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Sunglasses for Fishermen and Women

By Patricia Strutz - June 1, 2009
Sunglasses are not only an outdoor person's friend, but an integral part of our tool chest. In addition to reducing glare to help locate underwater structure, they also provide much needed protection.

However, in the world of sunglasses, there are many different levels of quality. Choosing a pair solely by how they look on you or by the lowest price is not your best bet. There are four basic things to remember when purchasing your next pair of sunglasses for fishing:

  • 100% UV/100% Polarized
  • built to last, durable
  • snug, comfortable fit
  • a lifetime warranty
Ultraviolet Light (UV)
UVA is of particular concern to eyecare professionals because it can easily damage the retina of the human eye. UVB is of the greatest concern because it is involved in the production of cataracts. Correctly designed polarized lenses block out ultraviolet light through a process called absorption. Quality sunglasses block out 100% of these dangerous rays. Look for glasses, such as those manufactured by Costa Del Mar, that integrate the UV protection directly into the lenses. Inexpensive brands will just add a coating of protection. This coating will wear off through everyday use and cleaning, leaving your eyes exposed to these harmful rays.

A number of studies have shown the relationship between sunlight exposure and the development of cataracts. Lesser quality sunglasses will claim to block UV rays through the use of dark lenses. In reality, this makes the situation worse as dark lenses cause the pupil to dilate, allowing more of the dangerous UVA radiation to reach the eye.

UV rays damage your retina and may increase your chances of developing macular degeneration. The macula is in the center of the retina and is responsible for straight-ahead vision. Macular degeneration accounts for approximately 12% of blindness in the United States.

Ultraviolet light passes through cloud cover even on overcast days. Make sure to choose sunglasses with UV protection directly embedded into the lenses.

The primary function of a polarized lens is to eliminate reflected glare. Glare reduction is key to all fishermen, but especially to those of us chasing a fish that has a tendency to examine and follow a lure. Ripples, waves, and glare make it nearly impossible to see this fish or any subsurface structure.

The term polarized comes from what happens to light waves when they bounce off a horizontal surface…their magnetic waves line up horizontally; thus the term polarized. A polarized lens blocks this horizontally polarized light (glare) from entering your eye. A polarized film, molded between polarized lenses, allows only vertical light ("ambient") to pass through. Ambient light does not produce glare.

Glare causes eyestrain and discomfort. Simple tinted or plastic lenses by themselves can not solve the problem of glare. Glare can cause temporary blindness (think back on the blinding effect of a flash bulb) and leads to headaches and nausea. Many problems with night vision are caused by the lingering effects of exposure to glare during the daylight hours. Exposure to sunlight produces a cumulative effect on our ability to see at night. To maintain optimal night vision, wear sunglasses which block 100% UVA, UVB, and UVC yet allow enough visible light in to enhance visual acuity.

Built to last, durable /Snug, comfortable fit.
Durability is in the details. Look for corrosion-resistant, stainless steel spring hinges. Wire core or co-injected temples should adjust for the perfect fit. And, silicone (or similar material) nose pads provide excellent gripping ability-even when you perspire.

Fishing eye ware should be so comfortable that you forget you have it on, however, remember that you also want it "snug." You'll be racing around at 45 mph and don't want your glasses flying off into the water. Step one is to find a frame style that rests well on your nose and behind your ears. There should be no sunlight coming in from the top of the frame or from the sides.

From there, you can pick out your frame color and a lens. Resin (plastic) lenses offer these advantages over glass lenses:

  • less expensive
  • greater impact resistance
  • lighter
However, plastic lenses offer less scratch resistance, are more susceptible to chemicals, and can be distorted by heat. Look for plastic lenses rated to 8.5 scratch resistance (glass is rated to 9).

Glass lenses provide more optical clarity, are more scratch resistant, and less susceptible to chemicals than plastic lenses. However, they are generally much heavier. Certain manufacturers offer lightweight glass lenses. Costa Del Mar's glass lenses are actually 20% lighter than the average polarized lens. They also add other features such as glare absorbing anti-reflective coatings applied to the back surface of the lens.

Why is comfort so important? You want to wear these glasses all day long-and well into the evening. The minute you take them off, you are inviting an accident to happen. Case in point: while fishing in Canada a few years ago we received an alarming call over the marine radio. Two guys, who had fished together for years, had a situation…Fellow #1 had taken off his sunglasses and his partner proceeded to mis-cast. A bucktail (treble hook and all) was now solidly stuck in his eye. At the very least, this put a damper on the day's fishing. We raced across the Lake of the Woods, then drove a couple hours to the nearest hospital. We were very lucky. An eye specialist was available who performed surgery immediately. Thankfully, there was no loss of vision…but, there just as easily could have been. It is so very important to wear eye protection at all times. 90% of all eye injuries (over 100,000 annually) could have been prevented. Choose a pair of sunglasses that are so comfortable, you forget they are on!

Lens Color
Lens colors definitely affect the way you see the world. Here's a basic guideline to consider:

Gray: Provides natural contrast and minimizes color distortion, even at low light levels. Designed for long hours in direct sun.

Amber/Brown: Offers a brighter field of vision and excellent color contrast. Perfect for fishing in shallow waters on both overcast and sunny days.

Rose/Copper: Heightens visual acuity and color enhancement. Delivers the brightest field of vision in overcast or low light conditions.

Yellow/Amber: Designed for early morning or late afternoon use when low lighting conditions require greater light transmission and color contrast. Excellent for sight fishing.

Blue mirrors: (blue mirror coating applied to a gray based lens) Good for bright sun conditions.

Green mirrors: (green mirror coating applied to an amber based lens). Exceptional for freshwater fishing in variable light conditions.

Here's a Few to Consider…
My personal favorite, Costa Del Mar, is considered by many to be the industry's benchmark of performance. Their lens technology and quality components help deliver the best-performing frames on the water. Worn by professional anglers Jose Wejebe (the Spanish Fly) and Cindy Garrison, these glasses deliver extraordinary definition and clarity. Ladies with smaller faces will appreciate the MP2 style.

Many models are available in prescription lenses, even in bifocals (Costa C-Mates). They also proffer a variety of accessories-from neoprene rubber keeper cords to visor clips and hermit cloths…they'll help keep your investment safe and handy.

Lastly, they offer four sunglass styles that have interchangeable lenses. Try on the Fluid, Tropic Star, Reef Raider or Release styles for the utmost in versatility and performance. Each sunglass is available with 3 polarized lens sets for different light conditions.
(386) 677.3700

H30 also offers three polarized, polycarbonate lenses on all their anglers packages. Dark gray, amber, and twilight yellow removable lenses ensure that you'll have the proper protection for all lighting conditions. Another neat feature, H30 offers prescription inserts. Mount the inserts to the back side of certain models' frames, then bring this assembled unit to your optical professional. They will measure the placement of your prescription and cut and mount the lenses into the prescription inserts. This way, you'll have full, wrap-around coverage for light filtering and still have the ability to change lens colors to fit weather conditions.
(800) 750.7060

Durable Kaenon sunglasses are prescription adaptable utilizing their SR-91 prescription lenses. This quality eye wear accommodates different facial features and is designed for both men and women. They offer two lens shape options:

  • Regular lenses fit smaller faces or high check bone structures.
  • Larger lenses (approximately 2 millimeters wider and deeper) fit larger faces to provide protection from the elements.
Many touring B.A.S.S. pros choose these glasses.
(949) 574.7918.

How important is eye protection for kids? Very! In fact, most people receive 80% of their lifetime exposure to the sun by 18 years of age. Excessive exposure to sunlight during early childhood is harmful to the eyes. The lens in a child's eye is not as fully developed. It will not block as much UV as the adult eye. Cataracts are the result of gradually accumulating damage-especially when one is young. The risk for retinal damage is also greatest in children under 10 years old. Parents, protect your children against the harmful effects of the sun-teach them to wear sunglasses, especially between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., when ultraviolet exposure is the most dangerous.

Ocean Waves takes pediatric eye care very seriously. They have frames available to fit small faces. Yes, children have a tendency to lose things…Ocean Waves also offers a variety of gripper cords to keep the sunglasses safely attached to fast, moving bodies!
(800) 495.9283

Do you like to jam to Nickelback or Frank Sinatra while you fish? Oakley has brought sunglasses into the new millennium…Their sport designed THUMP PRO's are not only sweat resistant (perspiration actually increases the grip) but also offer digital music. A digital audio engine is fully integrated into the frame. It is a cordless design, with adjustable speakers. The 1 GB version has the ability to store up to 240 songs and plays up to 6 hours on a single charge. So, rock on!
(800) 431.1439

See more, catch more? Well, I don't know if that's true or not. But, one thing is for certain: protecting your eyesight ensures you'll be able to enjoy a lifetime of great scenery…baby loons, brilliant sunsets, and big fish!

Author Patricia Strutz
Patricia Strutz
Patricia Strutz, "A Blond and Her Boat", is a musky fishing zealot whose energy and enthusiasm for the sport is contagious. Her true passion is row trolling for 'skies in late fall. She offers traditional casting packages, too. Strutz also works with other pro's to offer group fishing trips to Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Canada. Check out the WOW! Women on the Water page for complete details. Patricia especially enjoys teaching other women how to hunt muskies. She is an outdoor writer,co-inventor of the Sea-View Marine Shield, instructional DVD host, and may be booked to give presentations on musky fishing to interested groups.
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