Polarized Sun Glasses

Chad Lewis

NEVER wonder what to do with your free time
Good glasses definitely make a big difference. The copper/brown lenses are popular because they actually increase definition and depth perception, both of which help you see the fishes better (but at the expense of true color definition). Gray lenses block more light and are appropriate for very bright conditions, but are not as good at increasing definition. Gray also has correct color definition, but that's why the copper/brown lenses are better at spotting fish.

I gotta disagree with Steelydan about glass. As long as you know the pros and cons of poly and glass, then poly can be a great lens material. In my opinion CHEAP plastic lenses have given high quality plastic lenses a bad rap. Glass is still optically superior, but only if it's really good glass. And to beat high quality plastic lenses, it has to be really good glass. Glass is heavier than plastic and also breaks when dropped on things like rocks and reels. On the plus side glass is way harder to scratch, will not be stained by chemicals like plastic will, and can be the best optical quality you can get. Pros for polycarbonate are it's much lighter weight, shatter and break proof, lower price point and totally acceptable optical quality.

Here's the shades I have and what I think of them:
Smith- have had several pair and always been happy. Lightweight and easy to wear all day. Robust frames. No complaints about lens quality. All mine have been polarized copper polycarbonite lenses. Large frames and arms mean not doing the hand-beside-the-head-blocking-the-light thing to see into the water. I covet a new pair of Smiths with their Techlite glass lenses, which are fairly lightweight for glass, but may be a bit fragile because they're ground thin. Make mine polarchromatic copper, please...
Ray Ban- a couple plastic lensed glasses that worked fine. One pair of classic Aviatiors in dark gray lenses with silver frames- they look badass. Very good optical quality from the glass lenses and very nice for those bright days and long drives. Don't use 'em for fishing because the lenses are the wrong color and too dark.
Revo- most expensive shades I've owned. Glass lenses are amber colored. The best optical quality I've had, hands down. Tint on the lenses just seems more "perfect" than others. Beautiful and make me look like a slightly portly rock star. But, they're heavy. Heavy enough that I almost didn't buy them. They start to hurt my nose after a couple hours and leave red marks there when I take them off. Major bummer, but I wear them anyway. I haven't worn them fishing because of the weight, plus I'd cry if I dropped them in the water. I have no doubt they'd be awesome fish spotters.
Maui Jim- One pair I bought last year, the Ho' Okipa style with bronze lenses. My new favorite fishing shades! So incredibly light they disappear when I put them on. True all day comfort. Bronze plastic lens is high quality and the tint is great for fishing. The tiny, minimal frames keep them lightweight but don't block any light so you do the hand-next-to-the-head-blocking-the-light thing. And the minimal frames would be easier to break than burlier models. But the high quality plastic lenses, good performance, ridiculous comfort, and good looks put them out front for me. For now...
Native- don't own a pair, but I sell them at work and can recommend them. They came out with a new polycarbonate lens last year that, according to them, is as good as any glass on the market. Well.... whatever. But their stuff is very good. Most of their models are outdoor sport styled, with good coverage and anti-fogging vents. Think triathlete and you'll get a good visual. Lots of styles and lens colors available.
Costa- have never had a pair on, but I'm dying to try them. A lot of folks who have them say they're the best. Bewildering choice of lens colors and tints (they are two different things) but may well be worth the price.


Active Member
Chris-try polaroids again-don't give up. They are the greatest for driving and fishing. But next time use a set of Croakies or a similar retainer on them. Once the retainer is slipped over the end of the glasses frame whip finish it into place with some 6/0 or heavier thread. This prevents walking under brush or trees while fishing and having the glasses pulled off by a branch. I lost a pair of glasses on the Deschutes years ago when that very thing happened. Also lost some that fell out of a shirt pocket when I bent over to land a fish. The retainer puts a stop to those fiascos.


Topwater and tying.
When I had laser surgery I went from always wearing glasses to only needing reading glasses. This made me nervous and resulted in a bit of "dry eye" action due to the additional exposure. This occured before I started fly fishing.

Shopped around and found some polarized safety glasses at a reasonable price. These are at a price (about $33) that you can afford multiple pairs in different lens colors for different conditions. I have yellow, copper and smoke. They don't scratch easily at all and work well. Polycarbonate, polarized, wrap-around lenses.

The brand/model is the Edge Dakura. I got mine through Safety Glasses USA (http://www.safetyglassesusa.com).

I know everyone has their own brand preferences, but these have been reliable performers for me.
I really like Suncloud optics. Super lightweight frames and good optics for about $40 a pair at REI and fly shops but can be found on discount websites for as low as $20 from time to time.
I have two pairs of Smith Gallegos, one in amber and the other in grey. I think they are very well built and look good too. The price is lower than many other name brands. sometimes Zappos has them for cheaper.


The wanted posters say Tim Hartman
Not to hijack the thread but what's the option for us old guys who have bifocals/trifocals?

I was just telling the owner of a local fly shop that getting into the fly game at the age of 61 is a visual challenge. The flies and leaders and tippets are so much smaller and difficult to see as opposed to gear fishing.

I've been researching over-the-glasses polarized options, prescription sunglasses and polarized fishing sunglasses with reader lenses. Too many options; not enough input!

So what to do?

Info appreciated! :)


Active Member
Dipnet, in the past I have used polaroid wrap-around custom made bifocals made with glass. They are perfect vision wise and for keeping stray sun from coming in from the side. But they do have 3 downsides: They are heavy, they are very expensive and once your prescription changes you have to do it all over again.

These days I use Cocoons that fit over my bifocals that cost $50. I like them better than the Fitover brand. A website for Cocoons will show the various styles, lens colors and prices along with dimensions that allow you to fit the Cocoon to the exact size of your bifocal frame. They aren't in the same league as some of the high quality models mentioned above but they are darned good for the price and really protect the sides of your eyes from stray rays. I have them in grey, amber and yellow to deal with the different kinds of days I fish on or drive.

Check them out at SunglassGiant, they offer free shipping and no tax and have been very prompt about shipping.

Chad Lewis

NEVER wonder what to do with your free time
Dipnet, most manufacturers have a program to have their glasses made with your prescription. I know for fact that Oakley, Smith and Maui Jim all do this. Others may too, but I have no first hand experience. You can get all the info you need about this on the manufacturers' websites.

Brian Miller

Be vewy vewy qwiet, I'm hunting Cutthwoat Twout
Not to hijack the thread but what's the option for us old guys who have bifocals/trifocals? ...
So what to do?
Info appreciated! :)
The OP specified Smiths and don't want to hijack the thread but since you asked...

I'm an old guy that wears progressive bifocal glasses. I needed a new pair of fishing sunglasses and most sunglasses manufacturers offer a very limited selection of their lenses in prescription, and may not even offer bifocals. I heard about Drivewear prescription polarized photochromic lenses available in progressive bifocals and suitable for moderate wraparound frames so I called around local optical shops to find a dealer. Designed for... well, driving, unlike most other photochromics they are polarized AND uniquely will darken in the car behind a windshield in visible light as well as outdoors in UV light. I find them great for fishing.

They start out with an amber tint in cloudy weather that increases contrast and cuts glare from water to see under the surface, and removes a surprising amount of glare from falling rain, and on the windshield for clearer vision. As light increases to shaded sunlight the lenses go from the amber tint to copper. In bright sunlight the lenses darken to a medium brown tint.

Because they are prescription progressive bifocal glasses my insurance vision plan covered them and the (B&L Predator) frames. The total cost was low enough that they were paid for 100% by insurance with no out of pocket.

When my prescription needs to be updated I'll get Drivewear lenses again but I'll get flatter frames, possibly with removable side shields because a wraparound lens bends light and makes it more difficult to thread the eye of tiny flies with gossamer tippet than a flat lens.

Hope that helps.

Sent from my Droid RAZR Maxx using Tapatalk 2


The wanted posters say Tim Hartman
Thanks for the info, Brian! I'm going to check into my vision insurance to see what the costs may be associated with Drivewear lenses and then look for local providers.