Top 10 Fly Fishing Sunglasses (2021)
If you are heading out on a fishing trip, you absolutely will want to have a pair of polarized sunglasses, regardless of if you will be on the ocean, lake, pond, stream, or river.
In this article we will break down the highest rated polarized sunglasses that are available on the market. Costa, Oakley, Maui Jim, and Smith are the brands that we will be looking at, as they all make some great sunglasses that are utilized by fly fishing anglers and professional guides from coast to coast.
We will also look at why polarized sunglasses are necessary and the different shades of polarized sunglasses for the variety of different settings we find ourselves in.
Why do you need polarized sunglasses when fly fishing?
- To protect your eyes from UVA and UVB rays that are emitted from the sun. Too much UV exposure can cause cataracts and harmful damage to the retina.
- Polarized sunglasses help to keep the glare down that is coming off the water. Being able to see your strike indicator or dry fly is key to knowing when to set your hook. Your eyes will be strained after a few hours of squinting if you do not have polarized sunglasses.
- The last reason is for the safety of your eyes. A hook in the eye can cause permanent damage and even the loss of your eye. All fly fishing anglers know that a slight wind can cause a cast to go wrong, resulting in a hook catching you somewhere. I got a woolly bugger to the back of my head on the last trip I took out!
What shades of sunglasses are best?
This all depends on the types of water that you normally fish and the various times of the day that you will be on the water. Some anglers like to use their sunglasses for all-around purposes as well, so you might want to take that into consideration before choosing the shade best for you.
- Blue – Ocean fishing, boating, and fishing in deep water, harsh sun, open reflective water
- Green – Sight fishing in full sun, sharp contrast, enhanced vision
- Grey Silver – Everyday activities, anti-fatigue, overcast days, reduces glare off water
- Copper Silver – Excellent for sight fishing, everyday activities, most versatile, cloudy days
- Grey – All-around activities, natural contrast
- Copper – Excellent for sight fishing, everyday activities, most versatile, cloudy, days, cuts glare for eye comfort
- Sunrise Silver – Activities during sunset and sunrise, heightened contrast, low light and overcast conditions
The rule of thumb I go by when choosing the right lens.
Offshore Fishing: grey base lens with blue mirror
Freshwater Fishing: copper base with green mirror
Glass or Plastic Lenses?
Glass lenses offer top notch clarity but are more expensive and less resistant to impacts than that of polycarbonate lenses. So, it depends on what type of fishing you are doing.
List of Top Fly Fishing Sunglasses
#1 COSTA BLACKFIN PRO POLARIZED FISHING SUNGLASSES
These bad boys are the top-of-the-line sunglasses for anglers. Costa is at the top of their game when designing sunglasses that anglers need. The nose pads are vented and fully adjustable for a custom fit, sweat channels and eye wire drains will keep your vision clear all day, and Lightwave glass technology meaning there are mirrors that are between the layers of glass that are scratch proof. Costa has also made these 20% lighter than average polarized glass lenses.
#2 COSTA FANTAIL PRO POLARIZED FISHING SUNGLASSES
Costa is constantly improving their product which is what they did with the Fantail line, they had a great product, but they made it ever better. The feel of these Fantails are amazing and the polarized glass lenses are superb to look through for hours on end. Specifically made for anglers, these sunglasses are a must have when hitting your favorite river, stream or lake.
#3 OAKLEY SPLIT SHOT POLARIZED FISHING SUNGLASSES
Oakley literally designed these sunglasses with the fly fishing angler in mind. The Split Shots are made with Oakley’s lightweight O Matter frame material so you will barely feel them on your face. The nose pad is also specially designed by Oakley to increase grip with perspiration. I have a big ass head, and these sunglasses are made for people with medium to large sized heads.
The most important part of the Split Shot series is the Plutonite lens material that offers top UV protection filtering. 100% for both UVA and UVB rays.
#4 OAKLEY DOUBLE EDGE POLARIZED FISHING SUNGLASSES
3 things stand out with Oakley’s Double Edge sunglasses that make them perfect for fly fishing anglers. Glare reduction and tuned light transmission of Oakley’s Iridium lens coating paired with the HDPolarized technology will make it easier to see that dry fly on the water. Lastly, the Double Edge series comes with Prizm lenses to enhance color, contrast, and detail which optimizes the angler's experience.
#5 MAUI JIM PEAHI POLARIZED FISHING SUNGLASSES
I have always been a big fan of Maui Jim’s for their quality. You receive 2 years warranty with your purchase that is nice considering they are glass lenses. The sunglasses get their name from a legendary surf break on Maui’s north shore.
#6 SMITH DECKBOSS POLARIZED FISHING SUNGLASSES
Smith did a great job with the Deckboss series. The wraparound frames are super flexible, you can even bend them anyway you’d like. A huge pet peeve of mine is when sunglasses slide off your face when you are sweating, but Smith installed no-slip nose pads that are perfect.
Smith also offers their ChromsPop polarized lenses in these sunglasses that cut glare and enhance color and contrast.
#7 SMITH GUIDE’S CHOICE POLARIZED FISHING SUNGLASSES
Another pair of sunglasses on this list that was designed strictly for anglers, the Guide’s Choice is perfect for casting that fly rod into those tight spots on streams. Streams can have lots of shade, and that’s where these polarized lenses work their magic. Smith’s Techlite technology is the clearest glass lens on the market.
#8 MAUI JIM WORLD CUP POLARIZED FISHING SUNGLASSES
The name World Cup literally came from the blue marlin fishing tournament. The super thin glass from the lenses makes these sunglasses incredibly light. I am a big fan of the frames as they sit very well on your face. When I wear sunglasses, I don’t like to even notice that they are on.
#9 COSTA TUNA ALLEY POLARIZED FISHING SUNGLASSES
Tuna Alley’s are some of Costa’s best sunglasses. A patented vent system, integral hinges, polarized, and tough-as-nails nylon are exactly what we are looking for. There are multiple patents out on the Tuna Alley’s such as the C-Wall which is a molecular bond that makes them scratch resistant, and the Lightwave glass that makes them 22% lighter than that of other polarized glass options.
#10 OAKLEY CLIFDEN POLARIZED FISHING SUNGLASSES
Oakley had outdoor adventures in mind when they created the Clifden sunglasses. Comfort and protection come with these sunglasses to enhance performance experiences when light exposure is present. I like that these sunglasses come with interchangeable and removable bridge blocker and side shields. If the sun is blinding, throw the side shields on for extra protection. The leash is handy if you are the type of person to take your shades off and on throughout the day.
Cheap Vs Expensive Sunglasses
I know many of you cannot stand the thought of spending over $100 on a pair of sunglasses, but I believe your eyes are one of the most important parts of the body. Protecting them and ensuring that you are not causing them harm is key.
Everything with fly fishing is pricy, cheaping out on a pair of quality sunglasses isn’t the smartest thing.
Using a Lanyard/Retainer/Leash?
You should absolutely use a leash on your sunglasses that goes around the back of your neck. Why? When you spend good money on a nice pair of sunglasses, the last thing you want to do is donate them to the lake, ocean, or river! Bending over to grab that beautiful brown trout out of your fly fishing net, and there goes your new Oakley’s into the current. Keep them fastened with a leash, yes you might look like your grandpa with his reading glasses, but smart anglers wear leashes on their sunglasses!
Cleaning Your Lenses
Every time I head out on the water, I kept water droplets on my lenses. It’s easy to use your shirt or whatever material is close and handy at the time, but I highly advise against this. Use a proper cleaning solution and the cloth that comes with your sunglasses. I have a pair of Prada everyday sunglasses that I’ve had for 7 years because I take care of them. They cost me $475.00 but were worth every penny!
Although Costa makes amazing quality sunglasses and they do come in first place, I have always been a fan of the way Oakley sunglasses fit on my face. This is what it comes down to my friends, the fit! Don’t go out and spend a small fortune just because of the brand, try the sunglasses on and picture wearing them for 10 hours straight. The last thing you want is to get a headache from your sunglasses being too tight, or for them to be too big and constantly falling off your face. Maybe Costa’s fit you perfectly, or Smith’s, the brand shouldn’t matter.
Spend some time, find the right pair that fits perfect, then take care of them and hopefully they will help you catch more fish all while protecting your valuable eyes from the intense UV rays we experience.
If you like reading about fly fishing, our Zinger Fishing blog has a wide variety of different articles. We cover places to fish, what patterns to use, techniques, gear, and everything else to help fellow anglers land more fish in their nets.