A quality pair of sunglasses is a necessity for the active outdoors person. With the market flooded with sunglasses, we’ve narrowed down the best polarized sunglasses for fishing from the past summer.
Growing up, sunny days spent outside without UV protection led to massive headaches the following night. But early in my baseball career, I learned to avoid the crippling headaches associated with constant squinting with a good lens.
After four years of college ball, I’ve traded the baseball diamond for mountain peaks and high alpine lakes. And the need for a quality polarized lens has only intensified. Finding comfortable protection against UV rays for my sensitive baby blues was a top priority.
Costa Bloke: $179-259
From my experience, the Costa Bloke 580G Blue Mirror Polarized Glass is second to none in its lens clarity. The extra-large frame coverage has all-star protection against the wind. And their secure fit keeps the shades firmly on your nose and locked on the ears. These frames didn’t budge — a huge bonus when fishing and moving around on the water.
Ideal for a full day of fishing or a casual day out, this extra-large frame fits great and gets a nod as my favorite lens of the group. The 580 glass lens had a crispness that the polarized plastic couldn’t quite match. We also tested the 580 plastic lens. It still packs a solid punch with all the amenities of the frame, but it’s a bit easier on the wallet at $179-199.
Native Eyewear Sightcaster: $109-129
The Sightcaster Matte Black Violet Reflex Lens has an eye-pleasing tint. With a lens claimed to block four times more infrared light than a regular polarized lens, the crisp, violet lens didn’t disappoint against the bright days above 9,000 feet.
The full wrap reduced the need to squint, providing a great field of vision while minimizing glare. Thick arms and cam hinges make these frames among the sturdiest that we tested. The opening and closing of the arms can be abrupt the first few outings, but they loosened up after a few trips. The violet lens provided elite defense on bright days floating the Montana rivers over the summer. And the larger and lighter frame combined with a solid lens makes this pair a quality, affordable bet for the cash-conscious angler.
Wiley X Rebel: $130
The Wiley X Rebel has a polarized smoke-green lens that results in a neutral tint over the water. We put these to the test for a few months this year, from offshore tuna fishing in Louisiana to elk hunting high in the Rocky Mountains. And our eyes always came back feeling good.
But even more impressive than the good polycarbonate lenses is their durability. Wiley X comes from military roots, and it shows in its sunglasses. We treated a test pair harshly, from blasting it with salt water to throwing it in backpacks and pushing it through the brush while hunting. They held up great and are still going strong and come in at a very fair price. And they even come with a lanyard!
Costa Motu: $179-199
Incorporating a medium fit and simple design, this pair of sunglasses boasts a stout frame and sturdy construction. The Motu shades have been reliable on the water, and they easily put up with the everyday abuses of backpacking trips. Light on the temples, the simplicity of the nosepiece complements the polarized 580 plastic lens nicely.
The Motu Sunrise Silver Mirror lens has a comfortable yellow tint for lower light. On multiple occasions, they have helped me close the late innings of fishing into the dusk hours. Great against the low light of cloudy days yet dimming enough to wear on the water midday, the Costa Motu’s construction got our vote for favorite fit.
Nines Optics Apache: $89-159
Protect your eyes without busting the budget. These sleek smaller-frame sunglasses are equipped with hydrophobic lens to protect against UV rays and water. And their antireflective coating claims to mitigate infrared radiation to help reduce damage to the eye. Extremely lightweight, the thermoplastic design relieves the usual pressure points on the nose and temples while staying tight to the face, thus avoiding the hassle of mid-catch adjustments.
These shades are the least expensive polarized option that we tested. It’s also the darkest lens we tested. It held up on the sunniest days and made for a great transition lens as the daylight settled in.
Smith Optics Guide’s Choice: $179-229
This makes for another glass lens option with a bit of a different spin than the Costa Bloke. The medium-fitting Smith Guide’s Choice Matte Havana gave us a wide temple fit and a wrap that provided solid protection all around. And with wider arms like those found on the Sightcaster, the wrap fit was a relief on the cloudless days. The polarized dopper kept edges crisp in lower light and cut out the refraction of light off early snow drifts.
These sunglasses prioritize a lightweight fit designed to weigh less on the ears and take pressure off the nose. Quickly living up to their name, the combo of a lighter frame with an amber lens is a go-to for us on float trips. For the especially clumsy (like myself), you can easily hang the included detachable leash around your neck to prevent unneeded panic.
We found the polarized glass lenses have a slight edge in clarity over their polycarbonate plastic counterparts. The glass had a crisper quality to it but also came with a noticeable price jump. That aside, the more affordable pairs also performed really well on the water.
Protecting your eyes against the elements during the upcoming season is as important as ever, and the wide variety of this group of sunglasses has something to offer any kind of angler.