglasses, polarized shades come in a variety of different hues. The color of the lenses determines how much visible light passes through them and reaches your eyes, influencing your ability to see contrast and perceive depth. 

Some colors perform better under certain conditions than others. For example, light colors such as yellow or soft pink are best suited to environments with flat and low-level light conditions, including snowy settings where contrast and depth perception are crucial. That’s why you’ll often find light-colored lenses on ice-fishing sunglasses. 

Meanwhile, mirrored lenses — as well as lenses that come in darker shades like deep green, brown and gray — are designed to block harsh glare and prevent eye strain in moderate to bright light conditions. This makes mirrored sunglasses a popular style for deep-sea fishing.

When choosing the right lens color for your fishing sunglasses, consider the conditions in which you typically fish (open-water fishing in bright sunshine, fishing along a dimly-lit shore, etc.). Or, you can do what the pros do and pick up multiple pairs of sunglasses, each with a different lens color, so you’re prepared for anything. 

Colored lenses for any fishing conditions

  • Yellow/sunrise lenses: If you’re fishing in low-light conditions, such as very early in the morning or in the evening, keep a pair of sunglasses with yellow-tinted lenses handy. These are sometimes referred to as “sunrise” lenses by retailers and brands. These lenses allow you to see in high contrast while also reducing glare. They are especially handy if you plan to operate a boat in dim light. Because they’re not well-suited to bright or overcast conditions, most anglers keep them as a secondary pair for specific circumstances and choose a more versatile lens color for their everyday sunglasses. 

  • Blue-mirrored lenses: If you’re on the hunt for a great pair of deep-sea fishing sunglasses, this lens type is for you. Because they allow only a fraction of light to filter in, blue-mirrored lenses are best for open-water fishing in extremely bright or intense light conditions. They slice through the harsh glare reflecting off the water and offer solid eye protection for longer periods of time.

  • Amber/copper/brown lenses: Tinted shades of amber, copper and brown are optimal for varying weather conditions and overcast days. This makes them popular everyday picks if you fish in a place where light conditions can change dramatically from one day (or hour) to the next. Most of the best sight-fishing sunglasses and fly-fishing sunglasses come in these hues because they offer high-contrast visibility while also blocking glare. 

What are the top fishing sunglasses? 

In addition to making sure your sunglasses are polarized, the right color, and the right prescription for your vision, the next most important step in finding a pair of good fishing sunglasses is to consider style and price. 

So, what are the best fishing sunglasses? As with choosing the right lens color to suit your activities and light conditions, figuring out the best make and model of fishing sunglasses depends entirely on how and where you like to fish. 

Luckily, many brands out there offer a diverse range of options, from deep-sea fishing sunglasses to fly-fishing sunglasses and even ice-fishing sunglasses. These are three of the top-rated brands:

  • Oakley: Fishing sunglasses by Oakley are beloved by world-class athletes and fishing pros for their durability, flexible frame design and top-notch glare protection. In addition to its coveted PRIZM lens technology, the brand also offers different lens polarization styles suited to shallow-water fishing, deep-water fishing and a combination of the two. Made from a proprietary blend of high-grade polycarbonate called Plutonite, the lenses on Oakley fishing sunglasses are among the best on the market in terms of eye protection.

  • Costa: This brand was founded over three decades ago by a group of anglers. They consistently produce some of the top fishing sunglasses on the market. Costa fishing sunglasses are made to take on the elements, from harsh bright light to corrosion due to salty ocean spray. Fishermen and women love the durability and 580 lens technology that Costa fishing sunglasses are known for, along with the brand’s use of sustainable materials and its dedication to marine conservation. Costa fishing sunglasses are also a wonderful option for anyone who needs prescription polarized fishing sunglasses. 

  • Ray-Ban: Best known for their iconic Aviator model of sunglasses, Ray-Ban has wooed celebrities and sportspeople alike with their sleek design and impeccable functionality. The brand offers a wide selection of styles with top-grade polarized lenses that come in all kinds of colors, along with an option to easily upgrade your pair to prescription polarized fishing sunglasses during the online checkout process. If you’re looking for cheap fishing sunglasses, this might not be the best option — but if you care as much about style as you do about quality, you’ll want to check out this classic brand. 

What if I’m shopping for sunglasses on a budget? 

Pricing might also play a role in your search for a good pair of sunglasses for sport fishing. If that’s the case, you’ll be happy to know that the top fishing sunglasses aren’t always the most expensive. There are plenty of great options out there for cheap fishing sunglasses that will get the job done, no matter what your budget is. Noteworthy brands that offer some of the best fishing sunglasses for the money include: 

  • Arnette: Ask any seasoned fisherman what the best budget fishing sunglasses are and they’ll likely name-drop Arnette. Originally a favorite among surfers and skateboarders, Arnette has become a leader in stylish, effective and affordable eyewear designed for the outdoors. Today, Arnette fishing sunglasses are some of the best fishing sunglasses for the money. 

In addition to their great value and reputation, Arnette sunglasses are well known for durability and design. They’re also extremely wearable and built to stay on, no matter how rough the waters are. Their Fastball model, in particular, is made with a Grilamid nylon frame, which allows for great peripheral vision and is optimized to stay in place. Arnette Catfish polarized sunglasses are also a great pick. The best part? You won’t have to splurge to find good fishing sunglasses with this brand.

  • Native Eyewear: Established by outdoor athletes, Native Eyewear makes some of the best polarized fishing sunglasses you can find. All of their designs are optimized for outdoor activities and sports, including fishing. Their mission to deliver quality products at a lower price debunks the misconception that cheap fishing sunglasses are inferior to their more expensive counterparts. 

In fact, Native Eyewear’s products are among the best fishing sunglasses for the money. Their Wazee model does a great job of blocking glare from the water and checks out at under $100 at most retailers. If you’re looking to optimize value, check out their Throttle polarized sunglasses — this model features a lens system that allows users to switch out lenses depending on light conditions. Think of it as your fly-fishing sunglasses, deep-sea fishing sunglasses and sight-fishing sunglasses all rolled into one set of durable, stylish frames. 

Shopping for the perfect pair

As you can see, there are all kinds of factors to keep in mind when looking for good fishing sunglasses. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the information and options on the market, just remember these three pointers:

Prioritize polarization and prescription needs 

Make sure you narrow your search to polarized lenses that also offer good UV protection. Also consider if you’ll need prescription polarized fishing sunglasses to optimize your vision while you’re out on the water. The key is to read product labels to guarantee you are purchasing sunglasses with the right kinds of lenses for you. 

Pick a color based on light conditions

Choose the color of your lenses based on the kinds of conditions you think you’ll encounter the most. Remember that lighter colors are best for low-light conditions, which is why they work well on ice-fishing sunglasses or for sunglasses you plan to use in the very early morning or in the evening. Brown, amber and rose offer good visibility under most conditions, from bright days to overcast ones. Their vivid contrast makes them a good option for sight-fishing sunglasses. Lastly, opt for mirrored lenses if you’re planning to fish in very bright conditions — blue-mirrored lenses, for instance, are among the best options for deep-sea fishing sunglasses.  

Research brands and models

Do your homework before you decide on a pair of sunglasses. Stick to brands known for delivering products suited for outdoor sports. Remember that the best fishing sunglasses vary from person to person, depending on light conditions, setting and your budgetary needs. Read product reviews and choose a pair based on the features, style and price you feel most comfortable with. 

If you keep these tips in mind when you’re shopping around for sunglasses, you’re sure to find a great pair that will take your fishing experience to the next level.

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