How to Choose the Right Polarized Sunglasses for Fishing

By: Tony Acevedo on July 31, 2018
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costa del mar polarized sunglasses

One of the most important pieces of fishing equipment every angler needs is a good pair of polarized sunglasses.

Polarized sunglasses severely reduce the amount of glare you deal with on the water and allow you to see through the water with greater clarity.

Polarized glasses are critical for sight fishing and shallow water fishing in general. Offshore, these glasses help anglers see fish they otherwise would not be able to because of the glare.

Picking out a pair of polarized sunglasses can be a daunting task. With so many brands and options, it can be overwhelming at times and you may not even know where to start when looking for your first pair.

In this article, I go over everything you need to know before you buy your first pair of polarized sunglasses, including:

  • Biggest Purchasing Mistakes
  • Glass v. Polycarbonate Lenses
  • Lens Color Options
  • Lens Curvature

If you have any questions about this article, let us know in the comments.

Biggest Purchasing Mistake: Not Trying Before Buying

One of the biggest mistakes people make when purchasing polarized sunglasses is going online and buying a pair without ever trying the sunglasses on.

These days, it’s so easy to go online, buy whatever you need and have it shipped directly to your door. It’s a convenience we all love and use.

However, this is not the best way to purchase your polarized sunglasses.

You need to see how your polarized sunglasses fit on your face and make sure that they are comfortable. These glasses are something you are going to be wearing constantly and they’re too expensive for you to be wearing a pair that doesn’t fit or that feel uncomfortable.

Go to a store in person to buy your sunglasses and make sure to try on as many different pairs as possible. This ensures you get the sunglasses that are comfortable and fit your face correctly.

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Glass Lenses vs. Polycarbonate Lenses

There are two options of lenses for polarized sunglasses: glass lenses and polycarbonate lenses.

Glass Lenses

polarized sunglasses with glass lenses

Glass Lenses are extremely popular options for polarized lenses. They give you a crisp view and a couple extra benefits that polycarbonate lenses don’t.

Glass lenses are scratch resistant and usually let you see a little bit better than the polycarbonate lenses.

Conversely, glass lenses are much weaker than polycarbonate lenses and will shatter more easily when dropped on the ground or banged against something.

Polycarbonate Lenses

polarized sunglasses with polycarbonate lenses

Polycarbonate lenses offer a great option for polarized lenses as well.

These lenses weigh less and therefore stay on your face a little bit better than the glass lenses — which are heavier and can sometimes cause your glasses to slide down your nose.

They are also more durable than glass lenses. They will hold up a little bit better if you’re the kind of person who just so happens to drop things or use your gear pretty hard.

Lens Colors: Inshore, Offshore and Neutral

Costa Del Mar Sunglasses

Not all lens colors work for all types of fishing. The color lens you buy with your polarized glasses should be determined by the type of fishing you do the majority of the time.

Check out the list below to see a breakdown of the color lenses you should use based on the type of fishing you do:

  • Green Mirror Front Lens, Amber Inside Lens – polarized glasses with these lenses are ideal for inshore and shallow water fishing. This is the best color combo for sight fishing on the flats.
  • Yellow Lenses – these lenses are a great option for lowlight conditions and overcast skies. They are a good choice for people who engage in a variety of types of fishing.
  • Grey Lenses – these are the best choice for a general all around use. You can use these glasses inshore, offshore, nearshore, golfing, playing sports and being outside in general.
  • Blue Mirror Front Lens, Grey Inside Lens – polarized sunglasses with this color combo are the best option for offshore fishing. The blue front lens matches the color of the offshore waters and cuts down on the glare that reflects off the surface.

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Lens Curvature

polarized lens curvature

How the lens fits around your eyes – aka the lens curvature – is a critical factor in determining how a pair of polarized glasses will perform for you.

You want your vision with the glasses on to be as close to your normal vision without the glasses as possible.

A lens that has too much curvature will distort your vision and mess with your perception of where objects (and fish) are.

You want the front of your lens to be flat from the top to the bottom of the lens. You want the lens to curve on the side in your peripheral vision.

A good way to test if a lens curvature is right for you is to try on the glasses and look in every direction moving only your eyes. If you notice any distortions in your vision while looking in the various directions, you know that these glasses will distort your perception as well.

How to Choose Polarized Sunglasses Video

You can get all the info you need to know for buying the right polarized sunglasses by watching the video below:

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Conclusion

Polarized Sunglasses in the sand

Polarized sunglasses are a necessity when it comes to pretty much any kind of fishing (we concede you don’t need these if you’re fishing at night.)

Making sure that your glasses fit correctly, have the right color lenses for the type of fishing you do and have the right lens curvature will ensure you have the best polarized sunglasses for you.

Do you have questions about your polarized sunglasses? Looking for additional advice on what to look for when purchasing polarized sunglasses?

Let us know in the comments section below!

Tight Lines!

Related Posts: 

1. Breakline Polarized Sunglasses [REVIEW]

2. Grizzly Fishing Sunglasses Review (BEWARE)

3. Under Armour “Captain” Storm Sunglasses – Independent Review

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Videre Eyewear
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Videre Eyewear

This is the exact information one could have to buy sunglasses according to their requirements. You can simply choose it online and find the best suitable product for you. Thanks for sharing such incredible information to all. Keep posting stuff like that.

Qoutdoors
Guest
Qoutdoors

Best wishes to both of you, the article is just awesome. I enjoyed and found it so useful for me ever. Thanks.

Thomas Campbell
Member

Hey tony, awesome review. I didn’t realize how important polarized glassses were. I have a question. A buddy at work has a pair of costas for 40 that he’s selling but they have purple/ blue lenses? I know that’s more offshore but can I use them inshore

Jose Morales
Guest
Jose Morales

I use Costa Tuna Alley with Blue 508 glass and Costa Fisch with Gray 508 glass both are prescription so not cheaply made. Both look great inshore and off shore. Can’t go wrong with either. However I will say the Blue are more of an offshore lens and deep clearer waters. Other than that, they are fantastic.

Zachary Nelson
Member

I have a question that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I have been using SMITH’s Guides Choice glasses for years now, I absolutely love them. The question for you is, how do we determine quality of polarized glasses? (Warranty aside) My dog recently chewed up ALL of my polarized glasses and has left me wondering if I can just get an inexpensive pair or should I just wait to buy an expensive brand, also if you have any recommendations for a cheaper pair similar to the Guides Choice is love to hear it.
Thanks,
-Zach

James Woodmansee
Member

Great post Tony. Very helpful. After reading your post and all of the comments I went out to the Cocoon web site and learned more. Because they have different sizes based on the width and height of my prescription glasses I got a size that pretty closely fits over my glasses. In addition, the pair I ordered has green mirror outside coating and amber inside coating which perfectly fits the information mentioned about what is correct lens tint for inshore fishing. The price was $54.95 plus $5.50 shipping here to Cape Coral, Fl. I am looking forward to replacing my regular gray tint sunglasses with these better ones for fishing. And thanks again for a very helpful post.

Joseph Rudzinskas
Member

What if you have to wear prescription sunglasses?

Bruce Somers
Member

Joseph the answer to your question was provided in earlier comments. 😎

DON J. BARTELS
Guest
DON J. BARTELS

WHAT A GREAT PRESENTATION……..THANKS FOR ALL OF THE THOUGHTFULNESS – OPTIONS FOR INDIVIDUAL CONSIDERATION…… CONCERN: WEIGHT / COMFORT & FINALLY, DIP-NET ACTIVITY – OPPS…. OVERBOARD….. – I USE MONO AS A SAFETY OPTION……JUST A THOUGHT….. OPTICIANS COULD “PRE-DRILL AND HAVE READY ACCEPTANCE OF THE MONO SAFETY FEATURE….AT THE LENGTH FOR INDIVIDUAL COMFORT. THANKS FOR ALL OF YOUR HELP! BONITA BEACH, FLA.

Dave Boland
Member

I wear progressive glasses. I get fit over polarized sunglasses from amazon for about $15. From a fashion standpoint, they look like I just had cataract surgery, but from a function standpoint they are quite good. Both the glare, and the amount of light sneeking in from the side and from above are significantly reduced.

davidpop@sbcglobal.net
Member

What do you suggest if you need a prescription for polarized sun glasses?

Rob S
Member

Just went through this exercise. Those selling Costa prescription sunglasses only stocked a few of the popular fishing styles. I then went to Strike-Zone who had a large selection of non-prescription Costa sunglasses. They allowed me to try them on, and view outside. Fortunately, I rank ordered the top four, and then purchased a rod/reel combo for the help they provided. The reason that was important is certain prescription styles cannot be purchased with 580 glass. The optometrist selling me the prescription pair mistakenly sent in my selection only to find out that Costa had recently discontinued making prescription 580 glass in that style (Costa’s website had not been updated). My 2nd pick wasn’t stocked by the optometrist but that didn’t matter since already tried them on at Strike-Zone. I figured out if I went to one of the large online sellers of prescription sunglasses, they accurately showed which styles are available in prescription. Costa’s customer service is terrible, so trying to get through to talk with a knowledgeable rep was wasted time.

Edward Wygonik
Member

Hey Tony, as an Optometrist, I’ll say that was a pretty good discussion. The best thing you said, is to get to a place where you can try on the glasses and feel the quality, and experience the different colors/mirrors, etc for yourself. Function over form for fishing glasses, these are not a fashion show (but most are ‘cool’ anyway).
As for the curve and distortion bit at the end, every lens (especially Rx, but even non-Rx) will have more distortion in the periphery than central. How much depends on manufacturing tolerances, the amount of curve ground into the lens, vs.the lens being bent to the frame, the material, etc., etc. The more aggressive the wrap, the more distortion there will be, but honestly the average person wearing non-Rx can wear an extremely wrapped lens without too much visual discomfort. The problem is more with Rx sun, where the wrap magnifies peripheral distortions from the Rx.
Bottom line: 1st – Eye Protection from hooks and lines and UV. 2nd – Polarized to help see though the surface glare of the water and find fish. 3rd – Benefits of things like mirror coats and tints to incrementally improve on polarization.

Bruce Somers
Member

Who makes the best Rx progressive polarized glasses?

Edward Wygonik
Member

Great question, Bruce. When you’re a licensed retailer of most of the big name sunglass brands (Maui Jim, Costa, Smith, Oakely), you are bound contractually to use their proprietary technology lenses. Each of them has a different design. I would say its like buying jeans, each progressive lens has a different design which emphasizes certain things, just like 501’s fit differently than 505’s… so finding the one that is right for you would take talking to a licensed optician that is familiar with all the brands and technologies and telling them exactly what you’re looking for. For example, Costa makes a progressive, but because Costa is a ‘fishing brand’ and they think that while you’re on the water you’ll mostly be looking far away and only looking down to tie a line or see a gauge, their near zone is relatively smaller. Oakley and Smith are similarly more ‘sport designs’. Maui Jim has really advanced lens technology and probably has the most ‘normal’ progressive design as they’re really sold as an all around sunglass that people might wear to read a novel on the beach, but, having said that, if you are a progressive wearer in todays newest technology such as a Varilux S-Series Progressive, you will likely notice more peripheral distortion and a smaller near zone, even with the Maui’s. Now, you can have these nice premium progressive designs custom made into a polarized lens and add a bi-gradiant mirror coat to the front surface and a hydrophobic anti-glare coating to the back surface and get very similar performance to the best lenses from the sunglass manufacturers and the benefits of the best progressive tech, but that comes with a price tag. Sorry its not a simple answer.

Bruce Somers
Member

Edward, thank you for your thorough response. Now if I could only find an optometrist who fishes and gives discounts (😆) to Insiders.

Bruce Somers
Member

By the way I’m looking into getting a couple of pairs of the cocoon aviator fit overs, one for inshore and one for offshore.

Barry Six
Guest
Barry Six

Bruce, thanks for the tip on the Cocoon sunglasses. Found an optometrist nearby that sells these fit over my prescription glasses.

Bruce Somers
Member

Barry Six you are welcome. FYI you can purchase the Cocoons online for about $55

Cleve Carpenter
Member

Thanks for the video Tony. I’m an older fisherman and fish in the marshes. My issue is that I wear progressive bifocals. I’m farsighted and can’t wear off the shelf sunglasses. I end up changing to my regular glasses to tie on a hook or some other close work. Then put sunglasses back on. I’ve tried sunglasses with readers. They work ok but can’t find a good, reasonably priced pair. The “Transitions” are ok but can’t be made polarized. So I talked to my optician and she recommended clip on polarized sunglasses. Works real good but a lot of light leakage all around my glasses. They clip on to my prescription glasses. What is your suggestion. I don’t want to use 2 glasses around my neck and 2 fobs for my PP and trolling motor. What do you suggest???

lissa101@gmail.com
Member

Hi ya Cleve,
Me too. older fishermen need hard to find help/
advice with this subject. Love all these young smart guys at Salt Strong but most haven’t had to solve this problem yet.

Cleve Carpenter
Member

Yep!!! Too young!!! Lol!!👀👓🕶

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Maui Jims has a great line of polarized prescription sunglasses with progressive options.

Roy Beatty
Member

Thanks Tony, us that are visually impaired up close, need help tieing knots etc., a good pair I found with clear lense for the magnifier,is Fish Eyes by foster grant, roughly $40, I found them at Bass Pro, and some Ace stores on the East coast. They are great driving glasses too, clear view of the dash.

Arnold Rauscher
Member

I didn’t see any mention about prescription lenses. I cannot wear contact lenses, consequently, my fishing glasses must be prescription lenses. I am sure I am not the only angler with this issue. A brief nod to this issue would have enhanced your article. I currently wear Ray-Ban Wayfarers ,lens with my corrections and polarization, $400. So, these glasses are my everything glasses for fishing, driving, beaching, etc.

Gary Rankel
Member

Good stuff, Tony…….guys like me who wear prescription glasses can get a pair of RX sunglasses for a few hundred bucks, or a pair of the Fitover sunglasses for $50 or so, which is what i use. They’re not the best, and don’t come with mirrored finishes, but I get by.

Russ Dettman
Member

Cocoons brand polarized fitovers are available in amber and gray with assorted mirrored finishes for ~$55.

Gary Rankel
Member

Right Russ…..that’s what I use, but they’re not great.