Almost more important to me than a rod and reel is my waders and a good pair of polarised sunglasses, and yes, if you had asked me some years back whether I could ever have imagined that spending what it takes to get a really good pair of polarised sunglasses was remotely worth it? I'd have struggled to be honest. But after wearing really good sunnies for years now? Worth every single penny if you ask me, indeed I can't really imagine life without them. Any chance at seeing better into the water and protecting my eyes from the sun and of course hooks is just a serious no-brainer to me. Once you've used proper polarised sunglasses, you will understand what the fuss is about, and also be aware there's no going back!!
I have tried all manner of different polarised sunglass over the years, from cheap as chips ones that I thought might be a bit of a bargain, to what I believe are the best you can get - Costa del Mar. After a couple of cheap charlie pairs broke on me in the heat of Angola, I vowed to myself to go looking for "proper" polarised sunglasses, and via Smith I think it was I then ended up using the Maui Jim ones for a while - all very good sunglasses, but I couldn't help noticing that most of the professional guides I was working around were wearing Costa del Mar out on the water. As with all fishing gear, polarised sunglasses are personal things, and especially the frames and the kinds of lenses, but I still can't get over how frigging awesome these Costas are. The best out there? Well I haven't personally used anything better, and that comes from using them all around the world in all kinds of light and on all kinds of water.
Nope, Costas are not cheap, but then neither is a Shimano Stella or a Daiwa Branzino. The best always costs and the best tends to the best for various reasons. I never had any problems with Maui Jim for example, but then I went and took a pair of Costas to Belize I think it was (with the 580G Green Mirror polarised lenses) and it all changed - to me it was like I was looking at the world in high-definition if that makes sense. Everything suddenly seemed that much sharper, clearer and better defined and I was just smitten. If you are reading this and wondering how on earth a middle aged bloke could get so emotional about his sunglasses then I would respectfully say wait until the day you go fishing with a pair of Costas - read on and you could win a pair if that helps.
I thought it might help if I gave you my thoughts on the different Costa del Mar lenses that I have used, but if you want the cheapest (all things are relative) way into this awesome brand, then the plastic (i.e. non-glass) 580P lenses are, if you ask me, very close to being as good as the top of the range and ridiculously good 580G (glass) lenses - and the Copper 580P is an especially good lens colour for everything. So far I have never scratched a pair of the (glass) 580G lenses, but you need to be aware that although the (plastic) 580P lenses are tough, they can scratch if you aren't careful with them - bear in mind though that I ended up with one tiny scratch on a pair that I used for most of a year.
Costa del Mar 580G (glass) - Copper - As with my photography and the use of a (gentle) warmup polarising filter, I really like my polarised lens to slightly warm the world up if that makes sense. I could use the Copper lens for ever and be happy as it's just something else how good they are, and I reckon they work really well in all kinds of light. I don't pretend to understand why these Costa 580G lenses are so good, but there is loads of info about them here. A slight warmup in my mind really helps to boost contrast and "warm" colours up, and without a doubt I reckon that makes for a kind of high-def lens that you can wear for hours on end and then be a little disappointed that the world looks somewhat less good when you then take them off.
Costa del Mar 580G (glass) - Silver Mirror - A gentler, perhaps subtler version of the Copper lens colour I reckon. If you want something closer to neutral then check out the Silver Mirror, and as much as I like them, I do prefer the higher contrast look of the Copper lenses around saltwater especially. Costa say the Silver Mirror are especially good for freshwater use, and considering that I took this lens colour to Mongolia with me and they were outstanding, I would have to agree.
Costa del Mar 580G (glass) - Blue Mirror - My least favourite Costa lenses, as in they are still a great polarised lens, but I am not so into the way the Blue Mirror lenses slightly cool things down - as in they seem to be slightly "cooler" than neutral if that makes sense. I know some anglers who get on really with this lens colour, and especially for long periods in insanely bright conditions (not a massive problem here in the UK, although how awesome were the last few days?). Costa say the Blue Mirror 580G are best for open water, i.e. out at sea, and on a bright day that does make sense.
Costa del Mar 580G (glass) - Green Mirror - If I had to use one Costa lens only for evermore, it would be the Green Mirror - they're a freak of nature they are so good. Almost like a copper lens on steroids, as in they really warm the world up but with something else in there that to me just gives the most incredibly sharp boost to everything. On the flats the Green Mirror 580G are just insane, but after using them on the flats to start with, I then wondered how they might do for the sort of light conditions we might find with our fishing - and I reckon they do one hell of a job for our conditions. The boost in contrast and saturation with these Green Mirror lenses freaks me out, and how these things remove glare is in my mind what makes Costa lenses so special.
Favourite frames? Well I do tend to favour a more wraparound style of frame as I think it helps block any distracting light coming in from the side - I really like the Blackfin, Corbina, Permit and Tuna Alley frames, and the Hatch and Galveston in the ultra lightweight frames with the 580P Copper lenses. Yes, Costa del Mar are not exactly budget polarised sunglasses, but they are the best in my opinion - I can't argue with the fact that they come with a lifetime warranty, so unless you go losing them (use retainers, it's another no-brainer), you've got them for life.
I have been kindly given a pair of Corbina 580G Green Mirror Costas to give away to some lucky person here (above) - tell me in no more than thirty words why a pair of the best polarised sunglasses there are would help you catch more fish!! Serious, funny, sad, honest, inventive, you decide what to write and I will decide the winner. Leave a comment on this post below with your no more than thirty word entry, and make sure to email me the exact same comment/entry with your postal address to this email address here - I will let this run for a week or so and then pick a winner and pop the sunglasses in the post to you. My profound thanks to Costa del Mar UK for letting me give a pair of Costas away here.