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Best Fly Fishing Sunglasses 2017

Our Top Pick

What would you say was the most important part of your fishing gear? Your flashy new rod? Your tried and tested sling pack? Your flies?

How about your sunglasses? We’re betting that not many people would put these at the top of their list, but in fact having the right pair of sunglasses can be as important as the rest of your gear.

Not only will having the right sunglasses let you see and catch more fish, but there are also important safety considerations – getting a fish hook in the eye is no fun, so having a good pair of sunglasses which protect your eyes is incredibly important.

But with so man different pairs of sunglasses for fly fishing to choose, how do you find the perfect pair? Fear not.

We’ve read hundreds of reviews, and talked to a lot of people who take their fly fishing very seriously, and the result is that we can recommend the Costa del Mar Cortez 580 sunglasses. Having been made by one of the most respected brands in optical design, these glasses offer superior vision even in extreme conditions, and are supremely comfortable even after many hours out on the river.

Product DescriptionUsers ScoreOverall Score
Editor choice
Costa del Mar Cortez Sunglasses

Costa del Mar Cortez Sunglasses

Costa del Mar are one of the most respected manufacturers of sunglasses for fly fishing, and looking at this pair of ...

User Rating: 3.95 (1 votes)
2 Smith Optics Discord

Smith Optics Discord

Smith Optics pride themselves on the quality of their lenses, and this pair of sunglasses incorporates some of the best ...

User Rating: 3.45 (1 votes)
3 Orvis Superlight Magnifier Sunglasses

Orvis Superlight Magnifier Sunglasses

Smith Optics pride themselves on the quality of their lenses, and this pair of sunglasses incorporates some of the best ...

User Rating: 4 (1 votes)
4 ProSport Polarized Bifocal Sunglasses

ProSport Polarized Bifocal Sunglasses

These sunglasses are at the budget end of the market for this type of item, and we admit that in some ways this shows ...

User Rating: 3.7 (1 votes)

Fly Fishing Sunglasses

Having a decent pair of sunglasses for fishing is something that even a lot of experienced fishermen forget about. This is a shame, because having a pair can really improve your performance when out on the river, allowing you to see fish that would be almost invisible to the naked eye.

In addition, having a pair of sunglasses with the correct UV protection is incredibly important for your eyesight. A long, sunny day spent fishing, squinting into the sun, may sound like heaven, but if you are not protecting your eyes you can do serious damage over the years.

Sunglasses for fly fishing, like those for many forms of water sports, are generally polarized. Whilst the full description of how polarized glasses work is long and technical, essentially what these lenses do is to filter out the light reflected from the surface of the water. In practice, this means that you can see more easily into the river, and spot fish that would be missed otherwise.

In addition, different colors of lenses can aid you further in spotting your quarry. In general, amber tinted lenses are the best for fly fishing, because in general this is also the color of the river bed. However, red lenses can really improve your vision as the sun starts to go down.

Lastly, if you normally wear reading glasses but still want a pair of sunglasses for fly fishing, don’t despair. High-quality sunglasses for fly fishing, like those we are reviewing today, can often be made with your prescription.

One last note, if you’re looking to buy sunglasses to protect you from the sun I would strongly recommend you getting quality fly fishing sunglasses.

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Reviews

Everybody has different preferences when it comes to the type, color, and brand of sunglasses they choose for fly fishing, and everybody will vociferously defend their own choice. That said, there are some basic things to look for when choosing a pair.

First and foremost, the pair of sunglasses you buy needs to be comfortable to wear for long periods. If you are out on the river all day, a pair of sunglasses that puts pressure on the sides of your head are going to get quickly annoying. Go down to your local sporting store, and try on a few brands to see what suits you.

Beyond this, in general there are a few things to look for when choosing sunglasses for fly fishing:

  • Color. The exact color of lens you choose should depend on the type of fly fishin you do, but in most cases getting amber lenses is a good choice. Because this is also the color of the river bed, fish will stand out well.
  • Materials. As you know, fly fishing can be quite a rough experience, and your sunglasses need to stand up to the same level of punishment as the rest of your kit. Whilst thin, stylish wire frames may be good for driving, when standing knee deep in a river you need a more rugged pair of specs.

Ultimately, there is no substitute for trying out these sunglasses yourself. If you are lucky enough to live close to a good fishing store, pay a visit and see which style works for you.

In our opinion, however, you could do worse than checking out these sunglasses for fly fishing:

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Editor’s Pick: Costa del Mar Cortez Sunglasses

Costa del Mar Cortez Sunglasses

Costa del Mar are one of the most respected manufacturers of sunglasses for fly fishing, and looking at this pair of glasses it is not hard to see why.

These are our top pick today for a variety of reasons. The range of tint options for these frames is second to none, and whatever the conditions you are fishing in we’re sure you’ll find the perfect color for you.

In addition, these sunglasses are amongst the most hard wearing we have seen. The people we spoke to for this review praised this brand of sunglasses for fly fishing for their longevity, and those who had owned a few pairs of Costa del Mar sunglasses swore by them. If you are going to be investing this much in a pair of sunglasses, it is nice to know that they will survive being dropped in a river.

Costa del Mar Cortez Sunglasses

These are our top pick today for a variety of reasons. The range of tint options for these frames is second to none, and whatever the conditions you are fishing in we’re sure you’ll find the perfect color for you.

In addition, these sunglasses for fly fishing comes with a host of other advantages:

PROS:
  • The sunglasses offer a great level of protection against the sun. The lenses in these frames are large and wrap around your eyes, providing optimum protection against glare.
  • The materials used in these sunglasses for fly fishing are really high-tech. The bio-based nylon is very hard wearing, but without the plastic feel of some cheaper sunglasses. It offers a good compromise between flexibility and strength, meaning that even if you accidentally drop this pair of sunglasses they will not immediately break.
  • The glasses, at least for us whilst reviewing them, were very comfortable. It is a little hard to recommend any pair of sunglasses based on this quality, because we know that sunglasses that are comfortable for one person might not be for another. That said, everyone we talked to for this review found these glasses to be among the most comfortable available.
  • The lenses on these sunglasses, as you would expect from a designer brand, are great. The polarized lenses used in these glasses claim to block 99.9% of glare, and whilst we can’t vouch for the scientific validity of that particular claim, in our test these glasses gave great visibility when out on the river.
  • These lenses are also lightweight, and slightly thinner than the average polarized lens. This makes these sunglasses for fly fishing even more comfortable, and suitable for wearing for long periods out fishing.

CONS:
  • Very few. It goes without saying that these are not the cheapest pair of sunglasses available for fly fishing, but you get what you pay for with this kind of item. For the level of protection and comfort these sunglasses provide, they are well worth the investment.


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Smith Optics Discord

Smith Optics pride themselves on the quality of their lenses, and this pair of sunglasses incorporates some of the best lenses we have seen for the purposes of fly fishing. Fish are visible through water even on the brightest days.

This illustrates an important point – that not all polarized lenses are created equal. Whilst some claim to block 100 % of glare, when looking through the lenses it is clear that some manufacturers are exaggerating the capabilities of their lenses.

Thankfully, this is not the case here. The Chromapop lens in this pair of sunglasses performed well in all our tests, and the fact that lenses of these sunglasses wrap around your face means that they block out a lot of incident light.

Smith Optics Discord

This illustrates an important point – that not all polarized lenses are created equal. Whilst some claim to block 100 % of glare, when looking through the lenses it is clear that some manufacturers are exaggerating the capabilities of their lenses.

In addition, these sunglasses for fly fishing also have several other advantages:

PROS:
  • The standard lens color offered here – a bronze mirrored finish – is great for fishing. Matching the color of a sandy river bank, fish are easily visible even on sunny days. If you have special requirements as to the color of your lenses, however, different tints are available.
  • The frames feel very sturdy. The thick arms and framing elements may not win any awards for beauty, but they give these sunglasses a solid feel, and we are sure that they will put up with a lot of punishment.
  • The tapered lens technology used here, which progressively tapers the lens away from the optical center of your vision, greatly reduces distortion. This is an advance made specially for fishing, and it really helps when trying to judge the exact location and distance of a fish.

CONS:
  • Very few. The frames are only available in matt black, which for the more style conscious might be a problem, but we bet that most people are simply looking for a pair of glasses that will stand up to the rigours of fishing, and let them spot fish. If that’s what you care about, this is a great pair of sunglasses for fly fishing.


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Orvis Superlight Magnifier Sunglasses

Orvis Superlight Magnifier Sunglasses

You might have heard of Orvis from some of the other fly fishing products they produce – packs, waders, and vests. Unlike the other pairs of sunglasses we are reviewing here, these glasses are therefore packed with decades of fishing experience, and it shows.

The lenses are impressive for a company that does not normally make optical equipment. They wrap around the face well, reducing incident glare, and are the perfect color for most fisherman – that browny amber color that allows you to spot fish easily.

Orvis Superlight Magnifier Sunglasses

Smith Optics pride themselves on the quality of their lenses, and this pair of sunglasses incorporates some of the best lenses we have seen for the purposes of fly fishing. Fish are visible through water even on the brightest days.

In addition, these sunglasses for fly fishing come with a range of features:

PROS:
  • The frames strike the right balance between lightweight design and ruggedness. Whilst these may not the most hard-wearing sunglasses for fly fishing around, they are certainly light, which makes all the difference when out all day fishing.
  • The magnification offered on this pair of sunglasses for fly fishing is great, allowing you to really get to grips with your flies. This pair of glasses is available in a wide range of strengths, so you can choose the correct level for your own needs.
  • The material used for the frames here is shatter-resistant and actually quite flexible. One person we talked to for this review reported sitting on these glasses with no sign of damage, and whilst we do not recommend this treatment it is great to know the glasses can stand it.

CONS:
  • For the price, very few. The lenses here as not quite as good as the best sunglasses for fly fishing, but offer great value. In addition, at this price point these a perfect first pair of sunglasses for fly fishing


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ProSport Polarized Bifocal Sunglasses

ProSport Polarized Bifocal Sunglasses

These sunglasses are at the budget end of the market for this type of item, and we admit that in some ways this shows through.

However, for the price you could do a lot worse than this pair of sunglasses. If you just need a pair that you don’t care about losing, and you are pretty sure are going to get broken after a few trips anyway, this is the pair of sunglasses for you.

ProSport Polarized Bifocal Sunglasses

If you just need a pair that you don’t care about losing, and you are pretty sure are going to get broken after a few trips anyway, this is the pair of sunglasses for you.

That said, these sunglasses do offer a few advantages for the fly fishing enthusiast:

PROS:
  • The polarization on these sunglasses is actually pretty good. They block out surface reflections well, and allow a good level of visibility in even quite deep water.
  • The bifocal element in these sunglasses is great if you have trouble with close vision. One of the most demanding aspects of fishing on sunny days is adjusting your vision from the glare of the river to the close-up work of tying flies, and these sunglasses undoubtedly help with that.
  • The glasses are pretty rugged, though we feel that they may not stand up to challenging conditions as well as some more expensive items.

CONS:
  • Well … not many, given the price. Like we said, if you want a pair of sunglasses that you don’t care about losing, or will at least not be heartbroken over then they sail away downriver, this is the pair to go for.


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Conclusion

So which to choose?

Well, your choice of sunglasses for fly fishing is yours alone, of course. Everybody fishes in a different way, and uses unique equipment. Your sunglasses should be carefully chosen to suit your style and needs.

In our opinion, though, if you are looking for a great sling pack for fly fishing, we can recommend the Costa del Mar Cortez 580 sunglasses. Having been made by one of the most respected brands in optical design, these glasses offer superior vision even in extreme conditions, and are supremely comfortable even after many hours out on the river.

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Best Fly Fishing Sunglasses
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