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Fishin' and Vision

By Russ Bassdozer

What to look for.  When shopping for sunglasses for fishing, you are primarily looking for complete immunity from the sun’s radiation. Maximum protection from UVA, UVB and UVC light is highly desirable. Additionally, sunglasses should be polarized to block glare and see through water.You will be right on the water, so you will be fielding rays not only coming down from the sun, but also bouncing right back up at you off the water's surface. In such an intense light environment, your eyes need to feel relaxed and free from eyestrain because you will be wearing your sunglasses for long periods of time. Those are the "must haves" that you should not compromise. Beyond that, there are many hundreds of pairs of sunglasses. All provide different options for the angler. Use the information here to help you compare features and prices, and to find a pair that will look just marvelous on you!

Frontal Vision.  Primarily, a close-fitting, wide-angled lens is best for frontal vision. Some serious fishing shades come with a form-fitting rim on top. The rim angles back towards your forehead, to shade your eyes from light pouring in over the top of the glasses. Even still, you should always wear a wide-brimmed hat like a baseball cap to shade your eyes and face from overhead light. On the hat, look for a non-reflective flat black color underneath the brim. In this way, the hat's brim will absorb light bouncing up off the water rather than reflect it down into your eyes. Likewise, a matte-black sunglass frame is highly desirable for its non-reflective properties.

Side Vision. In sight fishing, you are a hunter first, and an angler second. You see best when your eyes are fully-shaded from any and all reflective light. Along these lines, I look for special frames for outdoorsmen that have side shield lenses on the arms of the glasses. With the side shield lenses, it is desirable that the hinged sections of solid plastic are as thin and unobtrusive as possible. Psychologically, it is important for a hunter to feel confident having a full range of peripheral vision. So make sure the hinged sections of solid plastic are not always blocking your view. Instinctively, you won't like it that way.You need to feel as if you have a free field of vision, especially the peripheral vision to the sides.

Back Light. We've talked about overhead light, side light, and light bouncing up off the water. What else? Light from behind you can also reflect off of the inside surface of your lenses and impact your underwater vision. Ideally, an anti-reflective coating on the inside of the lenses will help to prevent this.  

Last but not least. Look for a shatter-proof lens material. Most sunglasses today use a variety of space age polycarbonate-like resin similar to the material in NASA astronauts' space shields. Polycarbonate is ultra-lightweight material and tough. I suggest you avoid glass lenses if you can because I feel they are too heavy to wear all day, more uncomfortable, and more prone to slippage and breakage than some other materials. Along these lines, a light, resilient frame made of plastic, nylon, graphite or similar material is desirable to me, and they don't absorb as much heat as a metal frame absorbs from sunlight.

A Word about Color. The orangish amber lenses are not the most stylish color, but they are the optimum lenses for fishing in broad daylight - at least for my eyes. This color cuts the sunlight's glare, and gives you the ability to see under the cover of the water's reflective surface. They offer high contrast and improved depth perception. You can see clearer and with less distortion. Glare and haze that normally blur our field of underwater view are neutralized. Most importantly, anything green, including old moss back, will stick out like a sore thumb against a non-green background.

For general boating,  fishing muddy water or deep water, a neutral gray lens is more attractive and more functional than amber. Optically, a gray lens provides uniform absorption of most colors in the spectrum. Grey creates neither color distortion nor enhancement. Gray provides an accurate, precise shading for your eyes on the most brilliant of sunny days.

Do you see what I see? If you want to spot shallow or surface-oriented fish underwater, the amber-colored lenses we describe here will help you big time with bigmouth bass. Being green, the amber filter will contrast and enhance the bass against any non-green backdrop. So you can start out with a pair of shades to give yourself an advantage, but it is still not that easy yet. You see, bass survive in part by blending into their backgrounds. They use light diffusion and irregular body patterns to break up their forms, and physical cover to hide themselves from sight. If you want to spot fish, you cannot look for them outright. You will rarely just see a fish out in the open. You must train your eyes to look for movement in the water, any movement at all, even something that at first does not resemble or that seems unlikely to be a bass. So, you are not looking for fish, you are looking for movement. This is exactly what scientists say bass do. They do not look for bait to eat, they look for movement. In fact, one scientific study claimed that certain predator fish cannot help but look at movement. Once their eye spots movement, the eye physically becomes fixated upon it, and cannot turn itself away even if it wanted to! Some prey species instinctively realize this, and their bodies lock up like rigor mortis has set in. They cannot swim to escape even if they wanted to! This is a survival instinct, and they will not be eaten if they don't move, because the fish won't even look at them if they stay perfectly still! And neither will you see a bass that stays perfectly still. Oh, you may think you saw it, but what you really saw first was its gills breathing or fins moving. In current areas, there is a reverse effect, an optical illusion, whereby a motionless fish will catch your eye because it is just sitting there while the rest of the water moves past it.

So remember, look for movement, and forget about shape. You will rarely be able to see an entire body outline, due to cover, camouflage, light diffusion, angle, etc. Once you see something moving, lock onto it and try to determine if what you see may fit into the approximate length or width expected of a bass. Even if you can only make out a part of the body, there are not that many other species with the robust length and width proportions of bass. Also learn to recognize the tail pattern of a bass as opposed to a carp or other wide-bodied species.

Name Some Names. In the remainder of this article, we will continue to provide important facts about fishing and vision, and we will also showcase some great pairs of bass fishing shades that are both stylish and functional.

Click here for more information and to order Costa Del Mar online at shades.comAmerica's # 1 Polarized Sunglasses: Costa Del Mar is known for the highest quality sun lens in the world. In addition to high quality and fashion, they use ophthalmic-grade materials and follow professional standards of old world eyeglass craftsmanship. Their polarization process provide 100% UV protection and filters blue light thereby eliminating glare. Glare is high intensity light 7 to 10 times brighter than normal light. Glare can cause temporary blindness, eyestrain leading to headaches, and it impairs your vision for several hours thereafter. Glare is particularly harmful to fishermen because water, even fog or rain, has natural reflective properties that enhance reflected glare. All Costa Del Mar sunglasses are polarized to eliminate glare. The remaining light falls in a narrow range of intensity allowing fishermen to enjoy viewing comfort, greater depth perception and true color contrast.

Click here for more information and to order Costa Del Mar online at
Frames are nylon, graphite, or nylon-composite. Prices range from $72 and above.

The Hammerheads are a newer style of wrap-arounds that fit closely. The frame and side arms are designed to help prevent side and back light from leaking in and impacting your underwater vision. The lightweight graphite frame Pro Sport has also been recently redesigned. It now comes with an even wider lens than you see above, wrapping around the sides of the frame to provide a wider field of vision and to limit side light.

Click here for more information and to order H2Optix online at shades.comDesigned for high performance water sports, the H2Optix Marine Vision System is a series of sunglasses by world famous SERENGETI EYEWEAR. Polarized space-age polycarbonate lenses provide virtually 100% UV protection and water sheeting action. Extra-rugged frames have a soft FLEX-GRIP system on the temples and nosepad to stay in place no matter what extremes you go to. And they’re so ultra-lightweight (less than 1 ounce) that you won’t even know they’re there.

Click here for more information and to order H2Optix online at
Retail Price: $99   Your Price: $69 -- Save $30!

The Laguna and Atlantic are the most stylish best sellers. They both feature a wider-angled lens that partially reduces ambient side light. The St. Croix and Tahiti both have side shields to block light from the side. The Tahiti has the desirable thin side post so as not to block your side vision. Gulfstream and Seminole aviator styles are also available with the Marine Vision System lenses.

Click here for more information and to order Smith Moab II online at shades.comSMITH, MOAB II Many high performance boaters prefer sports goggles. It's the best choice for fishing huge impoundments and rivers where you often have to travel many miles at high speed between hotspots harboring fish. The Smith Moab II sport shield includes three lenses, easily interchangeable to give you tremendous versatility. Most importantly, a clear lens provides eye protection from wind and weather while travelling under low light conditions. The lenses are hardcoated polycarbonate for optical quality and high impact resistance. And the aerodynamic wrap lens minimizes the adverse effects of sunlight and wind. The frame is lightweight and designed for a secure fit. The nosepiece becomes tacky when wet, keeping the sportshield firmly in place during a bouncy ride. A browbar air dam forces air down the inside surface of the lens to help reduce fogging. You can't beat these babes for what they do for under $50 dollars.

Click here for more information and to order Eagle Eyes online at shades.comSome years ago, I stayed at a Red Lion hotel in Seattle, Washington on business. It was right on the banks of the mighty Columbia River. You could walk out the back door of the hotel and start casting, and that's exactly what I did the first night right after dinner. Well the river was up, pulling hard and red with mud, but the night was not a total loss. You see, I caught a late night infomercial for Eagle Eyes on TV. The infomercial claimed that the lenses in Eagle Eyes glasses provide you with the synthetic equivalent of an eagle’s vision. Eagles are sight feeders and see best in broad daylight - much better than we do. In fact, they have the best vision of any animal on the planet. And do you know what eagles spend a lot of their time doing? Looking under the cover of the water's reflective surface for fish to catch, just like you and I do! The price was right, they came in a protective aluminum case with a lifetime guarantee against normal breakage. I bought two pairs then, another pair a few years ago at K-Mart, but have lost them all.

Of course, you cannot honestly compare Eagle Eyes to other higher-priced eyewear. But in my book, they are the best pair out there for under $20 dollars and then some! The lenses are polycarbonate and, like all eyewear at any price, you can expect them to scratch if you don't take care of them. But a real bonus here is that your Eagle Eyes come in a crush-proof aluminum case and with a lifetime replacement guaranty, even for scratches.

Other manufacturers. There are many other fine brands and styles of sunglasses that bass fishermen can benefit from wearing on the water. We only wanted to mention just a few of them here to illustrate fishin' with vision. See you out on the water!

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