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


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:


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


Glass is more expensive than plastic.


Plastic lenses are lighter than glass.


Plastic lenses are more likely to be scratched.


Glass lenses are more likely to crack.


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!


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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2 years ago

How much is Safilo /Luxottica and Smith paying you two? 😂😂😂. Talking about two or three glass makers is not a great discussion on the variety and quality out there. You did not discuss Luxottica at all. This company is the reason sunglasses cost hundreds of dollars now! They basically own most all the sunglass companies! They have a TOTAL monopoly on the sunglass market. And yes, Safilo/ Luxottica owns Smith, Oakley and Costa.
I would not buy ANY sunglasses made by Luxottica. Higher prices and lower quality is what you get!

Do your research and don’t trust people pushing Luxottica glasses!

2 years ago
Reply to  Chris

Luxottica does not own Smith.

Maui Jim, Smith, Bajio, Wiley X, Revo, Waterland Fishing Optics have zero to do with Luxottica. ..,and Waterline Fishing Options “mineral glass” option is nearly $100 more expensive than most others, including Oakley, Costa and Ray Ban (Luxottica brands).

I still prefer to support the smaller US companies, even if they’re still producing $200-$250 sunglasses.

2 years ago

Great discussion!
Does Smith make frames that go “over” your prescription glasses? I like the go overs better than the clip one for taking off to tie knots, etc. the clip ons can be awkward taking off and stowing. I use Cocoons in amber and go over. They have a glasses strap and I just pull them off they just hang out of the way, and are quick to put back on. I use a cheap set of magnifiers that clip on the bill of my Salt Strong cap and I clip dally easy. They problem with the cocoons are they scratch easily and their ambers don’t have the green mirror.

Brian Jacobs
3 years 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
3 years 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
3 years ago

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

Joe Randazzo
3 years 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 3 years ago by Joe Randazzo
Tom Cavanaugh
3 years 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.
3 years 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.

3 years 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.

3 years 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


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