Polarized Sunglasses? [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Polarized Sunglasses?

04-30-2002, 01:05 PM
What is the difference between $10 Polarized sunglasses and $200 glasses? Is the difference mostly in the quality of the lenses and frames or do the expensive glasses actually block out more glare and allow you to see more easily into the water? I'm looking into buying a new pair and have gone with cheaper pairs in the past. Any advice on purchasing a new pair?

04-30-2002, 02:03 PM
Others may disagree, but here's my opinion.

You really do get what you pay for. The $10 ones are OK, they scratch easily, break easily, and have no warantee at all. Some have found $50 dollar glasses that are really nice, but there is something about really nice ones ($100 and up ballpark) that make my eyes relax. The optics are perfect allowing for true vision. The lenses have better scratch resistance and the frames are sturdier.

Taking all that...I wear Costa Del Mar's Euro Frames with green polarized lenses. Glass. I love them. They are amazing on the flats of Cape Cod as well as most inshore fishing situations. The glass is heavier (and reportedly more dangerous) than the poly carbonate, but I can take them and throw them in a backpack without any cover and still sleep at night. I can also wipe the salt crystals off with my T shirt and have nothing to show for it. As far as danger is concerned, I always cast with the wind to off my left side, even if I have to cast backwards. Takes care of that problem.

One last thing, the warantee on top quality glasses (Action Optics, Costa, Oakley, etc) is amazing in my experience. They usually replace or fix for free or sometimes a small fee.

If you lose glasses all the time, go with the cheap ones. If you know they'll be around, I'd say go for some nice ones. Try them out, you'll be amazed at the difference.

04-30-2002, 04:15 PM
Polycarbonate ones don't shatter. And when you sit on or loose em they better be the el cheapos.
Get to MArshalls if you want to score a pair of $50-70 Bolle's for about $20. I posted this on the other board. You won't miss any fish either with the cheaper varietites. The exception might be if you're a flats hound. Then the investment is worth it. OR if you're careful enough to take care of a nice pair. Not me.


04-30-2002, 05:30 PM
I agree with Nick.. and I swear by the Maui Jim's Copper lens.They are a great glass and really "comfortable" for your eyes.. hey..there your eye's and you should get the best you can afford. I just splurged on the Maui Titanium polycarbon... I can hardly feel them on .They cost alot but also come in an unbreakable case and the titanium has memory.

04-30-2002, 07:23 PM
Some of the reasons I like the more expensive Maui Volcano's (wish there weren't so much of course):

The spring loaded hinges

The dual shaded lenses (brown top and bottom, grey in the middle)

The glare shades built-in as part of the frame's shape

I don't know if there are shades of polarization, but I find this to reduce glare extremely well.

Wish they were just a TAD darker on those very bright days and lighter on cloudy ones, or when fishing under trees on a stream.

04-30-2002, 08:35 PM
I think that a good pair of polarized glasses are among the top four most important pieces of gear(a little more important than a good rod, a little less important than good flys and a good line). So much of our success, pleasure and safety depends on seeing well. So, get the best you can afford. Get two or three pairs if you are flush.
Some thoughts:good glass lenses are better optically than good poly.
Glass lenses are more scrath resistant(they are more likey to scratch if they are plastic than glass ones are likely to break). Plastic might be safer, but I doubt it.
Plastic are lighter,cheaper and more comfortable.
Stay away from green and grey lenses. Copper,amber, brown, and yellow(for low light)provide better contrast.
Don't get really dark lenses unless you are welding. Fish are always lurking in the shadows, and in over cast and dawn/dusk conditions,we need all the help we can get. Get a cheap pair for scoping out chicks or dudes or whatever. They're hard to miss.
Make sure they fit well and don't allow a lot of light to relect on the inside of the lense.If you see relections, pass on those John Lennon specials. Think Bono. If they fit too tight, however, they will fog up easily.
I like the "Chums" and "Abel" retention straps(sounds like a painful treatment for incontanence). Your head will come off befor you lose them.
Good brands for fishing specs are Maui Jim, Costa Del Mar, and especially Action Optics(cheap frames, but good lense colors). I have heard that Oceam Waves are good too. Action Optics make the best prescripion glasses.
Get a tacky pair that you would be embarrassed to wear(big blocky frames with side glass). Think Elvis in a bass boat. That way you will only wear them fishing, and will be less likely to loose them.
This should be in the "Gear Section". I gota keep the numbers up.

06-05-2002, 10:17 PM
I have no vested interest in Maui Jim's, but I recently broke my Volcano's, which they said they would fix for free, but while at the store I tried these on and MAN, are they incredible! I usually will spend for for titanium only if it's in a rod or for my road bike, but these are really incredible - you forget you're even wearing them:


06-05-2002, 11:50 PM
But Darn! I wish perscription lens weren't so dam pricie. Got you on one, then add Pol., then add, then frames.

And unless you where spec's the size of a dinner plate, 'clip ons' are darn near as expensive. $1.50 worth of materials .... and $35-$50 bucks.:eek:

06-06-2002, 08:10 AM
Ran into my eye doctor at the mall and asked about prescription sunglasses ( I really need them now, too) - "how much???"

"Hundreds $$$" (very matter of factly) :whoa: :eyecrazy: :whoa:

06-06-2002, 02:28 PM
Polarized glasses from the opticion are not a good bet for the fisherman. The frames and lenses are really expensive, and the lense color is often a little green(even if it is amber).
I'm sure the frames are of better quality, but the mark up must be huge.
Action Opticts RX glasses are about 170 bucks and I am very impressed with the quality. These are perfect for fishing and after rod/reel/line/leader/fly, the most important piece of gear I have. Maui Jim(very good but $$$), Costa del Mar(also very good) and Orvis(only OK.) also offer good fishing RX glasses.

John Desjardins
06-06-2002, 02:57 PM
Fred & Dave I can tell you from experience that $170 for the Action Optics is much cheaper than what my optometrist charges. I can also tell you that it took about a year to get my hook set on dry flys back after buying prescription sunglasses. Wish I could talk about using the Action Optics glasses.

06-06-2002, 03:05 PM
(Presumably :rolleyes: )

Take my prescription to someone who deals with the various dealers and go from there? I wear progressives and it wasn't easy to get adjusted to them. I'm beginning to think it's easier to go with Fitovers or some industrial safety glass from the local emporium.

I know I didn't begin this discussion, but thanks to uptrout and the rest for the q&a.

06-06-2002, 04:21 PM
Three ways to go:

1) buy cheapos and don't worry about 'em

2) buy $50-70 polycarb polarized and try to squeeze 2 seasons out of them

3) buy $150-250 and enjoy the best there is in featherlight titanium polarized technology

For the last few years I've been a "2", averaging 1.5 seasons per pair. Frankly, it's very economical (good price/performance) but there are two tough things about it:

- it's hard to find good glasses at mid cost
- you need to take care of them or they will be toast in short order

Bolle's are often available at this range at REI/EMS, although it sounds like Lefty got them at "level 1" prices. Costco carries a polarized polycarb at ~$70 with titanium frames that are su-weet and I am thinking about them for a next pair.

You need to keep "type 2" glasses on a loop around your neck or they will get destroyed. Never wipe with paper, like glass, only soft cloth. Those loops are the biggest single contributing factor to scratch-free polycarb lenses, in my experience anyway.

AND THEN... I saw the top of the line Action Optics and tried them on... then the Maui Jims at Concord Outfitters... suddenly I am thinking hmmmm.... maybe I am a "level 3" kind of guy afterall. Hey - Father's Day is coming up! :devil:

My last $50 pair are still doing great (18 months old). I suspect that I will be buying another pair mid-season. They will probably be "3" (first time ever for me).


Experts say pick copper lenses for fishing. I can't wear amber cause I can't see the brake lights in front of me when I do. I use grey lenses and seem to be able to see fish in the water pretty damn well, almost invariably better than the folks I am fishing with.


I wear polycarbs because my brother the eye surgeon convinced me to. In eye trauma, it's often the glass splinters that do the most damage and polycarb doesn't shatter. That's not to say shatter-proof glass isn't great, I am sure it is. Like many things it's just a choice you make.

The safest glasses are the ones you wear most often. Choose a color and model that you will wear every time you go.

Like Nick said, casting as the wind predicates is the biggest safety factor of all. Keep the wind blowing away from you on the casting side.

06-06-2002, 05:46 PM
I've been wearing the Fitovers over progressive lenses for two seasons and find them adaquate. Would love to get a pair of top quality Rx, but they would have to be bi-focals, unless I have a fishin caddy to tie my flys on. The Action Optics Rx's sound interesting. As far as glass vs polycarbonate, I'm paranoid about my eye's. As desciplined as you might be about casting with the wind on your favorable side, there is no accounting for momentary "dumb a$$". Take a look at the right lense of my glasses next time you see me. Out harmlessly practicing my casting in the back yard when the fly gets caught in an apple tree. Gave the line a little flick and get the shank of the practice fly right in the back of the lense. Really dumb but dumb happens.

06-06-2002, 06:08 PM
I have the Costas in poly and the Action optics in glass. Both RX. I used to wear fit overs. When you spring for the RX, it will rock your world(that's a good thing). Really, they are that good.
I like glass becuse they are less likely to scratch. Now I also have the poly carb, and they are lighter which is also nice. The glass has better optics. I don't think that glass RX polarized lenses will "shatter"(the glass sandwiches a film of polarizing material), but as a surgeon, I'm sure that Juro's brother has seen all sorts of things.
Action Optics does bi focles. Call you local dealer and ask them about it. You will never go back to fit overs.
I need RX, so I have given this a lot of thought and tried most every thing. Juro, you have developed a good eye for fish, but I don't think that most people will benifit from Grey lenses. Vermillion, copper, amber, brown, yellow, are provide better contrast. Unless you are trying not to rear end that car in front of you.
Wow, we have ammassed quite a data base regarding Fishing goggles.

06-06-2002, 08:43 PM
you can skimp on rods, waders, and just about all the other gear. You can NOT skip on optics if you are going to sight fish! Of course if you can't see the fish anyway, buy the cheapies.

By the way go amber unless you have high contrast. Personally, I have just gone amber in all my frames. But I probably have several thousand in optics by now. Thank god for sponsors. Oh yeah Action Optics Padre's have lasted 3 seasons now. I've only had Costa Del Mars one season and they broke the first week when I sat on them. I have yet to have an Orvis frame make it even one season. They get a big thumbs down. With most of the poor quality frames the UV will eat the plastic and the lenses will pop out in no time.


06-07-2002, 07:08 PM
Been using the same pair for 3 years now and haven't scratched them or had any problems whatsoever... L0ve them compared to the poly's that I have had in the past. They are worth the money!

06-07-2002, 08:59 PM
You're right Eddie, this is a great thread and I will move it to the Gear board for future reference.

Per the colors, everyone sees things differently so it pays to experiment and think thru what's best for one's own perception nuances. To your point I spoke with Peter Crow of Action Optics recently and he advises that copper is the best all around choice for most retinas. He is also an avid angler, go figure ;)

I think it would be a great resource if we could get a manufacturer to offer a variety of colors for us to evaluate 'in the field' in exchange for such feedback - even more than we touched upon here. By being enthusiastic about such topics, these possibilities can become real. I think that would be a good return on our investment here, and all we need to do is keep talkin'!

06-07-2002, 09:30 PM
Several refs. in this thread to "RX." What is that, a brand, type of lens, etc.
Sign me: "the unknowledgable one."

06-07-2002, 10:08 PM
I believe people are using Rx (medical shorthand) for "prescription", denoting the need for corrective lenses.

06-07-2002, 10:56 PM
but needed to confim anyway. Darn these things are expensive ...

Replacements over the years vis a vis the lens, as the eye-balls have changed, but been lucky that the frames have held up. EG: just stick the new lens in the old frames.

Guys gotta do what a guys gotta do ... to save a buck.

06-08-2002, 12:51 PM
O.K. all of what everyone has said so far is good advise and for the most part I've been there, done that, so here are a few extra comments of my own.

I am farsighted which means that my glasses are thick in the center, thin around the edges. Fit overs always scratched my regular poly carb glasses right in the sweet part. Besides the quality was not near as good. As I wear progressive bifocals, this became very expensive to have to replace the lenses. Oversize, tinted, scratch resistant, yada, yada, yada.

Inquiring about prescription polarized shades I was told that they would be thicker and heavier than what I was wearing. This was not acceptable. What were my options?

At the time there were not too many. One was contact lenses. Bifocal contacts? No, they do not work very well. However I was able to wear contacts to correct distance vision. This resulted in a big weight reduction in my glasses since they now only had to corrrect for close up work. They were still progressive bifocals and still very expensive but since the upper part is zero prescription, much thinner, and lighter weight. Life is good.

I also found that my vision was much improved. I had to wear a tool makers eye loupe that I would flip down when I had to tie on small trout flies. Don't have to use the toolmakers loupe anymore, even with # 20 flies.

The contacts worked well unless I put in a looooong day. Then they would get kind of gummy and no amount of eye drops would bring them back. I would have to resort to wearing my old glasses if I wanted to stay up and be able to read. The only other reservation I had with the contacts was that I had to keep buying replacements every 90 days. ( I was wearing the disposables. I could get about a week out of a pair of lenses)

Although laser eye surgery had been available for a while, it had only been perfected for near sightedness. (it won't work for you, the story of my life it seemed) No more. Wonder of wonders, they have now perfected the technique to correct for not only far sightedness but astigmatism as well! After checking this out and consulting with my optometrist, I decided to have it done.

The results are truely amazing! I can see very well without any glasses at all. I still use my expensive progressive bifocals but I really only need them for fussy close up stuff like tying flies etc.

I too am still searching for solutions for good polarized fishing glasses or I wouldn't have checked out this post. But the bottom line is this. They no longer have to be pescription glasses, therefor they don't have to cost an arm and a leg and they don't have to come from your optometrist. There are several options for taking care of the close up work. And remember that we are only talking about fishing glasses, not every day full time glasses.

With that in mind consider the following options for taking care of close up work such as tying on #20 flies. Flip focals, these are cheap. clip onto the bill of your hat and you don't have to remove your sunglasses to use them. Stick on bifocal lenses, these are also enexpensive and adhere to the back side of your sunglasses. They are not as cool as progressives, but they are only for temporary use, when you are fishing. As a last resort, you could go down to the local drug store and get some reading glasses. Wear them around your neck on a corkie. You would have to remove your polariods ( also on a corkie) to use the reading glasses but it would enable you to see up close. All of these are kind of a pain in the butt and not near as good as polarized progressives, but they will work for a temporary solution while out fishing.

The good polarized sunglasses really do perform better. They will block out UV better, will cut glare better, and will not distort the way the cheapies will. I have been looking at various options for quite a while now and am currently investigating glasses with interchangable lenses, different shades for different applications. Like the wrap around styles but haven't really settled on anything yet.


Whiskey Dick
06-08-2002, 11:57 PM
after 3 years of Lazer surgery and finally going in and having my eyes removed so that the surgeon could stop the blood vessels behind my eyes from bleeding and making me go blind, I can see again:eyecrazy: :hehe: . The one thing i have wanted for a long time was a good pair of prescription polarized glasses and now after one more visit with the good old Doc next month i will be able to get a new prescription and get my new glasses:D . I have been trying to figure out the best type for me and all i did was confuse the hell out of myself(well that is not hard to do:rolleyes: ). Then i find this thread and now it is as clear as daylight(excuse the pun) what i am going to get. Action Optics, Glass,clearwater copper tint and the padre frames. Get a pair of the chums retainers and i am good to go:D . Life is good!!!. Just reading through the posts you guys made it all so clear and covered every question i had,thanks. Oh Fred before you ask yes the Surgeon put the eyes back in the right way so i am not looking backwards in side my head::D . tight lines, brian:devil:
I do have one question for FlyFishAR, john do you wear side shields with the padre frames? if so which ones,the hard sideshields or the moldable sideshields??

06-09-2002, 07:26 AM
Whiskey Dick:

No the Padre frame is a wrap around so you don't need side guards. I just got back from a week of Tarpon fishing in Islamorada and I wore that very frame. The skin got torched but I don't have any eye problems at all. Other than the fact that I look like a racoon from the tan lines. The amber color did a fine job in letting me pick out tarpon in some really crummy overcast conditions and various color of bottoms.

Just as a side note..... Day 3 in Islamorada I fished postion #2 of the Pocket on Buchannan Bank (the locals acted like it was a really famous spot). Caught a couple of fish and had a generally great day. The guy in position #1 kept having people come over and talk to him so he missed a ton of fish. Later in the day I found out that it was Billy Pate I was catching fish behind.:smokin: Poor guy must have had 10 boats stop by to talk to him.


06-09-2002, 08:54 AM

Wow out fishing the legendary Billy Pate, thats an accomplishment. I love doing that to some of the guides up in Michigan occasionally, then they wonder who is that mysterious guy.


06-09-2002, 10:39 AM

I wouldn't exactly say "out fished". More like it was hard for him to fish while people kept bugging him all day, wanting autographs, ect. I just wanted some Tarpon and I'm sure he did too. Besides it would have been easier for me if he was casting at fish. Once you have the swimming speed of the migrating tarpon down you can pretty well set your watch by when they will get to you once they pass the position ahead of you. There was a ton of smoke in the air, and visibility was poor, so my knowing when tarpon were moving down the bank would have helped alot. Being able to see him cast at fish moving down the bank would have been a major benefit, not a negative. FYI from what I understand he will sit and talk all day in his shop for those who care to. So, you don't have to bug the guy while he's fishing.:tsk_tsk:


06-13-2002, 01:08 PM
I took leftys advice and bought a cheap pair of Bolles after I lost my action optics a month or so ago. Yesterday I tossed them in the trash can cause they were horrible.

Just bought another pair of action optics and gone is the distortion and I can actually see into the water more than a foot or so. I started out with action optics when I began fly fishing so I never came to appreciate what good glasses can mean to your success. Now I do and $150 is more than worth it.

Had to dip into the ross canyon BG5 fund but a fancy reel is worthless if you cannot spot the fish you are trying to cast to.

Now to buy some corkies so I do not lose these ones.:rolleyes:


06-14-2002, 11:51 AM
Boy do I feel sheepish. Sorry about that Sean.
Where I fish there's nothing to see. When the water is clean it's very deep (rocky shoreline). When there is an occasional flat it's stained brown by tannin. And the tide swings are so big the flats come and go too fast. I just don't sight fish much. At least it was a small investment. :(
Maybe I can make it up to you with an outing. Aren't you moving to Beantown?


06-14-2002, 12:09 PM
I have had prescription Maui Jim's for years and they're great.

Only wish I could attached side shades for when I'm fishing.

06-14-2002, 12:28 PM
Ahh Lefty not your fault. They are good for driving or if I was blind casting but not for technical sight fishing. They are still nice glasses and I will use em for everday use rather than fishing.

I will be steeping foot in Beantown October 1st. We still have not found a place but we are close. Trying to decide between the north end , New Hampshire border or down south closer to the cape to buy a house.

Looks like when we first get there we will rent a place in city to get a feel for the area.

Hopefully I will be able to get one striper in before the winter really sets in.


06-14-2002, 09:35 PM
Though I may have missed it in skimming over the numerous posts, the key difference between inexpensive and quality eye wear is the the protection provided to a fisherman's most important sense, their vision. A lifetime of unrelenting, reflective light can cause various vision problems. Though cataracts can be caused by some medical conditions, ultraviolet radiation is also thought to be one possible contributing factor in their formation.

According to an an article at WebMD, "...Ultraviolet (UVA or UVB) radiation is invisible but these rays are the same culprits in causing sunburn, skin aging, and skin cancers as well as cataracts and macular degeneration (an aging-related disorder of the retina). UVB poses a particular danger for cataracts. The eyes are normally protected from the sun by eyelids and the structure of the face (overhanging brows, prominent cheekbones, and the nose). Long-term exposure to even low levels of UVB radiation, however, can eventually cause changes in the lens, including pigment changes, that contribute to cataract development."

Bottom line, if you want to see what your doing out there for a lifetime, always protect your eyes.

Tight Lines, Speynut

06-17-2002, 09:41 AM
If you haven't been told yet, being closer to the cape will yield better fishing in the SALT. But on the No. Shore people are more intelligent.:razz:
But anyway I wanted to mention that Oct. was my best month last year. The No. Shore above Boston held on while the cape was pretty much done for the season (shrug). So you could get some great outings in during that month. Each fall is different, so we'll send you where the fish are. Got a 9 wt.?


08-08-2002, 07:32 PM
FYI: I just ordered a pair of Action Optics Headwater frames with script lenses in gray through Andy at Concord Outfitters (great people there BTW).

I'll let you know how the whole thing pans out - but came in less than I imagined... sub-200.

08-09-2002, 09:22 AM
I made the mistake of purchasing the Action Optics "Wood River" frames these are not suitable for fishing you get way to much side glare the lens is to small. The wire frames have good ventilation and the nose piece is raised for even more venting I thought they would have a larger lens size than they do. Oh well I can look cool when driving around or shopping in the mall if I ever get to one!!!
Now I have to buy another pair but this time I will do so in person so as to not buy another mistake. The frames and lenses are all top quality its just that model is not for a fisher type.

08-09-2002, 09:34 AM
I too have the Action Optic Wood River sunglasses. Moldable sideshields eliminate the sidelight effectively for me when sightfishing. Action Optic has this accessory for about $7, and you can get them directly from the company if your dealer doesn't stock them.


08-09-2002, 09:49 AM
JimS, Thank you I 'm grateful I have never used the side shields but it sounds like good advice I will check with the dealer. I'm not sure but I think Action Optics might be the old "Specialized Eye Wear" that made great fisher glasses awhile back and they all came with side shields but they were all wide enough to keep the suns side glare from harming my "Beady little eyes".

08-09-2002, 01:36 PM

08-10-2002, 10:54 AM
Had an interesting conversation with my Optometrist about sun glasses, UV, and macular degeneration.

First off, MD is bad news. It means the retina is deteriorating and you will eventually become blind! It usually starts out as a defective spot on the retina which results in a void ( a black spot) in the center of your vision. As the desease progresses, the spot gets larger and eventually you are left with only periferal vision.

Sound bad? You bet! Big time!

O.K. There are two types of MD. Dry and wet. Dry type is due to the effects of UV and fair skinned, blue eyed people are the most vulnerable. (Sorry Blonde, but that's the way it is):( The best prevention is to ALWAYS wear good (sun) glasses when you go outside during daylight, overcast or not.

Now, the definition of "good" glasses are as follows:

All glass will filter 100% of the ultra vioilet spectrum.
Polycarbonate lenses will also filter out 100% of the UV spectrum.
CR39 and Acetate, (less expensive plastics) will only filter out UV [B]if[B/] a special UV coating has been applied.
So, even if you are driving your car and not wearing glasses of any kind, you are protected. It does not matter if the glass(es) are polarized, tinted, or what color tint has been applied.

The wet type MD is caused by insuffient blood flow thru the retina.The retina is a delicate, multilayered, light-sensitive membrane lining the inner eyeball and connected by the optic nerve to the brain. Delicate as like a thick cobweb! This type of MD is usually the result of other problems such as diabetes, alchohol, drug abuse or [B]smoking[B/].:whoa: Anything that leads to *ucking up your arteries.

Take care of yourself folks! Life, as we know it, will not exist if we lose our sight. Maybe "racoon eyes" ain't so bad after all.

Polarized contacts? I could go for that.:eyecrazy:

><///('> JD