Sooner or later, we’re going to reach a point of diminishing returns in terms of polarized eyewear for fishing. And though I know I upset some readers when I review “expensive” items, I also know that the majority of the fly fishing market is still driven by that thirst for premium product.
So if you think your $20 polarized shades are good enough (and you expect to sit on your glasses or drop them in the river anyway), go ahead and click somewhere else.
But if you’re the kind of person who can tell the difference when looking through a pair of Bushnell binoculars and a pair of high-end Swarovski field glasses, and you want to apply that kind of optical focus to your sight-fishing, then read on.
I’m testing a pair of Sheyden Precision Eyewear sunglasses—the “Jet-A” model with high contrast glass polarized lenses. If you haven’t heard of Scheyden, you’re not alone… I hadn’t either. Apparently they were born and bred in the aviation realm; Scheyden owner Jeffrey Herold is an avid pilot, and he’s applied that aviator’s demand for absolute precision to hand-made glasses (manufactured in Japan).
When I saw that the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds wear these, I had to check them out. But I’ll add the caveat that most pilot friends I have shun polarized, because they want to read LCD instruments in the cockpit. So I was little skeptical about the jump into polarized for Scheyden, and whether they’d offer that much value when fishing.
Let’s start with the pass-fail test. Can I tell an immediate difference when I wear the Scheyden lenses? The answer is yes. Extremely clear, and extremely kind to the eyes in bright and low-light conditions. Great contrast. Great definition. I’ll be honest with you, and say that I’m at the age when I can’t see small details (like my watch face) clearly when looking through most fishing glasses, but I’m not quite ready to go for readers. I could see my watch—and tie on flies—looking through these lenses.
Then there are the fit and function factors. Out of the box (a bomb-proof little metal safe-looking thing), I was struck by the stems on these glasses: they’re simple metal posts, and at first I thought they seemed like they were “unfinished.” But the more I wear them, the more I appreciate simple, sturdy stems that don’t rub behind my ears, get snagged in a hat band, or end up sweaty and smelly.
I’m comfortable enough in my own skin to know I’m too old to look cool, and I accept that no glasses are going to ever make a middle-aged man in waders look cool anyway. So I don’t have a problem with $300 glasses (these high end Scheydens cost just over $300) if they’re all about performance. And I don’t have a problem, for the record, with cheap-o glasses that cut the glare and help anglers see fish. What I have a problem with are the glasses that are cheap on materials and performance, and priced for the cool factor.
If you really care about your glasses, and consider them “optics” on the level of a hunter who looks through a scope at a trophy bull elk a few hundred yards away, then remember the name Scheyden, because they are, in fact the real deal, and worth the price.
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