5 Best Polarized Sunglasses for Fishing and Buyer’s Guide

fly angler wearing sunglasses in stream

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Our topic today takes us to something that is indispensable for nearly every angler. We’re talking about sunglasses for fishing, a tool I learned to appreciate early on in life.

When I was a child, my small town had a fishing pond that was only fishable by children.

That pond was absolutely stuffed with bass and when I snagged my granddad’s polarized sunglasses, what was once just the surface of the water came to life and I could see the fish swimming and, more importantly, the ones hiding.

Spot fishing is a great example of where a polarized pair of sunglasses shine. Bringing the bait to the fish’s nose rather than the fish to the bait requires sight of the fish and these glasses are essential to doing that.

They are, however, a must for just about any style of fishing and environment from small stream fly fishing to extended deep-sea adventures. Today’s best polarized fishing sunglasses not only let you see the fish under the water’s surface more clearly but also protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

Since you are reading this article, there’s a good chance you are looking for a good pair of sunglasses to make your time on the water more enjoyable and productive. The decision as to what to spend your hard-earned dollars on, even if it is something that will help you or give you an edge when it comes to fishing, is not always an easy one.

It can get confusing with the myriad of choices, styles, features, and so on. Then there’s the fact that you are going to get what you pay for and a  pair of good polarized sunglasses for fishing won’t come cheap.

While the choices we have today can be dizzying, I have put together this list of 5 of my favorite and top polarized fishing sunglasses for men and women based on their functionality, good looks, durability – and value. They squarely fall into that “sweet spot” where you get the quality and performance without emptying your pockets. Let’s see what they have to offer.

5 Best Polarized Fishing Sunglasses for the Money

 

Leupold Katmai Performance Eyewear

 

Leupold makes a good product for the hunter and angler alike. I know them best for the hunting gear they make and from what I have in my own gear, I will personally attest to their quality products.

The Katmai Performance Sunglasses are a great pair for their durability and stylish look. Available in the polarized lenses that we anglers love, they are also available in a non-polarized lens as well.

The shape and style of this pair of sunglasses are fairly neutral and can be worn by men and women alike. The polarization prevents a tremendous amount of UV light, making it a great mid-day pair.

This is a very comfortable pair featuring a rubberized, padded nose bridge and a snug fit around the head. The lenses themselves are built of Diamondcoat which resists scratching.

Comfort is important because I do not know anyone who can fish all day with one hand. A comfortable pair of sunglasses means more fishing and less adjusting what you are wearing.

I included this pair, not just for its great build but the assurance you get with a Leupold product. Leupold takes pride in its products and has a very easy program to handle any issues you may have with your purchase.

It is important to find companies that stand behind their products. It tells you plenty about what you are buying and also means less headache if you ever have to return or repair anything.

Features

  • Diamondcoat polarized lenses
  • 100% UVA/UVB protection
  • Rubberized coating
  • Non-polarized option available

Pros

  • Durable lenses
  • Comfortable nose bridge
  • Different color options

Cons

  • Solid but very basic design 

Costa Del Mar Women’s Waterwoman Sunglasses

 

This one is for the ladies. The Costa Del Mar Waterwoman glasses are a stylish rectangle framed pair of sunglasses and they feature some great benefits.

The make of these glasses is on par with the best of from competitors. The glasses sport a resin frame with plastic lenses that are UV protective and polarized. There are multiple lens colors available as well which is nice for matching gear or just having a specific color in mind through which you want to see the world.

In terms of comfort, this pair does feature a nose pad on the bridge of the glasses and this is also a rubber material that helps keep the glasses on your face securely, even when bending and stooping.

Costa makes a very large variety of sunglasses for men and women and this pair is one of their more simple designs, making them more reasonable in cost for the brand.

This is a great pair of sunglasses for youth as well because you get the quality Costa is known for without the high price of some other brands. I really like these as a go-to for boating trips as well because they fit very snug to your head thanks to the angle of the frame.

One issue that I can see with a pair of sunglasses such as these that are flatter than others is the light penetration through the side. This can be intrusive and annoying in high UV situations such as midday on the lake.

The fact that some light penetration can occur is very inconsequential, however, and the glasses still serve their purpose well. I have a pair that is also open on the side, and I hardly notice this issue.

Features

  • Resin frame
  • Polarized lenses with UV protection
  • Ergonomic grip
  • Comfort nose bridge

Pros

  • Durable
  • Lightweight
  • Design options

Cons

  • Peripheral light penetration

Costa Del Mar Men’s Blackfin 580g Sunglasses

 

The Blackfin 580g sunglasses are a great pair for a good fit and good light protection at a reasonable price. One thing that I like about these is the wide frame they have to fit larger heads. I myself have a large head, unfortunately, and finding glasses of any kind that fit right can be a nightmare.

However, with that being said, if you are not in the big head club like me, make sure that these 62 millimeter wide glasses will fit. Most sunglasses companies have excellent return policies for their products because glasses are a hard thing to judge over the internet.

Unlike some other pairs, the Blackfin has glass lenses which are great for a clear image when looking through them. Glass lenses are also more resistant to scratching. However, they are more prone to breakage than plastic. 

There are two types of outdoorsmen in this world, those who take great care to protect their gear, and those who you would think their gear owed them money. Ask yourself which of these are you and that should help you decide on most products you are looking to buy.

These sunglasses also come in many colors which is a good thing if matching is an important factor for you. I really enjoy white frames for myself on extremely bright days because the frames do not get as hot (believe me, when it’s 90 degrees, hot sunglasses can be a thing).

Features

  • Resin frame
  • Polarized glass lenses
  • Good lens color options
  • Lens coated for UV protection

Pros

  • Fits larger heads
  • Clear image
  • Multiple color options

Cons

  • Mostly dark frame options

Smith Captain’s Choice Bifocal Polarized Sunglasses

 

I wanted to include these because they make good fly fishing sunglasses for someone who ties small knots and works with small flies. When I fly fish, it can feel like everything is happening at once and I have a less than perfect set of eyes.

I struggle to tie anything, especially hip-deep in water. This is why I love the Captain’s Choice Bifocal Sunglasses. The lenses themselves are made of plastic materials but the materials are very scratch resistant and have some flexibility.

Why are flexible lenses important? Because flexible lenses and frames alike can take shock damage. This makes these sunglasses much more durable, and durability is what you need in fishing sunglasses.

When it comes to the lens color, it really is a preference. This pair is a copper color but everyone has their take on what is better. What color do you want to see your fishing trip in?

I like cooler colors personally. I feel they offer good visibility into the water while keeping my eyes safe and comfortable. My brother, on the other hand, has the reddest shades you will ever see and he swears by them.

The frame is about the same as its competitors in width but the lenses are a little taller to accommodate the bifocal design of the glasses. This can lead to a bulkier feel on the face of the wearer, something to be aware of.

Features

  • Polarized bifocal lenses
  • Anti-reflective lenses
  • Plastic frame
  • UV protection lenses

Pros

  • Bifocal lenses
  • Flexible polycarbonate lenses
  • Great peripheral coverage

Cons

  • Limited styles

Oakley Holbrook Sunglasses

 

Oakley has been making sunglasses for a very long time and they have a reputation for durability, which I love. The Oakley Holbrooks are available in many different patterns and colors but the frame and basic design are generally the same.

Your standard square frame lenses fit snug to your forehead and eliminate a great amount of light, but they do still allow some light from the side which, again, can be an issue in high heat and light conditions.

This pair has a Prizm Sapphire design that I really like because of its cooler color and mirror finish on the lenses themselves. This keeps the maximum amount of UV out of your eyes.

Being polarized, they are naturally great for fishing, and the design on the arms of this pair is stylish but also neutral, letting them look good with just about anything and match most gear.

Because they are one of the more popular models of Oakley, they are going to be easier to size as well. Most sunglasses manufacturers use millimeters as their unit of measurement so be sure to do the same when measuring your fit at home.

Oakley also does a good job of standing behind its products which is great for any issues that may arise. No matter how big the company, and no matter what the price, mistakes do happen, so always look to companies that are easy to deal with.

Features

  • Prizm blue/sapphire lenses
  • Square frame
  • Polarized lenses
  • 100% protection from UV rays
  • American flag storage bag

Pros

  • Lightweight and durable
  • Good warranty
  • Multiple designs available

Cons

  • Open sides let in light

7 Benefits of Wearing Polarized Fishing Sunglasses

  1. Clearer, sharper vision, particularly when fishing in bright sunlight
  2. Reduced glare and reflection, letting you see under the water’s surface
  3. Improved contrast for better detection/perception of fish and objects underwater
  4. Cuts down on eyestrain and fatigue on those long fishing outings
  5. Most Polarized sunglasses also provide UV protection for the eyes
  6. Enhances sight fishing (especially with yellow/copper-tint lenses)
  7. Can boost casting accuracy in streams/rivers on very bright, sunny days

Some Parting Thoughts on Shopping for Sunglasses

Online Returns Can Be Scary (but Not Always)

A few years ago, I found a pair of Costa Sunglasses that I really liked online. I was apprehensive to buy online because of a fear that I was going to be stuck with a 200 dollar pair of sunglasses that I cannot return.

Fast forward a few months and I discovered just how easy returning a pair was. I learned that companies that sell products that are what I like to call “measurement sensitive”, like to make it very easy to return a product.

So do not be afraid to try a pair. If online is not your style, any local shop will size you for a good fit and you can try them all there. But do not be afraid to look around online and research or inquire about return policies.

A Good Fit – Measure Before You Buy

You want to get a good fit. When you are measured for a custom pair of glasses at the optometrist, they have some pretty fancy ways of doing it and you can take some of that home to use for situations such as this.

Temple to temple measurements in millimeters is a great way to get the width of your face. Perhaps measure a pair of glasses you already have that fit well. Also consider what you want for height in terms of your lenses, again, in millimeters.

Your Sunglasses are Important – Choose the Right Pair for You

Consider that the sunglasses that you choose will be your counterpart for many years to come if you pick the right pair and take care of them. Consider everything from functionality and durability, to warranty and return policy.

Choosing gear can seem daunting but is really simple enough when you take the time to consider your needs and how a particular product meets them (or doesn’t). Having a good pair of sunglasses for fishing is as important as having a good rod and reel.

The 5 sunglasses reviewed here are some of the best values you will find for your money today. You may also think so too, or you might not. However, at the very least, I hope this article has provided you with some useful information and inspiration on your journey to find your perfect pair. Tight lines, friends!

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