[Rebuttal] Lens Color Does Matter for Fishing
Posted on February 13, 2017
Kirk Deeter wrote a Field & Stream article back in 2013 stating that lens color doesn’t matter for sight fishing. We disagree, but more importantly, the facts disagree.
His basic premise is that you should train your eyes to adapt to various conditions by wearing one tint consistently. This assertion does not appear to be based on anything other than mere conjecture.
His statement that you can “go broke buying different glasses for every situation”, leads one to believe his opinion is primarily guided by frugality, rather than facts. Fair enough, but if that’s your reason just leave it there! Nobody’s eyes will overcome the limits of our biology.
We’ve done research on the topic of lens colors and cannot find any optical authority who would agree with Deeter’s premise about adapting your eyes to different conditions with the same lens color. The fact is that different lens tints are designed for different conditions.
Deeter does agree with the fact that polarized lenses greatly enhance your fishing abilities, especially for sight fishing. If you would like more information on the benefits of polarized lenses, along with how and why they work so well, check out our article on the Breakline blog: What Are Polarized Lenses?
For the sake of your budget, you can buy the lens that best suits most of your conditions, but if you do different types of fishing, it’s a good idea to break down and buy a couple of different lenses. Nobody ever said fishing was inexpensive! It just depends on how serious you are about having the proper gear.
Lenses for Fishing
At Breakline, we believe there are two lens colors needed for fishing: grey or copper. Each of these lens tints accomplishes different goals. For example, the grey lens is ideal for open bright sunlight, while the copper lens works better for sight fishing in shallow bays, lakes or rivers.
Additionally, you should factor in mirror vs non-mirrored lenses. In general, mirrors are best on bright days with lots of reflection. Furthermore, better sunglasses brands will include coatings to improve the clarity of your lenses like anti-reflective coatings on the inside to reduce glare.
Grey and Copper Lenses
What do the basic facts say about lens tints? According to Dr. Gary Heiting, O.D., senior editor of AllAboutVision.com:
- Grey lenses reduce overall brightness while preserving 100% normal color recognition
- Copper/brown/amber lenses block high amounts of blue light to heighten contrast and visual acuity.
What is blue light? Dr. Heiting explains in an article titled Blue Light –Bad for Your Eyes? The gist of it is that blue light scatters more easily than other colors and makes it more difficult to focus on fixed objects.
Since copper lenses block out blue light, they allow you to focus and better distinguish objects from each other in the water, thus making them more suitable for sight fishing. Copper lenses enhance contrast and depth perception, primarily by blocking out blue light. These qualities are what makes them ideal for shallow water sight fishing. In brighter sunlight, the addition of a mirror is extremely helpful.
Grey lenses provide true color recognition and are darker than copper. This causes them to reduce eye fatigue on long bright days. This lens tint is ideal for offshore saltwater fishing or any kind of fishing that doesn’t involve sight-casting.
In general, bass, crappie, redfish and fly fishing anglers prefer copper lenses, while grey is suitable for almost anything else.
Mirrors: Style or Performance?
Below are pictures of grey and copper lenses from Breakline, both with and without mirrors. Green mirrors are typically associated with the copper lenses, while blue mirrors are more commonly used for grey lenses.
Does the mirror matter? Does it actually affect your vision or is it just for looks and style? For answers to questions like these check out our blog post Mirrored vs. Non Mirrored Lenses: What's Best for Fishing.