Quite a while ago, I wrote the beginning of a piece regarding a few choices for polarized sunglasses, with the emphasis on sight fishing redfish. If you’d like to go back and check that out, here’s the link:
Of course, lots of other projects and life in general interfered with the follow-up, but I finally made time to spend some time actually on the water with all three pairs. The pair I spent the most time with over the past year is the Smith Optics, which have been my go-to glasses and performed very well. However, I the fit is not entirely optimal, and they’ve been wearing a little uncomfortably, so I decided it was time to spend some time with the other two pairs. If you think about essential gear for spending an 8 hour day on the water, staring intently past reflections and chop into the water, looking for any subtle shift in color, slight movement etc, sunglasses are pretty much the single most important thing you can spend money and time on. Super clean water and low winds are great, but often times you are working with what you have, and the human eye+brain combination is absolutely incredible at discerning patterns in the water, which means even on choppy days or with dirty water, the right pair of glasses can help you spot subtle shapes, shadows and colors that spell R-E-D-F-I-S-H. That being said, I think the single most important factor for a long day of fishing is comfort. Being uncomfortable equals losing concentration, which equals missing those subtle signs. Just like people have different size and width feet, the space between your eyes, space from the front of your head to your ears, bridge of your nose, etc are all unique.
This being Vol II of this short series, I’m going to post my simple impressions of these three pairs of glasses, and work on a follow up in another 6 months or a year. Please keep in mind that the photo above is a good look at SOME aspects of these lenses, but not an entire study. I was holding the lenses in one hand, the camera in the other, and holding a fishing rod between my legs, while standing in a kayak… I will repeat the experiment the next time I have a pet redfish available in shallow, clear water, to make sure they all get a fair shake. I did take several photos with each pair, and these are pretty indicative of the results of what I got that day.
That being said, here are a few metrics that I came up with, that I feel are the most important aspects for me, in terms of sunglasses aimed at functioning for long days of sight fishing. This is not scientific data, this is impressions I have gained. More will follow. Results are in order of preference.
Comfort: Kaenon, Maui Jim+Smith(tie/not enough info) (keep in mind this reflects MY head/nose/ear shape)
Weight: Kaenon, Smith, Maui Jim
Clarity: Maui Jim, Smith, Kaenon
Perceived Light Reduction (Dimness): Smith, Maui Jim, Kaenon
Contrast: Maui Jim, Smith, Kaenon
Side/back light rejection: Maui Jim, Smith, Kaenon
Scratch Resistance: Smith, Maui Jim, Kaenon
Style: Kaenon, Smith, Maui Jim
Kaenon’s are replacement glasses, the coating on the lenses failed on the first pair.
Kaenon lenses seem a bit more prone to scratching.
Arms on the Smith glasses have started to flake off the paint coating, will be sending those in shortly. Maybe I have corrosive skin chemistry.
The Smith glasses have occasionally shown me a strange purple highlight color on super bright days. It can be a bit distracting, although I’m used to it.
Maui Jim pair have the least amount of hours on them - more feedback coming. The clarity/contrast seems to eclipse the other two by a good amount, but it remains to be seen if that fatigues the eyes over the course of a long day.
Maui Jim have a good amount of flex and twist available at the hinge, which I consider to be a good thing.
Maui Jim lenses look awesome on the water, kind of look like somebody’s creepy grandpa if you wear them while not fishing. Not the point, but hey, style counts for something.
Hope some of that was helpful! Try some different stuff out, and remember that this is one of the most important tools you can spend time getting perfect - no point in having uncomfortable glasses and a $500 combo and trying to sight fish….