The Best Polarized Sunglasses For SIGHT FISHING (Reviews)


I’m fortunate enough to live in an area of the country where clearwater is the norm. Yes, there are plenty of muddy ponds, lakes and rivers here in the Pacific Northwest as well, but for the most part, when you step out into nature, you’re going to be dealing with some very clear water.

There’s even a lake here called Clear Lake. And you can probably imagine why it was named that. The lake is nestled high in the Cascade mountains and it’s full of trout. And you can easily see those trout swimming under your boat 50 feet below you.

fly fishing angler sight fishing trout

There’s crystal rivers and streams as well. Even some of the farm ponds where I do a lot of bass fishing are incredibly clear. It’s awesome, and I feel very fortunate.

But with clear water fishing comes a whole other set of issues. Such as what color line to use or being easily spotted by bass and trout when sight fishing.

And what I’ve learned over the years, that when it comes to sight fishing, it’s critical that you see the fish before it sees you. Common sense, right?

Well sometimes it’s a whole lot more difficult than it seems. Especially when the sun’s shining, or you fishing on one of those overcast days that are still bright creating a wicked white glare on the surface of the water.

sight fishing with polarized sunglasses

What I’ve found to be the best tool to use when sight fishing is a high quality pair of polarized sunglasses. And that’s exactly what I’m going to go over in this post.

I’m going to review what I believe are the best polarized sunglasses for sight fishing.  Below is a quick list of the fishing sunglasses I’m mentioning in this article. If you want to learn more details about each, just keep reading.

(Reviews) The Best Polarized Sunglasses For Sight Fishing

1. Smith Optics Guides Choice Sunglasses  (Top Pick)

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

The Guide Choice sunglasses offer a medium/large fit with excellent vision coverage. And you’ll probably notice that they’re similar in body style to the 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.

One of the best features of these sunglasses is the polarized lenses. However, Smith didn’t make just any old pair of polarized lenses. With these sunglasses, Smith has given 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.  All of which are exactly what sight fishing anglers need in a pair of sunglasses.

The Smith Optics website states, “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.”

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 astounding. Crisper colors, less shadow contrast, and a better ability to see what’s under the water. There’s a reason that Smith’s Guide Choice Lenses have received awards and acclaim from many anglers of all types.

2. Costa Del Mar Fantail Sunglasses

The Costa Del Mar Fantail Sunglasses are the slimmed down, though no less mighty, cousin of the Blackfin model discussed below.

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.

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.

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.

3. Costa Del Mar Blackfin Sunglasses

Bring serious clarity to your sight fishing trips with the Costa Del Mar Blackfin Sunglasses. These sunglasses were designed with the sight fishing 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.

Why Are Polarized Sunglasses Good For Sight 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 for tuna

Sight 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.

And in order to fully enjoy sight fishing, you must have a pair of polarized sunglasses. Different people prefer different colored lenses for sight fishing. And each of these different colors come with their own advantages and disadvantages.

Green lenses are generally more comfortable but are average in terms of contrast. Gray lenses offer more true color distinction but are lacking in terms of contrast. Amber lenses (excellent for sight fishing dorado) can be uncomfortable in the bright sun but offer the most contrast. There is no right or wrong lens color for sight fishing, just your own personal preference.

fishing contact form

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.

Final Thoughts

Sight fishing is an exciting way to fish for bass, trout and many other species of fish. Sight fishing requires stealth, concentration, a keen eye and accurate casting in order to be good at it.

But to really enjoy it, you need to have a quality pair of polarized sunglasses in order to see what’s actually happening below the surface of the water.

I’m confident that you would be happy with any of the polarized sunglasses I recommended, but if you’re going to buy a new pair, I highly recommend the Smith Optics Guides Choice Sunglasses. You won’t be disappointed.

About the Author

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!