Whether or not you’re serious about fishing, good quality polarized glasses can make all the difference in the world. I’ve worn polarized sunglasses since I was a teenager (I believe I bought my first pair at age 15) but for quite a few years I wore the inexpensive kind. As I get older, and my eyes are not quite what they used to be, I wish I would have switched to a quality pair of polarized glasses years ago. For the last four-years I’ve worn Costa sunglasses and I cannot believe the difference between these and the “bargain” glasses I used to wear.
There are a number of reasons why good polarized glasses are helpful for you. First off, they cut down the glare on the water so you don’t have to squint or strain your eyes all day. I remember one day, about 25 or 30-years ago, when I forgot my polarized glasses and went out fishing with just a regular pair of sunglasses. After spending the day on the water I couldn’t believe the headaches I had that evening from being out all day without proper eye protection.
High quality lenses are another reason to pick premium glasses over the bargain brands. Inexpensive lenses are not always optically correct and they often contain small flaws that end up causing blurring. That puts stress on your eyes that can make them red, sore and teary. Low quality lenses are also more prone to scratching, which makes it hard to see clearly and can also lead to eye strain. Too much eye stress and strain can actually lead to permanent eye problems. That could mean you end up wearing corrective glasses years earlier than if you had protected your eyes properly.
Good eyewear can also help protect your eyes from some of the hazards we face as anglers. I remember a time when I was fishing for largemouth bass in Florida and decided to swing a largemouth into the boat with my flipping stick. As I was lifting the fish, the ½-ounce jig sling-shotted out of its mouth and hit me square in the lens of my sunglasses. The lens shattered but didn’t thoroughly break and to this day I think that my sunglasses probably saved me from being blind in one eye. Of course good glasses can protect your eyes from other hazards like twigs, dust and bugs too.
The main reason I like good polarized glasses is so I can see what’s under the water. When light reflects off of flat surfaces, such as a lake or river, the light waves create intense glare. The filters in polarized lenses block these horizontal light waves, substantially reducing the blinding glare and creating greater visibility in the water. Personally, I use three different lens colours for the various fishing conditions I encounter. My favourite all-around glasses have gray lenses, which are especially good on really bright days. Amber coloured lens offer the brightest field of vision and they make a good choice for high-contrast sight fishing. For early in the morning, late in the day or on dark, overcast days I use the sunrise lens. They offer high contrast and allow maximum light transmission.
With the right coloured lens you’ll be able to see weedbeds, weed patches, dark spots on the bottom, rocks, logs and maybe even fish that you couldn’t see without polarized lenses. A case in point is when my son Darren and I won a Renegade Bass tournament a number of years ago. We were fishing on a flat, catching some big smallmouth bass by wacky rigging. At one point my son spotted a bass and pointed to it. I looked down and there was a giant smallmouth sitting by a boulder in about eight feet of water, about 10-feet away from the boat. I asked Darren to hand me a rod that was rigged with a tube bait. He picked it up, slowly passed it to me and I made an underhand pitch about five-feet beyond the smallmouth. Then I dragged the tube up to within about a foot from the fish and let it sit. I was just about to drag it away when that fish tilted up and sucked the bait in. I set the hook and before it even had time to fight Darren had a net under it. That bass weighed over six-pounds and anchored our limit that weighed just under 24-pounds! We ended up winning the tournament, as well as the big fish award, with that fish. Had we not been wearing polarized sunglasses I guarantee you that neither of us would have seen that bass and I probably would have spooked it with the electric motor.
I’ve got dozens of other stories about how polarized sunglasses have helped me to catch fish, but I don’t have room here to tell you about all of them. Let’s just say that my polarized sunglasses are so important to my success on the water that I won’t go fishing without them.