About a year and a half ago I found myself without a good set of polarized sunglasses. My previous pair had managed to fly out of my hands and into the depths of a dirty, cold river. After pouting, I decided to start doing some research. Of course there was an army of Costa fans, many of whom purchased what they consider to be a status symbol as much as a pair of fishing sunglasses. And there were plenty of folks with an allegiance to Oakley, Hobie, Solar Bat, Spy, and others. But after digging one company really stood out - Smith Optics.
At the time, Smith hadn't really blown up in the kayak fishing scene like they have today. But they were the favorites of many trout and inshore guides who often rely on their ability to see fish to get their clients hooked up. One particular guide service, whose name is escaping me, gave detailed reviews of about 12 different Smith models, listing the pros and cons of each. With the help of that site and some online reviews, I settled on the Smith Backdrops, which are part of their evolve series. The evolve series is comprised of "environmentally considerate and renewable materials", which was part of what made them stand out to me. The Backdrops have large lenses with great coverage, but they also aren't so big that I can't wear them in public without looking like an insect. Coverage is basically how much light/glare the glasses can keep out as well as the angle and size of the lenses, which widen your field of view. The better the coverage, the more you see.
I chose black frames with copper mirrored polarchromic lenses. The Smith polarchromes and polarized and basically change tint depending on how bright it is. So on darker days, they get lighter and vice versa. This has proven to be a huge perk when on the water. Now the 'Chroma Pop' lenses are available and I am eager to try them out as well. Combined with black frames, very little light gets in.
The Smith Backdrops doing work!
Unlike so many fishing products that don't live up to the look or hype, the Backdrops certainly do. I wear them religously on and off the water and even went so far as to buy a strap to keep them secure around my neck when not in use. They have helped me to easily spot trout in the clear waters of western North Carolina and central Pennsylvania and also allow me to see underwater structure when chasing largemouths - even in stained water. In one particular instance I was in a tournament on a windy, cloudy day. I was paddling and just happened to catch a glance of a black tail moving down the shore line. I flipped my worm in front of the fish and proceeded to land my biggest fish of the day and helped me finish in the top-5. I will not say that my Smiths are the only pair of glasses that would have allowed me to see that fish. But I will say that a good pair of glasses can go a very long way. Honestly, I couldn't be much happier with my Backdrops.
If you don't have a good pair of polarized sunglasses for fishing, I highly recommend checking out Smith Optics. I believe they provide the best mix of quality, performance, and affordability. If you have any questions about them, feel free to give me a shout. Until next time, tight lines!