Continuing from the first part of our Best Sunglasses of 2011 feature, we detail the remaining pairs of fishing glasses we found to stand out from the competition.
Costa Fantail 580G
Costa is one of the few companies out there that design sunglasses solely or primarily for fishing. While other companies have either had fishing as part of their focus for years or have grown their fishing focus rapidly in recent years, Costa is one of a select group that cares about fisherman first and foremost. And it shows. Costa's designs are built from the ground up with fishing in mind, not adapted as an afterthought.
What We Liked
The 580 glass is Costa's premium glass, and is heavier than its 400G counterpart. That said, we'd welcome a chance to test the 400 glass as well, given that the Costa Fantail 580G was by far the lightest wearing of all the glass-lens pairs we tested. In fact, there were times we wondered whether we received a pair with polycarbonate lenses by accident but as it turns out, these glasses are just that light. Costa claims that the 580 glass is offers the highest clarity on the market, and while we found offerings from Maui Jim and Smith Optics to be at least as clear if not clearer, we had absolutely no complaints with Costa's glass. The clarity was superb.
The other clear standout feature of Costa's Fantail (and most other glasses), a feature which no doubt is a genesis of the aforementioned fishermen-first thinking at Costa, is the full Megol coating on virtually every surface that touches your body. Familiar places like nose pads and temples are Hydrolite™ (similar to Megol) coated, but so is the entire underside of the frames. Every place these glasses touch you, they stick. Hang upside down, try to shake 'em off, they stick. Whenever we wore the Fantails, we ditched the leash. No matter what the conditions, these things just don't fall off.
Revo Guide with Water Lens
Revo's Guide sunglasses are part of a relatively new line by Revo which is geared toward people who spend most of their time on the water. Revo's Water Lens a polycarbonate plastic lens that is designed to reduce the impact of blue light, allowing greens and reds to shine through. While most at home in deep water locations (oceans and lakes), the water lens is also well suited to uses on streams and rivers. The Guide is built on Revo's Eco-Use platform, which is a nylon frame material made from the seed of the castor bean plant instead of petroleum. This makes Revo feel green and fuzzy inside, and they expect it will make you feel the same. The Guide also packs a whole host of other features, such as a hydroleophobic coating, high-contrast polarization, and an integrated leash system.
What We Liked
As a general rule, we're glass lens people. For me, personally, I've never found a pair of plastic or polycarbonate lenses that can stand up to glass lenses in terms of clarity and I've never understood the constant complaints from glass-lens detractors about how heavy they wear during the course of a day. The Revo Guide sunglasses have served to change my opinion on both these parts. These lenses are good. Are they glass good? Probably not. But don't be mistaken, these lenses are crisp and clear with excellent polarization. And that whole bit about how polycarbonate lenses are the solution for people who find the weight of sunglasses with glass lenses unpleasant? Apparently that's spot on. It's not that I've all the sudden realized that I unknowingly couldn't bear the weight of glass lenses -- they don't bother me -- but I have been introduced to the joys of how light polycarbonate is. These glasses are shockingly light, due both to their polycarbonate lenses and the Eco-Use frame material. On several occasions I, quite literally, forgot I was wearing them.
Not to go unmentioned is the Guide's integrated leash system. Revo has added this feature to the Guide and a few other styles. The glasses ship with an included leash that snaps into the frames at the temples. The result is a leash attached more snugly to your glasses than most traditional leashes and one that, more importantly, attaches seamlessly. No rubber pulling at the hair behind your ears, no big connectors digging into the sides of your head and driving you crazy. The integrated leash is a welcome feature that left us wondering why no one had thought of this before.
Maui Jim Cliff House
The advantages of building a best of list about something you're not experts on is that you get to make up the rules. Feet to the coals, we'd probably admit that there are other glasses better suited to the rigors of fishing than the Maui Jim Cliff House. That said, the Cliff House has served us well on many a fishing outing and will continue to do so into the future. The Cliff House packs Maui's HCL bronze lens, an excellent, versatile lens with superb polarization that is a fixture in fishing sunglasses around the globe.
What We Liked
The Cliff House is an aviator-style pair of wire-framed sunglasses from Maui Jim. As a general rule, wire-framed glasses aren't most angler's first choice because of the fact that they're delicate compared to their plastic framed counterparts and because they usually have significant coverage issues. Plastic framed styles typically offer greater coverage, more commonly have wrap around styling, and block ambient light better. Wire framed glasses are much more subject to light bleed. The Cliff House glasses, however, are a larger aviator-style pair of glasses that offer significantly better coverage than other wired-framed styles we've tested (though they admittedly don't compare to plastic framed pairs).
They also wear very light. Even with Maui's HCL Bronze lens, the Cliff House wears as light as the Revo Guide we liked so much for its easy wearing. Still, the main reason for the Cliff House making our list is styling. Suffice it to say that without the aforementioned coverage and weight perks, we couldn't have included it, but given them we're able to include a break from the norm. After years of black and tortoise shell plastic frames, it's nice to change things up. And they look cool. You haven't forgotten that sunglasses look cool, have you? People start wearing sunglasses for the same reason they start smoking. One is a habit well worth holding on to, the other, not so much.
There are seemingly countless pairs of sunglasses on the market these days. Some come from manufacturers which hold quality and optics sacred while other come from style-first outfits. In today's day and age, though, you can have both. In recent years, there are more and more options designed specifically for those who fish available to us, as manufacturers focus more and more attention on a huge population of sportsmen and women to whom vision is paramount. Though there are no doubt dozens of other excellent pairs of glasses out there available to purchase, these represent our favorite of those we've had the privilege to test over the last 12 months. Hopefully, should you decide to dive in to any one of these pairs, you'll end up thinking we know what we're talking about.