Salomone: They are your eyes, protect them. |

Salomone: They are your eyes, protect them.

When it comes to sunglasses, it's worth reaching to for the top shelf of the rack

Michael Salomone
Don't make the mistake of ruining a fly-fishing trip with a pair of below average sunglasses.
Michael Salomone/Courtesy photo

New sunglass choices can seem overwhelming. From colored lenses to mirrored fishing, from frame style to fit and function. Glass or composite lenses? This company or that company.? Does it really matter? Just want to keep my eyes shaded.

Yes, it does matter.

Headaches, eye strain and misidentification can equal lost opportunities. And given the cost of some fly-fishing trips, missing a chance at a permit is an expensive memory to have haunting you. For some of our summertime angling visitors to the Eagle River Valley, it’s a trip of a lifetime. Don’t let the quality of an experience be dictated by cheap sunglasses.

High quality sunglasses provide multiple advantages, all of which elevate your level of enjoyment without any additional effort involved. Just put them on. Merely wearing a good pair of sunglasses will enhance everything you do.

Enhanced vision

Premium-level sunglasses enhance vision. Lenses are designed to increase the presence of specific colors for anglers as well as cut down surface glare. The incorporation of magnifiers and prescriptions into lenses elevates the versatility of your eyewear.

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One guide told me he thought that the amber, brown or bronze lenses enhance the rivers around Colorado and blue, green or any type of mirrored lens work better on the ocean. I thought that was a broad generalization but for the most part it’s true. While our water runs clear a majority of the time, the rocks and river bottom fall into a brownish, natural tone that is enhanced by like toned lenses. Flats and Blue Water anglers benefit from the mirror-colored lenses to reduce eye strain and fatigue, block more reflected light off the water and intensify shadows cast from fish.

Be aware that different lens colors are more effective for different venues, from fishing in Colorado streams to the open ocean.
Michael Salomone/Courtesy photo

Frame design can be a matter of function or style. Angling-focused sunglasses are loaded with vision-enhancing qualities, light-diminishing frames and comfortable wearability. From nose pads that hold when warmth and sweat would make other sunglasses slip, to retaining straps that are incorporated into the design, high quality sunglasses do it all.


A fly cast swings a sharp hook on a long line through the air at great speed, and depending on your casting ability, the amount of control over your fly line might not be at the level of proficiency needed to cast safely. Protect your eyes from sharp flying objects. It might not even be your fly that causes an injury. Doesn’t everybody have that one buddy that either hooks you (or you hook them)?

Float trips are notorious for anglers to be fishing overly large flies. One errant cast can inadvertently embed a hook in a cheek or ear when anglers struggle with casting. Be aware of the other anglers in the boat. Sunglasses provide protection from objects or debris that can damage your eyes. More than once, a client has hit my sunglasses with a sinker or weighted fly. Being hit by a piece of sharp metal is not a good experience for any angler or guide.

For the wading angler, hazards exist on the bank, too. Pushing through thick, bank-side willows always whips a thin branch up against my cheek. Every time I stand there rubbing the sting, I thank my sunglasses.

Reduce strain

Eye muscles flex when wearing sunglasses. The strain on eye muscles taxes an angler’s stamina for enduring long periods of direct sunlight. After a day on the flats, high quality sunglasses enhance your vision. Low-end sunglasses require more eye muscles to work. Overtime, low-quality sunglasses leave you with fatigue and headaches as a result. Polarized lenses that cut down glare are a good start but often not the entire package anglers are looking for. Cheap gas station, black lenses darken everything to obscurity. Be aware: fisherman-style shades with ‘Polarized’ in big print on the tag is about all they have to offer. They will cut down glare, but at what cost?

Sunglasses like the Guide’s Choice from Smith enhance colors, block glare and protect eyesight. All the things anglers desire are achievable when reaching for the top shelf on the sunglass rack.

Every company has a high-end pair of fishing sunglasses. Enhanced vision, protection reduced strain are all reasons for not skimping on this gear item.
Michael Salomone/Courtesy photo

Any of the leading sunglass companies make high-end sunglasses that are worth the extra dollars. Smith, Maui Jim, Costa del Mar and the recent addition to the industry, Bajio, make sunglasses to serve multiple purposes. While I may not always advocate for the most expensive rod in the rack, I do in this case. Buy the best you can afford.

They are your eyes, protect them.

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