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Polarized sunglasses are essential accessories for efficient angling because they allow you to see fish and, most importantly, see how they react to your lure.
If you want to see fish underwater or reduce eye strain, you’ll need a pair. I’ve fished for everything from bedded bass to giant rooster fish, and tested the best polarized sunglasses along the way. Below are my picks for the best polarized sunglasses for fishing.
- Best Overall: Bajio Nippers
- Best for Offshore Fishing: Maui Jim Kaiwi Channel
- Best for Sustainability: Costa Del Mar Pargo
- Most Comfortable: Dragon Shore X LL Polar
- Best for Sight Fishing for Bass: Leupold Payload
- Best Women’s: Salt Life Laguna
- Best for Trout Fishing: Smith Optics Guide’s Choice with ChromaPop
- Best Bargain: Renegade Fletcher
- Best for Versatility: GoPro Mezcal
The sunglass picks are broken down by the use case they are best suited for because the best fishing sunglasses for offshore will be different than the best pair for a trout stream.
Best Polarized Sunglasses Overall: Bajio Nippers
- Weight: 1.2 ounces
- Case: Classy, leather snap case
- Frame options: Black Matte, Dark Tortoise Gloss, Squall Tortoise Matte
- Lens options: Cuda Silver glass, Cuda Grey glass, Trevally Blue glass, Permit green glass, Cuda Silver plastic, Drum Pink plastic, Cuda Gray plastic, Trevally Blue plastic, Permit Green plastic, Copper plastic
Why It Made the Cut
Not only are these glasses comfortable, but they also offer the broadest range of lens and frame combinations of any glasses of the models I’ve tested—making these the best polarized sunglasses overall.
- Huge range of frame and lens options
- Sustainable materials
- Impact resistant
- Might not fit wider faces
Bajio is a relative newcomer to the scene, but their team has decades of fishing and sunglass experience that shows in these Nippers. The lenses, which come in a huge array of colors at dual price points, are clear and resistant to scratching. They’re also made from plant-based material which not only adds a bonus of sustainability, but also makes them feel remarkably light. Bajio is a company that’s dedicated to conservation, from their packaging and shipping to supporting conservation efforts they are dedicated to the environment. – P.R.
Best XL Frame: Bajio Roca
I’m a big guy and need large framed sunglasses to fit my face and one of the best extra-large frames I’ve used are Bajio Rocas. They wrap tight to my face, yet allow ample ventilation, and the rose lenses are perfect for sight fishing. I like them so much that I used them exclusively during my summer redfish trips and while testing the best saltwater fly rods in Charleston, South Carolina. If you need top tier lens technology in an XL frame, then check out the Roca sunglasses from Bajio. -Scott Einsmann, gear editor
Best Sunglasses for Offshore Fishing: Maui Jim Kaiwi Channel
- Weight: 1.3 ounces
- Case: Unique, fold-flat hard case
- Lens options: Blue Hawaii, Neutral Grey, HCL Bronze, Hawaii Lava
- Frame options: Blue Black Stripe, Grey Black Stripe, Dark Brown Stripe, Burgundy Stripe
Why It Made the Cut
The Maui Jim Kaiwi Channel‘s super comfortable wrap design provides unbelievable depth perception and clarity in bright overhead sun.
- Incredible glare-cutting lenses
- Comfortable fit for average-sized faces
- Non-slip nose and temple
- Can’t mix and match lenses and frames
As the best sunglasses for offshore fishing I wore these glasses for several days in Panama under blazing sun and I swear that I could see tuna “color” before anyone else, along with subtle hints of breaking baitfish and distant diving birds. The wrap design cuts out all light from the sides and even when seating the non-slip nose and temple pads keep them in place. They’re a good fit for average-sized faces, and they come in four frame colors, each with a matching lens.
Best Sunglasses for Sustainability: Costa Del Mar Pargo
- Weight: 1.4 ounces
- Case: Cloth bag
- Lens options: Blue lightwave glass, Gray lightwave glass, Sunrise Silver lightwave glass (all 580G)
- Frame options: Net Dark Gray
Why It Made the Cut
Building on Costa’s long standing environmental commitment, this example of Costa’s “Untangled” collection is made from fishing nets that are at the end of their lives making these glasses the best sunglasses for sustainability.
- Readily available with prescriptions
- Sustainable materials
- Side shields block out glare exceptionally well
- Only one frame color
Costa already had a chokehold on a large percentage. They’ve earned respect for their quality product, but it’s this example of their commitment to the resources we all cherish should earn them more. The Pargo glasses contribute to the likelihood that we’ll be able to fish for generations to come. The frames are a little coarse to the touch, but you don’t feel that when they’re on your face, and if the Pargo isn’t your best fit there are eight other options—which means that everyone can do their part to clean up waste while helping their own fishing.
Most Comfortable: Dragon Shore X LL Polar
- Frame Colors: Matte Navy and Matte Black
- Frame Size: Large
- Recommended Lens Color: Lumalens Red Ion Polar (other options available)
- Sunglasses float
- Integrated leash
Why It Made the Cut
Dragon’s sunglasses are very light, comfortable, cut glare, have good clarity, and they float.
- Smart features
- Variety of frame sizes and styles
- Limited lens colors available
I tested several Dragon frames while fishing for false albacore in Morehead City, North Carolina. The frames that fit my large head the best were the Shore X LL Polars, but they have several full-wrap sunglasses that would be ideal for fishing. I wore Dragon’s for 9 hours of fishing and it wasn’t until the very end of the day that I started to feel discomfort from the frames. I attribute that excellent comfort to the light frames. On my scale, the Shore X LL weighed 1 ounce compared to my slightly larger Bajio Rocas, which weighed 1.7 ounces. The frames fit snug, but not tight, and they didn’t move when we hit big swells at speed. They do have an integrated leash that snaps on and off, which is much more comfortable than slip over leashes. Another cool feature that prevents your expensive fishing sunglasses from being lost is Dragon’s H2O floating frames.
The heart of fishing sunglasses are the lenses, which cut glare and allow you to see fish or submerged structure. False albacore fishing is associated with spotting birds and busting fish, but an underrated aspect is seeing bait pods under the surface. Using my Dragon’s, I saw a bait pod, casted my fly into the middle of it, and waited for the albies to attack. When they did, I started stripping and immediately hooked up. If I wasn’t able to spot that school of bait, I wouldn’t have been able to catch that fish. I chose the Lumalens Red Ion Polar lens, which are very close to mirrored copper and a great all-around lens color. Dragon also has green and blue mirrored lenses, but lack the huge variety of lens options that other brands offer. They do have a huge selection of frames and if you are looking for a light pair of sunglasses with smart features like an integrated leash, check out Dragon’s full line of frames. -Scott Einsmann, gear editor
Best Sunglasses for Sight Fishing for Bass: Leupold Payload
- Weight: 1.1 ounces
- Case: Semi-rigid, zippered, foam-fitted case
- Lens options: Blue Mirror, Shadow Gray Flash, Emerald Mirror, Bronze Mirror
- Frame options: Dark Gray, Matte Black, Matte Gray, Matte Tortoise
Why It Made the Cut
Full coverage and clear sightlines demonstrate that Leupold’s shooting optics heritage has been extended to anglers and the results provide all-day clarity.
- Max UV protections
- “Diamondcoat” scratch resistance
- Super durable and resistant to shattering
- Can’t mix and match frames and lenses
I put these Leupold glasses on for long days of looking for bass that would’ve given me headaches in the past, but I got off the water as fresh as I’d started. That’s because not only do these frames cover a lot of my face without feeling bulky, but also because they’re ventilated. I felt like I could see a bit deeper, and a bit more clearly, without losing focus or ability as the hours pushed on. They promise that the polarization won’t deteriorate over time, either. Furthermore, they’re shatterproof making them the best sunglasses for sight fishing for bass.
Best Polarized Sunglasses for Women: Salt Life Laguna
- Weight: 0.9 ounces
- Case: Rigid clamshell case
- Lens Options: Smoke Multi Layer Blue, Petrol Green
- Frame Options: Gunmetal, Gold, Silver
Why It Made the Cut
As the best polarized sunglasses for women these functional yet fashionable aviators provide women who only want to invest in a single pair of glasses an ability to cover all bases with shades. They are equally good for staring down tarpon or for sitting behind the wheel of a convertible.
- Scratch-resistant lenses
- 100% polarized and 100% UVA/UVB protection
- Available with prescriptions
- Lack of side shields may let in sunlight on some faces
If metal frames are your thing, and you want a practical yet distinctly feminine set of glasses, these are fashionable, yet will also serve you well on the water. They’re extremely comfortable with snag-proof nose pads, and also super lightweight, so you can wear them from sunup to sundown without experiencing any sort of fatigue.
Best Polarized Sunglasses for Trout Fishing: Smith Optics Guide’s Choice with ChromaPop
- Case: Zipper hard case
- Lens recommendations: Bronze Mirror, Green Mirror, Amber, Brown
- Frame options: Tortoise, Matte Black, Matte Gravy, Matte Havana, Black, Havana
- Fit: Medium-large
Why it Made the Cut
The Smith Guides Choice frames will fit most anglers well and offer subtle features like their integrated eyeglass retainer that set them apart from the competition. The Chroma Pop lenses perform well in bright sun and shade. They also enhance color and definition, which helps you differentiate between a stick and a brown.
- Tight wrap fit
- Comes with integrated retainer
- Sweat guards
- Flexible frames
- Easy to clean
- Slide off your nose
Die hard meat chuckers and Euro nymphers can agree on one thing—good sunglasses help you catch fish. But, frames and lenses are just as much personal preference as fishing techniques and lucky hats. But, you can’t go wrong with the Smith Optics Guide Choice with Chroma Pop lenses. I’ve been fishing with Chroma Pops for about a year, and they are my favorite lenses for inshore, bass, snakeheads, and trout. The lenses transition well from needing to see fish in a shady spot to bright sun. I’d recommend the green or brown lenses because they’ll work in the widest range of streams. If you fish a lot of bright sunny days the mirror lenses will help reduce eye fatigue.
The biggest issue people have with the Guide’s Choice frame is they slide down your nose when you look down. I haven’t had that issue, but I do have a larger head so they fit my head snugly. Another con is that they use a spring hinge, which some anglers don’t prefer. —Scott Einsmann
Best Cheap Polarized Sunglasses: Renegade Fletcher
- Weight: 0.9 ounces
- Case: No case provided
- Lens options: Brown lens with green multi-layer; grey lens with orange multi-layer, brown lens with orange multi-layer,
- Frame options: Black, Snow Digi Camo, Orange Digi Camo
Why It Made the Cut
If you don’t need prescriptions, these perfectly-functional glasses come at a bargain price and provide fashion forward styling.
- Reasonable price
- Snow Digi camo patterns make them stand out.
- Not as durable as other options
These polarized sunglasses may not have the heft and durability of more expensive glasses, but they’ll get the job done for the novice or budget-conscious angler making these the best cheap polarized sunglasses. You can keep an extra pair in your truck or boat in case you sit on one, too. The company also makes signature series glasses for fellow bass pros Mike Iaconelli and Josh Bertrand, as well as bi-focal magnifiers.
Best Sunglasses for Versatility: GoPro Mezcal
- Weight: 0.8 ounces
- Case: Semi-rigid Velcro case with slots for lenses
- Lens options: Three provided
- Frame options: Matte Black
Why It Made the Cut
If you frequently find yourself in situations that call for different lens options, these glasses save you from having to buy more than one pair.
- Reasonably priced, even if they only came with one lens
- Three lenses included
- Float if dropped in the water
- Some anglers may prefer “wrap” style shades
GoPro took their lens expertise from the camera world and applied them to what we call the best sunglasses for versatility. They’re stylish in a “Risky Business” kind of way, and come with three interchangeable lenses: A light amber lens with blue-mirror finish for enhanced detail and color in lower-light conditions; an amber lens with bronze-mirror finish for enhanced detail and color on the water; and a gray lens for accurate color and reduced glare in bright conditions including driving and winter sports. They also float.
How to Choose Polarized Glasses
It’s critical to think of a few key factors as you embark on your search for the best polarized glasses for you. The first is where you’ll be fishing and under what conditions. The blue water of the tropics presents different challenges and opportunities than the muddy backwaters of your local river. Furthermore, a high overhead sun might command different lenses than low light conditions. There are several key lens colors, most notably gray and amber, but they may differ from one manufacturer to the next, or go by a different name. In general green and amber are a great choice for most sight fishing. Grey is a color for general use and blocking out bright light. Blue mirror is the go-to choice for offshore.
The goal here is to block out all light, and whether you’re a pumpkin head or a pencil neck, or somewhere in between, find frames that fit snugly but do not give you a headache. I like something with shielding to the side in most cases, but my wife’s cheekbones are different from mine and she can wear an aviator or other minimalist frame style without letting in too much glare.
Finally, if you wear a prescription, make sure that your chosen glasses will allow for that alteration. If not, you might consider a fitover style or some add-on “cheaters” to help you get through the day, assuming that your prescription is not a matter of life and death.
Tips for Buying Polarized Sunglasses
In some cases, multiple pairs may be warranted, but good ones are typically not inexpensive, so choose wisely. There are countless brands on the market, and whether you take a longstanding stalwart like Maui Jim or Costa Del Mar, or one of the upstarts, there’s a wide continuum of quality and fit available across the board.
Be sure to try on as many pairs as possible, and ask the shopkeeper if you can take them outside and test them in real sunlight conditions. No two heads are the same and we each process visual information differently, so just because a pair works for me doesn’t mean they’ll work for you. That said, err on the side of quality and shatterproof construction because you only get one set of eyes.
Why You Need Polarized Sunglasses
How do polarized sunglasses work? The lenses are oriented in such a way that cuts the glare reflected off the water’s surface. That means that the glasses have to be framed and oriented properly or you lose any of the benefits. When done right, though, they provide a huge benefit. Not only will your eyes be less tired at the end of the day, but you’ll see things that you’d otherwise miss. Whether that’s a largemouth bass on a bed or a sailfish in your offshore spread, that means more enjoyment.
Of course, there are other benefits, too. Lenses protect your eyes from debris as you rocket down the lake, or from a recently unsnagged lure that’s coming back at your face at warp speed, with no time to duck. As mom always said, “It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye.”
At some point, every angler either breaks or loses a set of glasses. The latter can happen when you leave them on top of your truck or lean over to grip a fish and watch them slip into the drink. Add a simple set of retainers—the small investment can save you big bucks.
- Cablz: Simple, unobtrusive cable protection
- Atollas: Pro grade silicone will float glasses up to 1.8 ounces, a “belt and suspenders” approach to sunglass safety
- Flying Fisherman: Neoprene retainers with bass, sailfish, tarpon, or tuna designs
Q: What are polarized sunglasses?
Polarized sunglasses are coated with a film that reduces glare substantially. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re darker than other sunglasses, just that they cut down on particular rays, thus making them ideal for fishing and boating. In addition to helping you see better on the water, they also protect your eyes from strain and damage.
Q: Who makes the best polarized sunglasses?
There are numerous companies that make high-quality polarized sunglasses, with comfortable frames and clear lenses. The best ones are those that you’ll want to wear and that will protect your eyes. Try on a number of brands to find the one that fits you the best and cuts out glare, and make sure to check that they’ll withstand flying debris or lures.
Q: Is UV 400 the same as polarized?
Polarization and UV protection are not the same. UV 400 indicates that the lenses on a set of glasses provide nearly 100% protection from UVA and UVB rays. Polarized glasses, as noted above, reduce glare through a special coating. Glasses can be polarized and/or UV 400, or they can be neither.
Final Thoughts on Polarized Sunglasses
More than any particular rod, reel, or lure, polarized sunglasses are an investment in both your short-term and long-term fishing success. They’ll help you spot and catch more fish today, and keep you out there for years to come. There are specialized glasses for particular circumstances, so if you chase one type of fish under constant conditions, one pair of glasses may do everything you need. If not, find something that’s multi-purpose, and that provides you with maximum benefit in the widest range of angling applications. The technology is there, so find a pair that you’ll want to wear all day.