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Salomone: Choosing the best sunglasses for fly-fishing

Michael Salomone
A good pair of sunglasses does so many things to assist anglers in achieving success.
Michael Salomone/Courtesy photo

Anglers are one of the largest buyers of sunglasses for good reasons. A good pair of sunglasses does so many things to assist anglers in achieving success. Not only are good sunglasses fashionable for many purchasers, it is the variety of functions good sunglasses possess that attract fly anglers.

Polarization is by far the most important factor in choosing sunglasses for angling. The benefits from polarized sunglasses, such as reduced eye strain, glare control and fish-spotting ability, make polarized lenses the most important factor for any angler. Good angling sunglasses are always polarized.

Fit is key for all-day comfort. Poorly fitted sunglasses slide down your nose, slip off your face and allow excess light into your eyes. All sunglasses companies are producing different frame styles for large faces and narrow faces. There are broad arms on well-fitted sunglasses that reduce the amount of light intrusion from the sides. The best advice is to try on a few pairs and see if they fit and feel nice. Any fly shop will have a variety of sunglasses to try on.



Price can be a driving point for some anglers. Quality sunglasses command a higher price tag than your average gas-station-counter variety. And at the end of a long day, sight-fishing to tailing bonefish under bright sunlight conditions, or from straining to spot rising trout on a high mountain stream, the headache caused by inferior lenses can be avoided. They are your eyes. My best advice is to buy the highest-quality sunglasses you can afford.

Prescription sunglasses become an asset that anglers use everywhere.
Michael Salomone/Courtesy photo

The functional aspect of quality sunglasses covers numerous facets. One decision anglers will need to contemplate is plastic or glass lens material. Plastic lenses are lighter on your face and bridge of your nose. However, plastic is a softer material than glass and will scratch more easily. Glass lenses do carry more weight but have a higher degree of durability for the abuse anglers expose their sunglasses to. Mirrored lens or not is a question of style, not function. Mirrored lenses disguise your eyes and look attractive but have the tendency to scratch very easily.



Lens colors cover a broad spectrum and impart different vision aiding characteristics. Bronze, brown or amber lenses function best for seeing trout. These happen to be the best all-around colors, too, for general angling or for the one-pair-of-sunglasses guy. If sight fishing is key to your approach or style of fly-fishing, then stick with a lens in this color realm. These lenses are designed to aid anglers in seeing fish, whether it be a trout, carp or bonefish.

Sight-fishing snakeheads with amber-lens sunglasses.
Michael Salomone/Courtesy photo

Blue or gray-colored lenses work best in saltwater conditions or in low-light situations. These two colors of lenses work on overcast days, when clouds hang over the ocean or on a Rocky Mountain trout stream with small blue-winged olives emerging.

Prescription sunglasses become an asset that anglers use everywhere. From the drift boat to the beach and especially in the car, prescription sunglasses can be expensive but well worth the investment. A lot of fly anglers appreciate a crossover piece of gear that can double on the golf course.

We are swinging hooks through the air, which necessitates a protective piece of equipment to cover our eyes. High-quality sunglasses filter out harmful ultraviolet rays, which can damage vision, and protect eyesight from sharp hooks at the same time. It might not be your casting that you need protection from while fishing. A gust of wind can send an errant cast from the angler in the back of the boat. Your eyes are too important to go unguarded.

The list of high-quality companies producing sunglasses seems to grow every year. Recognized names like Smith, Maui Jim and Costa are just a few of the top-shelf sunglasses companies producing a line of angling-inspired shades. Choosing a functional pair of sunglasses specifically made for angling not only enhances your vision, they increase your ability to sight-fish and protect your precious eyesight from injury.


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