How to Find the Right Set of Polarized Lenses for Freshwater Fishing
Anglers often forget the importance of a quality pair of sunglasses. Whether you are casually fishing with the family or running and gunning to catch that big tournament bag, sunglasses have a profound impact on your safety and success.
We all know that putting on a pair of shades in bright sunlight keeps us from squinting and makes visualization easier. The shading effect of sunglasses actually widens our pupils and allows easier access for harmful sun rays to enter. In fact it has been stated that by age 60 our eyes are exposed to enough UV light at an amount comparable to a nuclear blast.
Some lenses are made to block these harmful UVA and UVB rays while allowing certain good lights to enter. These “good light wavelengths” are what our eyes use to form images that we see. In addition certain sunglasses really help to decrease or eliminate the pesky glare that can distort images. These are a few of the many reasons to consider wearing a quality pair of sunglasses while enjoying the outdoors.
Freshwater fishing has dramatically increased in popularity with the addition of many bass fishing organizations and clubs. With this increase in popularity come new innovations to better protect anglers and make angling more enjoyable and give them a competitive edge. There is no exception to these innovations when it comes to quality sunglasses for fishermen.
So polarized or not? Well, there is a substantial difference that can only truly be experienced by trying on a pair and comparing the two for your self.
Polarized lenses block horizontal glare from the sun greatly increasing underwater visibility. In addition most polarized lenses also block the UVA and UVB harmful sunrays.
Non-polarized lenses merely dim all light wavelengths of light, while the polarized versions selectively filter the light. These benefits are not free though; they come at an increased cost to the non-polarized versions.
Materials and proper fit are other crucial elements to finding a great pair of sunglasses. There are lense options available for polarized lenses.
Polycarbonate lenses are “plastic type lenses” with better visual properties than routine plastic lenses. Polycarbonate lenses can be polarized and can block harmful rays. Though not as prone to breaking if dropped as glass, they are more likely to scratch. The benefit of polycarbonate lenses, they are relatively lighter for those long days on the water and also usually come at a decreased cost.
Glass offers superior optical clarity, but at the expense of being a heavier material. Glass although more resistant to scratching will break if dropped directly on the lense.
Plastic lenses also have their place. Certain plastics have been shown to reflect light at similar angles as glass. This characteristic of chromatic aberration helps to better eliminate glare and improve clarity.
Glass, plastic and polycarbonate lenses are available in a multitude of colors. I have found that anything with a grey base is better for the very bright days. For generally cloudy midday and afternoons the amber/copper base lenses tend to perform better. And early morning/low light conditions a yellow base tends to offer better performance.
In addition, a proper fit is essential for the best performance of your sunglasses. The frames should be somewhat rounded in shape that best suits your facial features. They should not cause indentions or abrasions on your face, but let as little ambient light around the edges as possible. A few manufacturers offer rubber nose and temple pad materials that grip well, even when wet, which is great if you are sweating or have water on your face.
I have done some research and found that the majority of competitive bass fisherman have a few brands that always seem to top the list as the best performers. I hope to compare these brands of high quality sunglasses in order that you may make a well-informed decision when purchasing.
Figure 1: no glasses
Figure 2: unpolarized lense--unretouched
Figure 3: polarized lense--unretouched
Known for their exceptional quality Maui is well known by outdoor enthusiast worldwide. Maui has more recently extended their product line with the on the water collection that is more fishing specific and designed with input from anglers. The surf riders and peahi in this review feature the super thin glass lense in amber and high light transmission respectively. Maui has 4 lense options available, Maui pure, Maui evolution, polycarbonate and super thin glass.
Their Polarized Plus2 lens technology has up to nine layers of polarization that are able to block 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays as well as 99.9 percent harmful glare making spotting fish and finding underwater structure easier. When you put on these glasses the color enhancement is superb and contrast is good. The amber lenses did not seem as dark as some of the other competitors, which seemed to accentuate colors, but at the expense of allowing somewhat less contrast. The high lights transmission lenses also provided great color transmission and a slight yellow tint that was just right for low light situations.
Maui Jim is known for using rare earth elements in their lenses, which results in this unique color enhancement. Their lenses also feature a unique bi-gradient mirror that adds protection from light and reduces eye fatigue. A waterproof and oleophobic coating repels water and grease, making smudges and fingerprints easier to wipe away. Lets face it, we are fishermen, and stuff is going to get on these lenses. Lastly the CleArshell scratch-resistant treatment helps the polycarbonate type lenses better avoid scratches.
The frames are very nice and sport extra wide temples to help reduce side glare. The full nylon or gridlock frames are similar to the competitor’s frames making the glasses nice and light for those long days.
Both models sport anti corrosive hinges that are external, which I was not sold on, but I quickly found that it allows more freedom of movement and in turn it is more able to conform to many facial shapes and sizes.
The rubber nosepiece is a great feature to assist angler with slippage on those hot active days. I would like to see the temple rubber pieces for added stability in future models.
Maui Jim offers a warranty 2 years from the purchase date for manufacturers defects.
Negatives for the either model? This surf rider sits somewhat low on my brow line, which allowed more ambient light from above than other models. Again, of utmost importance, make sure to try on many frames to find the ones that fit best.
The glass is super light and while colors really seem to be accentuated, I prefer just a bit darker tint on the amber model surf riders for the added contrast on brighter days.
Maui Jim has been around for a long time and continues to put out a quality product. Maui Jim is well known for its color enhancement lenses and total craftsmanship. Their on the water collection is designed by fishermen and is a quality product that bass fishermen should definitely check out before deciding on a final purchase. Mauijim.com
Figure 4: surf rider
Figure 5: surf rider
Figure 6: Peahi
Figure 7: Peahi
A relative newcomer to performance sunglasses is Onos. They were widely recommended by many anglers, especially ones that benefit from the use of integrated reader lenses. Ono's are the first sunglasses ever to combine all the features active adults want and need into one total package.
Active farsighted anglers can enjoy fishing without the hassle of switching glasses. With Ono's polarized sunglasses with readers built in, anglers can enjoy a new dimension of comfort, convenience, and style without the prescription price of bifocals. Their lenses are available as a single vision lense or their polarized low-reader lense.
One of the products that I have for testing is the Oak Harbor sunglasses that feature a blue mirror CR-39 lense and TR-90 frame.
The CR-90 lense is a polarized plastic lense that has been shown to compare closer to glass lenses than most other plastic and polycarbonate lenses. They also offer 100 percent UVA/UVB protection.
I was skeptical of these lenses before trying them on, but after I am very impressed. The color and contrast is very good. Colors are somewhat blunted with the blue mirror/grey finish, as to be expected. The lenses are available in 4 colors: grey, blue mirror, amber, and green mirror.
The frames feature a TR-90 thermoplastic material that is extremely light for a full frame pair of sunglasses. In addition the internal hinge design prevents rubbing in the temple area, and helps to protect these valuable parts. This frame also feature the anti-slip hydrophilic (water loving) nose and ear pads for added stability. The oak harbors are very light and the anti-slip pads are super nice for that extra grip during activities.
The second product is the Walloona from the Hemingway collection. The Hemingway collection was formed from the inspiration of the great American author and avid outdoorsman Ernest Hemingway.
Walloona frame style features a high-gloss TR-90 memory-flex Tortoise frame, featuring Ophthalmic Quality HI-VEX polarized Amber lens. These lenses offer good color and contrast as well, especially with the amber base lense. In this particular series only certain lenses are offered with the styles of frames. Amber and grey are available.
The frames are more rigid than the oak harbor, and feature a tortoise color with the TR-90 memory flex frame with Italian external spring flex hinges. The external hinges seem to conform better to different facial shapes, but at the expense of constant exposure. To maintain the stability while wearing, the also feature the non-slip nose and temple pads as well as a rubber brow for added shock absorption.
The negatives of the Onos line? The lenses are only offered in the plastic lenses at this time. Maybe the addition of glass technology would be an added benefit. In addition the Oak Harbor internal hinges were a bit less forgiving than that of the external hinge of the Walloona, but that really is to be expected.
Onos has certainly made a quick positive reputation among freshwater anglers, particularly ones that require the use of reader lenses. They make a quality product and have extended their line with the stylish Hemingway collection. In addition Onos feature a lifetime warranty against defects due to materials or labor. With their large selection and options to personalize, Onos sunglasses should not be overlooked. ONOS Sunglasses Polarized Reader Bifocals | ONOS Sunglasses
Figure 8: Walloona
Figure 9: Walloona
Figure 10: Oak Harbor
Figure 11: Oak Harbor