Anglers know that eyes are the most important tool they have to scan water surfaces: no matter what species you’re after, if you want to sight fish and catch the fish, you first have to see it!
Sight fishing can be one of the most exciting and fun ways to catch the fish when you’re out in clean waters.
Sight fishing means to see the fish first (before it sees you!) and trying to tempt it to eat your fly, bait or lure.
That’s why one of the most important pieces to have in one’s equipment is a pair of good polarized sunglasses that will help you see better.
Tricking a fish into biting your lure will test your patience and nerves, and there’s a small margin for error, too. Polarized sunglasses are universally recognized as a better option than conventional eyewear and are popular and loved by all fishermen.
People who often go sight fishing own at least one pair of such glasses.
Polarized sunglasses will not only help you to see more clearly by filtering out lighting, but they will also protect your eyes.
The light reflected by water has an intensity of up to 90% higher than direct sunlight, making it more aggressive to the eyes and possibly causing permanent damage.
The best fishing sunglasses are those whose lens will allow you to spot your fish behind the water surface and this is the main reason you should choose them over conventional sunglasses.
Why choosing polarized sunglasses for sight fishing?
Despite sight fishing sounds relatively easy, oftentimes it’s not. Your eyes require the right equipment, too.
Polarized sunglasses are especially useful when you’re using your sight to check the water for a long time, as they reduce glare from surfaces such as water or glass and will make your eyes feel less stressed.
Polarized sunglasses use a filter that only allows vertically oriented light to come through. They work as a barrier to block the horizontally oriented light, in order to get rid of the glare almost completely. As a result, the eyes will feel less tired when having to adjust to changing light conditions.
The benefit when sight fishing is that fish will be spotted more easily, no matter if you’re on a river, sea or lake: you’ll be able to easily read any body of water. A characteristic to look for when buying your fishing sunglasses is also protection from UV rays. Besides protecting your sight from light, the best fishing sunglasses will also keep your eyes safe from water, sand and dust that may annoy you while you’re out on your fishing trip. Last but not least, it’s also important to choose scratch-resistant and an anti-fog lens.
Some sunglasses, in fact, are equipped with coatings that can remove condensation of moisture on your glasses and help your vision to stay clear.
Another useful coating for fisherman is Hydrophobic Lens Coating: this will repel water drops from lens surface and is particularly useful when saltwater fishing.
In these situations, in fact, the risk is that the salt will scratch your lenses when you wipe them to remove the water. A hydrophobic coating makes lenses easier to clean and reduces the chance of damage.
Polarized vs Non-Polarized
The difference between polarized and non-polarized sunglasses is that non-polarized lenses are inefficient at reducing and minimizing the effect of glare and less helpful when you need a clear, contrasted vision of the water.
Therefore, they are not the ideal choice for those who practice sight fishing. Polarized sunglasses are usually recognized as the best choice for fishermen, as they can make a huge difference: they enhance clarity of vision, convey any color faithfully, diminish glare and reflections and increase visual comfort.
No wonders they are usually more expensive than conventional eyewear, but they’re worth the investment for those who go fishing regularly.
If you’re not sure whether the pair of sunglasses you already own is polarized, bring it to a store and grab a polarized pair from the shelf.
Then place your sunglasses at a 90-degree angle to the lens of the store pair: if the lenses turn dark or nearly black, your sunglasses are polarized.
How to choose the best fishing sunglasses
Sunglasses lens colors absolutely matter when fishing. While a darker shade is advised for situations where light is extremely bright, the best shade you can choose for sight fishing is copper, or a mirrored variant of copper.
Green and gray lenses are generally more comfortable but average in terms of contrast. Copper can be uncomfortable in the bright sun, but offers the most contrast.
If the light is particularly bright, wear the copper with a mirror. Many sunglasses offer a combination of two different colors in their lenses: one main color and one for the base. This allows the wearer to enjoy different properties of multiple shades.
Also, remember that you should first consider a shape that suits your face and then choose the proper lenses according to the type of fishing you do most.
Materials: Glass vs. Polycarbonate Lenses
Polarized sunglasses offer two different options: glass lenses and polycarbonate lenses. Polycarbonate are generally thinner and more impact-resistant than glass or plastic lenses. On the other hand, glass lenses offer a few benefits more.
They are optically clearer and allow wearers to see better, but they’re usually weaker than polycarbonate lenses. Polycarbonate is a type of very strong plastic that is less likely to crack, compared to glass or other materials.
Polycarbonate lenses are usually less expensive too. If you don’t mind the price and you’re not the type of person who is prone to accidents, opt for glass lenses. Otherwise, polycarbonate will do just fine.
Tips for sight fishing
Having the best pair of polarized sunglasses is great, but even the best equipment on the market is worth nothing without the right knowledge, so be sure to do your homework before going out.
First of all, identify the species you want to target, learn the fish preferred water temperature, their seasonal movements and habitats to predict where you should concentrate your efforts.
Being patient is the number one rule: with stubborn fish you may have to change baits and try different things to trigger a reaction. While doing so, you must keep your distance.
You may be tempted to get closer to see better, but remember that it’s very hard to catch anything if fish are aware of your presence. When sight fishing, polarized sunglasses will make a huge difference in scanning the water, as well as the position you choose.
You should have the sun on your back, and stay in a place where you have a great view of the water and can see the bottom. Avoid spots surrounded with vegetation, because it might be hard to scan the water surface.
Keep in mind that you should move quietly, no matter if you are fishing on the banks or on a boat: try to keep a low profile and avoid sudden body movements.
It’s imperative to be as silent as possible to sneak up on fish.
Avoid dropping and slamming tackle boxes or anything else, keep your voice down and turn off any electronic device that may disturb you.
Fish are aware of all things above them, and even the little noise puts them on guard.
Don’t use the trolling motor of your boat if it’s not necessary: propel the boat with a push pole, or drift.
If you must use it, run it at low speed and shut it down before you get within the area you intend to fish.
Also, don’t fish too fast: if you pull your bait in and out of the water too quickly the fish may lose interest and won’t bother to eat it, knowing that it’s going away soon.
Remember that be able to see the fish is not enough, you need to study it in order to predict its “catchability”.
For instance, if a fish doesn’t leave the bed when it sees you, you’re probably going to be successful in catching it. If the fish is attracted by your bait, but doesn’t eat it, this is still a positive signal that you’re on the right way. There’s no perfect formula for sight fishing.
Every scenario, every fish and even every hour of the day, makes the situation different. Awareness, adaptation and consistency are the key, as well as having the right knowledge and equipment with you.
Polarized sunglasses are a necessity when it comes to sight fishing, as much so as bait and rods are. Even when fishing in slightly colored water, the surface glare can hide small details from you; if you want to be able to see everything you just need polarized lenses.
The benefit will be to have your overall vision improved, which will make you a much more effective angler.
Before buying, make sure that your glasses of choice fit correctly, have the right color lenses for the kind of fishing you want to do and have the right lens curvature too. There are all kinds of prices on the market for graduated fishing sunglasses, so it’s up to you to upgrade you glasses with this or that coating.
But keep in mind that trying to get a good balance between value and price should be a non-negotiable option. Buying a cheap pair that doesn’t work good will affect your fishing.
On the other hand, expensive sunglasses may not necessarily be the best fishing sunglasses for you, as they can sometimes offer similar functionality to cheaper eyewear. Choose a product with the right components that fits your face, budget and protects your eyes: it’s all you need to make sure your fish-spotting abilities will be at their best the next time you go out on the water.