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Fly Fishing SUNGLASSES (The BEST For 2020!) See The Fish You’re Chasing!

(Top Pick) 

Smith Optics Guides Choice Sunglasses

Review of Smith Optics Guides Choice Sunglasses, Black Frame, Polarchromic Ignitor Techlite Glass Lenses best fishing sunglasses

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  • Evolve frame material, Anti-Reflective and hydrophobic lens coatings, Hydrophilic Megol nose & Temple pads and stainless steel spring hinges
  • Tech Lite Polarized glass TLT lenses
  • Medium-Large fit/large coverage
  • 8 base lens Curvature

The Best Fishing Sunglasses (Reviews): For Fly Fishing and Everything Else

I would be hard pressed to make it through an entire day of fishing without a good pair of sunglasses on my head. From reducing eye fatigue, to preserving vision, to allowing you opportunities to become a better angler; a proper pair of sunglasses is nearly as essential a component as a fishing pole is when it comes to be a successful angler.

Rather than just buying any old pair of sunglasses from the rotating kiosk at your local store, I would suggest putting some serious thought and consideration into this tool for angling. We have outlined some basic information to help educate you on selecting a good pair of fishing sunglasses and highlight a few of the best fishing sunglasses available on the market.

Best Fly Fishing Sunglasses (Quick-List)

Here’s a quick view of the fishing sunglasses that are reviewed in this post. Keep in mind that any one of these brands make really good fishing sunglasses. You can’t lose with any one of these.

Keep reading for more detailed information on each of these fly fishing sunglasses.

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The Best Sunglasses For Fly Fishing (Reviews)

1. Smith Optics Guides Choice Sunglasses  (Top Pick)

Review of Smith Optics Guides Choice Sunglasses, Black Frame, Polarchromic Ignitor Techlite Glass Lenses best fishing sunglasses

Optimized for outdoor anglers, the Smith Guides Choice Sunglasses have been renowned by anglers for years and have been redesigned with some modern improvements.

The Guide Choice sunglasses offer a medium/large fit with sufficient vision coverage. They are of a similar style to the previous Costa Del Mar frames.

The frames are flexible, durable and have a hydrophobic coating to help repel water, dirt, grime, and grease.  With premium stainless steel hinges and redesigned temple and nose pads, Smith designed these glasses with the all day angler in mind.

Review of Smith Optics Guides Choice Sunglasses, Black Frame, Polarchromic Ignitor Techlite Glass Lenses best fishing sunglasses

One of the best features of these sunglasses is the polarized lenses. However, Smith doesn’t make just any old polarized lenses. These sunglasses give anglers the option to upgrade to ChromaPop lenses, which not only do a superior job at cutting surface glare but give anglers a better perception of light and color.

Taken from Smith Optics – “Quite simply, ChromaPop Lenses are the most advanced polarized lenses in the world… By blocking color wave intersections as they pass through the lens, ChromaPop is able to eliminate color confusion, so your brain is recognizing truer color, faster. ChromaPop optimizes color and increases clarity, enabling you to see the outside world with an unparalleled level of vibrancy.

Review of Smith Optics Guides Choice Sunglasses, Black Frame, Polarchromic Ignitor Techlite Glass Lenses best fishing sunglasses

Within the ChromaPop lenses, you have the choice of a variety of lens and frame colors to suit your fishing style. Another great feature of these lenses is the anti-reflective coating on the lens to help further intensify and clear up your vision. It’s hard to convey the superiority of these Smith Chromapop lenses unless you wear them yourself. A good friend of mine swears  by them and I can see why.

On several fishing occasions, I’ve compared my normal polarized lenses to his polarized lenses with ChromaPop and the difference is absolutely noticeable. Crisper colors, less shadow contrast, and a better ability to see what is under the water. There is a reason that Smith’s Guide Choice lenses have received awards and acclaim from many anglers of all types.

2. Costa Del Mar Blackfin Sunglasses 

Costa Del Mar Fantail Sunglasses, Black, Blue Mirror 580 Plastic Lens

Bring serious clarity to your fishing with the Costa Del Mar Blackfin Sunglasses. These sunglasses were designed with the angler in mind and therefore feature polarized glass lenses in a selection of colors. 

The top of the line glass lenses are held in place by flexible and durable frames featuring a Hydrolite™ co-injected lining. They are made for performance and will serve anglers well as an addition to their fishing gear arsenal.

Anglers have a selection of lens and frame colors to match their style and fishing needs. Costa Del Mar offers both mirror and non-mirror lenses in colors from amber to deep blue. Whether you are fly fishing for trout in a trickling stream or trolling for black marlin and dorado.

No matter what color selection you end up with, you can count on them to deflect the glaring rays and give you a better glimpse beneath the waters surface. Included with these sunglasses are a hard carrying case and a microfiber cleaning cloth to keep your lenses protects and crystal clear.

3. Costa Del Mar Fantail Sunglasses 

Costa Del Mar Fantail Sunglasses, Black, Blue Mirror 580 Plastic LensThe Costa Del Mar Fantail Sunglasses are the slimmed down, though no less mighty, cousin of the Blackfin model discussed above.

Featuring a sleeker profile and thinner arms, it gives anglers with a different face type a chance to get into a similar pair of high quality fishing sunglasses. Also featuring some of the best polarized lenses available for anglers, these performance minded sunglasses will serve a serious role out on the water.Costa Del Mar Fantail Sunglasses, Black, Blue Mirror 580 Plastic Lens

Like their bigger cousin, the Blackfin, the Fantail Sunglasses feature a co-molded lens that is not only durable and flexible, but features a proprietary hydrophobic coating. Anglers have options to choose between a polarized glass lens or polarized polycarbonate lens. While glass is optimized for clarity, the polycarbonate lenses excel in durability and are lighter weight

Costa Del Mar Fantail Sunglasses, Black, Blue Mirror 580 Plastic Lens

Like the Blackfins, the Fantails come in a plethora of color selection in both frame and lens color. For your convenience, Costa Del Mar includes a hard carrying case and cleaning cloth with the sunglasses.

​​​The Importance Of Wearing Fishing Sunglasses On The Water

Sunglasses are a great fashion accessory, though their most essential function lies in their ability to protect your eyes from the ultraviolet (UV) rays emitted by sun. Some of the sun’s effects on the eyes include:

  • Cataracts, clouding of the eye lens leaves you with blurred vision. An estimated around 20% of cataract instances are from UV ray exposure.
  • Macular degeneration is from damage to the retina that destroys central vision and is the leading cause of blindness in the U.S.
  • Pterygium, a growth of tissue on the whites of the eye that can actually result in some abnormal curvature of the eyeball, causing astigmatism.

In addition the the adverse effects of long-exposure to outdoor light that sunglasses help to prevent, they also serve an additional more straightforward purpose.

With fish hooks, big lures, and rod tips flying through the air at wicked speeds; “it’s all fun and games until somebody loses an eye.” Sunglasses serve as a sort of pair of safety glasses to reduce these potential risks.

Additionally, when hiking through brush, sunglasses can protect your eye from scratches caused by brush and branches. 

Why Are Polarized Sunglasses Good For Fishing?

Every angler needs to have a pair of polarized sunglasses in their gear stash. Aside from the obvious fact of protecting your eyes from the sun and glare off the water and potential physical harm, polarized glasses in specific achieve one more thing that comes in great advantage to the angler. And that is being able to see the fish under the surface.

What Is Sun Glare?

Light is generally dissipated and travels in every which direction. However, when sun reflects off a flat surface, it tends to all dissipate into a similar direction of travel, leading to what we experience as sun glare

This glaring effect is particularly noticeable on the water surface. What polarized lenses do is to reduce this effect of sun glare. What this means for fishing, is the ability to better see what lies beneath the waters surface.

Fishing With Polarized Sunglasses

If you have never experienced the first-hand benefits of polarized lenses for fishing, you are missing out. A good pair of polarized sunglasses is an invaluable tool when it comes to fishing. I find them to be particularly useful when fishing in streams and creeks.

Often times, I’m able to actually see fish and target them specifically. Sight fishing is a personal favorite of mine. Without polarized lenses, I may have just been reduced to blind casting. 

How To Tell If Sunglasses Are Polarized

Polarized glasses come in a huge range of prices, though are generally more expensive than non-polarized lenses. So how do you know if a lens is actually polarized? Is there anyway to actually check? There sure is.

If you pick up a pair of polarized glasses and hold them to your phone and rotate them 90 degrees, the image of your phone should fade out or become more clear.

You can also check with a second pair of polarized lenses, simply look through both of them (with one rotated 90 degrees) and the image should be nearly blacked-out.

Fishing Sunglasses Lens Color

This is the more difficult aspects of selecting sunglasses to educate on. There is not really clear-cut right or wrong choice in lens color. Everybody sees color differently and everyone’s vision responds to lens color differently. Though if you are looking to cater your lens color to your fishing applications, here are some general guidelines.


Yellow lenses allow for maximum light transition during low light conditions found at dawn, dusk, and on overcast days. Yellow lenses don’t do as great of a job as darker shades at cutting total light input, so they are less than ideal on very sunny days. Yellow lenses are great for adding contrast to objects in the water in lower light conditions. While they don’t cut light on bright days, you get the added benefits of UV protection and polarization to see down into the water.

Green and Gray

If you are selecting a lens that will be used on bright sunny days, going with a darker color such as a green or gray is going to benefit you. Though most people can agree that these types of lenses are not the greatest for sight-fishing applications.

Gray and green tend to reduce contrast, instead of enhancing it, which is what you want for sight fishing. While most people wouldn’t recommend green or grey lenses for trying to see what  is underneath the water, they are great for bright sunny days out on the boat. These darker lenses do the best at reducing harmful UV rays.

Copper and Amber

For a good all-around pair of sunglasses to use for fishing, most would say, some shade of amber is a good pick. Some sunglasses companies have proprietary names for these tones, but light brown, copper and amber all sharpen contrast by reducing blue light. These colors work great in low light and cloudy condition as they help in improving the depth perception.

A lot of fishermen opt for amber colored sunglasses, as they offer great visibility, in both sunny and cloudy weather conditions. They are excellent for sight fishing, low-light fishing, and represent the most versatile lens color option for fishing applications. 

Final Thoughts

Polarized sunglasses are an essential tool for any dedicated angler. Whether you’re fly-fishing in trout streams, throwing topwater for bass, or trolling deep for saltwater fish; a proper pair of polarized lenses will serve you well.

From protecting your eyes to allowing you to see better above and below the water surface, this tool may pay for itself down the road. Costa Del Mar and Smith are two well known names in optics, particularly for anglers. These sunglasses are all of comparable style and function though there are noticeable differences between them.

But in choosing just one pair as the best fishing sunglasses, the Smith glasses just beat out the competition.  

Top Pick

Smith Optics Guides Choice Sunglasses
  • Medium-Large fit/large coverage
  • Tech Lite Polarized glass TLT lenses
  • Evolve frame material, Anti-Reflective and hydrophobic lens coatings, Hydrophilic Megol nose & Temple pads and stainless steel spring hinges
  • 8 base lens Curvature

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on [relevant Amazon Site(s), as applicable] at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

Just take into consideration your fishing style and personal preference for lens and frame color. Then use our guide to help nail down just what model fits the bill for your fishing. These will all serve as not only great fishing sunglasses, but even great daily wear sunglasses with their stylish and functional designs. 

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3. Fly Fishing STREAMERS: The Ultimate Guide To Fishing With Streamer Flies

4. STILLWATER Fly Fishing For Trout (Expert Techniques)

5. The Best Fly Fishing Books For 2019 (And Why To Read Them!)

fishing sunglasses article with reviews

Written by Don

When I'm not bass fishing or looking for steelhead in my home state of Oregon I can be found working on house projects dreaming of my next fishing adventure.

I started this website to share just some of the things I've learned along my fishing journey, and the many things I'm still learning. Enjoy!

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