Apparel, Indepth Reviews

The Costa advantage

US-based sunglass and apparel brand Costa Del Mar have been in the premium eyewear game since 1983, and have been available here in Australia for many years. They have gone through a lot of very important and sometimes industry-defining changes in that time. The range is now bigger, the quality is better, the price tag has been lowered and they’re now available from one of this country’s largest and best known fishing wholesalers: Rapala VMC Australia.

This move to Rapala brought with it renewed focus, larger distribution networks and a better connection to anglers, and a whole new range was unveiled at the 2017 AFTA Tackle Trade Show on the Gold Coast. What a perfect place to launch new sunglasses! Not only was it warm and sunny, a lot of the patrons were left needing shades all day and even inside, thanks to overindulgent nocturnal activities.

Costa have always been known for lens quality, but in years gone by their range of frames wasn’t as diverse as it could be. With the increasing need of people wanting to wear the same glasses on the water as they do driving around town or at the pub, a freshen up was needed. Costas new range certainly offers this versatility. Gone are the days where we can get away with a pair of $14.95 servo sunnies – we need to protect our eyes and not be shunned by the fairer sex in doing so. Most of the old Costa classics remain, but there’s been some really cool new styles released that have already been a hit with anglers, me included.

I’ve worn most of the major sunglass brands over the last 10 years or so, with varying levels of success. Each brand has its strengths. Some have great lenses but the frames are bulky, rigid and heavy; some have lightweight frames but are not as good on the lens front. I’m pleased to say that the Costa Rincon and Half Moon sunglasses I’ve been wearing for the last 6-7 months are the best combination of vision, comfort and style I’ve ever owned. The bride even likes the look of these ones, which hasn’t always been the case with my fishing sunnies. She actually liked them so much we had to go and buy another pair of Costas for her in the Remora model.

The Rincon are a slightly larger frame, which suits my large noggin. I’ve been able to wear them for hours and hours without the discomfort I’ve felt from a couple of other brands over the years. Clarity of vision and the lightweight frames are the standout features for me. I went for the green mirror 580 polarized glass lens, which was described to me as being the best all-rounder for the mix of fresh and saltwater fishing I do. They have not disappointed in either field.

On the saltwater flats or in the middle of the rainforest picking off carp on fly, if you’re hoping to sight fish, you’d better take a high quality pair of polarized glasses.

My second pair, the Half Moon, has a slightly smaller frame and lens, and is just as comfortable and easy to wear all day. For this pair I went for the blue mirror 580 glass lenses, to try something different. Again, I have worn them in both fresh and saltwater situations and they have always performed very well. Both pairs are flexible enough that they don’t push into the side of my head too hard, but at the same time they hold firmly enough to not slide down my nose when I look down or bend over to pick up a fish.

While Costa do offer both polycarbonate and glass lenses, once I tried the demo pair of 580 glass on and walked out into the sun for a test drive, I had to go that way. Weight has traditionally been the downfall of glass, but in these new styles the difference was undetectable.

Something else that drew my attention to the Costa brand was how much it’s putting back into our sport and the people who enjoy it or even rely on it. Costa has long been associated with the OCEARCH program, whose goal is to save the world’s sharks from mass slaughter. Every pair of OCEARCH-branded Costa models helps fund on-water research and put science on the side of sharks, which are killed at an alarming rate of 190 sharks a minute. Mostly for soup! Anything that helps to restore balance and strength to the oceanic ecosystem has my vote every day of the week.

This program, as well as others that are helping coastal villages recover from devastating hurricanes or floods, is just a small example of the charity work Costa is doing at the grass roots level.

But back to the glasses themselves, since that’s what we’re here for. The bulk of my on water time is spent in small, clear-ish rivers and creeks. I sight cast to most of my fish, and for the rest I rely on spotting a split boulder or submerged laydown where the target species is likely to be. Having the right eyewear in these types of situations can be the difference between a session I’ll be exaggerating about to my grandkids one day, and a dreaded doughnut. I’ve found the Costas to cut through the glare very well in all manner of lighting, enabling me to target fish quite easily.

In days gone by a 580 glass lens pair of Costas would set you back as much as $500, but right now you can pick up a set for around the $350 mark from your local stockist and – and it’s cheaper again for poly lenses. This is a big win for all anglers as we have another $150 to spend on lures we certainly don’t need! The next time you’re in your local tackle store, ask about Costa eyewear and give them a go for yourself. You can thank me later.

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Dedicated tackle addict

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