Once considered a luxury, polarized sunglasses are now within reach of most anglers, and the amount of science and technology that goes into building a pair of quality polarized fishing sunglasses is incredible. Modern high-end shades are a combination of components that have been refined through bioengineering, anthropometry (design based on human physical characteristics), and quantum electrodynamics.
Today’s fishing shades incorporate decades of research and development in optical innovation, and this technological evolution has led to ground-glass and thermoplastic polymer lenses that enable us to see farther and deeper with clearer resolution than ever before.
Polarized glasses have become de rigueur for anyone taking to the water. From weekend perch jerkers to deep-sea fishing guides, no fisherman should be without a pair. With this in mind, we gathered a representative field and put them through an exhaustive two-week test.
How We Test
Each pair of sunglasses was scored by a panel of three testers, including the author and two commercial fishermen who operate out of Gulfport, Miss., and spend the majority of their lives on and around the water. The glasses were graded for durability (how well they held up to abuse); lens quality (clarity, color aberration, distortion, resistance to scratching); comfort (when worn over extended periods of time); hinge quality (ruggedness and construction); and fit-and-finish (overall quality and attention to build detail). We also performed an impact test in which a 1-ounce tungsten bullet weight was swung on a pendulum from a distance of 6 inches into the lenses (pictured). We’re happy to report that all glasses passed the impact test.
Sunglasses Buyer’s Guide
Buy glasses that are going to perform best in the conditions you typically fish in and are ideal for your home waters. For instance, amber lenses are good for sandy bottoms on partly cloudy days, while dark amber or copper is better when targeting fish in grass and weeds on bright, sunny days. Gray lenses simply reduce overall brightness. Don’t be afraid to talk to the clerk about the best choices. Also, keep in mind that polycarbonate lenses weigh less than glass but tend to scratch more easily.
When you shop, be sure to wear the hat you wear when you fish to ensure the frames sit well under the brim and the earpieces slide nicely under the band. If they aren’t comfortable, you won’t wear them.