GEAR REVIEW: Guideline Eyegear Keel, Swell polarized sunglasses

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Like the Keel, the Swell model as tested retails for $69.95.
The author, wearing the Guideline Eyegear Swell with a Kenai River sockeye salmon.

Polarized sunglasses are essential for most fishing pursuits, but with so many variations and companies in the market, it can be tough to know exactly what will best fit your specifications and comfort level – both on your face and in your wallet. Lenses suited to inshore fishing may not do as well as those used on offshore trips, and vice versa. There also is the price point to consider: you can buy cheaper frames and expect them to give up the ghost far quicker than a more expensive pair, but many anglers also may be on a budget – or just stingy – and not able or willing to shell out more than $50 on their sunglasses needs.

While some name brands continue to be at the forefront of the polarized eyewear market, Guideline Eyegear is hoping to not only bring quality and stylish frames but a lower price point that anglers certainly would find appealing. And so far, its offerings have been impressive.

Guideline offers a variety of styles to fit the tastes of discerning anglers, with two polarized setups – the Swell and Keel models – standing out for a bevy of reasons.

The Keel, which comes in matte green, matte black, tortoise shell and crystal blue, looks very much like other brand-name fishing glasses, the standard-looking wraparound design the typical go-to model for most anglers. However, after sporting the blue Keel model with silver flash mirror lenses all the way from Texas coastal flats to Alaskan rivers and big water, my consensus is that they’re a great pair of frames and lenses suited to a number of applications. The large frames, as tested, feature durable hinges and squarish polycarbonate lenses with a darker tint that perform well in both medium and bright conditions.

The Keel is suited best for large faces, though they provided good coverage without being too big for my medium-sized face. The model also features soft, durable nose pads and a non-skid strip atop the front and on the earpieces to keep them where you want them, even when your face is sweating in temperatures pushing 100 degrees. The overall look of the Keel models is akin to more expensive brands, something that designers captured well. At $69.95, though, the price point is far better than spending $200 or more for those other brands.

Another of Guideline’s offerings, the Swell, is a departure from the traditional polarized fishing sunglasses look, appearing more along the lines of Ray Ban Wayfarers or similar models. However, the stylish set of frames also performed exceptionally well, complementing the Keel in different angling settings and situations.

The Swell comes in crystal graphite frames with deep water grey lenses and crystal clear and matte black frames with river edge silver flash mirror lenses. The latter, as tested, provided good coverage and like the Keel is suited to larger faces, though like the Keel it also fit my face well, providing all-day comfort on and off the water. The frames don’t offer nose pads or non-slip surfaces but they also hug your face, ensuring that they won’t easily slip off.

The Swell also features polycarbonate lenses and they, too, stood up to the elements in a number of settings. The lighter lenses are ideal for shallow-water flats fishing, but they also provided superb clarity in a most unexpected way. The world-famous Kenai River in Alaska is famed for its annual salmon runs and its distinct blue-green waters turned murky from glacial silt harbor multiple species including sockeyes and kings. That water clarity – or lack thereof – isn’t typically an issue as you never really see the fish you’re catching since they hug the bottom. However, even on overcast, drab days when the water was simply darker, I still was able to make out the flip of sockeye tails near the bank as they shot up the river to spawn. There may be other polarized sunglasses that could have produced the same results, but being able to see fish below under those conditions is simply miraculous.

In my book, that backed up the superb overall review of the frames, making them the ones I turn to in almost any situation, fishing or not.

Like the Keel, the Swell model as tested retails for $69.95.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
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Will Leschper is founder of The Texas Outdoor Digest. He has been recognized for Excellence in Craft by the Outdoor Writers Association of America and the Texas Outdoor Writers Association. He is Conservation Editor of Texas Fish & Game Magazine and is a regular contributor to the Journal of the Texas Trophy Hunters, in addition to writing for plenty of now-defunct publications.

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