Choosing The Right Color Lens For Your Fishing

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Two lens colors anglers should utilize in their polarized sunglasses. Photo By: Louis Cahill

Polarized sunglasses are one of the most critical pieces of gear an angler can equip themselves with on the water.

They significantly cut down the glare on the water so you can spot fish and read water more effectively. Without them an angler can feel naked and ill-equipped. Polarized sunglasses play so many important roles in everyday fly fishing, and making a point to choose the right lens color before you hit the river can end up adding or subtracting to your overall success on the water. I carry two different pair of sunglasses with me at all times. Depending on the fishing location, time of day, and available light, I’ll choose one over the other.

Yellow Lens (Low Light Conditions)

Early morning and late evening hours when the sun is low in the horizon and off the water I prefer to wear polarized sunglasses with yellow lens. They increase the contrast and brighten everything a couple notches. I also prefer yellow lens when I’m fishing heavily canopied streams. Sometimes even in the middle of the day, there are many places where the sun doesn’t penetrate the canopy, and you’ll find yellow lens are the only way to go for these shady low light conditions. Nasty weather days when its cloudy and rainy, yellow lens perform well. The winter brings with it limited sunshine on the water, since the sun doesn’t move across the horizon as high, and wearing yellow lens solves this problem. You don’t want to go 100% with a yellow lens for every day fishing though. During high light levels you won’t get the contrast you’ll need, but they do perform extraordinarily well in niche low light situations.

Amber Lens (Moderate to High Light Conditions)

If you only had the luxury to choose one color lens for fishing, there’s no better color choice than amber. Day in and day out it’s the best all around color lens for performing well in conditions across the board. Amber performs well from moderate to high level light conditions, and it copes relatively well in lower light conditions as well. Extreme low light conditions aren’t ideal for amber lens, but it’s not everyday your going to encounter those conditions. Whether your fishing saltwater or freshwater, amber is the color lens most anglers decide to wear and fish with because of its ability to perform in a wide range conditions.

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline

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11 thoughts on “Choosing The Right Color Lens For Your Fishing

  1. I wish this post had come out a few days ago, I just wasted money on a pair of sunglasses that seem to be great for driving but I doubt they’ll work on the river. Especially since I head to Duke’s tomorrow and it will be shady I’m sure. Shoot.

  2. This becomes pretty important for us that have to wear prescription glasses. Makes it a bit more expensive to try and have multiple lenses. My amber magnetic clips do wonderfully in most conditions as mentioned.

    • Toby,

      Your correct it can get expensive. Smith Optics and other sunglass optic companies offer prescription sunglasses if you provide them with the appropriate information. Its much cheaper than going through your eye doctor’s office.

      If uou fish enough and different places you will find times when amber lens will be too dark and yellow is lens will reign supreme. That being said, your right that in most cases amber will perform great.

      If your budget only can handle one pair, amber is the choice for you.

      Thanks for the comment.


  3. Let me forward this to my optician. I have driven her crazy with prescription sunglasses, contacts and my most recent request for a monocle. She just doesn’t understand…..

  4. Pingback: How to Select and Size Fit Over Polarized Sunglasses - Guide Recommended

  5. Another option for low light is a rose colored lens. Rose colored lenses are used often in cycling and mountain biking applications in rainy or heavy canopied trails. I use them in low light and I like them, although I don’t know that they are better or as good as yellow.

  6. Hands down, for Western streams Smith Chromapop is the only answer. I’ve put Maui’s, Costa’s and Zeiss lenses through the paces but my Chromapops out shine them all. Clarity, sharpness and they gather the right light even on 90 degree direct sun days. Save yourself money & time & just get Smith’s.

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