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What color lenses are best for bowfishing?


Bowfishing is a unique sport that involves shooting fish with a bow and arrow. One of the keys to success in bowfishing is being able to see and target fish clearly while they are underwater. This is where using colored lenses for your sunglasses or protective eyewear can make a big difference. But with so many lens color options available, it can be tricky to know which one is the best choice for bowfishing.

In this article, we will compare the benefits and drawbacks of different colored lenses for bowfishing to help you determine which is the best option. Key factors we will cover include visibility in various water conditions, contrast enhancement, and more. We’ll also provide specific lens recommendations so you can shop with confidence. Whether you’re new to the sport or a seasoned bowfishing veteran, read on to find the ideal lenses to improve your underwater vision and bowling success.

How Do Colored Lenses Work for Bowfishing?

Before jumping into lens color comparisons, it helps to understand how colored lenses improve underwater vision in the first place. Sunglasses and protective lenses filter out certain wavelengths of visible light. By blocking some colors more than others, lenses change the way you perceive the underwater environment. Different lens colors fine-tune this filtering effect for specific benefits.

Generally speaking, the best lenses for bowfishing enhance contrast, which allows you to distinguish fish from their surroundings more easily. This helps you detect subtle movement and zero in on your targets. The right lenses also restore realistic color perception, as longer wavelengths like red and orange get absorbed at depth.

With poor quality or the wrong type of lenses, everything underwater can look blue or green with low contrast. Fish seem to disappear against the background. You’ll miss more shots and have less success without lenses tuned for underwater bowfishing conditions.

Comparing Lens Color Options

Now let’s take a look at the most common lens colors bowfishers use and analyze the pros and cons of each:

Amber Lenses

Amber or brown-tinted lenses are a popular all-around choice for bowfishing. Here are the benefits they provide:

– Increase contrast in low light conditions or overcast weather.
– Block shorter blue wavelengths, improving depth perception.
– Restore warm color tones like red and orange that get lost underwater.
– Reduce eye fatigue compared to darker gray or mirrored lenses.

The main drawback of amber lenses is that they can make it harder to see in extremely clear or shallow water compared to other options. They also don’t block as much glare as mirrored or polarized lenses.

Gray Lenses

Gray lenses are another common choice and offer these advantages:

– Provide excellent glare reduction in bright sunlight.
– Don’t alter color perception significantly underwater.
– Available in light to dark tints to match various environments.

Downsides of gray lenses include:

– Don’t improve contrast and depth perception as much as amber or yellow.
– Darker shades can reduce visibility in low light conditions.

Many bowfishers opt for light to medium gray lenses as an all-purpose option. But gray lacks specialized benefits for bowfishing.

Yellow Lenses

Yellow lenses filter out violet, blue, and green light. Here are the upsides they provide:

– Enhance contrast better than any other lens color, especially in green-tinted water.
– Improve depth perception so fish seem closer.
– Allow you to see clearly even in dark or low light conditions.

The tradeoffs with yellow lenses include:

– Can distort color perception more than amber or gray lenses.
– Not ideal for extremely bright conditions.
– Some cheaper lenses have a strong yellow tint that can reduce visibility.

For maximizing underwater contrast, high-quality yellow lenses are hard to beat. Just bring an alternate pair for backup when light levels change.

Mirrored Lenses

Mirrored lens coatings reflect glare to reduce eye strain in direct sunlight. The benefits include:

– Cut through surface glare and reflections to see fish more clearly.
– Come in various tints like blue, green, gold, and silver for customizing contrast and color enhancement.

The disadvantages of mirrored lenses are:

– The reflective coating can limit light transmission in low light conditions.
– Not as effective at improving contrast and depth perception as amber, gray, or yellow lenses.

Mirrored lenses work best for bowfishing in bright conditions. Use them combined with a lower light lens for total flexibility.

Polarized Lenses

Polarized lenses use a special filter to eliminate reflective glare. Here are the pros of polarized lenses:

– Remove surface reflections that obscure underwater visibility.
– Cut through glare without darkened tints that reduce light transmission.

And here are the cons to consider:

– More expensive than other lens options.
– Don’t enhance contrast or correct color issues underwater like tinted lenses.
– Can distort or eliminate reflective cues needed to spot fish.

Polarized lenses excel at cutting surface glare. But tinted or photochromic lenses often work better for optimizing underwater bowfishing vision.

Best Lens Color Recommendations

Based on their specialized benefits for bowfishing, here are our top lens color recommendations:

Amber: Amber or brown lenses provide the best all-around performance in most bowfishing conditions. They balance glare reduction, contrast enhancement, and natural color rendition. If you only want one lens color, amber is the way to go.

Yellow: For maximizing contrast and targeting fish in low visibility water, yellow lenses can’t be beat. They create obvious shadows and definition so fish stand out.

Mirrored Amber or Yellow: Combining amber or yellow tints with a mirrored coating gives you the best of both worlds. You get glare reduction plus specialized contrast and color benefits. This is an ideal solution for variable conditions.

Photochromic: Photochromic or transition lenses automatically darken and lighten based on conditions. This lets you adapt seamlessly from low light to bright sun. While convenient, the tints often don’t optimize underwater vision as well as fixed amber or yellow lenses.

Avoid gray and polarized lenses if your main goal is enhancing underwater clarity and contrast for bowfishing performance. While both help reduce glare, they don’t improve the contrast, depth perception, and color accuracy like amber, yellow, and mirrored options.

Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Lenses

To maximize the benefits of your bowfishing lenses, keep these usage tips in mind:

– Prioritize quality over cost when buying lenses. Cheap lenses often have distortion and poor color tints.
– Ensure your lenses have impact resistance and 100% UVA/UVB protection. Bowfishing safety requires durable, protective lenses.
– Look for lenses with anti-fog and anti-scratch lens coatings to maintain clarity.
– Always bring a backup pair of lenses with a different tint in case light levels change.
– Use neck straps, cords, or goggle straps to prevent losing sunglasses in the water.
– Clean lenses regularly with a microfiber cloth to remove fish slime, grease, and debris that cause glare and reduce visibility.

Taking steps to care for and protect your lenses will ensure they enhance your vision optimally during every bowfishing outing.

Lens Recommendations by Bowfishing Conditions

To recommend some more specific lenses options, here are the top choices for different common bowfishing environments:

Clear Shallow Water: Amber, Gray, or Photochromic

You don’t need heavy tinting in clear shallows. A lighter amber or gray tint gives just enough glare reduction and color balance improvements. Photochromic lenses work well here since light varies a lot in shallow water.

Tinted Water: Yellow or Mirrored Yellow

Heavily tinted water demands maximum contrast enhancement. Yellow or mirrored yellow lenses restore definition and cut through discoloration. You’ll spot fish even at depth where they seem to disappear with other lenses.

Low Light: Yellow, Amber, or Clear

When bowfishing in dawn/dusk conditions or at night with lights, lighter lenses perform best. Yellow lenses amplify contrast in remaining ambient light. Amber also enhances definition while maintaining good visibility. Even clear lenses work in very dark water where tints just reduce light transmission.

Direct Sun: Mirrored Amber, Mirrored Gray, or Photochromic

In bright overhead sun, mirrored lens coatings are invaluable. They cut through surface glare without overly dark tints. Photochromic lenses also adapt well to direct sun while giving moderate color and contrast enhancements.

All Conditions: Photochromic or Interchangeable Lenses

For maximum versatility across different times, weather, and water clarity, photochromic and interchangeable lenses excel. Photochromics adapt their tint automatically as conditions shift. With interchangeable lenses, you can swap out tints as needed to maintain optimal underwater vision.


Boosting success and enjoyment in bowfishing depends greatly on being able to spot and target fish with clarity. The right colored lenses allow you to cut through glare, enhance contrast, improve depth perception, and see natural colors underwater.

While many lens options exist, amber, yellow, and mirrored lenses in the proper tints deliver the specialized benefits bowfishers need most. Prioritize lenses that increase contrast and definition to see fish against their surroundings.

Match your lenses to prevailing conditions for the best performance. But also bring backup lenses or consider photochromic/interchangeable options to account for variable light, weather, and water clarity during a day on the water. With the ability to equip the optimal colored lenses for your environment, you’ll spend less time straining to see and more time landing trophy fish after accurate shots.

Lens Color Key Benefits Drawbacks Best Bowfishing Conditions
Amber Increased contrast; restored color tones; reduced eye fatigue Reduced visibility in very clear/shallow water; less glare reduction than mirrored lenses All-around option; clear water
Gray Glare reduction; don’t alter color perception Don’t improve contrast/depth perception as much as amber/yellow Bright, direct sunlight
Yellow Maximized contrast; improved depth perception; visibility in low light Can distort color perception; not for extremely bright light Tinted water; low light
Mirrored Reflects glare from surface; available in various tints Reflective coating reduces light transmission in low light Direct sunlight; variable conditions (with interchangeable option)
Polarized Removes reflective glare from surface More expensive; don’t enhance contrast/color like tinted lenses Cutting through surface glare

In summary, carefully select bowfishing lenses based on prevailing conditions and your specific needs. Quality amber, yellow, and mirrored lenses matched to your environment will take your bowfishing experience and performance to the next level!