I’m a sunglass snob. As a sight-fisherman who spends hours searching the water for one shot at a trophy cobia or red drum, I have a good excuse for only wearing the best shades available. With so much riding on the line, I choose sunglasses with top-quality lenses and form-fitting frames. I have a drawer full of rejects that slip down my nose or fog up in the heat. Not only do I demand the best sunglasses, but I’ve found a system of three different sunglasses that I wear every day on the water.

All Light

For sight casting inshore waters, I use Costa del Mar’s 580 G copper lens. The glass lenses offer the clearest view available with 100 percent UV and polarization. The 580 lens blocks more harsh blue and yellow light while enhancing other colors. They even coat the lens with a scratch and dirt-resistant coating that makes water bead up and roll off. Glass lenses are a little heavier than polycarbonate, but the clarity and scratch resistance make up for extra weight.

I’ve settled on the Tuna Alley frames that fit my face without fogging up. Lenses must balance glare and sun blocking tint while letting in enough light to allow target separation. The copper lens is perfect for picking out dark objects in green water, like a cobia swimming on the surface of Chesapeake Bay.

Bright Light

I originally picked up a pair of Costa del Mar 580 glass blue mirror gray lenses for offshore fishing. The gray lenses and blue mirror block the harsh offshore light bouncing off sapphire blue water to spot a white marlin chasing a ballyhoo. Recently, I started wearing the gray lenses inshore during the brightest part of the day. A few years ago, I started returning from inshore sight fishing trips essentially blind. My eyes were so sun stressed that I could hardly drive. I may lose a little target separation, but I save my eyes. As the sun gets lower, I’ll switch back to the copper lenses.

Low Light

I recently completed my sun protection three-stage with a pair of Costa del Mar Sunrise Silver Mirror lenses. These are the most eye-friendly shades in my quiver. The yellow lens and light silver mirror lets in 30 percent of sunlight, compared to 12 percent for their other lenses) which is perfect for early morning and dusk.

They still offer 100 percent polarization and UV protection. The shades won’t miraculously clear the clouds on an overcast day or allow me to sight fish in the dark, but the light weight 580 polycarbonate lens is a nice break from my heavier glass lenses. I also find myself grabbing the Sunrise Silver Mirrors on land, too.

They are so comfortable without straining my eyes that I wear them anytime I’m not on the water. The yellow color improves target separation and the light silver mirror knocks down glare for high-definition performance. The best thing is all three lenses come in my favorite Tuna Alley frame that fits my face while still allowing ventilation to clear fog and sweat.

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Ric Burnley
“Thank God my dad wasn’t a podiatrist,” jokes Ric about following in the footsteps of a famous outdoor writer. After graduating from Radford University and serving two years in Russia with the Peace Corps, Ric returned to Virginia Beach and started writing for The Fisherman magazine, where his dad was editor. When the kayak fishing scene exploded, Ric was among the first to get onboard. His 2007 book, The Complete Kayak Fisherman is one of the first tomes to introduce anglers to paddle fishing and hundreds of articles and seminars have brought countless anglers into the fold. When he’s not chasing every fish that swims, Ric teaches English at a school for at-risk teens.


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