Why Sunglasses Are More Important Than Electronics in Fishing

The product recommendations on our site are independently chosen by our editors. When you click through our links, we may earn a commission. 

There have been big debates on what’s going on with electronics and fishing this year. I’m not here to debate those notions that have already been dragged down the road too far. I am going to talk about how a good pair of polarized sunglasses is the best investment you can make for your fishing and why I believe they even trump electronics for at least half the year; longer if you fish a lot of small waters.

As a fisherman, understanding your ecosystem is arguably the most fundamental way you can improve your fishing on a body of water. Anglers pattern fish mostly around what happens at any given time on a fishery. Is there current? What type of forage is in the lake? What type of cover and habitat is in the lake? How active are the shallows? Is shade a factor? All of these things can be answered with a good pair of polarized sunglasses.

What really drove this point home for me was my own personal fishing this year and how many times what I saw with my eyes lead to the most fun and productive fishing days.


I think a big part of fishing success simply comes from being observant. I know a lot of anglers who head to the water without anything tied on. Especially if they haven’t been on that body of water in a minute. That’s because they want to get to the body of water and see what’s going on before having any preconceived notions.

I will get to a lake for a day of fishing and pull up to the ramp and take a look around the shoreline. You can learn a lot before you even get on the water just by looking around and being observant.

Are there fish or fry up shallow? If there is a lot of food shallow, there stands to reason there will be fish shallow. Is there grass or other vegetation up shallow? If so you can make some educated guesses on where some good areas holding fish will be. How clear is the water? This can help you choose the right types of colors and patterns. What about bottom composition? You can get a feel for what the bottom will be like in the immediate area and if there is a lot of life in those areas, something to look for in other parts of the water.

Seasonality can also be learned with sunglasses. If you find forage shallow that can be an indicator of water temperature. If you see fry shallow and certain game fish roaming shallow you can get a sense of where you are at in seasonality especially in the spring. Are there bluegill shallow and lots of fry around them? It’s probably post spawn for the bass. Are there lots of small shad balls shallow? It’s probably going into late spring and early summer patterns.

sunglasses choices


I am at the age where my eyesight adds another challenge to fishing. I wear contacts for nearsightedness. That means I can see up close well but not far away. I wear contacts to see far away but then that messes up my close up vision so I have to wear readers to see up close with my contacts in. If not I wear prescription sunglasses and can see fine up close by tilting them up or down off my eyes. However, then I can’t wear sunglasses unless I have prescription sunglasses.

This year I got a pair of Island Optics Crane prescription sunglasses. It has been a huge benefit to me. I have never had a pair of prescription sunglasses before as I usually just wear contacts and whichever fishing sunglasses I like at the time. Now I’m wearing eyeglasses more and having prescriptions sunglasses has been such a blessing this season.

I can tie knots a lot better and see into the water a lot better. So I’ve been using that advantage for some great fishing lately.

If you need some assistance with your vision like me, then choosing the right sunglasses can be a challenge. I have had good success with sunglasses with added readers from Bajio the past year. Finding a brand of sunglasses that you like that also offers some vision options like built in readers, prescription options and more will be worth the investment.

I like the Island Optics right now because they make very clear vision sunglasses at a really affordable price. They offer reader options, prescription options and regular options and they are a family owned company with five generations of vision/optometry and eyewear expertise.

I say choose the best lenses you can get. For most lakes and streams a copper or green base will work well. A yellow base can work very well in shade and on overcast days or early mornings. Choose lenses that have the clearest vision for your eyes. That doesn’t mean glass. There are a bunch of very clear polycarbonate lenses that will save you quite a bit of money and offer better physical protection of your eyes.

Check out the Wired2fish Best Fishing Sunglasses Guide for a rundown of a bunch of good sunglasses.

I have had a bunch of recent examples of where sunglasses played a bigger role in catching fish than my electronics did so I thought I would talk about these instances to further illustrate how overlooked sunglasses are to better fishing.

big panfish sunglasses


I’m an avid angler and I chase a myriad of bites throughout the year. Whether that’s smallmouth bass in the early spring or giant red ears this time of year, I try to find the biggest fish I can and a lot of that is done looking into the water. When the bluegill and red ear come shallow to spawn, I will turn my focus on them for several weeks up to two months. This year I made a concerted effort to build off of what I found last year and that led to some of my best days of red ear and bluegill fishing this year.

One of the big things I was able to find consistently was shallow beds other folks were not finding because they were side scanning and using Perspective mode on Livescope scanning for beds. I was able to find beds buried in grass, in laydowns and in shallow corners where other folks weren’t looking simply using my sunglasses instead of graphs. In fact, the biggest bed of red ears I’ve ever found was this year and I found it while wearing sunglasses.

I was fishing a bluegill bed close to the bank in a pocket. I happened to look up in some shallow grass and saw some fish moving. I cast over there and immediately hooked up with a 1.85-pound red ear. Next cast I landed a 1.79-pound red ear. After that we proceeded to hook around 20 red ear sunfish, landing 14 of them. Unfortunately some of them were big enough to run us around cover and get off. However, it was a heck of a find. When we got done fishing the bed. I poled up to it so I could see better and was blown away at how many red ear were still in it. We were able to leave and come back and catch several more.

I would have completely missed the bite without being observant up shallow with a good pair of sunglasses.


This past weekend I went out bluegill fishing on the full moon and had a terrific day, catching my biggest red ear of the year at 2.34 pounds. What was equally as cool was I noticed some small bass up shallow working in the grass. As the day progressed I kept getting shallower, and was blown away to find lots of 2 to 4-pound bass roaming up there in the shallows.

I logged that away and got up the next morning and went bass fishing. Armed with a Rebel Pop-R, I had a heck of a day catching a bunch of bass shallow throwing to shallow cover and shady holes in the grass and trees. I would have never found this super fun bite on a hot summer day had I not been observant with my prescription Island Optics Crane sunglasses while fishing for panfish the previous day.

stalking trout


Additionally, I have taken a few trout trips this spring where my sunglasses have been most of what mattered in my success. From seeing where to step, avoiding snags under the surface, seeing the deeper current runs and tucked under ambush spots have made all the difference in catching fish.

In one small creek a few weeks ago, I was stalking trout and was staged below a little run where I saw a nice little hole in an undercut bank and thought I could see the body of a fish there. It was dark and shaded by the bank and trees so it was tough to see. I made a quiet presentation and was able to coax the fish out and get the strike. It ended up being my biggest holdover trout ever on this tiny stocked creek.

While out in Yosemite, I was reading current seams on the Merced River for a couple mornings and was able to see fish follow and shark around on my baits. I kept changing my presentations and drifts until I was able to get them to bite on a newer presentation. Not being able to see that interaction will cost you a lot of catches.


If you fish from the bank, kayak fish in rivers, or fish a lot of small waters, a good pair of polarized sunglasses can be one of the better investments to improve your fishing. I think seeing what is going on under the surface can still be achieved with your own eyes. Even older struggling eyes like mine. I basically won’t fish without sunglasses. I will fish a lot without electronics.

That’s why I say my sunglasses are more important than my electronics when it comes to being a consistent fisherman and finding those things a lot of other anglers miss.