August 1, 2022 | By Rachelle Schrute
Polarized sunglasses can make or break your success on the water. Here are the best fishing sunglasses for 2022.
Without the right pair of glasses, you may be left without the ability to see what you’re fishing for — in more ways than one. Sunglasses protect your eyes from harmful UV rays that can cause permanent damage to your vision, but they also provide a shield from the sharp hook you’re flinging through the air. No one wants to catch a streamer in the eye.
There are a lot of factors that go into a good pair of shades, but it really comes down to who makes the best lens that’s comfortable to wear. A good polarized lens allows you to peer through the water in ways the naked eye just can’t. Technology has come so far, and there are nearly limitless lens options for your specialty of fishing.
That being said, here are my recommendations for the shades I think will suit you well on the water.
Costa Del Mar has become one of the most well-known performance fishing sunglass manufacturers. The Lido Frame with a Green Mirror Lens ($217) is a perfect pair of shades in an area with intense direct light, where you’ll be sight fishing. The Lido is an awesome addition to your gear pile whether you’re headed to the flats to chase bonefish or to the mountains to chase trout.
These shades have a classic look, with the added function of both top and side shields. The nose pieces are adjustable without protruding, giving you a more secure fit. They are comfortable and protective, and they perform.
Costa’s 580 lenses are known for their color-enhancement capability, making distinguishing fish from their surroundings so much easier. These are an asset when sight fishing in intense light, regardless of your target.
With the option of polycarbonate or glass lenses, you have the ability to tailor your weight and durability preferences.
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Take your pick of any polarized pair of Goodr Sunglasses ($25), and you likely won’t be disappointed.
My reason is simple. I asked every fishing guide I know what sunglasses they were wearing. I made it a point to look at or ask which shades people were wearing on the river during the first big hatch of the year. My ballpark estimate is that eight out of 10 fishermen I know or have spoken with have made the leap to Goodr.
Not everyone has the budget to spend hundreds on shades, and Goodr has become the go-to for many fishermen who need the performance without the investment. They have a long list of different frame styles and lens options, each for $25.
Best of all, they have a killer warranty, particularly for a budget pair of shades.
It really is the right buy for the broke fisherman in all of us.
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The Cometa ($199) from Bajío has a cool retro look and a comfortable fit. Most notably, they stay on my ball cap when I pop them up there. If you’re a person who often puts their shades on their head, you know how irritating it can be when they flop off and don’t stay put.
As far as performance, these are top-notch. The rose mirror lenses, in particular, are incredible on small waterways. They have a really nice balance for seeing through that top water reflection without blocking out too much light. Bajío uses LAPIS technology to cut 95% of blue light up to 445nm, resulting in less eye fatigue and a crazy crisp view.
On top of that, they’re a fairly new company making pretty big waves in both the sunglass world and the conservation world. Check out our profile of the company and the work they’re doing.
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The Gatorz Delta Polarized Sunglasses ($220) are not explicitly designed for fishing, but they do the job well. This product line is designed more for shooting sports, but the lens quality and durability make it a great pair of fishing shades. The muted tones would be great for early season hunting and everyday wear, and still function well on the river. They aren’t your typical loud pair of fishing sunglasses.
The big difference between these sunglasses and the others on the list is construction. The frame is aluminum. It has a distinctly different feel than your typical pair of sunglasses, which you may love or hate.
They have adjustable nose pieces, which help the overall fit but also, the aluminum frame can be shaped to fit your face. They feel substantial in hand, and the durability is likely untouched.
A word of caution: If you’re going to leave them on the dash, make sure to do a quick temperature check before you scald your temples with sizzling aluminum. It should go without saying, metal gets hot in the sun.
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The Wiley X P-17 ($176) features a low-profile frame with a lightweight, incredibly durable polycarbonate lens. These shades have been a favorite for years both for their sleek, athletic profile and because they meet ANSI Safety Standards for high-impact resistance. That’s right — these are fishing sunglasses that are also classified as safety glasses.
All that is to say, they are durable.
One of the major perks of such an aggressive wrap style is the ability to block out ambient light from your peripheral vision. That in itself makes it an awesome shallow-water pair of shades. No one needs all that crazy bright light reflecting in from the sides.
The polarized lenses are offered in multiple colors, all of which offer 100% UVA/UVB protection.
The P-17 is a solid choice for those bright fishing scenarios, or any performance fishing situation where durability and light management are important.
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Fin-Nor ($159-209), known for building hardcore reels for heavy-duty fishing, released a new line of performance eyewear, and it does not disappoint. The Tilloo with a Blue Mirror lens ($209) is an offshore workhorse.
These shades give you the protection you need from both direct sunlight and indirect reflected light from the water’s surface. Available in polycarbonate and glass lenses, these new-to-market shades are sure to see a lot of time on the deep water.
Because they are new to the market, it’s tough to speak of durability. My experience so far is that they seem to have a quality build. Only time will tell if the Fin-Nor line of shades will measure up to the existing competitors. At this point, I have high hopes.
Smith Optics is one of the best eyewear manufacturers on the market. The Guide’s Choice with the Ignitor lens ($259) could honestly fit in any category on this list with just a simple lens swap. The frames have an aggressive wrap that’s wide at the temples, offering you top-notch protection in any condition.
Known for having phenomenal lenses, their use of Techlite glass cuts glare and reduces eye fatigue for comfortable all-day wear.
The website clearly outlines which lenses are best for which applications in an easy-to-follow chart, so don’t limit these sunglasses to lake fishing. The contrast rose lens would make these an awesome small mountain stream pair.
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The Maui Jim Makoa ($262) doesn’t look like a pair of traditional wraps, but they are. You get all the benefits of an aggressive wrap-style pair of sunglasses, with the retro look of an everyday pair of shades. Like many of the others on the list, they have customizable frames and lenses to suit your particular fishing environment.
The ultra-thin glass is incredibly scratch-resistant and offers a crisper view than most polycarbonate lenses. You add a bit of weight when you go with a glass option, but it is worth it if you’ll be in sunglasses for the majority of the day.
Maui Jim is also one of the best when it comes to prescription lenses. If you’ve got aging eyes that are struggling to see those tiny flies, they offer sunglasses with a reader lens.
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Who doesn’t love a good Aviator? The REVO Arthur ($299) shades are cool. They feature polarized crystal glass lenses with 100% UVA/UVB protection. The layered lens technology is incredibly scratch-resistant.
However, if you do beat them up, REVO offers the ability to buy their REVO Care+ Program. You can have your scratched lenses replaced for a small fee. They even cover lost or stolen shades for up to 2 years after purchase.
GearJunkie’s Nicole Qualtieri tested these on and off the water, and they quickly became her go-to for everything. Tough, durable, and cool — they fit the bill for everything from hiking to driving to a quick trip to the river.
Though these are not specifically “fishing” glasses, the lens technology is definitely up to snuff to get the job done and give you the look of the coolest ’80s action star. Win-win.
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The Waders ($65) have that cool, classic look. They’re lightweight and have a smaller build for those of us without a big ol’ dome. For $65, you get a polarized pair of fishing glasses that float.
Rheos offers a bunch of cool styles, and if you’re the type of person who misplaces sunnies (hands up, everyone) or isn’t yet balling so hard as to spend hundreds of dollars on shades, the polarization, style, and lightweight nature of the Rheos kicks butt on the water.
Better yet, even at the lower price point, a portion of the proceeds are donated to protect waterways.
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The Waterwoman ($197) is a fashion-forward choice with nearly indestructible, polarized lenses. They’ve been a hit with women on the water since they were released. The bold frame, with a wide temple and narrow fit, offers a touch of flair to a functional pair of performance fishing glasses.
These are the favorite sunnies of Nicole Qualtieri. For feminine anglers, they offer a silhouette that feels less bro-ey fishing guide, and more girl having fun on the water. Plus, the lenses are the toughest she’s ever worn. Here’s what she has to say about them:
“I’m seriously hard on sunglasses. They don’t survive me. These didn’t either; they fell in the Gallatin River in a kayak accident, never to be seen again. But, after months of devoted wear and undevoted care, they didn’t have a scratch on them. By far, the best sunnies I’ve ever worn.”
Covered by Costa’s awesome warranty, the Waterwoman is an excellent option for the ladies, or for the more fashionable gents.
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Another pair of shades is on our list with classic styling with epic performance features. The Holbrook ($212) comes in nearly unlimited frame and lens combinations, allowing you to really customize them exactly the way you want. From metal frame options to dozens of color options, the limits are few.
The Holbrook is a larger frame, lightweight, has a high nose bridge, and is a good choice for those with bigger heads, wider faces, and stronger nose builds. These are solid frames for the big dogs.
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Polarized lenses absorb horizontal light. Because the light source is coming from above and typically reflecting from a flat surface below, the majority of glare is horizontal light.
By removing that incoming light with a polarized lens, you’re left with only vertical light. The result is the ability to look through the surface of the water with far less reflecting light interfering with your view.
Think of it as being able to utilize the ambient light under the water without a light shining down on it and flashing back into your eyes
The increased visibility makes sight fishing possible, even in bright conditions. It allows you to see underwater landscape features you may have otherwise not known were there.
When choosing a lens color, it’s essential to understand which colors work best in which scenarios. Costa does a great job explaining the best lens color for your activity.
Each manufacturer will have slightly different recommendations based on the colors/finishes that they offer.
Adding a mirror finish to any color lens will help reflect even more light, giving you an increased level of visibility in bright situations.
Like all things, you have to factor in your budget, style, activity location, and what pair feel the best on your face. Honestly, the vast majority of my fishing life has been spent wearing a pair of sunglasses I bought at Town Pump. A $10 pair of polarized gas station sunnies will get the job done. So long as you find a pair that are comfortable and work for you, you’re doing it right.
Buy Croakies. And if you don’t know what Croakies are, they’re keepers for your glasses. If you take a digger and end up face down in the river, they’ll keep your glasses from leaving your body. Some of them float, which is a bonus if you’re fishing deep water.
Seriously, buy them. You won’t regret it.
As a fifth-generation Montanan, Rachelle Schrute comes from a long line of western hunters and anglers. Born in western Montana, she spent countless days chasing mountain elk and mountain trout with her family. She is heavily involved in Montana's conservation and wildlife management practices and has served in leadership roles within multiple conservation organizations. Rachelle is a certified Wilderness First Responder, and often spends her summers as a Wilderness Guide in Yellowstone National Park. When not gear testing or writing, you can likely find her hunting, hiking, fishing, and cooking wild game with her two children.
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