Stuff That Works: Costa Del Mar 580 Glass

I'm all about sight fishing. For me, seeing a big trout sipping along the bank, sneaking into position, and firing a cast that connects is the absolute "top of the game." That's hunting with a fly rod. And I don't care if the fish is 12-inches long or twice that, the "how" always trumps the "what."

Polarized eyewear is perhaps the most critical gear aspect of that game. And the more I fish, the more I realize how subtle differences in lens materials and tints matter, big time. I'm a glass fanatic. And Costa Del Mar's 580 Glass has become a proven standard, not only on my home rivers, but also with other guides, literally half a world away.

Case in point: A month ago, I was fishing in Argentina with guide Katy Melo. All clear creeks, all sight fishing... the trip revolved around catching trout in skinny water... fish that were longer than the water was deep (22-plus-inch browns and rainbows). I had a pair of Costa "Zane" sunglasses with Silver Mirror 580 Glass lenses ($239)... A-list eyewear for one of the best sight fishing meccas in the world. Katy looked at me as if I were wearing the crown jewels. (He had a pair like that, but, sadly, had lost them in the river months earlier.) Since he was the boss and I was following his lead, I offered my pair to Katy, and fished with my backup pair... an adequate polarized tint, but not nearly the same. No matter... Katy was on the fish like a hawk, and we caught many. Suffice it to say, I didn't have the heart to pry them back away from him, and those glasses now live in northern Patagonia, where I am sure they are put to good use every day.

I have a hard time recommending premium-priced products on this blog when the truth is, for most anglers (including myself) it's often very difficult to discern the difference between rods, reels, and other things that are priced hundreds of dollars apart. And for purely functional polarized eyewear that lets you look through glare and offers some protection as well, you can spend a lot less and be perfectly happy. Heck, Joe Cermele picked Costa's 580P (polycarbonate) lenses as a "Best of the Best" gear pick in the March issue of Field & Stream. They cost as much as $80 less than some 580 Glass models, they're lighter, more impact resistant, and they repel oils and dirt.

But when it's "game on" sight fishing, whether I'm doing the casting, or calling in the shots for a guide client by looking for super-subtle glints, shadows, motions, and other telltales concealed in moving currents, I wear glass. Really good glass. And like a lot of guides who make their living by seeing things most people cannot notice, I swear by the difference in performance. Seeing really is believing.