My New Favorites: Smith Guide’s Choice Sunglasses Review

Smith Guide's Choice sunglasses on man by Yellowstone Falls

Sunglasses should be comfortable, keep the sun out of your eyes, and survive the perils of being tossed around. Bonus points for looking cool while doing so. In this review of the Smith Guide’s Choice polarized sunglasses, which cater to fishermen, you’ll find they do all of those things beautifully, with only one minor flaw. 

The Smith Guide’s Choice sunglasses fit snugly and comfortably on medium to large faces. While the included leash is frustrating to use, the ample coverage and good looks make up for it. Aptly-sized lenses that wrap keep both direct and indirect sunlight out of your eyes, including side glare.


  • Light weight and quality build make them super comfortable
  • Lens shape and wraparound frame keep the glare out well
  • ChromaPop lenses really make colors pop, even in the water
  • Great for everyday use, not just fishing


  • Attaching and detaching the included leash is a nightmare
  • Cost a pretty penny (like most Smith sunglasses)

We have awarded the Smith Guide’s Choice sunglasses with our Empire Crowned badge for being an outstanding piece of gear! This award is based on real-world testing and comparison to similar products.

Compare prices at: Optics Planet, Sportsman’s Warehouse

Hands-on Review of Smith Guide’s Choice Polarized Sunglasses

Despite having more than half a dozen Smith sunglasses at my disposal the past several months, I wore the Guide’s Choice the most. And not just for fishing. I’ve worn them to the grocery store, walking the dog, and running around doing regular life stuff. 

They’ve been dropped, dirty, sweaty, polished, and put at risk of destruction by the hands of small children. Yet, they have persevered. And I really like them. 

Let me tell you why.

When evaluating sunglasses for fishing we look primarily at five different criteria. Below you’ll find what those are along with our assessment of the Smith Guide’s Choice for each. 

The sunglasses are given a score between 1 and 5 for each category, then the average score becomes the overall Outdoor Empire score which we use to objectively compare one product to another. Enjoy!

Man tenkara fishing in river
Tenkara fishing on the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River near Island Park, Idaho.


Outdoor Empire Score: 5

Suffice it to say that these sunglasses are extremely comfortable! They fit well, stay put, and you hardly notice they are on, even if they are all day.

The rubbery megol nose and temple pads kept them in place whether I was riding a motorcycle or wading in a stream fly fishing. No bouncing or annoying slippage that requires constant adjustment.

I also prefer spring hinges, which these have, because they adjust nicely to any face and don’t squeeze your temples at all.

The Smith Guide’s Choice is made for a medium-large fit. I’ve got a medium-sized face and while I usually lean toward more minimalist designs, these did not feel too big at all and I loved how they felt on my face. Plus that slightly larger fit provides some extra coverage from the sun.


Outdoor Empire Score: 5

Top of smith guide's choice sunglasses

There are tons of frame and lens color options with the Guide’s Choice, perhaps more than any other fishing sunglasses from Smith. So you’re bound to find something you like. 

My pair are matte tortoise frames with the ChromaPop polarized brown polycarbonate lenses, which I find to be a great all-around color. They go well with whatever you’re wearing, but more importantly, the brown lenses are super versatile. Whether fishing freshwater or saltwater in bright sun or overcast conditions, the brown lens is an excellent option if you’re a one pair of sunglasses kind of guy.

I really like the lens shape. It’s not alien-like at all. The lens design is both good looking and functional. You can pick from Smith’s ChromaPop or Techlite lenses. Both are great and polarized, but ChromaPop is their newer technology with better color contrast. Techlites are lightweight and highly scratch resistant.

While I haven’t tried glass lenses in the Guide’s Choice, I have in other Smith sunglasses like the Redding and the Castaway. Given the size of the Guide’s Choice, I feel like glass lenses would be heavier than I find comfortable. But you may not be as sensitive to that, or perhaps the higher scratch resistance properties of the glass is worth the tradeoff to you.

The ear pieces are pretty fat as they sweep back over the temples, but I think they look cool on these without being obnoxious. Unlike cheap plastic frames, these have some flex and grip well to your temples. The fatness subsides over the ears so there is no discomfort at all.


Outdoor Empire Score: 5

Front of man's face wearing smith guide's choice sunglasses
The Guide’s Choice provides great coverage from the sun both head-on and from the sides.

I underestimated how much I would appreciate good coverage in a nice pair of sunglasses. And the Guide’s Choice nails it on sun protection. I credit this to a combo of their wrapped design, the shape of the medium-large lenses which cover well beneath the eyes, and the broadness of the ear pieces over the temple.

With Smith’s 8-base wraparound design, these curve back toward your temples which helps keep indirect light out of your eyes. This really comes into play when you’re driving a car or on a boat and the sun is at your side. 

Without the wrap and the fat sidearms of the Guide’s Choice sunglasses, the sun could easily sneak in and reflect off the backside of your lenses and into your eyes. I hate when that happens and all you see is the silhouette of your car door instead of the road in front of you.

The good news is, I didn’t experience this at all with the Guide’s Choice! Whereas I did somewhat with some of Smith’s other fishing sunglasses like the Longfin and the Barra.


Outdoor Empire Score: 4

Neck strap system for smith guide's choice sunglasses
These tiny rubber pads are maddening to get in and out, making the included leash pretty much useless.

Overall, the Guide’s Choice functions like you would expect from a pair of not cheap high-end sunglasses. In my experience with them, they get excellent marks in visual clarity on water, UV protection, comfort, durability, and scratch resistance.

There is just one little flaw these have that kept the Smith Guide’s Choice from getting full points from us when it comes to function, and that’s the included leash. The way the leash connects to the sunglasses is indeed secure, but the expletives that will spill out of your mouth when you try and attach them will negate any kudos you may have given to this little feature.

First, you have to remove the rubbery megol pads at the ends of the earpiece, then you have to insert the ends of the leash into the exposed holes. Once done with the leash, you have to do the inverse. By the time you are halfway through the process you will have damaged or deformed the leash and/or the megol pads, your fingernails will be broken, and you’ll be ordering Chums online.

If you’re considering the Guide’s Choice because of the included leash, think again. Pretend like it’s not there and plans to buy an aftermarket leash. Because it’s maddening to make it work unless you have tiny elf hands and the patience of Mother Theresa.


Outdoor Empire Score: 4

Smith guide's choice with accessories on bench
Ignore the sub-par leash system, but the cases are nice.

The Guide’s Choice is an expensive pair of sunglasses, like all Smiths, which makes it pretty average when it comes to value. We don’t give it full points here because you can indeed find quality options from other brands that offer just as much bang for fewer bucks.

I also wish the Guide’s Choice used the PivLock leash system Smith puts on newer model sunglasses like the Castaway. That would add a bit more value to the package at that price.

However, Smith is an awesome brand that usually hooks you up when you have problems with their products. So if the price fits your budget, it’s indeed a good buy for quality gear.

Bottom Line

Outdoor Empire Total Score: 4.6

Compare prices at: Optics Planet, Sportsman’s Warehouse

Out of eight pairs of Smith sunglasses I have been testing and wearing every day for the past several months, the Guide’s Choice is my all-around favorite. That’s why we have awarded them with our Empire Crowned badge.

Outdoor empire crowned

They are versatile, durable, functional, and offer lots of different style options that will appeal to different people. They fit most faces and they provide excellent protection from the sun.

However, if you like a more minimalistic design you might consider the Smith Redding. Or if you want quality Smith lenses at a slightly cheaper price, the Deckboss might be a good alternative for you.

As long as you’re cool with buying any old neck strap (if you even care), the Guide’s Choice will not disappoint. I highly recommend these sunglasses for anglers and outdoorsmen. They can be your only pair of shades or just another nice arrow in your quiver.

For more reviews of Smith sunglasses for fishing, read about all our top picks here!

Or if you’re curious about some non-Smith options, check out this comparison of the Best Polarized Fishing Sunglasses.