Best Optics For Anglers

Sunlight hitting a fish resting on the bottom in three feet of water does what sunlight does, for the most part. Light reflects off of the fish back to the viewer’s eye. The problem is, a lot of the sunlight is reflected off of the surface of the water before it reaches the fish, and it too returns to the eye as horizontal bands of light, or glare.

This natural behavior of light even has a name, the polarizing effect.

In order to see the fish in the water, something is needed to filter out the glare. Polarized sunglasses work similar to a polarizing filter on a camera lens. Photographers have used these filters to eliminate unwanted glare from photos for a long time now. 

Easier To Spot Fish
Polarized glasses allow an angler to look into the water under a variety of light conditions and spot fish — an important part of many types of angling such as casting for bonefish. The sunglass version of the polarizing filter is usually made in layers, where the polarizing filter is sandwiched between two pieces of multi-coated glass or plastic. 

Today, there are many companies producing polarized fishing glasses, ranging in price from just over $10, to several hundred dollars on the high end. The question is what is the right pair for you?

Copper is the most versatile lens color for sight fishing.

With so many choices available, the best place to start with is lens color.

“Our most popular tints for general purpose fishing are the Silver Creek Brown, All Hour Brown, and Clearwater Copper,” according to Christine Gould, representative of the Action Optics Company.  

Copper Tint Most Versatile
The most versatile color for most light conditions among the available tints is copper, because of its visual acuity in both freshwater and saltwater. Other colors are more adaptable to specific lighting conditions. For example, dark gray is a good lens color for medium to bright light. During low light, or overcast conditions, a yellow lens color performs the best. 

On the more expensive models, some have photo chromic lenses that actually change tinting to match light levels, going darker as the sun gets brighter. In non-prescription models, there are even some manufacturers that offer fishing glasses with interchangeable lenses for different conditions.

Once a color is chosen, there are more considerations to be made. Probably the biggest is how much to invest in such a pair of eyeglasses. This choice is much easier if you do not need a prescription lens. Relatively inexpensive fishing glasses will perform well for someone who does not need corrective lenses.

While the inexpensive glasses will work, you usually get what you pay for. As the price increases, so does the quality of the tinting and the lenses. It is the same as a pair of binoculars — cheap binoculars do not produce as good an image as a more expensive set.

Prescription lens wearers do not have it as easy. The cheapest way out is a pair of clip on lenses that will fit over regular eyeglasses, but they add weight to the eyeglasses, and will not work as well as a pair of polarized prescription sunglasses.

Prescription Models Available
Most of the manufacturers of good fishing glasses also offer prescription models of many of their sunglasses, though they usually do not produce prescription versions of all of their models. It has a lot to do with the shape of the lens. Models that wrap-around the head can’t be made for prescription users. To make a prescription lens, the shape needs to be a little flatter. 

One nice aspect of today’s fishing glasses for those of us who need corrective lenses is that now the prescription models come with frames that are much more stylish and fashionable than most of the early fishing glasses, and a pair of polarized sunglasses can also be worn for everyday wear.

Polarized sunglasses are ideal for fishing many different species of fish — and they also protect your eyes from harmful rays.

Side Shields Block More Light
Both prescription and non-prescription wearers should also consider the accessories that are available with these glasses. For example, some types of frames do not block off light coming in around the sides of the frame. Many of the companies making these sunglasses also sell side shields that will block off this light, similar to the leather shields on a mountain climber’s sunglasses. Some are made for specific models of a company’s line, and there are also universal fit models that can be used on any pair of polarized sunglasses. 

Protective coatings are another good accessory worth considering, adding to the durability of the sunglasses.

Being able to see fish is important whether you fish for bass, saltwater species, salmon, or steelhead. Being able to spot fish and gauge their reaction to lures and flies makes for more successful fishing. It also makes fishing so much more fun. There is nothing like getting out and doing a little sight fishing!

For a fine selection of Sunglasses, click here.

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