Selecting the Best Polarized Lens Color for Sight Fishing
Sunglasses have come to be a basic part of most anglers’ gear. I have become so dependent on my sunglasses that I cannot even walk to my vehicle, much less go on a boat without them. Fishing without a pair of polarized sunglasses is not even an option. After all, sunglasses protect anglers’ eyes from glare, potential damage from long-term exposure to the sun, as well as provides a degree of safety when it comes to flying hooks, weights etc. What it boils down to is that a good pair of polarized sunglasses matched up with the right color lenses for the conditions that you are fishing makes spotting fish much easier, will make you a better angler as well as produce more bent rods for you and your crew. There’s nothing more important than selecting the best polarized lens color for sight fishing if you want a successful day on the water.
What a Professional Angler Can tell Us
Mike Holiday is a 36-year veteran guide in South Florida, and he is also Saltwater Community Leader for Bajio sunglasses and he gives us some very good, to the point, information about selecting the best polarized lens color for sight fishing use.
“There are a few things I look for in my sight fishing sunglasses,” Holiday said. “First, I want an eight-base wrap. Which means the frame and lenses are curved, so the frame wraps around your face and keeps light from penetrating on the sides. At the same time, the eight base gives you more peripheral vision so you pick up movement easier.”
“I personally use the Bajio Bales Beach with violet mirror lenses. These are high contrast lenses, so I can see fish that blend in the environment through their movement or shapes. I like wide temples on the sunglasses for blocking light as well, and I want a lens that has at least 15% light transmission which lets you see deeper into the water with extreme color variations. That lets you see what you are casting at whether it’s a sandy pothole, a rock, or a moving fish. You also pick up a lot of reflected light off of fish,” he said.
Specific Water Conditions
Holiday said that there’s a wide variation in water clarity conditions from day to day, and this means anglers’ needs for different sunglasses also changes.
When it comes to cloudy or stained water, he pointed out that tannic or stained water has a specific glow to it.
“Tannic or stained water has a specific glow to it, and it seems the brown or copper-based lenses which are around 14% to 16% light transmission work best in those conditions,” Holiday said. “My choice would be a green mirror lens or a silver mirror with a copper base to help provide contrast. Contrast in dirty water will give you depth variations, so even if you can’t sight fish the fish, you can tell where to cast and where the edges, drop-offs, and holes are located. In clear water, whether it’s tannic or crystal clear, I want the lenses with the most light transmission, so I like the rose base lenses (rose or violet mirror). which have at least 16% and 18% light transmission.”
Then There is Specific Light conditions
Just as water clarity and color can change, so can the amount and nature of sunlight vary and anglers need to adjust to changing daylight conditions.
“It depends on where and when you’re fishing. In low light conditions (dawn, dusk, and overcast days), the higher the light transmission, the better you are going to see into the water, so a rose or violet mirror (rose base) are going to be best. In bright skies a lot of anglers will back off to a 10% to 15% light transmission lens,” Holiday explained. “I personally wear the high contrast transmission lenses at all times because they let me see fish before everyone else. I have brown eyes, but if you have light colored eyes, you may get some eye fatigue wearing those high light transmission glasses in the middle of the day without a hat.”
So, What Makes the Lenses Work in Different Ways?
It’s a reasonable question for anglers to ask why these sunglass lens differences work the way they do in different conditions.
“Light produces glare, and the more light you have, the more you need to control the amount of light reaching your eyes to get the best color recognition and definition,” Holiday said. “But it all starts with lens clarity. High energy blue light produces glare, haze, and blocks color transmission, which is why Bajio blocks 95% of high energy blue light while letting the good blue light through. What you get is less haze so a clearer lens that allows you to see through the glare and pick up colors better. Once you control the harsh blue light, you want to work on color definition deeper into the water column. In low light or cloudy conditions, you want to let more light reach your eyes so you see color better and deeper into the water.”
If the Worst Happened and You could only have ONE pair of sunglasses?
“Bajio Bales Beach with violet mirror lenses. They are my “go-to” sunglasses that I wear every day, no matter the conditions,” Holiday laughingly said. “They have the best eye protection, block the most blue light so are super clear and have amazing color recognition and definition. I call them my ‘Oh, Shoot!’ glasses because my clients will say, ‘How are you seeing those fish before me? I have polarized sunglasses on’ And I’ll hand the glasses to them and let them put them on, and they all say, ’Oh, shoot!’ You just have to put a pair on and step outside. The clarity and colors are immediately obvious.”