Trouts Journal

TROUTS CLASSICS || Why Polarized Sunglasses are the Most Important Piece of Gear You Own

Ivan Orsic / Aug 5, 2021

There are a few things that can get overlooked when building your personal fly fishing kit. Although it is never good to cut corners it happens. Maybe you skimp on a pair of nippers, and you opt for the ones at 7/11 because you left yours at home. Something I've been known to do from time to time. Or, maybe you chose to use a pair of forceps from your buddy's EMT kit because you forget yours on your tailgate. It is unfortunate but, sometimes you find yourself in these situations. Despite this fact, there are places you should never ever skimp or cut corners when building out your fly fishing kit. One of those places is your sunglasses. This week we are revisiting an old favorite and discussing why you NEED a pair of high-quality polarized sunglasses on you for your next time on the water. This post originally dated back to 2018 and was written by Ivan Orsic. Ivan is Trouts current Brand and Marketing Manager. You may have seen his mug around the internet from time to time, in either our Five Flies or Fly Fishing Forecast series. Nonetheless, let us get into this edition of Trouts Classics.

If you've fished for any period of time or you're just getting into the sport, at some point you've probably encountered the following statement:

Polarized Sunglasses are the most important piece of gear you should have as a fly fisherman

If you're anything like me when I was first getting into the sport, I completely ignored that statement and focused on the rod, reel, line, waders, bag, and fly boxes. I focused on all the pieces of gear that were new and shiny to me. Why? Sunglasses exist outside of the fly fishing world. Surely, my old Ray Ban's would work just fine. A couple of months later, after I bought my rod, reel, line, pack, tippet, flies, leaders, and various doo-dads, I picked up a pair of polarized sunglasses off a bargain website. I tried them on and immediately noticed the coverage was minimal, the lens color wasn't like what my friends had, and they hurt my head. However, I chose to ignore all of these little red flags.

Fast forward a decade and I'll come out and say it, I was wrong and the old saying is right. However, I would like to amend the original statement a little bit because you obviously can't catch a fish wearing just a pair of sunglasses. There is a good reason that I'm writing this blog because this past weekend, I fished two full days without polarized sunglasses. I don't remember the last time I'd made that mistake. Big surprise, fishing was noticeably harder and so was wading. I was wading blind, hopeful that my next step wouldn't result in me taking an icy plunge into the South Platte.

" Rod, Reel, and Fly line aside, polarized sunglasses are the most important piece of gear you'll ever own. "

Our eyes are one of the most important biological tools anglers have on the water. The days I have shown up to fish technical tailwaters like the Dream Stream and Deckers without a pair of high-quality polarized sunglasses had me feeling like I showed up with a knife to a gunfight. Beyond the fact that I couldn't see individual fish, I couldn't see underwater features. I couldn't see small buckets or depressions. I couldn't gauge water depth or see underwater boulders or large woody debris. While I was able to catch a few fish, it was a struggle and a grind and not the good kind. I've never missed a piece of gear more than I missed my sunglasses this past weekend.

These trials and tribulations got me thinking about why you should invest in a quality pair of polarized sunglasses and what you should look for in your next pair. Let's start with the basics:

1. Polarized sunglasses protect your eyes from the sun's harmful UV rays, errant hooks, weights, and other objects that might temporarily or permanently damage your vision. If you do not believe me there are a litany of photos on the old gram that prove this point.

2. A quality pair of polarized sunglasses will reduce the amount of surface glare that you see over the course of the day. This has two benefits:

(a) You won't spend your day squinting and your eyes won't tire quickly on the water.

(b) With the reduced glare, you have a better opportunity to see fish and underwater structures, which leads to more and more success on the water.

So, what should you look for in a pair of polarized sunglasses? There are four features to take into consideration:

Lens Color:

Lens color, in my humble opinion, is the most important factor when choosing a pair of sunglasses. Currently, Trouts exclusively carries polarized sunglasses from Costa Del Mar and Bajio. Costa currently offers 7 different lens colors including Blue Mirror, Green Mirror, Gray Silver Mirror, Copper Silver Mirror, Gray, Copper, and Sunrise Silver Mirror, each designed for use in specific lighting and environmental conditions. Costa Also offers, two types of lens material glass (580G) and Polycarbonate (580P). Bajio currently offers 4 different lens colors. Bajio has designed lenses for those who spend more time on the water than any other place. All of Bajio's lens have LAPIS™ lens technology which blocks blue light when you’re in the sun. Their lens comes in blue, green, silver, and pink.

Images courtesy of Bajio
Image Courtesy of Costa Sunglasses

Lens Material: Glass or Polycarbonate

: Glass lenses provide the best clarity and are the most resistant lens material to scratching.
Glass lenses are heavier than plastic, aren't as impact resistant as plastic lenses, and tend to be more expensive.


Pros: Poly lenses are the most lightweight and most impact-resistant material.
Poly lenses tend to scratch easier than glass lenses.

Sunglass Fit:

This should be a no-brainer, but if the glasses don't fit you won't wear them, and what's the use in a pair of polarized sunglasses that you don't wear. You'll be wearing these glasses for the whole day, so find a pair that fits your face and won't annoy you a half-hour into the day.


Obviously, comfort plays a huge role, but coverage by the frame itself can reduce the amount of sunlight that hits your eyes. I prefer a frame that wraps around my face and prevents light from leaking in the side of the frame.

If you still have questions regarding sunglasses or the intricacies of different brands and their components please swing by either our Denver or Frisco shop and let us help you out. If you are not able to come by the shop please give us a call at 303-733-1434 or shoot me an email at

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