Ultimate Guide To Polarised Fishing Sunglasses
Today, we’re diving into an essential piece of fishing equipment that often goes under the radar: Polarised fishing sunglasses. Note: Tonic sunglasses are optimised for serious sportfishers and the Tonic brand is supporting listeners of the Australian Lure Fishing podcast. Plus, they’re super advanced, super comfortable, and have firmly become my sunglasses of choice. So we’ll use Tonic Eyewear products as an example throughout this discussion. But the details about what to look for are the same no matter what brand of eyewear you’re considering.
Purpose designed, quality, polarised fishing sunglasses provide remarkable visual clarity, eliminating glare and reflections to reveal what lies beneath the water’s surface. If you’ve never owned good ones it’s hard to understand until you put a pair on. You’ll witness the mesmerizing splashes as fish strike your lure and you’ll spot hidden structures, bait and feeding areas with ease. Plus it helps with safe navigation, wading and so on.
But the benefits of quality eyewear extend beyond merely enhancing your vision. When you’re comfortable on the water you’re not distracted and your performance as an angler immediately improves. For me, the crystal clear optics, a lightweight and comfortable fit and excellent polarisation of Tonic sunglasses have been game changing. Headaches caused by eye strain can really take the shine off your day (pun intended) – but they’re no longer a problem. I’m comfortable wearing Tonic sunglasses from dawn until dusk – something I couldn’t say about several other (even high-end) brands I’ve owned.
Fishing Sunglasses And Eye Health
Often with polarised fishing sunglasses we obsess with how much more we can see, and how that helps us. But there is an even more important consideration: protecting our eyes from damage.
During my university days, I had a personal revelation when it came to polarised fishing sunglasses. Swapping my cheap, service station sunglasses for quality polarised ones, a team member explained that cheap sunglasses can be worse than none at all. Although I could see the fish, they were actually harming my eyes. Now, I’m a bit of an old fart, so Tonic sunglasses didn’t exist back then, but it didn’t take too many hours wearing quality sunglasses before I understood.
Fishing often entails long hours on the water, in one of the worst environments we can expose our eyes to. The damage that can be done by chronic exposure to glare an/or UV is permanent. And I don’t want to think about a old-age where my vision is too poor to sight cast on the reef flats. I feel like I’m repeating myself here, but it’s so important. Good quality eyewear like Tonics sunglasses are more important than any other piece of fishing equipment you’ll own, in my opinion.
Additionally, sunglasses provide physical protection for our eyes during fishing escapades. Whether navigating jungle-covered creeks or engaging in land-based fishing, they shield our eyes from potential hazards. Branches and debris can unexpectedly cause injury and eye damage. With Tonic Sunglasses, we minimize such risks and keep our eyes safe.
Polarised Fishing Glasses Fight Glare and UV
Prolonged exposure of our eyes to sunlight can result in cataracts, macular degeneration, and even cancer. But not all polarised fishing eyewear is equal……
One of the reasons I’m passionate about Tonic Sunglasses and happy to bring them to ALF listeners is that they block 100% of UV and are 100% polarised (get a great deal on Tonics here). You’d think that every brand of polarised fishing glasses would be equal in this department, but they’re not. Some have less polarisation and are less effective at cutting glare, but not all. Others only block out 95% of the UV, which still sounds a lot better than not wearing glasses, but it’s not enough to stop permanent eye damage from spending long days in the sun.
Polarisation and UV attenuation are two different things. Polarised fishing sunglasses effectively eliminate glare caused by scattered and horizontal light, making them indispensable for anglers who need to see underwater details. In contrast, non-polarised sunglasses just dim all light, including the crucial vertical light that we need to see through the water surface.
A different treatment process and different raw materials are used to block UV light, and the effectiveness depends on the material used and how it is applied. So if you’re buying anything other than Tonic sunglasses, just check that as well as being polarised they will be blocking at least 99% of UV.
Choosing Polarised Fishing Sunglasses: Comfort And Fit
Comfort and fit are essential, but preferences vary. Ideally, I like a pair of polarised sunglasses that wrap around my face, blocking light from above and the sides without causing discomfort. It’s important that this doesn’t distort your vision though – which is why some cheap sunnies cause headaches and just one more reason I like Tonic sunglasses with their decentered lenses!
Headaches can occur if the glasses are too narrow or tight behind the ears and discomfort can occur around the bridge of the nose, especially if the glasses are heavy. Often they feel fine when you buy them but get uncomfortable after wearing them for a full day.
Tonic Sunglasses, like the Shimmer style, offer exceptional comfort due to their anti-reflection coating, reducing glare and preventing light from reflecting back into the eyes. I like them for the wide arms, which help block light from coming in the sides.
Sunglass styles with narrow arms can be enhanced by fitting B27+ Sunmate Side Shields, which clip onto the sunglasses’ sides, providing additional protection from lateral light. These shields are affordable and easily attachable.
Weight is another consideration, particularly for those who prefer glass lenses for durability but find them heavy. Tonic Sunglasses offer thin and lightweight 1.7mm lenses, providing both durability and comfort. Additionally, using a retainer strap can prevent the loss of sunglasses while on the water, especially if they are slightly stretched or loose.
Fishing Glasses Lens Selection
The Tonic sunglasses brand is the one I’m most familiar with, so I’ll talk you through the lens options for that brand, but it will be similar for other brands.
Firstly, in the choice between glass and plastic, I err towards glass for it’s scratch resistance and superior optics. Yes, it’s possible to break a glass lens, but it doesn’t happen often. Whereas, every plastic lens I’ve owned has ended up scuffed and scratched. And I stop wearing them because the optics give me headaches. Others may differ, but that’s my experience. In any case, off the shelf Tonic sunglasses are all glass lenses.
Photochromic lenses utilise chemicals in the tint that react to UV light by becoming darker. So when the cloud parts and you’re hit with an intense glare, the lenses quickly darken and reduce excess light hitting your eye. When the sun gets low in the sky these lenses lighten again, providing your eyes with the optimum amount of light for clear vision.
Photochromic lenses are great because they allow the wearer to stick with one pair of polarised fishing glasses for the whole day long and still have optimum vision.
Photochromic Grey Lens
Grey lenses were the starting point for sunglasses back in the day. They were primarily aimed at reducing glare by decreasing overall light intensity before polarisation was a thing. But with the advent of polarising and photochromic coatings grey lenses have really come into their own.
Grey lenses provide excellent color perception since they only alter the intensity of colors, not the actual hues. They are considered versatile and suitable for both bright sunny days and dull overcast conditions. While popular, personally, I don’t own a pair of grey lens glasses. I prefer other lenses for a range of reasons I’m about to explain……
Photochromic Copper/Amber Lens:
Photochromic copper or amber lenses have an advantage over gray lenses in terms of improving contrast perception. These lenses don’t darken the entire picture but rather lighten some aspects, making them ideal for freshwater environments, estuaries, and murky waters. They are also suitable for slightly hazy days as they allow more light through, enhancing visibility. Tonic Sunglasses photochromic copper lenses remove blue wavelengths, reducing eye confusion and providing clearer images. I personally enjoy these, even when fishing in blue water – and the photochromic version is suitable for wearing from dawn till dusk!
Copper Neon Lens:
Copper neon lenses are lighter in color and lift contrast, making them excellent for low light conditions with glare or in dull lighting situations. These lenses help improve visibility and clarity, and they are particularly useful around dawn and dusk, on very dull days or when you’re in shaded areas.
Silver Mirror Lens:
Silver mirror lenses are considered all-rounders, similar to gray lenses but with a mirror coating. They evenly remove all wavelengths, reduce light, and block out scattered light without altering color perception. The mirror finish is effective in reflecting away extremely bright light and glare. They work well in bright conditions but might not be the preferred choice in dull lighting or low sun conditions.
Blue Mirror Lens:
This is my favourite lens choice for bluewater applications. Tonic sunglasses in the blue mirror lenses combine blue and amber filters, providing exceptional contrast, clarity, and brightness. They make it easier to spot fish in blue water, reduce glare, and create a comfortable fishing experience. Again, the mirror finish is perfect in really harsh, bright light and intensifies the colours you’ll see when you’re out on the ocean.
Red Mirror Lens:
Red lenses remove blue wavelengths, reducing eye strain and providing soothing effects in bright conditions, especially those with the mirror finish. They’re favored by athletes in sports like snowboarding, skiing, and ice skating due to their ability to reduce eye strain in intense sunlight.
Green Mirror Lens:
In my opinion, Tonic Sunglasses green mirror lenses offer excellent clarity and contrast, similar to copper lenses but with enhanced color perception. They’re popular among those who fish in estuaries, rivers, and lakes, providing versatility for both freshwater and bluewater fishing.