There are a wide variety of polarized lens colors available from all the major brands of polarized sunglasses for fishing.
Which color to choose for your polarized fishing sunglasses depends completely on what kind of light situations you will be doing most of your fishing in.
Here is a quick summary below and read on for full details including the best color polarized lens for fishing from the top three brands:
- Saltwater – Blue lenses, Green lenses, Black and Gray lenses; mirrored an extra advantage
- Freshwater – Bronze lenses, Copper lenses, and Brown polarized lenses
- Low light conditions – Yellow polarized lenses
Best Lens Colors for Saltwater Fishing
Saltwater fishing means LOTS of light and lots of glare and long days of sight fishing. More often than not you have light bouncing off the water and, if you are offshore fishing, off your boat deck or kayak as you are trying to spot fish.
Polarized sunglasses will always cut out the glare, but in saltwater, you also need to stop a large percentage of the light from reaching your eyes to prevent eye strain
You should aim for a Variable Light Transmission (VLT) rating [EXPLAINED BELOW] of less than 20% (meaning at most 20% of ambient light will be allowed through the lenses). Choosing a wrap-around frame is a good idea for this type of fishing.
The best polarized lens colors for saltwater fishing sunglasses are usually blue and green, but black and dark gray fishing sunglasses will also work. For saltwater conditions, a mirrored lens is also an advantage.
Best Saltwater Lens Colors for the Major Brands:
- Costa del Mar: Blue Mirror Lenses (VLT 10%), Green Mirror (VLT 10%),
- Maui Jim: Neutral Gray, Maui Rose
- Smith: Green Mirror (VLT 11%), Blue Mirror (VLT 12%)
Best Lens Colors for Freshwater Fishing
For freshwater sight fishing, you need lenses that can cope with a range of light conditions. In the course of the day, you might be casting into a tree-covered pool in a shaded glade or on a pebbly river in the bright sun. You need a polarized lens that is adaptable. That means choosing a medium VLT or going with a polarchromic lens like the Smith ones mentioned below that vary their VLT rating according to the light. This is great technology and they are perfect for fly fishing but also for lure anglers. The versatile lenses are also great for everyday activities and for driving.
- Costa del Mar: Copper Silver Mirror (VLT 12%), Gray Mirror (VLT 12%), Copper Mirror (VLT 12%), and Sunrise Silver Mirror (VLT 25%)
- Maui Jims: Maui HT, HCL Bronze
- Smith: Polarchromic Copper Lens (VLT 13-20%), Polarchromic Ignitor (VLT 12-20%)
Best Lens Colors for Low Light Conditions
Cloudy days mean more glare on the water and less light, so you need a lens with a high VLT for your polarized fishing sunglasses. If you are fly fishing for trout and want to fish the evening rise or sight fishing in low light, then this is especially important. The highest VLT available that we are aware of is the yellow lens in Smith’s Low Light Ignitors and many fly fishermen have these as well as a more general pair of polarized fishing glasses. (See our full guide to more on choosing polarized fishing sunglasses for low light conditions for more info)
- Costa Del Mar: Sunrise Silver Mirror (VLT 25%)
- Maui Jims: Maui HT
- Smith: Low Light Ignitor (VLT 40%)
What Does VLT Mean for Sunglasses?
The percentage of ambient light that reaches your eyes through your lenses is called Visible Light Transmission (VLT). By using different lens colors and materials manufacturers can produce sunglasses in a range of different VLT percentages. Good quality sunglasses always have the VLT percentage listed as it is crucial for deciding if they are the right glasses for the customer.
- 0–20% VLT: Good for high-light saltwater fishing conditions
- 21–40% VLT: Good for freshwater fishing conditions
- >40% VLT: Best for overcast and low-light conditions.
What Are the Best Polarized Sunglasses for Fishing?
Check our full guide here.