A few days ago I was given the chance to review a new pair of Costa del Mar sunglasses. I greeted the UPS dude like a kid at Christmas and quickly ripped into the package, again, like a kid at Christmas.
Then I had a queasy thought: Exactly how do I review sunglasses? I don’t have any fancy instrument gauges. I’m no scientist (obviously). I guess my most compelling qualification is that I’ve been buying quality shades for almost 30 years, beginning with a pair of Vuarnet’s I bought in France in 1985 for a whopping 200 francs. That was about $25 when the dollar was strong and European’s love Americans. Those were they days, my friends!
The Vuarnet’s are long gone (in 5,000 feet of Gulf of Mexico water) but they hooked me on always having first-class eye protection. Sure, I have a truck load of cheapo sunglasses stuffed in drawers and in the bottom of tackle boxes but I also have two pairs of Costa del Mar’s (one pair is 15 years old and one is two years new), a pair of Ocean Waves from 2001, and some nice Ray Ban’s. When I’m boating, fishing, or in any situation when vampires are sleeping, I put on the quality eye wear. So, really, come to think of it, I guess I’m damn well qualified to evaluate shades.
The Costa’s I received are called Double Hauls, so named for the double haul cast used by fly fishermen. So I decided the best way to test those puppies was to go fly fishing and practice my double haul. I called my cousin and he picked me up in his boat for some post-workday, sunset redfish and speckled trout chasing. I worked the double haul as I wore the Double Hauls. He threw a grub and we made a nice shoreline float over some grass beds. The wind was whipping pretty good so the double haul came in hand for getting the line upwind.
The sunglasses (which I’ve actually been wearing for a week or two) have blue-tinted lenses and turn the sky into a piercing cobalt ceiling. They also cut through the glare on the water as well as any glasses I’ve ever owned. If you go to Costa’s website, you’ll learn that these lenses are called 580s because they block yellow light at 580 nanometers on the light spectrum. I don’t know what that means but I do know that glare is eliminated and there’s razor sharp color enhancement to accentuate the details of grass beds, sand flats, and the errant beer can. I was able to sight cast to a couple of redfish even in low light conditions. My “old” Costa’s have amber lenses, which give fantastic contrast when the light is fading. But I prefer the blue when it’s extremely bright and I’m looking for fish in the flats. And, they perform exceptionally in evening or early morning light as well.
These shades also have patented vents built into the frame to help keep the lenses clear when the fishing and the day heats up. I was working the fly rod pretty darn hard in the stiff breeze and they never fogged up. They’re also surprisingly lightweight and sat comfortably on my face for hours at a time.
Bottom line, most anglers I know don’t take chances on their vision. Top-notch eyewear is essential to see our prey and to avoid retinal damage. Long-term exposure to the sun is nothing to mess with and the Costa Double Hauls answer the call. The one thing they can’t do: help me actually perfect my double haul cast. The Vuarnet’s didn’t make me speak French either but I looked cool.
Special Credit: Beautiful Eyewear Model – My Daughter Adia.