Whether you are out on the flats chasing redfish, a big freestone stream in Wyoming drifting for cutthroats, trolling a big musky lake in Minnesota, or wading some East Tennessee tailwater for rainbows, good sunglasses can play a major part in the success of your day. We’ll help you find the Best Fishing Sunglasses Under $50. Are sunglasses more important in catching fish than knowledge of the water, experience chasing fish, or presentation of your fly? Well, no, but they do provide you with more comfort which lessens eye fatigue allowing you to be more alert later in the day. They can also help you spot fish around you to get the best angle on your presentation and can help you see your fly or strike indicator in a glare.
Best Fishing Sunglasses Under $50
Do you need to spend $250 for a good pair of fishing sunglasses? The simple answer is no, there are good sunglasses out there for $50 dollars or less. Sometimes it’s just not in the budget to drop $250, or you’re new to the fishing scene and are not quite ready to splurge on a pair of sunglasses just to help out on the water. We’ve been there and have found some great lesser known shades to help you have a great day on the water.
Why Use Sunglasses for Fly Fishing?
Sight Fishing and Polarization
In a lot of fishing scenarios, being able to spot fish beneath the surface is a huge part of being successful on the water. This is especially true when looking for schools of fish on salt flats or when searching for feeding lanes on a trout stream. If anyone has tried to spot a line of rainbows in a feeding lane, you know that they blend into their surroundings incredibly well. Add the glare of the sun coming off the water, and it is almost impossible to see them unless you get a rise or catch a split second shimmer of their bellies.
Polarized sunglasses reflect the uniform glare that often comes off a flat, reflective surface such as the water that is blinding to our eyes. By filtering out the glare, we can get a better view of the water surface where we can see fish just below the surface and keep a better eye on our fly or other topwater action.
Check out this video that demonstrates the view you have of the river without polarization vs with polarized sunglasses. Check out the fish lined up in their feeding lanes. This also lets you see where in the water column the fish are feeding.
With sunglasses in this price range, the quality of polarization can swing pretty wildly from decent to non-existent and everywhere in between. We will make it clear where these shades fall on the spectrum. In some cases, a few of these sunglasses might not even be polarized, but have anti-glare coatings that honestly work better than other sunglasses in this price range that claim to be polarized.
Just as you generously apply sunscreen for a full day on the beach, our eyes also need protection from UV rays and being on the water only enhances this need for protection. A good pair of fishing glasses, and any sunglasses really, are going to come with treated lenses to block harmful UV rays. Lenses should be rated to block both UVA and UVB rays. If you are like us, you plan on fishing until your too old to get out of bed and protecting your eyes now will make that goal a lot easier later on.
They also provide physical protection for your eyes. A personal story of mine is a great example of this protection, or better yet, a lack of one.
I was trying to put a little #22 BH zebra midge up against a bank I knew a big Brown was feeding along. Low hanging branches all along a 20-foot stretch that encompassed where the fish had been feeding shadowed the bank. A couple of conservative casts weren’t getting the fly where I wanted it, so I got a bit more aggressive. That aggression led to a fly hooked in a branch almost directly above where I thought the Brown was and as I tried to dislodge the midge, the branch began smacking the water erratically. In a fit of disappointment and anger, I jerked my rod, and that midge popped me right below the eye and dangled there, lodged into my skin.
After a few minutes with a rearview mirror, a sharp knife, and some iodine I was able to get back in the water. Yes, common sense probably should have protected me, but a pair of sunglasses would have also done the trick. And I never caught that fish.
Better Clarity and Contrast
With the proper lens tints in the right conditions, sunglasses can enhance the contrast of the surrounding area by bringing shadowed areas into focus. This is great for spotting structures jutting out of the water or lurking just beneath the surface while trolling and especially for trying to keep your eye on a little size 18 adult midge pattern on the water. Great sunglasses enhance this contrast and clarity and should never detract from it. The lens tint of the glasses plays a large role in the contrast and clarity of the sunglasses. Certain shades are better for certain light environments, and we will be sure to take a look at this when we review our picks.
Here is a tip for choosing lens color from one of my favorite bass anglers, Mr. Iaconelli.
Look like you know what you are doing
Sometimes a little confidence is all that is needed. We’ve all been there. And while function is important, most of us are at least a little concerned with the aesthetics as well. No one wants a gaudy looking pair of shades. Style preference is going to differ from angler to angler, so we have tried to provide several different styles.
Best Fishing Sunglasses Under $50
Before we get into this list, we want to mention one particular facet of sunglasses that we are not going to address; how they feel and fit on your face. This is probably the most important factor and honestly, how could we possibly know how these sunglasses are going to fit you? That said, there are often sizing charts provided with some of the better brands. Once you figure out a general width that fit your face, you can shop more confidently online.
Fisherman Eyewear Pro Current Guideline Sunglasses
The Pro Current sunglasses from Fisherman Eyewear is our first pick for fishing sunglasses under fifty bucks. These glasses feature fully rimmed lenses as well as a nice curvature that helps cover your peripherals from incoming light. We also like the wider temples and think they will give you a bit more support on your head.
The frame is made from durable nylon which resists breaking, but that doesn’t mean they won’t ever break. All of the options for this line have a kind of modified square shape, but they do come with different finishes.
One of the distinguishing features of these glasses is the wrap design at the tail end of the temples. We like it because of the added stability, and they don’t feel like they are going to fall off every time you bend down towards the water.
You have several options for lens tinting including a gray, brown, and amber shading. For fishing, the gray tint is a good all-around weather tint while the other shades are a little better for low light as well as contrast and depth perception. Amber is a great color for working shallow water. The lenses are polycarbonate, so they are clear and lightweight, but not very scratch resistant. This material is also highly shatter resistant and shouldn’t be an issue for normal use.
These lenses are treated to be 100% protective from UVA and UVB rays and that is a big component for a pair of shades landing on this list.
Strike King Polarized Okeechobee Sunglasses
The Okeechobee sunglasses from Strike King are polarized sunglasses that feature a wide rim design that help reduces glare from all directions. These are designed with Strike King’s new S11 optic technology that features multi-layered lenses to provide natural coloring and enhanced contrast to the eye and provides 100% polarization and UV protection.
Besides the polarization from the lens material, these glasses come with an additional anti-reflective coating and bi-gradient mirror treatment that helps reduce glare from sunlight entering from above or below from bouncing off the back of the lens into your eyes. While these sunglasses offer excellent glare protection and clarity, they do not have much protection against scratching.
You have several options when it comes to frame finishes and lens tints with the Okeechobee sunglasses. For the lenses, you do have a couple of options with a white-blue mirroring finish along with an amber or gray base tint. There are also amber and gray tints without the mirroring coating if you don’t care for that style.
We are not sure what the frame is made from, but they feel like a cheaper nylon material. It makes them lightweight, but we wonder how well these will stand up to dropping and getting sat on over time. It does seem clear that a lot more attention was given to the design of the lenses.
Overall, there are some pros and cons to these sunglasses. We are not completely sold on the frame’s durability, but the lenses are one of the best for sunglasses in this price range.
Flying Fisherman Cape Horn Sunglasses
These shades are currently in stock in our store!
The Cape Horn sunglasses are very lightweight (1.1oz) and have large wrap frames. The temples are extra wide where they are connected to the rims of the frame. This wide design along with the curvature of the lens/rim gives you a lot of protection around your peripherals and keeps a lot of light out of your eyes, especially side glare. We also like the vented nose pads, which will help prevent the glasses from fogging.
Like the Strike King sunglasses, you do have the option for mirroring if you are looking to make a fashion statement, or if you are in a very high light and reflective environment. This mirror coating can further reduce the amount of incoming light. The actual options for lens tints are gray, amber, and yellow-amber.
We like the polarization of these sunglasses. They use triacetate lenses, which is fantastic for polarization. These glasses do offer 100% protection from UVA and UVB as these lenses are a unique layering of TAC and PC (polycarbonate). We also like the contrast that these sunglasses give you while keeping a lot of the natural coloring.
These sunglasses appear to be on the smaller side regarding fit, but again, that’s just in general and might not be the case for you. They also come with a limited one-year warranty which is pretty good for sunglasses in this price range.
Tifosi Jet Wrap Sunglasses
The Jet Wrap sunglasses from Tifosi are a little bit different regarding style from the other options we have discussed so far. These are a much more skeletal design with smaller diameter temples and no rim around the sides and bottom of the lenses. The frames are made from a quality nylon material that is very light. These shades are designed for use in the heat or high activity sports which is why they are designed to let a lot of airflow through to keep the lenses from fogging up.
As far as lenses go, you do have several tint options including gray, green, gray/blue, and brown so you can pick a tint that suits your fishing situation. These lenses are not treated for scratch resistance, and they are polycarbonate so you have to protect them if you don’t want scratch marks across your vision. The green lenses are interesting and might be something you consider if you like to fish spinner falls in late in the evening in low light conditions. Amber or yellow lenses also do well in these situations.
The lenses are made of polycarbonate and are fully treated for UVA and UVB protection. The lenses also have an interesting vented design feature that helps keep the glasses from fogging up. These lenses are treated for anti-glare properties, but they are not fully polarized. They do a good job at reducing the amount of glare, and honestly, they are better than most sunglasses in this price range that claims to be fully polarized.
These glasses also have hydrophilic rubber nose and temple guards which provide more comfort, and it also helps keep a good grip when things get wet, whether from the water your on or from perspiration.
While the sunglasses presented above may not perform as well or as long as shades in the one hundred to two hundred range, these sunglasses we have picked are good options for fishermen on a budget, or if you simply want a backup pair for the truck or boat.
Regardless of your price range, any sunglasses you choose to bring onto the water should provide you the necessary protection and comfort. And hopefully, it all leads to more fish on the end of your line.