FISHING SUNGLASSES: Glass vs. Plastic Lenses (Pros & Cons Of Each)

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Here’s a question we’ve been getting a lot recently:

Should you get glass or plastic lenses for your fishing sunglasses?

That’s a great question!

In the past, glass was a clear winner, but thanks to new technology, the race is a really close one now.

So check out this video where Luke and I break down the pros and cons of each material and help you learn which one is best for you.

Fishing Sunglasses: Glass vs. Plastic [VIDEO]

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In the past, glass lenses were generally known to be the best.

But companies like Smith Optics have leveraged new technology to take plastic (polycarbon) lenses to a new level.

Here are some of the more important factors when choosing lens material and how glass and plastic compare in each:

Visibility

In the past, glass was a clear winner, but nowadays we can’t even tell the difference.

Price

Glass is more expensive than plastic.

Weight

Plastic lenses are lighter than glass.

Scratchability

Plastic lenses are more likely to be scratched.

Crackability

Glass lenses are more likely to crack.

Frames

No conversation about sunglasses is complete without also addressing frames.

Here’s our stance on them: avoid frames with inlaid rubber around them.

Over time (usually about a year or so), the rubber will detach from the frame.

This has happened to several pairs we’ve owned in the past, but if you just avoid sunglasses with rubber around the lenses, you’ll be fine!

Conclusion

jupiter snook

If you want really nice-looking glasses that are more scratch-resistant, and you don’t care too much about price, then go with glass lenses.

But if you want a lighter pair of crack-resistant sunglasses that are a little cheaper, then go with polycarbon (plastic) lenses.

Our favorite glasses are Smith Optics Guide’s Choice, and you can get them from our store here:

And if you want 20% off these glasses (as well as everything else in our store), click here to join us in the Insider Club!

What are your favorite fishing sunglasses?

Have any questions about glass vs. plastic lenses?

Let me know down in the comments!

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Brian Jacobs
6 months ago

I fish with either Maui Jim’s (glass) or Kaenon (PC) and both do extremely well with shallow water clarity. Obviously polarization plays a big part in the results, so regardless of your choice in brand you need to check that box. A cheap pair of polarized glasses will often beat a more expensive pair of non-polarized when it comes to visibility below the surface.

Daniel Vader
6 months ago

After someone stole my Costas at the car wash I bought a pair of Smith’s guides choice from REI clearance and a pair of Oakleys from Saltstrong tackle shop I still have a pair of Costas. I was reluctant to buy plastic lenses and I take extra special care of them As far as shallow water clarity I can’t tell the difference between the Smiths and the Oakleys- both are better than the Costas. Its as if they were made in the same factory. My costas are now relegated to the glasses I wear when driving my car.

Tim Hoffman
6 months ago

Has anyone tried any of the “clip on” for over prescription glasses? If so, did they work?

Joseph Randazzo
6 months ago

Costa should replace those glasses for you for free. You just have to pay shipping. They’ve done it for me twice in years past with my old Stringers. But I just stay away from them now cause it’s just a pain to be without them.

I have 3 pairs …all glass, but I would tell anyone to get poly for their first pair at least. They are def more forgiving. I shattering a pair of glass ones cause I got them caught on a grab bar on my boat. The frames stretched too far and cracked the lenses. I sent them back to costa and they replaced them for $100. Not bad for a $259 pair of shades. My next pair will be poly tho for sure. They didn’t offer a 580 Lens in poly when I bought mine.

Amber lenses, green mirror for sure is the only color I’ll wear for inshore saltwater. Amber/blue mirror for offshore.

Good info. I’m a Costa man tho lol.

Last edited 6 months ago by Joseph Randazzo
Tom Cavanaugh
6 months ago

Due to prescription issues I can only buy one color of polycarbon Guide Choice smith glasses but I dont know what lens color to use. I have to order this week or wont have them for my Florida trip.
It is mainly for day fishing, lake more than inshore but also to be used as normal sunglasses. Your recommendation?

Mark J.
6 months ago

May want to try Rheos sometime. Only $50-ish. Good optics, and they float! Been using them for a few years now. Great customer service, too.

Steve
6 months ago

There is another lens material to consider, Urethane. My eyesight changed so I needed a corrective lens, -1.5, and found Tajima Direct. Their Urethane lenses are more scratch resistant than polycarbonate. They use your old frames, in my cast Costa & Maui Jim and replace the old lenses with their prescription ones from Urethane. I’m very happy with the optics on the water or working outside.

Lee
6 months ago

Like my Smiths for optics, have two pair, but they seem to scratch easily, I have had Costa glass lenses that have lasted for years. They are slightly heavier and the frames don’t seam to hug your head as well but the longevity is amazing

Gerald Shappell
6 months ago

I find the cheaper brands of plastic lenses work great in the sun, but as soon as it’s overcast it seems to diminish my ability to see no matter the lens color.

Joseph Randazzo
6 months ago

Overcast skies make it difficult, but you can’t beat green mirror with an amber lens.

Bernard Spier
6 months ago

I have used both Ray Ban and about three years ago I bought a pair of Maui Jim’s, hands down the best I have ever had. Yes, the cost is steep ($700-800) for prescription lenses. My sons both like La Coasta and the other likes Oakley. But for me, the clarity and polarized lenses make Maui’s the best.

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