In our coverage from Fly Fishing Retailer in Denver this year, one new product that we were intrigued by was the Ingnitor lens from Smith Optics. Having been popular in the ski goggle world for flat light conditions, Smith brought this lens to their fishing lineup this year. We said we’d give them a try and tell you all about it. Last month at Andros South we gave them a try, and today we’re telling you about it.
Lenses for the Flats
First, a bit of background on our flats sunglass philosophy. There are hundreds of different lens tints and technologies out there – some designed for bright conditions and some designed for dark conditions or flat light. That’s great, but we almost never wear lenses designed for bright conditions on the flats (where, yes, it’s often really bright). Huh?
Well, it’s easy to see fish when there’s lots of light. Almost any quality fishing lens that you can buy today (even light tints designed for dark conditions) filters out enough light that your eyes are comfortable and glare is cut, even in bright conditions. So if you can see in bright and dark conditions with a light tinted lens, but only in bright conditions with a dark tinted lens, why would you use a dark tinted lens? Even on a ‘bluebird’ day, you never know when that solitary cloud is going to pop up and obscure your view of that bonefish of your lifetime.
That’s the background on why we’ve always fished light tints on the flats. To date, various shades of yellow (Smith calls theirs Polarchromic Amber) have seemed to give them best combination of great contrast and good visibility in low light, on a variety of different types of bottoms. After a week in various conditions on South Andros, the Ignitor is our new favorite lens.
We’ll spare you the really technical jargon about lens properties that we don’t even really understand. These Ignitor lenses are super sharp, and the pinkish tint just consistently helped us see fish better, particularly in flat or low light conditions, on everything from brown mud and turtle grass on the West Side, to rocky, sandy bottoms in The South. They actually do seem to ‘light up the bottom’.
Whether or not you like the styling, we think that a full-coverage frame like the Backdrop or the Mogul helps a lot, by blocking light from entering from the sides, and by just giving you more glass to look through.
When you’re stalking fish on the flats, it’s really, really important to be able to see well. We think it’s worth it for you to give the Ignitor lens a try. These lenses are new and might still be tough to find – you can find them here if they’re not at your local fly shop yet.