Thinking about lens color

When I was down in the Keys we had a pretty cool thing happen when some dolphin started riding our wake. It was memorable, but I was surprised when Dan showed me video and I could see the dolphin right next to the boat. I hadn’t seen them clearly in the glare of the water when they were just 4 feet away. Got me thinking my polarized lenses might not be so awesome (I was wearing Revos, not COSTAs, as my COSTAs are both broken at the moment).

Revo shades on our handsome model.

Revo shades on our handsome model.

I also was thinking the lens color I have, kind of gray, might not be the best. I mentioned this to my wife, especially that I might want a lighter color for what I hope is my next trip, to Water Cay, in February.

My wife is a good listener and I will not say I didn’t notice a small-ish box get delivered to the house from COSTA. Yes… she listens very well.

I found this lens color selector on the COSTA site.

It seems not everyone is on board with the multiple lens theory.

What say you? Get different lenses/glasses for different conditions, or get something that works, more or less, everywhere?


I still need, and need is really the key word here, 5 intrepid souls who want to go look for big bones Feb. 7-14 on Water Cay. If you are interested, email me at “bonefishonthebrain @”


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  1. Malcolm Henderson

    For the flats you want medium brown/amber or copper – these heighten contrast (beyond cutting glare, of course), which is what you need to discern the fish in that environment. Absolutely stay away from gray – that is for blue water.

    In Costas, go with (1) copper or green mirror (which has a copper base lens) – the mirror is great (and kind of cool), although, like any coating, it will scratch; or (2) amber.

    In Smith/Action Optics, go with Silver Creek Brown, if they still call it that. My favorite color, but Smith just hasn’t stayed as strong with their designs for fishermen in recent years.

    Glass is king – heavier (and riskier, although we never worried before!) but indisputably te best optically, no matter what any of these companies ask you to believe re polycarbonate or trivex.

    I used to try lighter color, with more yellow, on cloudy days, but I gave that up as I found that I couldn’t actually see the fish any better – yes the bottom appears lighter, but so does everything else, and you lose a lot of contrast. Save your money and go with a medium brown/amber or copper.

    Good luck

  2. I find amber or copper lens pretty much work in nearly all conditions for me. If it gets darker than that it’s time to start blind casting or head to the pub.

  3. With all do respect Malcolm your assessment of Smith having abandoned fishermen in recent years is completely unfounded and shows a lack of knowledge of the industry as of late. The Chromapop lens was introduced by Smith a few years ago and is a fishing specific lens technology that has been flying out of fly shops of all variety. I am blessed to have a job whereby I travel and fish for a variety of species in a variety of places throughout the year and I can say without hesitation that the Brown (amber/copper) Chromapops are the best lenses for sight fishing that I have every used. They are also not glass…. but do share the scratch resistant traits of glass vs. traditional polycarbonate.

  4. Bojrn, Not sure of what I’m reading here in your blog posting. The Revos that you were wearing have a gray lens, and both of your broken Costa’s are also gray/smoke/dark as well?
    If this is not the case and you’ve fished with amber or copper lenses then you’d know the different colors (amber vs. gray) offer completely different results in what you’re able to see. And hey, if you’ve now discovered the lighter lenses, well then welcome home from the 1950’s…just wait until you try them while fishing in the shade standing in the Upper Sac.
    P.S. Ditto to everything Mike says above

  5. Yes, I’m coming home from the 50’s when it comes to lenses.

    I think I have 4 different pairs of shades… three of which are out of service and one that is still serviceable. I have one COSTA in amber with a shattered lens. One COSTA in a gray that the rubber on the wing is coming off. One mirrored Revo in something between gray and purple, glass lens and shattered. One Revo in a gray, plastic. I need to just send in the broken glasses and get them fixed… but, there is the procrastination I’m so good at…

  6. Malcolm Henderson

    Good and helpful to have a little back-and-forth. “Abandoned” is too strong. I have owned and loved 15-20 pairs of Smiths over many, many years of flats fishing – they were all I would buy, and they performed beautifully. Overall quality was always excellent, and Rx services were great. But, undeniably, Smith seemed to shift focus more to skiing, lifestyle and other glasses a few years ago (people at the company I talked to quietly lamented this), and fishing frames appeared to be de-emphasized, with fewer new fishing frames offered. At the same time, Costa took off, and it offered many more fishing-based frames (better wrap/coverage, etc.). Perhaps more a question of perception than reality, but Costa has killed from a marketing perspective.

    My comments really go to frames, not lenses, as my impression is that Smith’s lens are at least as good (and perhaps better); I have wanted to check out the Chromapop (as it is time yet again for a new pair). I have also sensed that Smith is trying to build back up its fishing glasses business and expand its frame offerings, which would be great. All the better for us fishermen if we have strong competitors.

    To verge further from the lens color question, I am mixed on lens color coatings – I have like them optically, but they certainly do scratch more easily, even if the cleaning clothes are used – I’ve found that a couple unnoticed grains of sand on the cloth can wreak havoc quickly. I am thinking of going away from coatings. Curious what others’ experience is.

    My comments about lens color go only to flats fishing (not trout fishing in dark/cloudy conditions).

  7. One thing I do really like is a dull, matte finish frame. I also like it in nylon rather than hard plastic. It’s easier on places where it touches your head and it stays in place better than the smooth, polished plastics, especially on hot muggy days. The best frames I’ve found are Rayban’s “Daddy-o”, model RB2016. I wear prescriptions and these have some of the best curvature combined with slightly wide temples that limit the amount of side glare. I just keep getting my new lenses installed in the old frames.

  8. Costa Green Mirror 580G’s cannot be beat! They have the amber base lens, and are incredible. There may be other brands that make something close to as good, but I can say with unwavering conviction that there isn’t a BETTER lens out there.

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