Oakley Clifden Review: Top Fly Fishing Sunglasses

Oakley are better known for action sports sunglasses (think skiing and cycling), but to give you a little secret, they also make some great sunglasses for fishing. In this article, …

Oakley are better known for action sports sunglasses (think skiing and cycling), but to give you a little secret, they also make some great sunglasses for fishing.

In this article, we review the Oakley Clifden model, which is a top pick for fishermen and women, thanks in part to the side shields that block light getting in behind the lenses.

Oakley Clifden Sunglasses Review: Great for Fly Fishing

The Clifden’s come in a range of lens colors and types, and the type we recommend for anglers is the polarized range of Oakley Clifden sunglasses models.

Oakley offers four different lens colors in this range for different fishing conditions, which we describe below.

But first a word on the Oakley Clifden frames. These are sunglasses that are good for fishing in active situations – think wading and climbing over boulders in a trout stream.

The matte black nylon frames are relatively lightweight and the bridge that sits on your nose is made of a material called Unobtainium gets stickier and tackier the more you sweat, keeping the frames in place.

This is great for fishing when you often have sunscreen on your nose as well as perspiration to factor in.

And they come with a 20″ coated woven steel leash to give extra protection, which is great for saltwater fishing or anywhere where you are fishing in deepwater and dropping your sunglasses means they are gone forever!

The other selling point of the Oakley Clifden sunglasses is that they are offered in prescription lenses!

See also: Our guide to the best prescription polarized sunglasses for fishing

Oakley Clifden Prizm Lens Technology

Oakley’s flagship lens technology is Prizm, which the company says enhances color and contrast and allows you to see more detail.

The Prizm lenses filter out distracting colors creating a vivid view of the landscape that is pleasing to the eye.

The Prizm lens technology extends across the Oakley sunglasses range – both polarized and non polarized.

But as we have a fishing-orientated audience, we are going to look at the polarized models as we know how vital having great polarized sunglasses (see our review of the leading brands including Oakley) is for sight fishing, as well as reducing eye strain in bright light conditions.

See also: Why Buying Polarized sunglasses is worth it for fishing

Oakley Clifden Prizm Polarized Lens Technology Review

Here below we review each of the key polarized lenses that come in the Oakley Clifden frames to help you select the best Prizm polarized lens for the type of fishing that you do.

1.Prizm Tungsten Polarized

The Prizm Tungsten Polarized is a bronze colored lens that has a light transmission of 14% and is a good fit for everyday to sunny light situations. This is a great choice as an allrounder.

  • VLT of 14%
  • Bronze base tint, warm feel, good contrast
  • Versatile, non mirrored – great everyday lenses able to cope with sun and partly cloudy conditions

2.Clifden Prizm Deep Water Polarized

The Prizm Deep Water Polarized blocks a little more light than the Tungsten Polarized lens with a visible light transmission (VLT) of 12%. This a great lens choice for boat based fishing on the open ocean or lake fishing. The lens itself is an attractive blue mirror color.

  • Filters out specific blue hues to improve under-surface vision
  • Increased contrast & detail
  • Not ideal lenses for dawn, dusk or overcast days

3.Prizm Shallow Water Polarized

This is Oakley’s best flats fishing lens – it lets in a little more light than the Deep Water Polarized lens with a VLT of 15%.

These are great not only for saltwater flats fishing, but also for fly fishing or lure fishing in lakes and rivers too.

The lens itself is an attractive green mirror color.

  • Enhances green and copper hues to help define shadows, kill off glare and see fish
  • Ideal lenses for seeing underwater structure
  • Versatile lenses – OK for partly cloudy conditions as well as intense light

5. Prizm 24k Polarized

The 24K is Oakley’s bright light lens in the Prizm lens technology range with a VLT of 11%. These are ideal for beach or surf fishing in bright light conditions. They come in a gold mirror color.

  • Best lenses for intense light conditions
  • Bronze base for a warmer appearance of colors
  • Good to block glare driving into the sun

Oakley Clifden Lens Spec Table

Prizm LensVisible Light TransmissionSuited for
Tungsten14%All round use
24k11%Bright sun, beaches
Deepwater Polarized12%Blue water angling
Shallow Water Polarized15%Flats and river/lake fishing

Conclusion on our Oakley Clifden Review

Oakley’s Clifden range of sunglasses is a great choice for fishing. The round-eyed look is a retro style that will appeal to anglers who aren’t so keen on the wrap-around models that Oakley is well known for.

The side shields won’t appeal to everyone, but they are detachable so you have the option to wear them without the removable side shields when you are off the water and in the bar!

The Oakley Clifden is a high quality lightweight model with the non-slip nose bridge (which they call a removable bridge blocker) and the coated woven steel leash key features for keeping your eyewear securely fastened even when you slip over in a creek or river.

Both the Unobtainium side shields and the leash can be easily detached.

The Oakley Clifden Prizm Polarized sunglasses range is available with prescription lenses in each of the lens types mentioned here.

If Oakley keep producing fishing glasses like these it will soon find itself challenging leading brands such as Smith, Costa Del Mar and Maui Jim in the polarized sunglasses for fishing category.

The one thing the Oakley range lacks in our view is a real low-light polarized fishing lens for fishing in shadows and at dawn or dusk or on overcast days. Check out our roundup of the best low light polarized sunglasses including the Smith Low Light Ignitors here.

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Rick Wallace is a passionate angler and fly fisher whose work has appeared in fishing publications including FlyLife. He's appeared in fishing movies, founded a successful fishing site and spends every spare moment on the water. He's into kayak fishing, ultralight lure fishing and pretty much any other kind of fishing out there.
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