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Buying the best trout fishing sunglasses for your money

Sun glasses are among the most important pieces of equipment for fly fishing, they are even quite useful for Spin fishing. I certainly do not head to my local river or stream without a pair of polarised glasses.

They make seeing through the glare significantly easier, which assists greatly in spotting trout or likely lays. Now, they do not work miracles, and they are certainly not as impressive as the ‘comparison’ photos on advertisements but they do make a difference.

Why Wear Sunglasses When Trout Fishing

Eye Protection.

This is by far the main reason ever angler should be wearing sunglasses while fly fishing. They provide excellent protection to the eye. Removing a badly cast fly from your ear or chin hurts, but can you imagine how much it will hurt, and the potential damage from a hook in the eye. Even if you are the best caster in the world, the person nearby might not be. I always wear glasses when fly fishing.

In addition sunglasses protects the eyes from UV, having sunburnt eyes is not fun. I have suffered from it several times and usually results in seeing pink for the next few days is not much fun. The sun rays hit the water and reflects back off hitting our eyes. The effect is very similar to snow blindness. I usually get it after a day on the water without my glasses. Can even happen in the middle of winter, so time of year is no protection.

The final protection sunglasses offers is simply from the environment. There is small insects, wind blown sand which all can irritate the eyes. Also protects against stray twigs and branches when pushing through riverside vegetation.

Makes sight fishing easier

Wearing polaroid sunglasses makes spotting trout easier, they not only cut down the glare making it easier to see through the water, different colors also improves contrast which also makes spotting trout easier.

This makes trout easier to see, but also makes the floor of the river easier to see. This assists in identifying likely looking lays, and also makes wading significantly safer. Less guess work when taking the next step.

This brings me onto the next point, different color lenes suits different lighting conditions.

Best color Sunglasses for trout fishing?

  • Amber/Copper: If you are buying one pair of sunglases just for trout fishing then make sure they have amber lens. Amber lenses offers the best contrast enhancement making it easier to identify trout between the rocks.
  • Yellow: Very similar to amber but brighter, yellow lenses allow more light in making them slightly better in low light or overcast conditions.
  • green: I have never worn green lenses, but apparently they are also very good for dull low light conditions. This is because our eyes are most sensitive to the color green, so green lenses make everything really stand out.
  • Grey / blue: Best color for very bright and sunny conditions. If the light is simply too bright then grey lenses are the best at dulling the light. They are a good option for boat fishing in open water.

Do expensive sunglasses provide better polarisation?

In my experinnce, price does not make a difference. For my eyes, the $20 service station specials were just as effective as the $200+ Smiths, Oakleys, Ray bans ect.

So paying more is not going to get your better polorization. What you do gain is a more durable coating, which prolongs the longevity of the polarisation.

I will also note, I do not trust the extremely cheap, $2 models. At this price range they might not even having all the coatings which their marketing claims.

Are expensive sunglasses worth it for trout fishing?

I like my expensive sunglasses, but there is certainly diminishing returns the more you spin. The more you spend the more durable and scratch resistant the coatings become. The lenses also become more optically correct, there is less distortion. Although, unless I compare an expensive lens next to a budget lens I do not notice the difference when out on the river.

I will also add, I can not tell much of a difference between an expensive polycarbonate lens and a much more affordable one. They are still the same base material after all. But, there is a noticeable jump in quality going for a polycarbonate lens to a glass lens.

Glass is a lot more scratch resistance, offers better clarity and in my opinion is more optically correct. There is less distortion around the edge of the lens. Now, glass lenses do have a few drawbacks. The first is that glass is less impact resistant than polycarbonate, I know some people fear a glass might will shattering sending glass shards into the eye… but to be honest, I could not find any examples of that happening.

Another more noticeable drawback of glass is weight. I can easily notice the increase in weight when wearing glass lens Spotters or Smiths compared with polycarbonate equivalent.

I do enjoy wearing and using glass lens glasses, they just feel more premium, offer better scratch resistant and the clarity reduces the strain on the eye. But, I certainly do not spot more fish when wearing them.

Sunglass Sharp and Design

Wide, round lenses block more light and reduces strain. If you want maximum assistance larger lens glasses do a better job than more stylish slim designs. Some even offer a wrap around design which helps block glare from the sides.

Some sunglass designs trap a lot more condensation and stream than the others. It is not normally a problem when just walking, but if you are paddling hard to a fishing spot some glasses steam up so much they become unusable.

I have found sunglasses, with minimal frames trap less condensation than full frame glasses. It is all about maximizing airflow between the face and less.

Some sunglasses come with coatings which are suppose to be reduce condensation. I honestly do not think it makes a difference.

Model and Brands Suggestions.

There are a lot of sunglass brands and models on the market, too many for most people to try. Over the last decade, I have probably worn 30 pairs. I am rough on them, and often lose them. Most Sunglass brands belong to the same Italian parent company. There is also massive mark-ups on some models. Shopping around, and looking at clearance stalls can result in significant savings.

Premium Models

Ray-Ban, Oakley, Costa Del Mar are all brands from the same manufacturer. Styling differences aside, these glasses are all quite similar in performance.

All carry a premium price tag, which I honestly do not think they deserve. So unless you really like the styling, or find them heavily discounted there are better options on the market.

Maui Jim

These share the same parent company as the above, but they are arguably contain the best lenses on the market. They also come with an excellent warranty and customer support. It is usably possible to purchase replacement lenses and parts which can greatly prolong the life of your glasses.


I really like my Smith glasses, they hold up to abuse and the glass lenses are very difficult to scratch. They have one of the best warranties in the business.

I had mine for years before losing them one day in a flooded river. Two years later, during a drought I found them again several hundred yards downstream half buried at the bottom of a deep pool. The frame was intact, although one lens was missing and the other was pretty badly scratched. Still quite impressive high well they held up.

Budget Polarised Sunglasses.


Suncloud are the budget brand of one of the premium manufacturers, and for slightly less warranty support you get very good glasses for around $50 , I generally lose glasses, before they break so Suncloud are a great option.

Rheos Nautical

Another brand for around $50. These glasses float, so no need to go swimming if you drop them while fishing from a boat. Comes in a wide range of lens colors suitable for fishing.

KastKing Skidaway

Decent glasses for under $30. I am not a fan of the orange highlight to the frame, but I do sometimes fish with bright yellow frames… So a good option on a budget

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