Any experienced fisherman knows that a quality pair of polarized shades is an absolute must while on the water. The enhanced visibility that a good pair of fishing sunglasses provides gives you a huge edge when trying to spot underwater structure and of course, fish. Perhaps even more important is the added benefits of UV protection and relief from eye strain that a good pair of sunglasses will provide.
Being out on the water for extended periods can really do some damage to your eyes if they’re not properly protected. Sunglasses while fishing are more than just a tool to enhance your visibility, they’re important for maintaining good eye health as well. The take away here, every angler needs a pair of polarized shades.
Quality fishing sunglasses are not an inexpensive item. A truly good pair of shades can run you quite a bit of cash, so it’s an investment worth researching. While a lot of sunglasses are outrageously over priced, there’s a ton of higher cost sunglasses out there that are absolutely worth the cost — just make sure you do your homework and buy a pair that will suit your specific fishing needs.
Brands like Costa Del Mar are renowned amongst fishermen for their lens quality and craftsmenship — it’s a fairly steep price tag but when you’re serious about fishing it’s a purchase that’s more than worth it. On the other hand, if you’re someone who just can’t seem to hang onto a new pair of glasses for long without losing or breaking them, it’s tough spending more than $100.
Fortunately, there’s some pretty adequate polarized fishing sunglasses out there that come at super reasonable costs. Calcutta, Suncloud and even Smith all produce some nice shades for fishing that won’t break the bank. They’re no Costas, but for fishermen who are serious about angling and have a tight budget or accident prone tendencies, these less expensive brands will perform just fine.
For around $20 it can also be worth owning a spare pair of shades for if and when you need them.
There’s a wide variety of lens options on the market that will perform best in specific light and environmental conditions. Here’s a few tips for selecting the right lenses for your new shades:
For those fishermen who spend a lot of time boating off shore or who spend long days surfcasting into open ocean, you’ll want to consider a darker lens. A lot of offshore, open water and saltwater anglers prefer a grey base lens coupled with a blue mirror in order to really combat high intensity light conditions. Blue lenses are typically preferred for optimum saltwater visibility and a heavy mirror helps deal with the open water glare when surrounded by water.
Make sure to buy some serious lenses if you’re an offshore angler of any kind.
For fishermen who spend their time stream, lake or pond fishing, consider a lighter base lens with a green mirror. A lighter lens will allow for higher contrast when the light intensity isn’t so intense. Amber, copper and rose lenses are all good choices for enhancing visibility and reducing glare while freshwater fishing in lower light conditions. Suncloud in particular carries a lot of amber lenses that I’ve found to be pretty solid for freshwater angling.
1. Suncloud Optics Voucher Polarized Sunglasses
I really like these shades by Suncloud. They’re a quality brand that offers a lot of different model sunglasses at almost surprisingly low costs. I purchased a pair of these this past fall while on a fly fishing trip in southern Colorado. Considering I didn’t already own a pair and had traveled across the country in order to chase trout, I was looking to purchase a pair of top quality polarized fishing sunglasses.
I couldn’t find any shades by Costa or Smith, but I did find a selection of Sunclouds at the local fly shop. For glasses in the $50 range, I can say they’re pretty kick ass.
I purchased a pair of Vouchers with rose lenses and was totally impressed with their performance on the stream. They exceeded my expectations for what I paid and served me just fine for the duration of my trip. Although the rose lenses were great on the stream, I found them to be a little dark in low light conditions. On overcast days I realized I was definitely at a disadvantage compared to my buddies who were wearing green mirrored Costas.
Fishing with even just partly sunny skies makes all the difference with Suncloud’s rose lenses. I was surprised to find out my Vouchers perform even better fishing saltwater than on the stream. I’ve owned top quality shades for ocean fishing in the past, and this model totally contends at less than half the cost.
I imagine Suncloud’s blue mirror lenses are even better suited for fishing saltwater, but if you do a bit of both fresh and saltwater angling I can personally recommend the rose lenses.
Aside from their great clarity and eye protection, these glasses have a great feel too. They’re light as a feather and feel secure on your face. Mine never fog up on me and have a pretty laid back look too. All in all, Suncloud has come up with a seriously awesome value pair of polarized sunglasses with these ones.
Price: $39.95 & Free Shipping (20 percent off MSRP)
- Highly affordable pair of quality polarized glasses — perfect for the angler who wants something better than the really budget options
- The rose lenses are great saltwater lenses as well as freshwater — definitely a versatile option
- The frames accommodate for a nice and snug fit, these feel great on your face while actively moving and fishing
- The rose lenses are not great in low light conditions
2. Calcutta Shock Wave Sunglasses
Before owning the Sunclouds and Costas I currently own, I went through a lot of pairs of polarized Calcuttas. I have always loved this brand for the purposes of affordable fishing sunglasses — the quality of the lenses and frames are adequate for most fishing scenarios and the price is certainly right.
For reasons I don’t know, I have not been able to find Calcuttas in store at any fishing or outdoor retail shops for the past few years. Had I been able to continue replacing my fishing sunglasses with a more than adequate, $30 range pair of Calcuttas at the local tackle shop, I likely would have never discovered the more superior shades I own now. Point is, as an avid fisherman these sunglasses worked just fine for me for years.
Most models come with blue mirrored lenses and are geared towards saltwater fishing. On my native Cape Cod Massachusetts, I’ve found every model of Calcuttas I’ve owned to perform great for both lake and ocean fishing. They’re simple Triacetate (TAC) polarized lenses, but they perform great in both low and high light conditions.
I included the Shock Waves here because of their low cost and frame design. This model has wide lenses that provide good coverage and UV protection. If you spend long days on the water and need to minimize eye strain, this could be a good pair for you.
Calcuttas are built tough — I’ve owned many pairs and never had issues with damage to the frames or hinges despite heavy abuse. My one complaint is that the mirrored lenses have a tendency to scratch. For sunglasses in the $20 – $30 range, you can’t expect the lenses to be in it for the long run.
They perform great for a season or two, but if you’re like me and you’re hard on your fishing gear expect these to gain some wear and tear sooner than later.
The Shock Waves are a good as choice as any when it comes to this brand, and they have a pretty stylish look too that you won’t think twice about wearing to the beach or park. For the cost, these are some solid shades that won’t let you down.
Price: $25.97 & Free Shipping (18 percent off MSRP)
- One of the best quality, budget fishing sunglasses around
- Frames and hinges are built tough — these bad boys will hold up fine structurally
- Blue mirrored lenses are great for use fishing saltwater and in high light intensity conditions
- Have a stylish look that can be worn wherever!
- The lenses tend to scratch pretty easily on most Calcutta models, go easy on these if you want them to really last
3. Costa Del Mar Tuna Alley Sunglasses
These shades by Costa Del Mar are the real deal. Costa was kind enough to send me a pair of the Tuna Alleys in order to get a chance to check them out, and I gotta say — I’m impressed with their performance. Costas are renowned amongst anglers for being the best of the best — it’s not hard to tell why once you’ve tried a pair on.
The Tuna Alleys have a really great fit that sit snug on your face. I have an average sized head and these sunglasses provide me with full peripheral coverage without looking too enormous. The frames are made from a nylon material and built rugged — they’re designed to handle the expected abuse that comes with fishing.
Definitely the most superior feature of these sunglasses is the lenses. The innovative 580G glass lens that Costa has designed here is 22% lighter and 20% thinner than the average polarized glass lens. It’s a complex, multi-layered lens that incorporates an encapsulated, scratch proof mirror for an extended lifespan. The Polycarbonate lenses available for the Tuna Alleys are also no doubt some of the best on the market.
There is impressive clarity with these shades and most important of all, excellent visibility through reflective water and glare. I would recommend the blue or green mirror lenses for high light conditions. For saltwater fishing or lake fishing on larger bodies of reflective open water, the blue mirror lenses will probably perform best for you.
The silver mirror lenses are a great choice for stream fishing — if you spend a lot of time on the river then consider these. When it really comes down to it, all of the available lenses by Costa will perform great no matter the environmental context, but considering the investment of these sunglasses it’s in my opinion worth buying the ones that are best suited for the fishing conditions you expect.
In addition to the exceptional lenses and tough build of the frames, these glasses provide great ventilation as well. They’re lightweight and have a sharp look that is not at all flashy. These sunglasses do have a look that says ‘fishing’, but they still look pretty laid back. It’s tough to purchase sunglasses without trying them on, but these shades work well on almost anyone’s face so they’re a safe choice.
The same goes for most sunglasses by Costa — they typically build frames that are compatible for a wide spectrum of people! If you’re having a hard time finding the right frame or lens color, definitely check out the Blackfins also included on this list by Costa. The Saltbreaks are another excellent choice comparable to the Tuna Alleys.
If you’re going to spring for the Tuna Alleys, you’re going to need a retainer (the band that attaches to the glasses and goes around your neck). Costa Del Mar recommends you pair the Tuna Alleys with the C-Mono retainer. The retainer is under $10 and might just save your shades from going overboard or floating downstream — absolutely a wise purchase to pair with such nice sunglasses.
Price: $99.95 – $259.00 (sale prices available on select options)
- One of the most superior models of fishing sunglasses on the market
- Provide full peripheral coverage for use offshore and other extreme light conditions — these bad boys really protect your eyes if you spend a lot of hours on the water
- Costa’s lenses are renowned for their excellent clarity
- Well ventilated
- Frames provide a great fit on most shape and size heads
- Prescription ready
- Definitely on the pricey side — however they’re still included here on this “best value” list due to their excellent quality for the cost
4. Suncloud Optics Hook Sunglasses
Here’s another sweet pair of sunglasses from Suncloud. The Optics Hooks are a medium fit, injection molded nylon frame pair of shades that come at an awesome price. This is another versatile pair of glasses from Suncloud that will perform great in any setting.
There’s several different polycarbonate polarized lenses available, including both blue and green mirrored options. I personally can recommend the rose lenses for an option that will work well in settings ranging from the ocean to the stream to the pond. The grey lenses could be a good choice for lower light conditions while the blue mirrored lenses are best for open ocean and lake fishing.
The green mirrored lenses would be my preferred choice for anglers who fish dominantly fresh water.
The Grilamid TR-90 Nylon material of the frames has been employed for its flexibility, fit and longevity. Although very lightweight, these are built tough. The base curve (radius of the sphere measured from the back of the lens) is eight inches on these frames as opposed to six on some of Suncloud’s other models.
The models that feature six inch base curvatures sit more flat on your face while the eight inch options have more of a wrap-around effect. For protecting from eye strain and fishing in intense light conditions, I would recommend a pair in this eight inch style. For the money, Suncloud builds some bad ass shades that far outperform the cost — the Optic Hooks are no exception.
Price: $49.99 & Free Shipping
- With Sunclouds in this price range you get more than you pay for — great value sunglasses!
- Eight inch base curvature provides a wrap-around effect that really protects from eye strain in high light
- Nylon frames are super lightweight but built tough
- Blue and green mirrored lenses make excellent fishing lenses
- Some might not be used to how lightweight these glasses can feel on your face — it’s a matter of preference
- The amber and brown lenses are great with adequate light but they are a bit dark in lower light conditions
5. Smith Dockside Sunglasses
I really like these shades from Smith. Smith Optics is known for their quality polarized sunglasses — they are definitely considered one of the more high end brands when it comes to fishing. That being said, Smith offers some more affordable eye wear options in addition to their top of the line models.
The Docksides are a perfect example of polarized sunglasses from Smith that both perform great and won’t break the bank. If you’re looking for a nice pair of shades to take out on the water, this is on of the best models you can buy for around $100.
This is another eight base lens curvature model of sunglasses — meaning the fit provides more of a wrap around effect. The peripheral coverage provided by the Docksides is what you’re looking for in an effective pair of fishing sunglasses. The same general rules apply with Smith’s ChromaPop lenses as with all the other brands — the blue mirrored model performing best for high light, open water conditions while the brown and ignitor colored lenses are designed to perform optimally in freshwater settings.
Smith has built these shades with innovative tapered lens technology that reduces distortion to virtually zero making for some serious optical clarity. These sunglasses are designed to be truly crystal clear — no doubt essential when trying to spot underwater structure and while sight fishing.
The polyester frames, nose pads and hinges are also all well reviewed for their structural integrity and lightweight build. A lot of customer reviews describe these shades as feeling nice and solid, yet they still maintain a low overall weight.
These are another pair of sunglasses you’ll want to wear not just for fishing purposes — they have a pretty stylish look that can be sported anywhere.
The Rubber ear pieces on the end of the frames furthermore keep these shades effectively snug to your face — a simple but important feature that could save your glasses from falling overboard. All things considered, these might be the best value sunglasses on this list.
By spending just a bit more than on glasses in the Suncloud range, you can buy yourself some shades that begin to border on top quality. Definitely a great buy for the serious fisherman who’s shopping just under the price range of the top outfitters.
Price: Starting $76.65 & Free Shipping
- The Docksides border on being top quality polarized sunglasses, yet have a price tag around $100 — truly a kick-ass value
- Base curvature is designed for full peripheral coverage to protect against eye strain
- Smith’s ChromaPop lenses are renowned and well reviewed for their excellent clarity
- The frames, hinges, nose pads and ear pieces all are built mindfully and durably in order to ensure a long lasting pair of shades
- Some complaints that the lenses are challenging to clean and don’t respond well to a microfiber cloth
6. Costa Del Mar Blackfin Sunglasses
Here’s another top notch pair of sunglasses from Costa Del Mar that will be the envy of all your fishing buddies. Putting on a pair of Blackfins is like stepping into a Corvette — you can sense the superior clarity and UV protection the lenses provide as soon as you put them on. Costas allow your eyes to truly relax in even intense light conditions — it’s what you’re paying for with a brand like this.
The 580G lenses are truly kick ass — it’s easy to understand why anglers are so fond of them! This model provides great coverage from the sun on all fronts — the Blackfin’s will protect your eyes from strain in any fishing scenario. These are a full coverage pair of shades, yet they are a bit more low profile than the Tuna Alleys if you’re looking for something a bit less cumbersome.
Of course Costa Del Mar includes a limited lifetime warranty on this product — and you’ll also get a cleaning cloth and protective case with your purchase. Make sure to purchase the recommended retainer for these shades — the Blackfins are best paired with the Halyard Wire Retainer, and it only costs $10!
For a slightly more stylish pair of glasses from Costa that still outperform the vast majority of the competition, check out the Slack Tides — Costa was kind enough to send me a pair to sample and they’re honestly my favorite fishing sunglasses I have ever owned.
The lenses are excellent and the fit feels great on my average size head — the only down side is the base curvature does not encompass your peripheral vision. If you really need a pair of shades to protect your eyes from prolonged exposure to intense light (aka offshore fishing) then stick to the Tuna Alleys or Blackfins — but if you’re looking for a 10/10 pair of fishing glasses for all other scenarios that also have a great look, definitely check out the Slack Tides.
Price: $115.00 — $224.10 & Free Shipping (up to 26 percent off MSRP)
- Employ Costa’s killer 580G lenses
- Prescription ready
- Base curvature provides full peripheral coverage
- Nice variety of both lens and frame colors to choose from
- Comes with Costa’s limited lifetime warranty
- These shades cost top dollar — but they are still an excellent value
7. Calcutta Prowler Sunglasses
Here’s another awesome value pair of shades from Calcutta. The Prowlers are a killer pair of budget fishing glasses that will only run you around $20. The 1.0 millimeter triacetate polarized lenses are available in blue and gray — so make sure to select the blue mirrored lenses if you’re expecting some intense light conditions.
The frames are built from a rugged polycarbonate material and won’t betray you if they take a tumble. Calcutta’s are built tough enough to withstand the regular abuse of fishing. The material is furthermore fade resistant so these will stay looking sharp for at least a few seasons.
There’s a wide field of vision with the Prowlers, so your sight lines won’t be at all limited. The quality of the frames and polarized lenses far outweighs the cost, so if you need something truly budget check these out. Calcutta even offers a one year warranty on this product. At this cost, you might want to own a pair just as a spare for if and when you need them!
Price: $19.97 — $22.95 & Free Shipping
- Super budget fishing sunglasses — yet they perform just fine!
- Includes a 1 year warranty
- 100% polarized lenses provide a wide field of view for enhanced visibility and great UV protection
- If you’re someone who can’t hold on to sunglasses for more than a month, these are for you!
- The lenses have a tendency to scratch over time — don’t plan on owning these shades for more than a few seasons
8. Duduma Polarized Sports Sunglasses (Tr8116)
Here’s a brand you may or may not have heard about. Duduma should be on your radar if you need something economic yet worth buying. For polarized sunglasses in the $20 range, these guys are really well reviewed by anglers and sportsmen alike! There’s a wide selection of lens colors available so you should be able to find something specific to your fishing needs.
The lenses won’t blow you away, but for $20 you’ll be impressed with the clarity and eye relief they offer. They eliminate reflected and scattered glare almost as good as plenty of more expensive name brand polarized lenses.
The polycarbonate frames are scratch resistant and built to be “unbreakable”, and furthermore Duduma offers lifetime breakage warranty support on these shades — if your lenses or frames become damaged just send them back in for a replacement! Customer reviews praise the frames for their light weight and solid fit.
Hikers, bikers and fishermen insist these sunglasses stay snug to your face and wear comfortably. Cost, quality and warranty all considered, these sunglasses from Duduma are more than worth trying out.
Price: $19.99 & Free Shipping on orders over $25
- Super low cost option!
- Variety of frame and lens colors to choose from
- These shades are covered by Duduma’s lifetime breakage warranty
- Provide good peripheral vision coverage for those particularly bright days on the water
- Complaints that the polarization on these glasses wears off
9. Smith Optics Dover Sunglasses
Here’s another reasonably priced pair of sunglasses from Smith that might suit your budget. The Dovers are a top quality pair of shades that employ Smith’s fan favorite ChromaPop lenses. The polarization here is on par with some of the top quality lenses on the market — these are a steal considering how well they contend with other top outfitters.
The lenses are treated on both the front and back with anti-reflective and hydroleophobic protective coatings that effectively eliminate glare and keep the lenses from taking on dirt and grime. It’s a sort of self cleaning lens that protects itself from both filth and wear and tear better than most optics. I would personally recommend the blue or low light ignitor lenses for fishing purposes.
The Dovers also have a base curvature of eight inches, so these are good glasses for full peripheral coverage in high light conditions. The evolve frame material is built both rugged and light weight despite the larger size of the frames, and the hydrophilic nose pads and ear pieces are well reviewed for having a snug but comfortable fit.
These ones come in and out of stock on amazon frequently, so make sure to check what’s currently available — there’s often some sweet sale prices on these shades that could save you some hard earned cash.
Price: $79.00 — $159.99 & Free Shipping (up to 47 percent off MSRP)
- Smith’s ChromaPop lenses are highly reviewed by anglers for their clarity and glare control — these are shades that compete with Costa Del Mar quality optics
- Protective lens coatings eliminate glare in front of and behind the lens
- Eight base curvature provides full coverage for bright fishing conditions
- Light weight frames are comfortable for all day wear
- These shades have a pretty sporty look and an eight base lens curvature so they probably won’t double as your casual sunglasses
10. Calcutta Rip Tide Sunglasses
Here’s one more budget pair of Calcuttas worth turning you on to. the Rip Tides are not much different in design and build than Calcautta’s other model sunglasses listed here — they’ve been included mostly as another frame style option.
These shades have a six inch base curvature, so they’re a bit more casual than most of the shades listed here. These sunglasses won’t provide the full coverage that a lot of other fishing specific shades do, but they have a cool look you can wear anywhere.
For fishing offshore or in conditions with particularly high light you’ll want to look elsewhere, but for onshore fishing endeavors these will serve you just fine. The Rockpiles or Prowlers listed above also by Calcutta might be a good budget choice for you if you need something to really protect from eye strain.
If you like the style of the Rip Tide frames but are looking for something higher quality that will last you a lifetime, check out the Slack Tides by Costa — they’re a top quality pair of fishing glasses built in the same style. For the money, Calcuttas are never a bad buy — depending on where and how you’re fishing sometimes it’s nice only having a $20 pair of sunglasses.
Price: $25.97 & Free Shipping
- Awesome budget sunglasses — you get far more than you pay for with these ones!
- The base curvature on these frames (six inch) make for a sharp looking pair of shades
- Calcutta lenses have a tendency to scratch easily