Best Smith Sunglasses for Fishing and Water Sports 2023

Eight pairs of best smith fishing sunglasses on a bench

If you have honed in on Smith Optics for your next pair of polarized sunglasses for fishing or other fun stuff on the water, but you’re not sure yet which pair to get, you’ve come to the right place. 

For the past several months I’ve worn a pair of Smiths on this list every day. I’ve worn them surf fishing in Florida, tenkara fishing in Idaho, and bowfishing. Besides that I’ve had them on during regular life stuff like commuting, road trips, hiking, biking with the kids, backpacking, camping, and general outdoorsing.

We know it’s hard to find gear advice you can trust. At Outdoor Empire we aim to provide honest, objective, hands-on reviews rather than just regurgitating information found somewhere else on the internet.

Man fishing in surf on a beach wearing sunglasses
Surf fishing in Sarasota, Florida with the Smith Castaway.

Recommendations at a Glance

The Smith Guide’s Choice sunglasses for men provide excellent coverage while looking stylish, as does the Smith Joya for women. These are Outdoor Empire’s top picks for the best Smith fishing sunglasses due to their quality build, scratch-resistant ChromaPop lenses, and comfortable fit.

Get the full scoop in our video review if you’d rather watch than read!

If you want the quick and dirty, here is a summarized list of the best sunglasses for fishing and recreation on the water that are made by Smith Optics.

  1. Best overall for men: Guide’s Choice
  2. Best overall for women: Joya
  3. Most versatile: Redding
  4. Most luxurious: Castaway
  5. Best looking for when you’re not on the water: Barra
  6. Super cute option for women: Rockaway
  7. Most unique design: Deckboss
  8. Best for horse lovers: Longfin (it’ll make sense later)
Reflection of hot spring in mirrored sunglasses on woman's face
The Grand Prismatic hot spring in Yellowstone reflected in the mirrored lenses of the Smith Rockaway.

What Matters Most to You in Fishing Sunglasses?

Comfort: Fishing sunglasses should fit snugly on your face so they don’t fall off in the water or bobble on your nose when you’re cruising in a boat at full speed. They should also not give you a headache, or any other ache, during a full day on the water.

Man tenkara fishing with smith fishing sunglasses on
Tenkara fly fishing on the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River near Island Park, Idaho.

Coverage: The primary job of sunglasses is to protect your eyes from the sun. While most do a good job at keeping the direct sunlight out, many struggle to block out indirect light that sneaks in through the sides or from below. Shades with the best coverage wrap around toward your temples and have fairly large lenses.

Man standing in stream bowfishing holding sucker fish
Bowfishing in Central Idaho for suckers with Smith Castaway.

Loss Prevention: Many of us are prone to losing our sunglasses because we either set them down somewhere and forget them when we leave, or because they fall off of our hat or head and plunge into the water below. I, for one, have been there, done that. If this is a concern for you, a good leash or neck strap system will save you from wincing into the sun halfway through a fishing trip. And it will save you some dollars that you don’t have to spend on a replacement pair.

Close up of smith pivlock leash attachment
Smith’s Pivlock leash attachment (on Castaway, Joya, and Rockaway) is both effective and easy to use.

Price: Indeed, polarized fishing sunglasses can get expensive, especially if you add nice scratch-resistant glass lenses. When it comes to Smith sunglasses, nothing is cheap. Retail prices range between $160 and $260. The best way to save some money on Smiths is to get polycarbonate lenses instead of glass, and watch for when they go on sale.

  • Least expensive Smith fishing sunglasses: Barra and Longfin (but not by much)
Man wearing hat backwards and smith barra sunglasses
The Smith Barra sunglasses on a lake day.

Best Smith Fishing Sunglasses of 2023: Outdoor Empire Reviews

I bought nearly every pair of sunglasses Smith makes for fishing, except for the new Spinner and Boomtown, because I’m just not that cool!

If you’re cool, those shades will probably make you even cooler. But for the rest of you, keep on reading and you’ll surely find a pair that you’ll be stoked to wear.

Man wearing smith boomtown sunglasses indoors
I tried out the Smith Boomtown and Spinner shades at ICAST 2022, but they’re not my style.

At Outdoor Empire, we look at five criteria when comparing fishing sunglasses to one another: comfort, design, coverage, function, and value. 

Each product gets a score between 1 and 5 for each category. The average of these category scores is the Outdoor Empire Score. This way of ranking helps us be as objective as possible.

1. Best Overall for Men: Smith Guide’s Choice

Smith guide's choice sunglasses with empire crowned badge

PROS: Super comfortable, durable frames, great color options, look good for more than just fishing, excellent at keeping the side glare out

CONS: Included leash system will make you angry.

Compare prices at: Optics PlanetSportsman’s Warehouse

Even though I’ve had multiple pairs of Smith sunglasses available to me, I kept going back to the Guide’s Choice. They just feel right on my face. There is no shortage of nice features like spring hinges, well-positioned rubbery pads, a snug fit that doesn’t squeeze, flexible frame material, and excellent sun protection. They even keep that pesky glare out when you’re driving and the sun is low on the horizon to your left. The only thing I don’t like is the included leash system. If you plan to use it, expect expletives to pour out of your mouth while you struggle to attach or detach them. I rarely use neck straps and am content to just use my Chums when I do, so this wasn’t a dealbreaker for me. Besides that, these shades check all the boxes and are hard to beat. That’s why we granted them our Empire Crowned award!

2. Best Overall for Women: Smith Joya

Smith joya sunglasses

PROS: Comfortable, stay on face well, included PivLock leash, stylish option for women

CONS: Ours had a lens defect, but Smith covered it under warranty without issue

The Smith Joya sunglasses are both attractive and functional. They fit well, gently hugging your face and gripping your nose and temples just right so they don’t fall down or slip off easily at all. Even when actively moving around. While extremely similar to the Rockaway, the Joya provides better coverage from the sun thanks to a slightly wider lens that is more square at the bottom. They aren’t a full wrap design, so you may still get a little indirect sunlight from the side, but they are super comfortable and have great color options. You’ll love the way they look through the lenses. They are super clear, and bright, and the colors really pop. And the PivLock leash system is super handy, easy to use, and will save your shades from an unwanted dive. These are my wife’s first choice and our top pick for women!

3. Also Great: Smith Redding

Smith redding sunglasses

PROS: Lightweight even with glass lenses, full wrap provides great coverage, high-end feel and construction

CONS: Style does not appeal to everyone, doesn’t stay put on top of head when not in use

Compare prices at: Sportsman’s Warehouse

While they may not be the sexiest of Smith’s fishing sunglasses, the Redding is an extremely comfortable and versatile pair of shades. Not only are they great for a day on the water, but I have worn these everywhere from road trips to neighborhood walks. They have some of the smaller lenses compared to others on this list. This makes them a great candidate for people who want more scratch-resistant glass lenses, but don’t like the weight that comes with glass. I have glass lenses in mine, and I love them. Except for the fact that when I move them up from my eyes to the top of my head to step indoors, they fall back down onto my nose. It’s not a big deal, and they’ll stay on a hat or I can hang them on my collar. I like the simple design with the narrow temples and oval lenses, but some might think that’s too 2002. But that was a good year for me and I love the Redding!

4. Stylish and Attractive: Smith Rockaway

Smith rockaway sunglasses

PROS: Attractive design for women or men with smaller faces, comfortable, great color options, handy PivLock leash system

CONS: Smaller lenses provide limited coverage from the sun

The Rockaways feel the same on your face as the Joyas. They grip well to your face, but don’t feel like they’re sticking to it. With an attractive round-shaped lens, they look fantastic on and off the water. However, this smaller lens does sacrifice a bit of protection from the sun, especially from the sides and below. These too have the useful PivLock leash included along with spring hinges and ChromaPop lenses that make seeing what’s in the water possible. We find the opal fade color option particularly alluring.

5. Almost Perfect: Smith Castaway

Smith castaway sunglasses

PROS: Best sun coverage of all, high-end look and feel, PivLock leash system included, amazing visual clarity

CONS: Really heavy with glass lenses, PivLock leash incompatible with a hoodie

I wanted the Smith Castaway to be my favorite because they look and feel awesome. They provide excellent coverage thanks to the large size and rectangular shape of the lenses that hug your face right and join the top of your cheekbones almost perfectly so no glares can sneak in. The PivLock leash, spring hinges, well-placed megol rubber pads, and nice included hard case all give the Castaway a high-end vibe worthy of the price tag. Perhaps they would have been our number one pick if they didn’t sit so heavy on your nose due to the weight of the glass lenses. I’d feel the slightest ache after a short time wearing them. When I was outside all day surf fishing in Florida or bowfishing in Idaho, I had to take them off frequently and rub the bridge of my nose to ease the discomfort. However, with polycarbonate lenses, they could very well have earned a nearly perfect score. If you love glass lenses and are already accustomed to the extra weight, this may be a non-issue for you. This is a fine pair of fishing shades.

6. For Casual Anglers: Smith Barra

Smith barra sunglasses

PROS: Look good, see good, multipurpose, slightly cheaper than other Smiths

CONS: Too much side glare, auto-lock hinges prone to breaking

Compare prices at: Optics Planet

Smith Barra sunglasses don’t wrap around your face like other fishing sunglasses. This lets them sit flatter on your face, which is arguably more stylish than wraps nowadays. However, the Barra sacrifices some coverage to look so good. Especially against indirect sunlight sneaking in from the sides, despite the discrete blinders molded into the frames. I frequently noticed that blinding glare on the inside of the Barra lenses that obstructed the otherwise crisp, clear view you have through Smith’s ChromaPop lenses. It’s not the end of the world, though. And for those who want one set of shades for everything, the Barra might be a good option. Be gentle with them, though. My brother-in-law has a pair and the sidearms busted clean off. They’re not quite as durable as some. But they sure are handsome!

7. Best for Custom Fit: Smith Deckboss

Smith deckboss sunglasses

PROS: Customizable fit temples, ideal for larger faces, unique lens shape with great coverage

CONS: Can bounce on your nose if not adjusted right, a little big for average size face

The Smith Deckboss comes in some wicked bad color options and the unique shape of the lens is both functional and awesome looking. I have the bronze mirror polarized ChromaPop lenses which were awesome for surf fishing and on bright sunny days backpacking. The frame is pretty durable, but stiffer than other Smiths and they don’t have spring hinges, so I didn’t find them quite as comfortable as some. And before I realized you could bend the ends of the ear pieces up and down and side to side for a more secure fit, they would bobble on my nose while hiking which was a bit annoying. But that’s really a moot point with proper adjustment. I can see these being an excellent choice for guys who can both beat me up handily and have a hard time finding a comfortable pair of sunglasses.

8. Honorable Mention: Smith Longfin

Smith longfin sunglasses

PROS: Lightweight, comfortable fit

CONS: Not the best coverage, blinders on sides cause your life partner to chuckle at you

Compare prices at: Optics Planet, Sportsman’s Warehouse

The Smith Longfin is the mullet of fishing sunglasses. They look really good and clean-cut from the front, but the profile view takes a special breed to appreciate. Since they don’t wrap around as much as some shades, Smith added these rubbery blinders on the sides to try and shade your eyes from sun rays at your side. Like on the Budweiser horses. They do a marginal job. You still get a fair amount of side glare, and even some from below since the lenses aren’t huge. But just like a yep-nope haircut, it’s all business in the front. And these babies look good to head-on traffic. They are super comfortable like a mudflap as well. I know from experience on both sides of the metaphor.

How to Choose the Best Lenses for Smith Sunglasses

While color combos may vary from frame to frame, Smith offers similar lens options for all the above models. But how do you choose?

We’ll explain some key differences that exist among Smith sunglasses lenses below that should help you dial in your preferences. Most models are even available with prescription lenses.

Man looking down at sunglasses inquisitively
I have pondered way too much about Smith sunglasses over the past few months!

ChromaPop vs Techlite

ChromaPop is Smith’s trademarked name for a multi-coating process they use on many of their nicer, more expensive sunglass lenses. 

All the sunglass models they advertise for fishing have ChromaPop lenses. Though, a few models that have been around for a while also have an option for their Techlite lenses.

Techlite is simply Smith’s trademarked name for a lightweight performance sunglasses lens type. Before they introduced ChromaPop, Techlite was their best of the best. It’s still a good option you can find in the Guide’s Choice and a couple other models, but after using ChromaPop lenses, it’d be hard for me to use something else.

What makes ChromaPop unique is that they help your eyes distinguish between different colors more easily, especially between red and green, and blue and green, which the retina struggles to decipher. ChromaPop filters these colors specifically so that everything appears more vibrant.

The effect is high contrast between colors which results in a bright, vivid, clear picture of whatever you are looking at. The colors really do pop!

I was visiting Yellowstone National Park this summer with family. While at the Grand Prismatic hot spring I passed around my Smith ChromaPop shades to the whole family so they could see the stark difference in color and appearance with them on. Lots of oh, wow’s!

Hand holding sunglasses out in front of a hot spring
A photograph cannot truly capture the way ChromaPop lenses make colors really pop.

Glass vs Polycarbonate

Smith’s lenses are all made of either glass or polycarbonate, a type of transparent plastic. Both are designed to be durable and maximize clarity. You’ll pay $60 more for glass lenses in a pair of Smiths.

So what are the advantages of one or the other and which should you choose?

Glass lenses have the advantage of being more durable and scratch-resistant. They are also often credited with better clarity, though personally, I find this latter claim to be a nominal benefit at best. I can’t really distinguish any added clarity, so I only consider the extra durability as the advantage here. 

The main downside of glass lenses is the weight. They are significantly heavier than polycarbonate lenses. And this becomes amplified on fishing sunglasses that are designed with large lenses to provide extra coverage from the sun.

Polycarbonate lenses have the advantage of being lightweight, while also being very durable. The downside is that they are more prone to being scratched and scuffed, or having the multi-coated layers wear off from being tossed around or stored improperly.

It’s a tradeoff between weight, cost, and scratch resistance. If you are really hard on your sunglasses, glass lenses might be worth the extra cash. But if you generally take good care of your stuff and store your shades in a hard case, you’re probably fine with the standard lenses. 

If you’re like me and are sensitive to extra weight on your face or pressure on your nose, but you want the benefits of glass, consider a pair of shades with smaller lenses like the Redding or Longfin. 

Hand holding smith spinner sunglasses
Big lensed frames like the Smith Spinner will be more comfortable with polycarbonate because glass will be heavy.

Lens Color

When it comes to lens colors within Smith’s fishing sunglasses product lineup, it’s important to note that there are really only two base colors that all Smith lenses have: brown or gray.

Any other color, including mirrored lenses, are simply additional coatings on top of the brown or gray that are designed to better accommodate different light conditions or aesthetics. One exception is the low-light yellow lenses, which are their own thing.

For example, if you’re getting the blue mirror lenses, you’re actually getting gray-based lenses with a blue mirror finish. Green mirror lenses have a brown base, as does the bronze mirror finish.

Yet, Smith markets each different finish as ideal for different conditions. For example, the blue mirror finish is said to be best for the brightest sunny days on the water. While the brown lenses are intended for a wider range of moderate to bright conditions, especially overcast.

In my experience with a variety of different lens colors from Smith, I’d say the advertised lighting conditions are accurate. The blue mirror lenses I have on the Castaways were awesome for surf fishing on a cloudless day. And the brown lenses on my Guide’s Choice or Reddings are my go-to for everyday wear and any-condition fishing.

Woman smiling with smith rockaway sunglasses
A mirror finish is best for really bright sunny days.

Key Features and Analysis

Every person is likely to have different preferences when it comes to fishing eyewear. Many will put more emphasis on fashion than function and vice versa. 

We selected some of the more universal decision-making criteria people will consider when they’re about to hand over a couple hundred bucks for a pair of premium sunglasses. We compared every pair on this list against each other based on the same attributes to ensure it’s an apples-to-apples comparison.


Guide’s Choice 5 | Joya 5 | Redding 5 | Rockaway 5 | Castaway 3 | Barra 5 | Deckboss 4 | Longfin 5

When it comes to how comfortable a pair of sunglasses is, characteristics like weight, flexible frames, and grip are all factors. Not only do you want the shades to feel good on your face, but you want them to stay put on your face so they’re not falling off when you’re reeling in a lunker.

Key points that factored into the comfort of Smith fishing eyewear were:

  • Placement of the rubber-like megol grip pads
  • Thickness and flexibility of the temples
  • Overall weight, including that of the lenses
  • Spring hinges, or lack thereof
  • Snugness of fit

All of the sunglasses on this list are comfortable to very comfortable. 

The Guide’s Choice, Joya, Redding, Rockaway, Barra, and Longfin felt great to me. No concerns. The first four of those have spring hinges which make for a snug, but pressure-free fit on the temples.

Due to the fact that they are slightly larger frames that would do better on larger faces, the Deckboss was slightly less comfy for me. I gave the Castaway the lowest marks, but only because with glass lenses they are so much heavier than the others. You feel the added pressure on the bridge of your nose when wearing them for extended periods of time.

Man wearing smith deckboss sunglasses in front of frozen mountain lake
Backpacking in the Sawtooths, the Smith Deckboss bobbled on my nose before I adjusted the earpieces.


Guide’s Choice 5 | Joya 5 | Redding 4 | Rockaway 5 | Castaway 5 | Barra 4 | Deckboss 4 | Longfin 3

For design you want to look at any unique features of the eyewear and whether the style is a look you like.

Examples of what we considered when rating the design of each pair include:

  • Earpiece/temple size
  • Hinge quality and function
  • Whether the actual fit aligns with the advertised fit
  • Look and feel
  • Leash design or compatibility
  • Lens and color options

Each of the Smiths on this list has well thought out designs by a company that has made quality eyewear for years. Color options are generally good, though the Guide’s Choice offers the most combinations. The Longfin got a demerit due to the somewhat hoaky and marginally-effective blinders.

Smith water sports sunglasses on a stand-up paddle board


Guide’s Choice 5 | Joya 4 | Redding 5 | Rockaway 3 | Castaway 5 | Barra 3 | Deckboss 4 | Longfin 3

Sun protection is the primary purpose of sunglasses and is especially important for anglers and people who spend their time on the water all day. Water reflects the sun’s rays from below in addition to above and from the sides. You need to make sure your shades cover all the angles well to protect your eyes, avoid headaches, and be able to see what you’re doing out there.

The best fishing sunglasses in terms of coverage have a more substantial “wrap”. This refers to how much the frames of the eyewear curve from the bridge of your nose backward toward your temples. Often, more stylish or trendy sunglasses don’t wrap much at all and sit flatter on the front of your face. This leaves a big gap between the sides of your shades and the side of your head. UV rays can easily sneak in either directly (like when you’re driving with the sun on your left), or indirectly (reflecting off the water).

I tend to favor sunglasses that wrap more for activities that are generally done in full exposure to the sun, like fishing or boating. 

Shades like Smith’s Guide’s Choice or Castaway provide the best coverage. Not only do they have Smith’s 8 base wrap (as opposed to a lesser 6 base wrap on the Barra, Longfin, Joya, and Rockaway), but they have thick temple pieces that block out additional rays. In my experience with these sunglasses, it is rare that you ever have annoying sunlight glaring off the back of your lenses and into your eyes.

The same cannot be said for the Rockaway, Barra, and Longfin, despite efforts to add “blinder” like pieces to the frames to reduce glare from the sides and above. They just aren’t really effective in my experience.

Hand holding sunglasses to show blinders
The blinders on the Smith Longfins don’t look the best, provide only marginal benefit, and they aren’t removable.


Guide’s Choice 4 | Joya 5 | Redding 4 | Rockaway 5 | Castaway 4 | Barra 4 | Deckboss 4 | Longfin 4

The reason we looked at function was to assess how well the design and unique features of a particular pair of sunglasses served their intended purpose.

Do the blinders on the Barra or Longfin really keep the rays from the sides and above out? Not really.

Does the PivLock leash system work well on the Castaway, Joya, and Rockaway? Absolutely, yes. Only the stiffness of the cable sticks out the back and if you’re wearing a hoodie, it’ll probably push your glasses off your face.

But is the leash system on the Guide’s Choice easy to use? Not at all. It’s supposed to connect directly into cutouts in the ear pieces once you remove the megol pads. Nice feature, but it works terribly. I broke fingernails and cussed like a sailor trying to get it connected. Then I misbehaved similarly when I removed it.

Thankfully, a set of Chums or Croakies will do the job just fine for any pair on this list.

Make sure the sunglasses you buy work as you expect them to and that any advertised gimmick serves a useful purpose. No one needs fishing sunglasses with a bottle opener on them, but we do need them to stay put on our faces without bobbling around while we race our boat to the best cove.

Side view of man wearing smith castaway with leash sticking out back
The Pivlock cable leash is pretty stiff and sticks out the back. Not a big deal unless you wear a hoodie.


Guide’s Choice 4 | Joya 4 | Redding 4 | Rockaway 4 | Castaway 4 | Barra 4 | Deckboss 4 | Longfin 4

We granted the same score of four out of five to all the Smith sunglasses we evaluated for this review. Since they all come from the same manufacturer, sell for pretty much the exact same price, and offer the same added benefits like warranty and customer service, there is not a lot of contrast here.

Sunglasses from Smith Optics are not cheap. But if you’re still reading this article, you know that and you’re probably still interested in them. In which case, they are worth what you pay for them.

In all cases, you can find competitive eyewear of similar quality and function for a lower price, which is why they got fours and not fives. But the alternatives won’t have the cool Smith branding you probably love. And they may also lack the excellent customer service you get from Smith.

Sunglasses next to hard case and soft case on bench
All Smith fishing sunglasses include a soft case, most have a hard case, and a few come with a leash. (Redding)

Warranty and Customer Service

Smith guarantees the quality of their sunglasses for two years from the date of purchase. My experience suggests that they’ll stand by this guarantee.

One pair of sunglasses we purchased, the Joya, had a defect. After a month or two of regular use, the lenses began to delaminate and you could see lines running across them (polarized feature gone bad). This was visibly unappealing and caused a good portion of your view to be blurry.

We reported this to Smith through their regular online warranty claim process. They said it would take 1-2 weeks to get a response. We received approval within two business days that included a coupon code of equal value to the Joya. In order to activate the code, we had to destroy the sunglasses by either busting off the arms or scratching an X into each lens, then send photos. While I was unimpressed by the wastefulness of this process, I was pleased with the quick turnaround and no-hassle process.

Broken sunglasses
I had to send this photo to Smith to validate the warranty replacement code, pretty wasteful.

Final Recommendations

Guide’s Choice 4.6 | Joya 4.6 | Redding 4.4 | Rockaway 4.4 | Castaway 4.2 | Barra 4.0 | Deckboss 4.0 | Longfin 3.8

If you just buy one pair of the Smith fishing sunglasses we reviewed in this article, chances are that you will love them.

But having tried ALL of them, I can wholeheartedly recommend the Guide’s Choice as my favorite all-around pair of sunglasses for fishing and outdoor recreation. The fit, the feel, the look, the coverage, and the functionality are superb. Just ignore the leash that comes in the package.

The Smith Redding is also a safe choice that won’t disappoint and it doesn’t look as bulky as the Guide’s Choice. But if you don’t mind the added weight of glass lenses, get the Castaway because they are beautiful and awesome.

If you’re not sure what color to get, I recommend the matte tortoise frames with the brown polarized ChromaPop lenses if you want one pair of sunglasses that can do it all. But if you’re looking for a dedicated pair of fishing sunglasses, the blue mirror lenses do offer added clarity and deeper visibility into the water. This is especially true for avid anglers who fish a lot offshore or in bright sunny conditions.

For ladies, I recommend the Joya if you intend to fish with them. But if you want a cute pair of all-around shades and don’t mind a little less coverage, I love the look of the opal fade Rockaway on my wife!

Why Trust Us?

Couple wearing sunglasses on beach
We actually handled, used, and thought a lot about Smith’s fishing sunglasses in preparation for this article.

We know it’s hard to find gear advice you can trust. At Outdoor Empire we aim to provide honest, objective, hands-on reviews rather than just regurgitating information found somewhere else on the internet. Our process is continuously evolving and improving.

Here are a few reasons you can trust our advice in this article:

  • We actually acquired every product mentioned in this article.
  • We objectively tested and ranked each product listed here.
  • Besides “testing”, we used this gear in real life for an extended period of time.
  • We spent our own money on products and expenses related to this article.
  • While we occasionally accept product samples or discounts to help stretch our gear budget further so we can produce more gear guides, we do not accept paid or sponsored reviews.
  • The opinions, experiences, and results expressed in this article are our own, authentic, and unbiased. Nobody paid us for our favorable opinion.
  • We recommend the same products to you that we do to our friends and family.


Want More Gear Advice?

If you want to see alternatives to Smith sunglasses for your fishing and water adventures, be sure to check out our article on the overall best polarized fishing sunglasses.

Besides that, check out these other helpful gear guides: