Fin-Nor Backdown Sunglasses
Michelle Gandola/Gunpowder PR

Gear Review: Fin-Nor Backdown Fishing Sunglasses


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The technology that goes into fishing sunglasses continues to improve by leaps and bounds every year. Today's options cut down on the glare better than ever before, allowing anglers to peer into the depths and spot fish that might otherwise have gone unnoticed before. One of the more recent brands to jump into the sunglasses pool is Fin-Nor. You probably already know them as a storied saltwater reel maker. They've been around for a long time, and they've got a great conservation mindset that we love seeing in any outdoor equipment company. We recently got the chance to travel to Costa Rica with Fin-Nor and Penn Fishing for a little saltwater angling adventure.

I ended up taking the Fin-Nor Backdown sunglasses with blue mirror glass lenses with me as I tangled with Jack Crevalle, roosterfish, and some hefty yellowfin tuna over the course of a three-day angling adventure. It's safe to say the Fin-Nor exceeded all my expectations. In fact, I was impressed with how well they operated once I was back home cruising some small freshwater lakes too. Let's go over just what makes these sunglasses so special and how helpful they'll be on your next fishing adventure.

The Technology

Fin-Nor Backdown Sunglasses

Travis Smola

Fin-Nor didn't just haphazardly decide to jump into the fishing sunglasses market. They got a team of engineers to work on developing new technology specifically with anglers in mind. The lenses of the Backdown include seven different layers, each with a different purpose for enhancing vision and clarity. There's the usual UV blocking and color enhancing layers that are becoming so common for fishing sunglasses these days. But there's also a seven-layer super AR coating to help block reflections and an oleophoboic/hydrophobic topcoat on the outer layers to prevent scratches and smudging. And believe me, I was rough on these glasses over the course of the trip. I'm happy to report there hasn't been any scratches despite these getting knocked around quite a bit in my luggage and also on the boat when I took them off and set them down.

There's two layers of distortion-free mineral glass and an encapsulated mirror coating for the mirrored lens variants of Fin-Nor's new offerings. Pack all these layers together and you've got some exception visibility.

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On day two of the trip our boat hooked into a 60-inch, 91-pound yellowfin tuna and our fist glimpse of the fish was probably about 15 feet beneath the surface of the water. I saw it quite clearly with the sunglasses and was surprised later when my GoPro footage didn't show the same image. Then I remembered I'd had the sunglasses on at the time.

Fin-Nor's lenses do an awesome job of cutting through all the glare of the surface. The pair I had in Costa Rica had the blue mirror lenses, which the company says are best for bright and sunny days offshore. In a tropical climate like Costa Rica, they were just what the doctor ordered.

While the company specifies them for offshore, they did quite well when we fished inshore for roosterfish and snapper too. I cannot say enough about the color-enhancing qualities of these lenses. They just make the world so much more vibrant, and the warm waters of Costa Rica's Pacific Coast looked even more radiantly beautiful than they do to the naked eye. There was practically no eye fatigue either, even after hours aboard a rocking boat staring into the deep blue waters. We regularly spotted color when the fish we were fighting were still quite deep beneath the surface, which was just the motivation I needed 45 minutes deep into a fight with a powerful tuna!

When I got home to Michigan, I went out on my local lake wearing these same sunglasses and was stunned at how they cut through the depths of this especially murky waterway. I was seeing weedlines and fish I've never seen before with my other pairs of sunglasses. So, while these lenses were clearly designed for offshore saltwater angling, they are killer for shallow water freshwater angling too.

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The Frames

Fin-Nor Backdown Sunglasses

Travis Smola

Of course, the best lenses in the world aren't going to matter one bit if the frames are junk. The good news is the frames on Fin-Nor shades are just as nice as the lenses. On the Backdown, there are side shields that help to block out that little extra light, which is a nice touch. One thing I can say is that these things are comfy. I've worn plenty of sunglasses where you start feeling pressure points and headaches later in the day, but I often forgot I even had the Fin-Nor Backdowns on.

You can probably thank the adjustable nose piece and molded rubber tips for that. They hug the face perfectly, and after a long day of fishing, I wasn't feeling it or seeing any noticeable red lines along the sides of my nose or behind my ears like I've noticed with cheaper frames.

The frames will also take a beating. Early in the trip, I managed to dislocate one of the spring hinges on the frame. When I first saw that, I thought the frame was totaled. However, I was able to pop it back into place. It's slightly looser than it was when I first got the glasses, but they still open and close fine. It also did not seem to affect the fit at all, which is the primary thing to be worried about with a pair of glasses this expensive.

At the end of the day, the Fin-Nor Backdowns are an incredible pair of sunglasses. Fin-Nor may be a relatively new player in the sunglasses game, but I'm betting after the annual ICAST trade show, more people will be taking their offerings quite seriously. For the dedicated saltwater angler who wants superior eye protection, the Backdown is an excellent choice. For more information, check out the Fin-Nor website.

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For more outdoor content from Travis Smola, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Instagram For original videos, check out his Geocaching and Outdoors with Travis YouTube channels

READ MORE: COSTA RICA FISHING: EVERYTHING TO KNOW ABOUT THIS SALTWATER PARADISE

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