Fishing sunglasses are not an accessory – they are a necessity, and long days on the water call for the best fishing sunglasses you can get your hands on. All fishermen know that the glare of the sun off water can be very intense, especially in the hours just after dawn and before sunset – the best times of day for a hot bite – when as much as 65% of incoming solar radiation is reflected by the water.
But beyond performance, sunglasses are required protection to prevent premature aging of the eyes, cataracts, squinting and eye strain, and a host of other eye health problems.
Of course protecting your eyes from the harmful effects of UV radiation is crucial, but good fishing sunglasses provide a major strategic advantage as well. Cutting surface glare lets you see into the water to spot trout holding below a riffle, track bonefish feeding across a sand flat, or throw crankbaits at bass holding at the edge of a weed bed.
Even when you are fishing deep, it is very helpful to be able to see what is happening as you get a fish near the boat or bank and prepare to land it.Fishermen trying on a good pair of polarized glasses for the first time are often amazed at the aquarium-like visibility they have into the underwater world.
Good sunglasses also help with running the boat as it is much easier to make out chop and waves in the path.
What sets fishing sunglasses apart from everyday eyewear? There are several factors to consider, and you need to get into the details to find the best fishing sunglasses for your specific application. Read on as we investigate some of the top specialized fishing glasses on the market.
9 Best Fishing Sunglasses – Comparisons
The best fishing sunglasses for bright days have polarized lenses. When light bounces off a smooth surface like flat water, ice, or snow, it does not scatter but tends to reflect at one angle. That is what we call glare and that is why it seems to be coming straight into your eyes.
A polarized lens is coated with a chemical that has molecules aligned in such a way that light waves bouncing vertically off a smooth surface are blocked out and only the horizontal rays pass through to your eyes.
Images look darker and cooler through a polarized lens, objects are crisp and clear, and details are easier to see. With surface glare cut, it is possible to see into the water, and eye fatigue is greatly reduced over the course of the day.
More Options: Colored Lenses
In order to provide optimum vision in a variety of situations, fishing sunglasses may feature polarization combined with coloring, or you can choose colored lenses alone. Copper, orange, amber and brown tints are useful in low-light conditions like overcast, fog, and haze.
They make the environment appear brighter.Lenses like this will let you spot fish against the bottom when the sun is not there to help. Yellow lenses block blue light therefore increasing depth perception and enhancing contrast. Smoked lenses reduce glare and brightness but do not change color perception the way polarized lenses do.
Green tint improves contrast on sunny days while keeping colordistortion to a minimum. Manufacturers of the best fishing sunglasses offer a variety of color options in both polarized and non-polarized models.
All Things Considered
There are many factors to consider when searching for the best fishing sunglasses. To save you some leg work, we have sorted through shades from the top manufacturers and looked at several key aspects:
- Frame weight and design
- Frame durability and comfort
- Lens quality and scratch resistance
- Price point
Get a head start on finding a great pair of fishing sunglasses. Check out our in-depth reviews below.
Best Fishing Sunglasses: 9 Top Picks
Costa Del Mar makes top-of-the-line hand-built sunglasses and the Tuna Alley model is a good example of why so many Florida charter fishing captains choose these sunglasses. These glasses are made in Florida USA with tough, light nylon frames made from 100% recycled fishing nets. The frame is very comfortable and starts out tight then gradually forms to your head and face shape.
We tested the blue mirror 580G lightwave glass lenses in the Tuna Alleys. The mirrors are encapsulated between layers of glass so they are scratch-proof, and the entire lens is coated with a C-Wall molecular bond. The polarization and light-filtering qualities on these glasses are excellent. They are also thinner and lighter than the usual polarized glasses.
Price point is high-end on these sunglasses, but they are purpose-built for fishing and are probably the most high-tech glasses in our test. Vision clarity is great and 100% polarization is very restful on the eyes. The eye coverage is a little narrow for our taste, but that is a matter of preference. These are our number one pick, and if they fit your face, you cannot go wrong with a pair of Tuna Alleys.
The Fantail is another Costa Del Mar model of a premium pair of fishing sunglasses. We looked at the 580G glass lens model, but a light-weight polycarbonate lens is also available. The frames on the Fantails are wide-profile and made from tough co-injected nylon recovered by recycling fishing nets.
The Fantails are a good pair of glasses for the smaller-sized face. The lenses are high-quality, with encapsulated polarizing and mirror layers for long life and scratch protection. Mirroring really helps for extreme glare situations like tropical flats fishing, and by tuning the lens color choice, you can dial in a perfect pair of glasses for your personal fishing situation.
We find that the hinges and arms on the Costa Del Mar glasses have a really tight, positive feel to them. They almost feel spring loaded, and the wrap of the arms creates a snug fit. Still, a retention strap is a definite must because it is a real shame to see glasses in this price range spiral down into the deep. If you have a smaller head and face, treat yourself to some Fantails, our number two pick.
The Native Hardtops are an advanced-technology polarized sunglass made specifically for use in tough outdoor sports conditions. Designed for use in high-glare mountaineering or water sports environments, the Hardtops deploy innovative polarization that blocks up to 4 times more infrared than regular polarized lenses. They also provide UV protection and selectively filter UV to reduce blue light and offer high contrast and crisp definition.
The polycarbonate lenses on these glasses have a hydrophobic coating that repels liquids and resists smudging. They are shatter-resistant and act as safety glasses. A touch we liked on these glasses is the ability to change out lenses, good for switching colors or replacing a damaged lens.
The frames on the Hardtops are very tough and light, built to handle crashes while skiing or snowboarding as well as extreme temperatures. We loved the adjustable metal nose pads similar to those found on prescription eyewear. A great pair of durable, light-weight glasses that come with hard- and soft-cases and a lifetime warranty. Our third pick.
The Filthy Anglers Delta sunglasses have an old-school full wrap fit that helps to keep the glasses on your head at all times. It also provides exceptional light shielding and wind protection. We really liked this pair of glasses because of their full-wrap style. Although most glasses with this rectangular lens profile would not provide the full eye coverage we like, the wrap-around effect makes up for the lack of lens size and gives good coverage.
The lenses on these glasses are impact-resistant polycarbonate with a water- and oil-resistant coating. Like higher-priced glasses, these glasses have polarizing film encapsulated within the lens for protection against scratching and for superior optical clarity. The Deltas have optically-correct lenses and block 100% of UVA and UVB light. The lenses are tucked in and protected by the heavy frame, making it easier to avoid scratches. The frames were almost bomb-proof and could take some severe bending and twisting with no problem.
The Filthy Anglers are a light, tough pair of sunglasses that provide a lot of value for the money. They have a molded-in rubber nosepiece and come with a retention strap. A great choice for those who like a wrap-around style, and fifth place in our line up.
The Oakley Holbrook sunglasses come from the line designed for Oakley by pro snowboarder Shaun White. These heavy-framed glasses recall the classic RayBan Wayfarers with wide arms and metal accents.
The lenses are made of Oakley’s Plutonite polycarbonate and filter out 100% of UVA, UVB, UVC, and blue light up to 400nm. The lenses are impact-resistant and wrap around to provide side protection, but are optimized to eliminate distortion and provide clear, sharp vision.
The Oakley’s are another pair of sunglasses we like for their sturdy build and broad eye coverage. The polarization and light filtering is great on these glasses. They also fit very well on large head sizes and set tightly but comfortably on the nose. You will need a retention strap as the weight of the glasses combined with a little sweat and the lack of hook to the ear beams will definitely let them fall into the water sooner or later.
A couple of nice benefits to the Oakley Holbrooks include prescription-ready lenses and the fact that they are made in the USA. These are very comfortable glasses but again careful fitting is necessary as there is no adjustment. Our number six fishing sunglasses.
The Wiley X Saint is another of the half-frame style sunglasses that are popular because of their light weight and sleek looks. However, the attractive point for us is the fact that the Saint sunglasses are Mil-spec safety glasses that can resist high velocity ballistic impact and provide full-wrap around eye coverage.
The lenses on these glasses are shatterproof Selenite polycarbonate covered with an anti-scratch coating. The smoke grey color we tested is not polarized but does provide full UV protection and 15% light transmission while reducing glare with no color distortion. The lenses are interchangeable and prescription-capable.
The frame on these glasses is tough and of a compact design that keeps it out of the way. We liked the fact that the Saints come with a full package that includes a storage case, cleaning Cloth, nosepiece, and leash cord. A good pair of glasses if you are looking for safety glasses, the Saints are our seventh pick.
Fishermen who want to rock high fashion out on the water will need to consider the Armani EA 4033 sunglasses. While not specifically designed for fishing or sports, these glasses made our list because they have a tough plastic frame and polarized glass lenses. We also like sunglasses that provide broad eye coverage like these do.
Users will need to be careful with fit on the Armani glasses because there are no adjustments. The nosepiece is molded plastic like most sunglasses, and the arms are 140 millimeters long. The glasses fit well on a large/broad profile face, and the arms are stiff enough to grip the head. However, we recommend a retention strap for fishing as the glasses could drop off, especially when sweaty.
The Armani 4033 sunglasses are not lightweight, but they are sturdy. The polarization was not as deep as on some of the other glasses we tried. This could be a consideration if you will be mainly fishing in extremely bright conditions like tropical waters. These are a decent pair of sunglasses at a reasonable price, and we put them at number eight on our list.
Strike King Okeechobee sunglasses are a low-cost way to get into a pair of full-featured fishing sunglasses. Strike King has been making polarized fishing sunglasses since 1984, and their S11 lens technology is based on building up 11 layers of material in the polycarbonate lens to provide 100% polarization and 100% UVA and UVB protection.
The glasses have a full-wrap fit with wide sidebars that exclude light and enhance the ability to see under water. The lens colors and mirror treatment are specially designed to maximize the ability to see fish and structure under water. The lenses also have hydrophobic and anti-reflective coatings.
We found these glasses to be fairly rugged although slightly heavy. They did work to improve the view underwater on an overcast day. The nose fit was a bit uncomfortable because the nose piece is thick and blocky. It is only going to fit perfectly on specific nose shapes. Overall though, these are a good pair of polarized glasses to keep in the tackle box or boat, and the price is right. They come in ninth on our list.
If you are looking for absolute savings but a relatively full package of features, the Flying Fisherman Mavericks could be the sunglasses for you. They are a partial wrap-around half-frame design with polarizedtriacetate lenses that are impact and scratch resistant. The polarizing filter is encapsulated in between the lens layers to prolong life. The lens color tint is designed to enhance contrast without distorting natural color.
The Mavericks are simple, light-weight, and durable glasses that come at a painless price point. They get the job done and provide the UVA and UVB protection needed by those who spend a lot of time outdoors.
The non-slip rubberized nose piece is quite comfortable and the frame has a lot of flex to it, which helps with both fit and durability.Some people might find that the bow of the arms makes the glasses fit a little strange, but it is possible to flex and bend the frame a little to fit.
These are cheap sunglasses no doubt about it, but they do work. The triacetate lenses will scratch and do not have the clarity of more expensive materials, but if you tend to lose or break your glasses a lot, or just want a spare pair to leave in the boat, these sunglasses are a good deal. The Mavericks are our tenth pick.
There are plenty of good sunglasses on the market, but we notice that you tend to get what you pay for. The pros who work the tropics and face harsh sun and blazing water glare everyday tend to spend the money for the best fishing sunglasses they can get. That is where the Costas come in.
However, we personally like full-wrap glasses like the Filthy Anglers that shade our eyes and have very tough frames. You are going to have to take fit into consideration as well because your shades have to be comfortable all day and stick to your head when you are sweaty.
All of the glasses reviewed here have the lens characteristics fishermen need, and all are above average in their ability to take abuse.
So find the fit and style you like and buy the best fishing sunglasses you can afford in confidence that your eyes will have proper protection and your fish-spotting capabilities will be at their best.