Monday, January 28, 2013

A Day at the Beach

I close my eyes and stand, barefooted, a half-mile off the pristine shores of a lush south seas island, rocking gently on the forward casting deck of a brilliant white skiff, an 8wt in one hand, a Kona in the other. I lift my chin and savor the smell of salt, the sultry caress of light Pacific breezes on my tanned brow, and the balmy, soothing rays that radiate deep into my core. I’m at complete peace, drifting blissfully along, warm and toasty, here in this equatorial paradise. This heaven.

The sublime ruse implodes with a teeth-rattling shiver. I open my eyes to find that I’m still knee-deep in this dark Appalachian tailwater. Freezing my ass off.

The only things even remotely “tropical” are my Maui Jims.

I’m a long-time fan of Maui Jim sunglasses. I’ve worn a vintage pair of titanium Mauis on the soccer sidelines and while driving for nearly a decade and I have been fishing in Lahainas, non-prescription, for the better part of the last four years. Mary has a pair of MJs as well and loves them. They’re simply great glasses.

And Maui Jims’ customer service has been stellar. I've played hard and have done some pretty destructive (okay, stupid) things to my Mauis. In most cases they've absorbed the abuse but in the handful of instances where I have taken it too far the company has bent over backwards to help fix what I’ve broken, quickly, and with a smile.

So when the folks at Maui Jim, having somehow seen my earlier post about a competitor’s prescription fishing sunglasses, dropped me a line and asked if I knew that Maui also does prescription glass and would I be interested in trying a pair, I was thrilled. I've been thinking about a good pair of polarizers for low light situations for a while now and Maui's Evolution HT lenses looked just the ticket. I accepted their generous offer and requested a pair of Stingrays, so kitted. They arrived last week and I put them to their initial test on a dreary, snow-edged day on the Smith. They didn’t disappoint.

Maui says that HT is an acronym for High Transmission, but I honestly think it stands for Holy $#!T, the first words out of my mouth when I slipped them on in dim conditions. Tucked under the overhanging trees, in deep shade, these “sunglasses” seemed to lose nothing in the light department and their subtle green tint brought a sharpness that made my field of vision pop with surprising clarity. MJ’s literature says that they “embed (their) lenses with three rare earth elements and other compounds to enhance definition and contrast” and, as new-age-hokey as that sounds, it appears to work.

As I’ve gotten older, the amount of light available has become increasingly important for good vision and, to my aging eyes, there is little discernable reduction through these lenses. Quite the contrary, dark shorelines appeared to brighten, dim streambeds became crystal clear. The combination of contrast, clarity, and perfect polarization left me no visual excuses for missing fish, even in the dingy conditions.

Don’t worry. I have more than enough other excuses to make up for it.

Bottom line, these things are serious fly fishing tools and I look forward to them being an integral part of my gear from this point forward. They expand the angling day, providing polarization and clarity, early morning and late evening, when darker lenses are too much. More time to fish. Or, at least, to see what I’m doing.

So if you’re thinking sunglasses, don’t just think sunny southern surf and sand and fruity drinks with little paper umbrellas when you think of Maui Jims. Think daybreak assaults on overgrown eastern mountain trickles. Think rainclouds and snowfalls and fog-shrouded drifts down deep western canyons. Think catching that last hatch as the sun sinks behind the dense North-woods tree line. Think seeing clearly when things get dark, wherever, whenever you’re bending a fly rod.

Think this cold, dreary Appalachian tailwater.

But, if it's all the same to you, I think I'd rather be back on that skiff. Where I could feel my toes.



Feather Chucker said...

I would love to get those but I know I'd lose them in less than a year.

Anonymous said...

Great opening, nothing worse than reality to give you a good snap in the ass.

My old Ray Ban aviators are starting to look a bit beat up and I've been wondering what would be a good replacement.

Mike Sepelak said...

Kevin, I've heard that from a number of folks over the years; that they buy cheap sunglasses because they break or lose them often. I'd suggest that the cause/effect is actually reversed; that they break and lose them because they buy cheap sunglasses. A good pair will take abuse that would smash cheap ones and if you have something that you value, you tend to take better care of it. It's your eyes, man. You might as well do it right.

Classic, Ken. Pure classic. Aviators are back!

Anonymous said...

Mike, Kevin,
I must say that I agree with Mike in the case of breaking/losing sun glasses. I used to go through several pair of cheap glasses a year and would wind up not having them when I needed them. Then I bought a good pair of sun glasses and have had them well over a year now. I watch them like a hawk because of the price of replacing them.

Mike Sepelak said...

THANKS for the backup, Ricky. And when you're talking prescription sunglasses, when the lenses can run an additional 200% over the base frames, you know where they are at all times.

Anonymous said...

Shoot those of us who are fortunate enough to have to wear glasses in the first place all day, every day, sure could use a high quality pair of fit overs. How about doing some advocating for us "bespectacled guys".

Mike Sepelak said...

I hear ya, Mel, though I've never been a big fan of the fit-overs. I do suspect, however, that they might be more cost-effective than putting prescription glass in everything you put on your face. I've been fortunate.

ddkfishin said...

My first purchase after having LASIK on 2005 was a pair of Maui Jim Sports (the titanium frame style). 8 years later, I have 2 more pairs of Maui's, and another 3 premium brands.

You do take care of them better when you spend that kind of money. And I really love wearing them all. Especially after spending on the eye surgery, it's amazing how much clearer you can see with better lenses. Bite the bullet!

Mike Sepelak said...

Spot on, DDK. I pinch pennies in a lot of places but not on my eyes and not on my feet. The combination has served me well.