The Best Sunglasses for Fly Fishing | Fly Fishing Insider Podcast

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The Best Sunglasses for Fly Fishing

Fly fishing relies heavily on your eyes and some of the best fly fishing is sight fishing.  In order to sight fish it is critical to block glare and improve light transmission so you can see the fish as a target.  Polarized lenses are paramount to successful angling and a staple to the fly fishing gear set.
Here's a comprehensive overview of the three best sunglasses manufacturers for fly fishing: Bajio, Costa Del Mar, and Smith Sunglasses. Each brand stands out for its unique features, making them favorites among fly fishing anglers. Although there are others that can get you by as an angler regarding polarized sunglasses, these three are the creme de la creme of angling sunglasses. 

Bajio Sunglasses

Polarization & Lens Quality: Bajio sets itself apart with its focus on blue light reduction. Their LAPIS technology removes 95% of blue light up to 445 nm, surpassing other brands. This technology enhances clarity, color, and reduces glare, haze, and blur, resulting in superior visual quality for fishing​​.

Models & Lens Color: Bajio offers a wide range of frame styles and shapes, made from sustainable materials like bio-based nylon. They provide seven lens colors for different lighting conditions, and you can choose between polycarbonate or glass lenses for each color​​. Glass is optimal for durability but is a little heavier than polycarbonate.

Light Transmission & Durability: The reduction of blue light significantly improves clarity, allowing you to see further and deeper. Bajio's frames, notably made from castor plants, are praised for being robust and durable, reportedly 13 times stronger than common bio-plastics​​. When the founders of Bajio separated from Costa Del Mar they set out with the specific intentions of outperforming their predecessors.

Warranty: Bajio's warranty policy is competitive.  They require a 30-day return in a salable condition. Additionally, they have a lifetime manufacturer warranty.  Basically, if you didn’t cause the breakage then they will get replaced.  Check their website for more information on the warranty.

Costa Del Mar

Polarization & Lens Quality: Costa's 580 series lenses are lauded for their high clarity, boosting colors and contrast by blocking yellow and blue light. This enhances visibility, particularly useful for sighting fish and tracking flies​​.

Models & Lens Color: These sunglasses come in various color and mirror combinations, designed to suit diverse light and water conditions. Costa also offers a more affordable 400 series lens, still providing 100% UV blockage and polarization but without the enhanced color and contrast features of the 580 series​​.

Light Transmission & Durability: Costa offers a choice between glass and plastic lenses. Glass lenses provide superior clarity and scratch resistance but are heavier. Plastic lenses are lighter, more comfortable, and impact-resistant but less scratch-resistant​​.

Warranty: Costa Del Mar sunglasses are hand-built in Florida and backed by a lifetime warranty, affirming their commitment to quality​​. Check their website for more information on the warranty.

Smith Sunglasses

Polarization & Lens Quality: Smith's ChromaPop Polarchromic Ignitor lenses offer vivid colors, exceptional clarity, and contrast. These lenses adapt to changing light conditions, providing 100% protection from harmful UVA/B/C rays​​.

Models & Lens Color: Smith offers a range of styles and colors. The user experience confirms the smooth transition between different light conditions and the true-to-form color representation​​.

Light Transmission & Durability: The ChromaPop lenses provide sharp clarity in various lighting, but detailed information on light transmission percentages was not something I could find.

Warranty: Smith offers a limited lifetime warranty for their sunglasses, covering the manufacturer's defects. This warranty applies only to authentic Smith products purchased from authorized dealers or directly from their website​​​​.

Bajio, Costa Del Mar, and Smith Sunglasses each offer unique features making them top choices for fly fishing enthusiasts. While Bajio excels in blue light reduction and sustainable practices, Costa Del Mar is known for its high clarity and diverse lens options, and Smith Sunglasses is recognized for its ChromaPop technology and adaptability to changing light conditions. When choosing sunglasses for fly fishing, consider factors like lens quality, model variety, light transmission, color options, durability, and warranty to find the best fit for your needs.

I recommend finding a pair of sunglasses that fit your face and provide ample coverage for your eyes from light so they can perform their best.  When selecting sunglasses, I’m a fan of the Bajio model. They have really turned it on as of late to outperform their competitors. They also have put significant consideration in the conservation and ecofriendlyness of their brand. Smith would be my second option.  The light-adjusting ChromaPop technology is a fan of many anglers. I unfortunately haven’t had the same experience of durability as I’ve had with the others.  Although the lenses are nice I find that the frames have not held up as well for me but they seem to fall out of the warranty policy.  Costa Del Mar has nice glasses and lenses.  I do sometimes find it hard to find the optimal lens make and color in the frames that I prefer.  

To help in your selection process I’m including a list of pros and cons for each manufacturer to be considered.

Bajio Sunglasses

Pros:

  • Advanced blue light reduction with LAPIS technology.
  • Wide range of sustainable frame styles and materials.
  • Seven lens colors for different lighting conditions.
  • Choice between polycarbonate and glass lenses.
  • Enhanced clarity and depth perception.

Cons:

  • Relatively new in the market (since 2021).

  • Warranty information not readily available.

Costa Del Mar

Pros:

  • 580 series lenses offer high clarity and color contrast.
  • Both affordable and premium lens options available.
  • Hand-built quality with a lifetime warranty.
  • Choice between glass and plastic lenses.
  • KICK PLASTIC initiative for environmental conservation.

Cons:

  • Glass lenses can be heavy.

  • Plastic lenses more prone to scratches.

Smith Sunglasses

Pros:

  • ChromaPop technology for vivid colors and clarity.
  • Lenses adapt to changing light conditions.
  • 100% protection from harmful UVA/B/C rays.
  • Limited lifetime warranty on sunglasses and goggles.
  • Range of styles and colors.

Cons:

  • Specific light transmission percentages not detailed.

  • Limited information on the variety of lens colors.

Best of luck picking out a pair of sunglasses.  A word of advice is that each brand has great sunglasess and you can't really go wrong.  However, depending on your individual eye sight certain colors and lens designs can affect your sight.  Try a pair, alter lens colors dependent on light conditions and you'll soon find what you like best.  A last tip is t tilt your head to the side when looking.  This will change the light refraction and cause the view to look differently. This can be an old pros tip when sight fishing ;-)

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 Christian Bacasa, Host of the Fly Fishing Insider Podcast

By Christian Bacasa
Host of the Fly Fishing Insider Podcast
www.ffipodcast.com
@flyfishinginsiderpodcast
@dupeafish 

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