Thursday, February 08, 2007

Fly Fish with Mel: How to Equip for a Trip to Maldives - Apparel (2)

One other important part of our anatomy that requires adequate protection in this harsh environment is the window to our soul, our eyes. The same UV radiation that is so damaging to our skin is also a bane to our eyes. Add to that, long hours of staring at bright, shimmering reflections off the water surface looking for that elusive bonefish can fatigue our eyes to the point of causing headaches.

Therefore, one absolutely indispensable piece of gear, is a pair of QUALITY, polarized sunglasses. Notice that I emphasize 'QUALITY'. Any simple pair of dark glasses does more damage than not wearing sunglasses. This is because the darkness of the lens causes your pupils to dilate, thus letting in more UV light. It is then imperative to make sure that you choose sunglasses that are labeled as having protection against UVA and UVB radiation.

Polarization is the cutting down of glare from the horizontal plane. This means that reflection off the water's surface is reduced dramatically, allowing you to peer through the water in search of your quarry. Without this property, you will find it almost impossible to spot the fish. The extremely bright environment of white sand and reflective waters will also tire your eyes a lot quicker as you squint to reduce the glare.

As always, there are many makes of quality, polarized sunglasses. Personally, I use Costa Del Mar and Maui Jim. I prefer wrap-arounds as they cover up most of the spaces on the sides and on the top where light can enter and still create glare. The quality of the polarization is also very good in the two pairs that I own. I haven't had much problems with de-lamination of the polarized coatings and since the models I use are all plastic, I don't really have to worry about rusting. I just give it a good rinse in freshwater at the end of every day and leave it to dry indoors.

My Costa Del Mar Fluid sunglasses have interchangeable lenses allowing me to change from sunrise (yellow) lenses ,for low light conditions; to amber (orange), for high contrast against the light sand; to grey lenses for deep blue waters. Other coloured lenses can be bought to suit other conditions too. It originally comes with 3 sets of lenses but I bought an extra set of sunrise lenses for use during my early morning forays.

My Maui Jim MJ Sport is of a one-piece construction but fits my asian face shape very well. Its lightweight frame makes it my sunglass of choice for everyday use. It sports a rose lens (reddish-brown) makes it universal for use at anytime of the day.

For daily maintenance, we carry a piece of lens cleaning cloth and solution in a waterproof bag whenever we go to shore. Since we apply loads of sunblock, you can be sure that there'll be oily smudges on the lens every now and then. A quick spray and wipe and you're ready to go hunting again. A simple ritual for us is to rinse the sunglasses in freshwater to get rid of any salt and when dry, clean the lenses with the solution once over before we replace them into their cases. In this way, we make sure that our sunglasses are where we can find them the next morning.

to be continued..