Low light sunglasses


Active Member
I have a pair of Maui Jim's with the HT lenses that are made for low light. I am not sure what light transmission they allow, but they are pretty good for late/early and overcast days. It would be interesting to compare them to the Costas. The 580G lenses are one of the best for sure.


Why carry two pairs of glasses? I have a pair of Smith polarchromic lenses that lighten under less light. Works great. I don't think they get as light as 30% light transmission, but they avoid that moment late in the afternoon when you take the glasses off and realize that it's not really dark and you don't have to go home yet.
I've got a pair of Tifosi photochromics, polarized, that are great full sun to near dark. Cost me $80.

David Loy

Senior Moment
I’ve mentioned this episode before but it’s been a few years. Shortly after taking up the sport I was fishing a weed choked pond near Port Orchard, casting a fairly large bugger as far as I could. On one errant cast I buried that fly into my bicep. I’ll never forget looking at it and first thing, in slow motion, reaching in the vest and putting on my glasses.
I won’t go quite as far as swearing that safety glasses are my most important FF equipment, but it’s up there pretty close. You only need to see pictures of a guy with a hook in the eye one time.


Active Member
Do you notice the tint change with those lenses? I have not, but maybe that means they work. I really love my Smiths for most of my fishing. But they aren't as good as dedicated low light lenses for dark, rainy fishing. Good enough, for sure.
I left mine lens up on a table with a hat covering half a lens in bright sunlight. When I removed the hat it was very easy to see what part of the lens was in bright sun and what half was in the shade. I think when we are fishing the lens is constantly adjusting to the available light so we don't notice a change.
I went on a fishing trip to Alaska a couple of years ago, the owner of the camp does not allow anyone to fish without glasses. He also guides in NY, and one of his clients lost an eye when trying to free a fly that was stuck. I’ve been meaning to buy a pair of low light glasses but I’m cheap. This year I’m gonna buy a pair, could not imagine losing an eye due to the sport I love.


Active Member
I had the extreme good fortune a few decades ago to be able to purchase (at extreme discount) polarized prescription bi-focal sunglasses in 3 colours of lenses - grey/green, amber, and yellow. All three went in the tackle bag and were used throughout a day's fishing. As my prescription changed they were retired but left me with the feeling of being 'under gunned' with just one colour of lens. Some optical surgery later this year will allow me to purchase non-prescription sunglasses for the first time in my adult life, and I'm looking forward to getting a full spectrum of lenses back in the kit bag. My experience indicates they make a big difference to my fishing satisfaction.

David Loy

Senior Moment
Nothing (short of military IR) can be lower light than clear safety glasses, and cheap too. Sure, you lose polarization, but you can decide how important that is in really low light.
Just a thought.


Active Member
Even inexpensive yellow plastic safety glasses will give you an extra hour of daylight, morning and evening. Friends of mine use them when searching for morels.

Ian Horning

Powerbait Entomologist
I just picked up a pair of Smiths with the polarchromic lenses. They have a silver-ish mirror too, I've really liked them for low light.

Kyle Smith

DBA BozoKlown406
Nothing (short of military IR) can be lower light than clear safety glasses, and cheap too. Sure, you lose polarization, but you can decide how important that is in really low light.
Just a thought.
I may have moused in my work glasses a couple times.

Brian Miller

Be vewy vewy qwiet, I'm hunting Cutthwoat Twout
I don't know how they perform compared to Costa, Maui Jim, or Smith but Drivewear prescription photochromic amber - copper - brown polarized sunglasses work well for me. The light transmission is 37% in their amber low light state. Nice that insurance pays for them.
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New Member
i have the same lenses and i love them.. they are great for night driving also.. its just as bright but they cut that glare from headlights.

Thomas Mitchell

corvus ossifragus
I'm a sunglasses nerd having had LASIK in the early days and being really focused on protecting my eyes.

Like many of the Alaska guides in this article, I prefer the Smith Low-Light Ignitor. When I got mine a couple years ago, they had the one of the highest VLT I could find at 40%. Probably not as good all-round as the Costas mentioned (VTL 30%) but really nice for those (normal) dreary days in Forks.


Kaenon has a lens with 50% transmission but I shifted them to backups as they didn't fit quite right and ended up hurting over a long day.


I was in the market last year for a good pair of glasses. I tried out Smith Chromapop, Maui Jim HT & Costa 580g Copper/green mirror at an outdoor pond at Bass Pro. I had it in my head to buy the Smith's before ever trying the other 2 brands as friends recommended them. I tried on all three outdoors on a really hot bright day. The MJ HT blew me away, they were the best of any lens I've tried, the sharpness, vivid colours and spotting the fish in the water. Even indoors they stood way out ahead of the others. Unfortunately they had no frame to suit my mug. I settled for the Costa's. There're brilliant in bright conditions but just a tad dark on overcast/rainy days. I'm in the process of getting the Maui Jim HT as we get more overcast darker days where I'm from. I'm hoping Maui Jim will fit HT lens to a frame they stock but not a HT lens as standard. I previously had a pair of MJ bronze HCL lens. There's no comparison to the HT lens.
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The New Fly Fisherman
I agree that the Costa 580G Sunrise Silver Mirror lenses are worth buying. Low light lenses from Smith and Costa are what I wear for all my local western Washington fishing. Fishing is best on cloudy stormy days!

I'll add that the Costa Sunrise Silver Mirror lenses are also excellent for morning tropical flats fly fishing. You must spot the fish quickly to catch them, and I love wearing these lenses from 8 - 10:30 am. The yellow low light lenses make bonefish stand out, they look green or blue against the bottom.
These lenses are also essential on cloudy or rainy days on the flats, when I will wear them all day.

I recently picked up a pair of Costa Fantail glasses with the 580g Sunrise Silver Mirror lenses. I bought these based on many glowing reviews saying they excel in low light situations. I already had the same glasses in green mirror for the sound, blue mirror for the ocean, and copper for all around, but wanted to try these out for low light.

I wore them for the first time on the water Saturday. I wore them for a few hours in the morning and a few hours in the evening and these things are flat out amazing in low light. Those early morning and late evening times, or even when it's super cloudy and dark make it tough to wear my normal glasses, and I was amazed at the difference these lenses made. It was especially noticable as evening approached. It got to the point where it was too dark to wear my green mirror lenses so I switched up and the difference was amazing. I was able to wear the Sunrise Silver Mirror right up till nearly dark. The clarity I had was incredible, and it was a game changer to still be able to wear polarized glasses and see fish following a fly even as dusk was coming on hard.

These things let a lot of light in so I highly doubt they would be comfortable for all day wear in bright sun, but if you're looking specifically for something to wear in those low light situations I highly, highly recommend checking out the Sunrise Silver Mirror lenses.

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