Fish relate to changes under the water – grass lines, rocks, depth changes, wood, or floating mats of debris, and your ability to see these subtle changes can determine whether you come in with 5 to weigh in, or an empty live well. One of the most important aspects of successful fishing is maximizing what you, the angler, can see under the water while standing on the deck of your boat. For this reason, polarized sunglasses are a must.
Polarization works by filtering out reflected light waves from the waters surface and allowing only the light from a single plane to enter your eye. In layman’s terms: light waves are exactly that – waves. When they bounce off water, they move in a multitude of directions, and the polarized lenses on your glasses filter out the stray waves and allow only one axis through, reducing glare and allowing you to see more clearly under the water’s surface.
Generally, when selecting lenses, you want to lens color to match the bottom color of the water you are going to fish. This allows the angler to detect subtle objects and bottom changes more readily, and for this reason, polarized amber or brown lenses are most effective for the bass fisherman who spends a good deal of time fishing shallow or Southern clay bottomed bodies of water. Deep rock bottomed lakes and saltwater fishing benefit from grey lenses, as well as driving on asphalt.
So with so many styles on the market, how do you choose? Ultimately, it will all depend on the individual, but there are three attributes I use to select eyewear: 1) lens quality, 2) comfort/fit, 3) price.
High quality lenses are a must in choosing eyewear. Many products, like Amphibia or Oakley Sunglasses, offer high tech coatings that further reduce glare and increase scratch resistance. Higher quality lenses offer greater impact resistance and therefore offer greater protection for eyes (ANSI ratings). You only get one pair of eyes; you should get the best protection possible, from both impact and UV radiation. Quality lenses also reduce eye fatigue, and staying alert could mean the difference between seeing that small piece of wood under the edge of a grass bed holding a 5 pounder or just passing it by.
Mirrored lenses look great, but don’t enhance the water penetrating ability of the lens to the fisherman. They do, however, reduce the amount of light coming through the lens, and are a great choice for sunny days.
Having the most expensive lenses in the world wont mean a whole lot if they cause you pain when you wear them. Slightly “snug” or tight fits in the store, after a few seconds of wear, generally translate into loads of pain after a few hours on the water, so one should be careful when assessing fit. If it’s tight, find a bigger size.
Frames should be large enough to block out as much light as possible, allowing your vision to result from light transmitted through the lenses. Comfort points are primarily from two areas: the nose bridge and the temples. Native Eyewear (Cushinol nose pads) and Amphibia Sports Sunglasses (Titanium TiBridge Technology) offer self-adjusting bridge pieces that conform to your face, and thus ensure a custom fit. Both also offer cushioned temple sleeves to reduce pressure on the sides of head above the ear. If you are having trouble finding that “fits just right” pair of eye wear, try products from Amphibia or Native, they have you in mind.
Here’s where things get tricky. I’m not suggesting that you have to go out and spend an entire paycheck on eyewear, but generally speaking, you get what you pay for. Your eyes are your most valuable assets on the water, it makes sense that you should equip them to perform efficiently, and quality isn’t cheap. Get the best you can afford. You spend money to get high quality line, electronics, rods, reels, and just about everything else in your boat – give your eyes the same respect. It doesn’t make much sense to buy expensive fluorocarbon line and then not equip your eyes to see the small line “tick” while flipping, right?
You don’t have to break the bank to obtain high quality eyewear. Amphibia Sunglasses (www.amphibiasports.com) run from $140-160, and Native Eyewear (www.nativeyewear.com) range from $100-150. Both have high quality lens and frame options, as well as prescription availability. Treat your eyes right, and see what you have been missing.