Flying Fisherman: 35 years and counting

There are many brands of fishing eyewear out there and making the right choice can be confusing. The sensible option is to trust in a brand that has stood the test of time over decades, with products designed by anglers themselves and tested in the most intense conditions by the top guides. For more than 35 years, Flying Fisherman has ticked all those boxes and more…

When Pat Sheldon started showing local anglers and fishing guides in his native Florida Keys his idea for polarised sunglasses, little could he have known that 35 years on the brand he founded is not only still attracting time-served fishermen and world-class guides – both tough nuts to crack – but is also at the forefront of bringing in the next generation of anglers.

There are many reasons for Flying Fisherman’s continued success and its opportunities for the future but perhaps the main ones are its understanding of both the polarising technology used in the glasses and the needs of fishermen themselves, while offering also exceptional value for money.

Pat initially worked in the film and TV industry, producing sportfishing shows and movies, where polarising lenses were the norm. This inspired him to target anglers specifically with this technology and, being based in the Florida Keys, there was no better proving ground.

The Keys is a Mecca for anglers, boasting more than 600 game fish in its waters alone, making it the perfect place to design and develop ranges of sunglasses that eliminate glare while offering superb visual acuity and a huge choice of the right lens tints for any given situation, from bright and sunny weather to overcast conditions and in every depth of water imaginable.

Seeing clearly

Flying Fisherman sunglasses have all been designed to provide quality, affordable polarised eyewear in more than 45 frame styles and with a huge variety of AcuTint Sunlens options, offering something for everyone, whether you are after a classic or traditional look or the latest wrap-around style.

Its trademark AcuTint lenses have a polarising filter which absorbs horizontal glare with minimal colour distortion while also enhancing depth and clarity not to mention reducing eye fatigue.

The system uses a select blend of pigment to enhance contrast without distorting natural colours.

They provide maximum protection from UVA and UVB ray, and meet or exceed FDA, ANSI and European (CE) standards for general purpose eyewear.

Flying Fisherman sunglasses come in two durable materials – Polycarbonate and Triacetate – and a choice of eight lens colours, allowing you to grab the right pair for every conceivable lighting condition.

The generation game

The company is proud, too, of being a family-run business throughout that time, which keeps it focused on its core values without some of the distractions of the corporate world.

Indeed, Pat is still CEO with wife Linda being vice-president of operations. The company also boasts former captain and professional fishing guide Bobby Vaughn, who is vice-president of sales, while his wife Michelle works as administrative assistant.

In fact, the couple have recently welcomed their daughter, Ava, to the family, ensuring that Flying Fisherman is now into its second generation of leadership as it marked its 35th anniversary in 2020.

Not only that but the rest of the team have all been with the company for at least 13 years – which says something in itself about the way the business is run and the loyalty it instils.

Perhaps it is this generational viewpoint that has encouraged Flying Fisherman to look to the future of the sport overall.

Getting more young people fishing has been a mantra for many companies but not all have walked the walk.

Flying Fisherman has introduced its Jr. Angler range, boasting all the features, polarisation benefits and UV protection of its adult styles but in small sizes to ensure the correct fit and, crucially, the right protection for young eyes.

“For kids to have a memorable fishing experience, they need to see what the adults are seeing,” said Pat Sheldon.

It has also just unveiled two more SunBandit Junior neck gaiters, again in smaller sizes, for additional UPF 30, sun, V and wind protection for younger skin.

It’s efforts to ensure young fishermen are encouraged to follow in the adults’ footsteps have even been recognised in articles in the Wall Street Journal.

Looking ahead

Realising that  protection on the water is paramount, Flying Fisherman has also branched out into other items, including the aforementioned neck gaiters and bandanas in a wide selection of colours and patterns to gloves, hats, T-shirts, long-sleeve performance shirts, glasses retainers and much more.

After all, when you are out on the water fishing in extreme conditions, anglers need to ensure they have everything covered, not just their eyes… and, thanks to its decades of expertise, that’s something Flying Fisherman knows only too well.