What would you say is the most important piece of fishing equipment you own? Would it be your rod? Your tackle? Possibly your boat?
Most anglers are quick to answer, but few realize the benefit polarized sunglasses bring to the sport of fishing.
Polarized glasses will enable you to catch more fish -- plain and simple. Your comfort levels will increase dramatically, as will your eye protection, both from the damaging sun and from lure projectiles that have misfired. In my books, polarized glasses are just as important as a favorite lure or a high-tech reel, because without them my day on the water will never be as productive or as safe. That's the bottom line.
Come and explore the fascinating world of polarized glasses. Knowing what to look for in terms of quality and lens type will enable you to get the most out of the pair you ultimately decide to purchase.
How Do They Work?
We've all been out on the water when the sun is beaming down, causing intense glare to resonate off the lake surface, and ultimately making vision difficult and uncomfortable. This glare is caused when the light reflected by the water begins to align, or polarize horizontally instead of randomly, and usually in high concentrations. Polarized lenses work by blocking this horizontal light that is being reflected towards our eyes. (A filter made up of vertical iodine crystals is what actually absorbs the light waves.) By taking away these light waves, any glare on the waters surface is also taken away, leaving clear vision and the ability to "see" through the water.
What are the Benefits?
As I alluded to earlier, there are two main benefits from wearing polarized fishing glasses: the ability to eliminate glare in order to see through the surface of the water and to protect the eye itself.
Seeing through the surface enables an angler to spot cruising or following fish, locate structure features like logs and vegetation and pinpoint depth changes or drop offs. For those that sight fish, a pair of polarized glasses will help you see fish that were virtually invisible before.
Much like sunscreen protects our skin from the damaging effects of the sun, polarized glasses with UV filters help protect the eye and retina from ultraviolet radiation. This can literally burn the eye, and since anglers spend so much time on the water and in the sun, this protection is crucial for diminishing the health risk.
The other health factor that glasses provide is protection from airborne hooks. Whether you are flyfishing or spincasting, hooks can be thrown into the eye area upon hooksets or during the cast itself. This scenario came to light a few years back while casting to bass using buzzbaits. Upon having a fish smash his lure, my fishing partner reared back and set the hook. Missing the fish altogether, the lure was catapulted through the air lightning quick, hitting me square in the left lens of my glasses. The force was so severe that the lens cracked, yet my eye remained safe due to the protection that my glasses provided me with that day. Accidents can, and do happen, and safeguarding our eyesight should be first and foremost when out for a day on the water.
What Type of Lens?
There are two different varieties of lens composition - glass and polycarbonate (plastic). Glass lenses are rated the best as they provide the highest optical quality, have better polarization and photochromic qualities and are more scratch resistant than plastic. These advantages do come at a price, however, so be prepared to pay more for lenses manufactured this way.
Plastic lenses are much lighter than glass, meaning more comfortable, and are significantly more durable than the glass variety. They are also cheaper to make than glass, so prices will be conservatively cheaper. Weighing the pro's and con's is certainly a personal choice, but whichever variety you choose, make sure that you are buying a high-quality product for your eyes. This is not an area for scrimping and saving.
When purchasing a pair of polarized glasses, make sure that the lenses provide 100-percent ultraviolet protection. This is crucial for the health of your eyes, although not all glasses will offer this claim. If the lens or box is not marked 100-percent, my suggestion would be to move on to the next one, as you will undoubtedly be dealing with an inferior product.
Good quality glasses will also protect against infrared rays, while top of the line specs will provide up to 99-percent protection from reflected light. These are good things to keep in mind when comparison shopping.
Lenses come in a few basic colors, each providing different contrasts and advantages depending on the type of day you encounter. Choosing the right tint can be a tricky decision, especially for those that fish in a wide variety of weather conditions. The following list will explain what to look for when it comes to tints:
Gray: This is a general-purpose tint, and will work well in a wide variety of situations. Colors are transmitted evenly without distortion, ensuring that all colors remain "true" while looking through the lens. Grey lenses are a good choice for sunny and bright days.
Brown: Brown lenses provide the best compromise between true color and contrast, meaning that focal points will remain vivid and sharp throughout the spectrum. These are a perfect choice for medium to bright light conditions. Anglers with sensitive eyes will enjoy the comfort these lenses provide.
Tan/Copper: These are another all-purpose tint to choose, performing best on cloudy or overcast days. They are comfortable for all-day wearing, and work well for sunshine conditions. For those anglers that sight fish, these are your best bet to buy.
Yellow: Yellow lenses help in enhancing the available light, making them a good choice for dusk and dawn, and extremely low light level periods throughout the day. These will be all but useless during bright light conditions.
If I could choose only one tint, it would have to be a tan or copper lens, with gray very close behind. Tan or copper will work best in most of the conditions you will face, and since the majority of fishing happens during dawn or dusk, this tint of lens will excel during these time periods. Having a pair of both would be ideal, although some manufacturers offer glasses with interchangeable lenses, which would work well for adapting to ever-changing conditions.
Frames and Style
When deciding on a pair of polarized fishing glasses, make sure that the frame is lightweight and a comfortable fit. They should fit snugly around your face and should not slide off your nose during movement.
Wrap-around glasses will provide the best protection and comfort, as they will allow the least amount of light to penetrate to your eyes. (The more coverage the glasses provide, especially at the sides or top, the better they will ultimately perform.) Be careful of "extremely" curved lenses, as this convection can affect the vision qualities.
Soft rubber nose bridges will provide comfort and a non-slip surface -- this might be something else that is worth looking into.
One last piece of equipment that I find beneficial is a strap or lanyard. This allows the angler to take off his glasses (and not lose them) while also securing them in place during long runs down the lake or while bending over to release a fish. Fishing glasses can be costly, so this little piece of insurance is always strapped to each pair of glasses I wear.
Polarized fishing glasses are a necessary equipment choice when out fishing, as much so as bait, tackle and rods are. Choosing the right pair will help protect you when facing the elements, as well as helping you in your quest to catch more fish. With proper care and storage, fishing glasses can last a lifetime, the exact same thing that we all want our eyes to do. Happy shopping and enjoy your new glasses!
Shop all Polarized Sunglasses.