Choosing the Best Polarized Fishing Sunglasses
Al Perkinson, CEO of Bajio Sunglasses, has been in the high-end sunglasses business for a long time, and after working with some of the top brands, he has struck out with a team of dedicated and talented sunglass professionals to create quality polarized fishing sunglasses.
“I’m the founder and CEO of the company. We have been in the market now for almost a year. We make sunglasses primarily for the fishing community. And so our glasses are very intentionally built so that our frames and our lens technology all help people see fish better and be comfortable all day long,” Perkinson said.
“When you’re fishing, you’re out in the sun. You’re on a boat all day long for hours and hours. And if your eyes are hurting or your eyewear is not comfortable, it just makes the experience not nearly as much fun,” he added.
Good for the Planet
It’s not enough to produce a good product.
“You know, we strive to be carbon neutral and we’re carbon neutral from the inception. And then we have a purpose. We’re very much engaged in helping the oceans get healthier. Our focus is on that strip that’s really close to the land called the saltwater flats- the nursery, estuary for the ocean that’s super-important to the future health of the oceans. We’re doing a lot of things to engage in the fight to keep these parts of the ocean healthy.”
Lens Color- Not all Colors Work the Same
Polarized sunglasses lenses come in a wide range of colors and even mirror finishes, and the choice for anglers can be confusing. Most anglers who rely on their polarized fishing sunglasses have colors they prefer in their lenses, but it is a good thing for all anglers to know that there are many different colors or lenses which might work better in certain situations.
Perkinson said that color has more to do with the level of contrast you’re going to see.
“If you think of the gray-base colors, these are going to be very low contrast. Everything looks kind of like it does naturally, but just darker. People who are sight fishing are usually looking for fish against the bottom. So they want a lens that’s going to be more high contrast. That’s where you get into the brown color family. And the lens color can go from brown to copper to vermillion to red. And the more red, the more contrast you’re going to have,” Perkinson explained.
“If you’re trying to look down into the water column, no matter what color the water is, you are going to see better with a brown, copper, rose based lens. You’re going to see the fish better, no matter what color water you’re in. We don’t build our lenses for water color: we just sort of build them for light conditions.”
When asked if there is a “middle ground” for polarized fishing sunglasses and if an angler could only have a single pair of polarized sunglasses, what would he recommend, Perkinson said that he thought the middle-ground is going to be a lens with 14 or 15 percent light transmission level.
“So for us, the Silver Mirror and Rose Mirror/Red Base lenses are smack dab in the middle. The Rose Mirror has got a copper base to it, so it’s a little bit brown and it’s a little bit red. It’s kind of like your middle of the road lens. If you only got one pair, that’s probably the pair you want to get,” he said.
The Copper Base lens is a great high contrast lens for spotting underwater structure and fish. Many anglers wear this lens all day in a wide variety of conditions.
Benefits of Polarized Sunglasses
One of the basic functions of sunglasses in general, and polarized lenses in particular, is that they limit the amount of light actually reaching the eye.
“Visual light transmission or VLT is an important factor of good sunglasses. This is how much light is actually coming through the lens and how much is blocked. There are standards on this. If the light transmission is below nine to nine and a half percent, you can’t drive in them. It’s illegal to drive using these glasses because they are so dark. So most sunglass lenses will start with around 10 to 11 percent transmission. So a lot of the blues and greens- super dark colors- will have very low light transmission. And then you’ve seen yellow lenses that some brands have, and these admit up to around 20 to 24 percent light- so these lenses would be for low light- super low light. The blues and greens would be for high light situations,” Perkinson noted.
Many polarized sunglasses intended for anglers have mirror finishes, and other than looking cool, these finishes can have some effect on what the angler sees.
Perkinson said that all the mirrors do the same things. It’s to reduce light transmission by about two percent.
“I felt like we needed lenses that would hit everybody’s needs. And so we created a bit of a system. So we start with 10% light transmission- that’s blue. Then we go to 12% light transmission- that’s green. Then we go to the 14 or 15% range with silver. We go to 16% transmission with pink, and then we’ll be coming out with our version of the super-low light lens. It’s not yellow- it will actually be purple- that’ll be around 18 or 19%. We just want to simplify it for people so you know what light transmission is associated with each color,” he explained.
Plastic or Glass?
Basically, the best polarized sunglasses for fishing have lenses that are made of either glass or plastic, and anglers might wonder which material is superior for glasses to be used on the water. For a long time, anglers assumed that glass lenses would be better than plastic lenses, but with developments in plastic lens manufacture and research, this might not be true anymore.
According to Perkinson, the biggest difference is that glass lenses are harder, and they don’t scratch as easily but when it comes to clarity, the human eye cannot tell the difference.
“So it’s really not about glass being more clear, more pure, and plastic being less. The plastics we make these days are so sophisticated that there’s not many impurities there, and they’re super clear. So really, it’s about hardness,” Perkinson said.
“And plastic lenses can be more sophisticated in their construction, and purely from an optical standpoint, are actually going to be better than the glass ones. In fact, almost all polarized prescription sunglasses are done in plastic,” Perkinson added.
While sunglasses are not really too heavy, a long day of wearing a pair of heavy glasses can wear an angler down. Glass lenses tend to be heavier than plastic lenses, so for many, the lighter weight of plastic lenses is a big advantage.