How to select your
polarized fishing sunglasses !

orvis sale

Wear your polarized fishing sunglasses! It may be obvious but the foundation of fly fishing basics is to protect your eyes and provide yourself the ability to sight fish - you must see the fish!

I made the mistake of hitting a river with a guide one day with “marginal” sunglasses, and I was harangued by my guide and even chided by the fish. You really need the best fly fishing sunglasses you can afford.

Here's what you need to know before you go plop down a nice chunk of your angling budget. The good news is, you can get really good sunglasses for under $50 – but probably not less than that unless you find a spectacular sale. If you can afford the high end shades – get them!

The high end brands are going to cost in the ball-park of $150 – consider this a sound investment. What is the difference between the $50 pair and the $150 pair? The degree of optical quality in the lenses. ZZ-Top loves cheap sunglasses but if you buy them you’ll get a thin lens that will scratch or break or warp and have very low polarization.

That’s the key – they must be polarized! Polarization allows you to see under the water and spot the fish. Polarization reduces glare and therefore reduces the blinding effect of the sun on water. It also reduces reflection of the clouds and makes everything richer and more intense.

Polarization looks like this

How's this for fly fishing basics : The difference between casting directly to a fish and three feet away from a fish is the difference between a good day on the water and disappointment! Fish are lazy and really don’t like to move too far out of their way for dinner.

Other things to consider? The lens color. Rose colored glasses are fine for your outlook on life but when it comes to fishing, consider something a little less flowery.


Keep your youthful looks! Lens color will affect how much you squint and give your eyes the ability to see things in a natural hue, with extreme contrast, or with increased definition. For example, a gray lens will provide protection while allowing you to see natural colors while a yellow lens will provide extreme contrast.

Do your eyes feel strained? Try a copper lens for your fishing sunglasses which is more soothing to the eye while providing medium contrast. And, if you fish in really sunny areas, like Colorado, the darker the lens needed. But I don’t like mine too dark so I can wear them into dusk hour fishing.

In summary:

Gray: Good for really sunny conditions because colors are transmitted evenly without distortion. This lens keeps colors "true".

Brown: A good compromise between good contrast and true color. I like brown because they are good for both medium to bright light conditions and you can keep a good focus. Also, I have sensitive eyes due to eye surgery and brown is soothing.

Tan/Copper: Good “all around” colors but best on cloudy or overcast days. I’ve seen a lot of guides wear copper for sight fishing.

Yellow: If you start early and fish late – these are great as a second pair. Yellow lenses help in enhancing the available light and extremely low light levels. But do not try to wear these on sunny days because you really need more protection. They seem to suck light in and illuminate your point of focus.

Can’t decide? Some manufacturers offer glasses with interchangeable lenses!

More Fly Fishing Basics and How To

Finished with Fly Fishing Basics on fishing sunglasses, Take me to Rocky Mountain Rivers