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Accessory Review

Seeing crystal clear with the new Action Optics Exuma

Date: 10/13/03
Tackle type: Accessory
Manufacturer: Action Optics
Reviewer: Zander

Total Score: 8.25

Introduction: Stylish sunglasses may enhance a persons image, but the only statement anglers want to make with polarized optics is that they are serious about the pursuit of fish. Over the past 19 years Action Optics has provided enthusiasts and professionals with top notch polarized eyewear. The new Exuma is designed to be a comfortable all round pair of sunglasses for the devoted angler.

Action Optics Exuma Specifications

Frame Style Exuma
Frame Material Grilamid Nylon
Colors Available - Lens 5
Frame Color tested Black Seaweed
Lens Color tested Silver Creek Brown (58mm)
Case Hard Case
MSRP $140.00-160.00

Impressions: There are a lot of sunglasses out there but to Fly fisherman Action Optics ranks among the most popular. The obvious reason for their popularity is the proven protection from the sun's harmful UV radiation. Secondary reasons include physical protection for the eyes from stray casts, reduced eye strain, and of course....an enhanced ability to sight fish.


I have fished with many different pairs of polarized sunglasses and find them to be a true necessity whether casting flies, tossing bass lures, or heaving jigs. While most of my sunglasses are made of polycarbonates I find that fly fishing requires optimal clarity, which only glass lenses can provide. From initial inspection you will discover that the Action optics Exuma is a crystal based sunglass, with a nylon frame. The entire package is compact and comes with a padded hard case that does a good job protecting the sunglasses in your tackle bag. Because the Exuma uses crystal rather then plastic lenses they did feel a bit heavier the majority of polarized sunglasses that I have tested. Our test Exuma came with "Silver Creek Brown" lenses which are a constant density lens. The Exuma can also come with the photochromic lenses, which change lens tint density depending on light conditions.


Introducing the compact new Exuma


Real World Test: I took the Exuma out to some local Koi breeding pools, then for a day of fly fishing for Steelhead on the river, as well as some bass fishing in nearby bass ponds. On both days I fished for the entire day to experience the capabilities of the Exuma in varying light conditions.

While crystal lenses are more scratch resistant and offer excellent optical quality and clarity they are also heavier then plastic based lenses

The Exuma I tested featured a brown constant density lens that had a slight hint of yellow. The very first thing I did was take a trip to a nearby Koi breeding pond to test the ability to sight fish with these new polarized lenses. Koi make excellent test subjects because of their bright coloration, it is easy to discern how deep you can see with a quality pair of polarized sunglasses. I found the crystal based Exuma to be absolutely excellent. With many pairs of plastic sunglasses I have noticed faulty polarization with noticeable dead spots, but with the Exuma I experienced the most even coverage I have ever observed. While gazing at Koi is entertaining as well as a good demonstration of the capability of these new sunglasses, all I could think about was where to go fishing.

While fly fishing the upper Sac I was further impressed by the ability to discern trout from the rocky river bottom. The crystal lenses did an excellent job of eliminating glare, and in very still water the water surface seemed to disappear completely. Trout looked as if they were hovering above the ground! While bass fishing the next day I did find it more difficult to make out bass from in the olive colored water, but I still was able to see the dark outline of fish near shore. The Exuma does an excellent job providing contrast and real color transmission. Some competitor lenses do a impressive job of eliminating glare but make it harder to discern fish from the background due to overkill on tinting. I did notice that the Exuma performed better during the morning through mid-day and was somewhat dark for low light conditions, making it much less effective in the early evening.


The Exuma effectively reduces glare and allows anglers to see fish in new clarity. Compare the normal picture (left) to a picture through the Exuma's lens (right)

I have fished with sunglasses that offer excellent polarized performance but also feel like a vise on my head. Luckily the Exuma is designed with comfort in mind. While the weight of these sunglasses will always be a drawback, I was very happy to see that Action Optics included two way hinges that expand depending on the size of your head. In addition the Exuma features comfortable soft Megol notepads that rest on the inner edge of the sunglass frame, rather then on posts, so they never feel like they are digging in. Overall I give the Exuma a "B" comfort rating as I would have loved to see the same soft pads on the earpieces that they have implemented on some of their other models. But overall the Exuma felt comfortable even after a full day on the water.

Spring hinges help adapt the Exuma to match your face

Price: Can you put a price on protection? Sure you can. With so many manufacturers offering performance sunglasses that are actually designed for fishing, anglers can pick and choose their preferred pair. For 140.00 the Exuma is a mid priced pair of sunglasses that delivers premium performance. Action Optics has been in the polarized sunglass business for a long time, and they know what it takes to deliver a winning package. The Exuma shines in terms of quality lens design, and comfortable frame implementation. There are plenty of sunglasses out there that offer polarized protection, but how many of them use plastic versus glass? While glass lenses are heavier they still are far more scratch resistant then most plastic lenses, and will provide the preeminent optical clarity.

The soft "Megol" notepads help distribute weight evenly, resulting in above average comfort

Durability & Warranty: The Exuma is built to last. I was very impressed with the completely metal reinforced nylon frames which do an admirable job housing the brown crystal lenses. The lenses are very scratch resistant, but are not shatterproof. With normal use the Exuma will deliver quality polarized performance for many seasons. The only thing to be aware of is that because the frame is nylon it should not be left in your car for extended periods as prolonged exposure to extreme temperatures can warp or cause the frames to become brittle. Action Optics warrantees the Exuma against manufacturing defects for a period of one year.


Action Optics Exuma Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality The nylon frame is reinforced with metal, the lenses are crystal and scratch resistant. Overall an excellent package that is built to last 9
Performance Great performance for mid to bright conditions. If you are looking for a pair of sunglasses that can perform well all day you can pick the Exuma with photocromic lenses 9
Price Not the cheapest pair of sunglasses on the market but rest assured you are getting a quality product for the money 7.5
Features The design is classic, the operation is simple. This no nonsense pair of sunglasses relies on quality lenses to deliver. The soft shell case features a rigid interior for added protection, but besides that there are few additional features 8
Design (Ergonomics) A design that is comfortable thanks to spring hinges. The only downside is the additional weight you have to live with due to the glass lenses. The soft rubber nose pads are enlarged to prevent any digging in, and are quite comfortable over a long day fishing 8
Application These optics can help you fish more effectively in mid to bright light conditions 8

Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Good Lens clarity L Glass lenses still heavy
J Comfortable fit L Warrantee only 1 year
J Excellent color transmission  

Conclusion: Action Optics continues to deliver superb products, and the Exuma is a good example of just why these sunglasses have won the heart of many an angler. It is hard to go back to plastic lenses after experiencing the clear vision offered by these quality optics. The only downside to the Exuma is the added weight that you have to bear when sporting these crystal lenses. Overall the Exuma is a quality pair of sunglasses that efficiently reduces glare while still giving true color perception, offering solid performance for anglers seeking enhanced vision.


Until next time...Tight Lines









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