Viking Lars | Saturday, 15 July 2023

There are a lot of things you can do to improve your fishing - and not least your fishing comfort on a long day out. One of them is of course the proper gear. The right rod for the day, the right line(s) for the day, good waders (they tend to stay water tight for longer). The right flies, the right leaders and leader material and the right reel for the day. Writing this out, I think it’s obvious to most readers why fly fishing can look daunting to get into. Don’t buy all this at once. Get started with some general tackle (ask someone experienced) and slowly add on.

Once thing not mentioned above is shades or sunglasses. From here on, just shades, it’s shorter and faster to write.

Shades are important for other reasons, of course. I use shades all the time, when fishing, riding my bike, on archaeological digs, on holidays. Most of the time when I’m outdoors, really. For comfort, mostly. Sun strains the eyes, so shades are also a matter of simple comfort. My fishing shades are all polaroids. Polaroids remove half the glare from the water’s surface, so they are also essential when you need to/want to spot fish. Removing half the glare from the water also just makes a days fishing more comfortable.

Some shades are photochromic. This means that they darken in stronger light, lighten up in lower light. This is a really nice feature. In one setting in particular, I don’t like them. When fishing rivers in canyons or surrounded by mountains, the light at river level is lower than the sky. Especially of course in the morning and evening. If you look up towards the sky (and you always should, once in a while), the shades will be dark when you look down again. The photochromic feature has become much faster since I had my first pair 20 years ago, so the problem is arguably much less these days. The problem is, I still have those shades and I really like them. Anyway, photochromic is nice. Very nice. And not needed!

The colour of the lens is quite important too. Different colours do different things. The darker the colour, the more light they block, obviously. An obvious choice in strong sunlight. Yellow glass enhances contrast and bloks out less light. That means they are the obvious choice for lower light, mornings, evenings, fishing in the shade off trees etc. There are other options, many in fact, but I’ll leave those for another FP.

Fit is important. I always choose a pair that covers my eyes as much as possible - from all sides (I’m a fully trained ninja/Army Ranger/viking, so I have eyes in the back of my head). Fit and functionality takes priority over looks. My wife often says that I look like a 1980s pro cyclist in the shades I have. I usually reply, in the words of the great guitarist Steve Vai, that I am an 80s kind of guy. My kids say I look fast in my shades, so they call them fast-glasses. I like to at least look fast!

Nothing is worse than glasses that touch your eye lashes, so pay attention to that when choosing. Some glasses are made for less smart people than me. Or rather ones with smaller heads, so I also pay close attention to how tight they are behind the ears. Not too tight to be uncomfortable, tight enough to keep them on.

I always fish with a hat as well. You can’t catch fish without a hat. That’s a well known fact. But a hat also helps block light, so make sure that your chosen shades go well with your lucky-hat.

If you have several glasses, especially if they are the same brand (in the same case), Paul does something something quite clever. A piece of tape indicates the colour of the lens, so you can bring the right pair for the day, without opening the case. I must remember coloured tape the next time I’m in the hardware store.

There is nice to have and then there is need to have. You need at least one pair of shades. If I were to choose one, I’d choose a photochromic yellow lens, alternatively “just” a pair with yellow lenses. Always polaroids and you can get fairly good shades cheap. The next pair would be with brown lenses. My ancient Smith Optics are photochromic “All Hour Brown” and they are still excellent.

As if shades weren’t enough, I’ve reached the age where readers are needed too. With some patience, I can still tie a size 4 single hook on a heavy leader, but for small flies and thin headers, I need readers. For a while I resorted to a pair of Nooz readers with a case glues to the brim of my had. It works well, but they do get wet in heavy rain, so I’ve returned to carrying them around my neck. In the case, they stay clean and dry and they are so small, slim and light weight that I never feel them. I might look like an 18th century scholar, but functionality takes priority.

And finally, any shades will do to begin with. For safety! Safety, safety, safety (also, don’t fall in the water and so on). But in this case, PROTECT YOUR EYES!!!

Have a great weekend!


PoD: My old Smith Optics, model Guide's Choice (brown lenses) and my brand new pair of Smith Optics, also Guide's Choice, with yellow lenses. These are favourite glasses. I have been given a pair of Bajio glasses that also seem very good. Real world testing remains. And I have more! Am I developing another fetisch?