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.
Smith ChiefThese full-coverage glasses have a large lens area (1.7 by 2.4 inches), and the photochromic lenses adjust with the sun’s intensity—a fantastic feature for ever-changing light conditions. The glasses are excellent for nearly every fishing application. The fit-and-finish is the best in the field, as are the stainless hinges. The ground-glass lenses are far more scratch-resistant than a lot of the polycarbonates.
Overall: ★ ★ ★ ★
Lenses: A, Glass
Fit and Finish: A+
Weight: 1.54 oz
Final Word: Big, beefy shades with photochromic glass lenses will find favor with nearly all fishermen.
Wiley X SaintThe shatter-proof lenses provide peace of mind when flipping tungsten weights, and they had no color aberration. The side-plates and hinges proved rugged, and the straight earpieces allow for easy on-off. A half-frame design keeps the weight under an ounce. An array of extras (clear lenses, a leash cord, a carrying case) helped make this an easy pick for our Great Buy award.
Lenses: B+ (PC)
Fit and Finish: B-
Final Word: Tactical style with lenses that are certified for a worksite. A screaming deal, considering all the extras.
Costa Cat CayCosta’s time-tested 580P polycarbonate lenses are the foundation of the Cat Cay, and we found them to be incredibly scratch-resistant. Front-frame cheek venting minimizes fogging, while the supple rubber nose pads and earpiece tips make them all-day comfortable. The lenses clarified the water extremely well, particularly in low-light conditions. This will be appreciated when the bite is on at dawn and dusk.
Lenses: A+ (PC)
Fit and Finish: A-
Final Word: A solid entry from one of the leaders in the fishing sunglass arena. Great in low light.
Maui Jim Waimea CanyonThis was the heaviest pair of glasses in the field (1.97 ounces), but the build is stout and well balanced. Wide side plates block stray peripheral light, making these a great choice for fishing in an unrelenting sun. Anti-corrosion spring hinges promise fuss-free operation and a subtly snug fit. The glass lenses are exceptionally clean and handled glare better than any in the field.
Overall: ★ ★ ★ ½
Lenses: A+ Glass
Final Word: At nearly 2 ounces, they aren't light, but they're built like a tank and should last for many seasons.
Columbia LobosThe Zeiss polycarbonate lenses are remarkably clean and crisp and had no color aberration or distortion. The wide frames cover the entire eye area neatly, and the hinges provide a snug fit. Rubber inserts on the inside of the earpieces and the tips keep the glasses in place. Outer inserts allow for a great grip when adjusting the glasses with wet hands.
Overall: ★ ★ ★ ½
Final Word: With lenses from one of the world's best optics makers, visual acuity is not an issue.
Revo Guide ExtremeThe Guide Extreme provides optimal face coverage and detachable side plates that allow the glasses to transition from boat-functional to street-fashionable. These will find favor with shallow-water fishermen, who need to control peripheral light. Blocked vents molded into the inner frame help reduce fogging. A leash with an integrated floatie is included.
Score Durability: A-
Lenses: B (PC)
Fit and Finish: B
Final Word: Shallow-water lenses make these go-to glasses for inshore fishermen.
Suncloud WarrantWe found the Warrant’s lenses performed well, without any major limitations. The nylon frames are light and went virtually unnoticed while worn. The wrap-around style provides great eye coverage with no visible light leakage.The rounded non-reflective frames are finished nicely, and the earpieces have a sleek taper to the tips. However, the nylon-on-nylon hinges and self-tapping screws suggest limited durability.
Lenses: B- (PC)
Fit and Finish: B+
Final Word: Lots of value here, but the construction makes us wonder how long they'll last under heavy use.
Kaenon HutchWeighing less than an ounce, the Hutch should have been comfortable. Unfortunately, the earpiece tips are sharp and bite into the head, making an over-tip strap a must. Flyfishermen will appreciate the high-contrast lenses for monitoring dry flies, but the skinny temples offer little peripheral sun blockage. We were also disappointed with the hinges, given the price.