Costa Santiago and Blackfin PRO Sunglasses Review
Updated: Nov 6, 2021
When it comes to optics for us fly anglers, Costa is undoubtedly a leader in the industry. Founded in 1983, they have forged a solid reputation for not just top-quality eyewear, but also for environmental consciousness and sustainability. Through partnerships, the use of eco-friendly materials and practices, and initiatives like Kick Plastic, it's obvious they care about much more than just their bottom line.
Unfortunately, some people out there treat the environment like one big trash can. Costa states that approximately 640,000 tons of old fishing material winds up in our waterways every year, with old fishing nets being the worst form of plastic pollution. Luckily, there is a way to reduce some of this waste and craft it into something beautiful and functional.
Launched in July of 2021, the Untangled 2.0 collection from Costa is made from old recycled fishing nets. Thanks to a partnership with Bureo, discarded nets are collected from fishing ports in Chile, recycled into raw pellets, then those pellets are molded to form 97%–100% of Untangled 2.0 frames.
Both of the frame styles highlighted in this article use Costa's 580G glass lenses. Made 20% thinner and 22% lighter than typical polarized glass, the outsides of the lenses are scratch resistant while the mirrors are sandwiched between layers of glass to keep them scratch proof. Offering 100% protection from UV light, 580G lenses absorb damaging HEV (High Energy Visible) light and enhance reds, greens, and blues for optimal definition and contrast. After years and years of wearing cheap sunglasses with plastic lenses, the first time I tried Costas with 580G lenses I was pretty blown away. The difference in clarity and definition was not subtle!
The Untangled 2.0 Santiago ($226) is an outstanding pair of glasses and the ones I have been wearing the most frequently. I absolutely love these for not just fishing, but for daily activities like driving and walking the local paths, too.
When first trying on these glasses, I was a little unsure about the size as they are noticeably larger than anything I had worn before. After a few short days, however, the uncertainty wore off as I quickly grew to love the looks, comfort, and functionality they offer. Since I've totally acclimated to these, my old glasses now look too small in comparison!
Thanks to both the sizing and built-in hooding and side shields, Santiago's frames simply offer outstanding sun protection. Aesthetically they are top notch as well, as the slightly-textured matte-black frames and blue mirror 580G lenses look awesome whether in person or in pictures.
A few other features include vented nose pads, Hydrolite (Costa's proprietary and hypoallergenic rubber) nose pad and temples, and temple ends that are ready to accept a keeper.
Available in blue mirror, green mirror, or sunrise-silver mirror finishes, Santiago frames come with an Untangled soft case, limited lifetime warranty, and are recyclable.
Costa's PRO Series includes the Fantail PRO and Blackfin PRO, the latter of which I've had in my possession for a couple of months now. Equipped with 580G lenses, PRO sunglasses also deliver new changes including vented and adjustable (bendable) nose pads, sweat channels and eyewire drains, side shields/hooding, stickier Hydrolite rubber, and metal keeper slots.
Although the Santiago has seen the most face time overall, my Blackfin PRO sunglasses have been the ones I typically reach for when going fishing. Why? I sight-fish a lot locally, and the copper lenses with silver mirror do a great job of letting me see what's going on underwater in different light conditions. As a bonus, the frames are extremely comfortable and conform to my face very well. I really like the "wrap around" feel while wearing them, and the shields, hooding, and wide temples do a stellar job of blocking glare trying to sneak in from the sides.
My particular Blackfin PRO glasses are priced at $269 and include a hard case, cleaning cloth, and limited lifetime warranty. A few combinations are available including midnight blue, matte gray, and matte black frames coupled with either blue mirror, copper silver mirror, gray silver mirror, or green mirror 580G lenses.
My past method of choosing polarized sunglasses would typically involve going to the local sporting goods store and trying on a few pairs of the more value-priced options. To be honest, I've caught thousands of fish wearing those and they did get the job done for me. However, while I finally started upgrading to some better glasses more recently, I still find none of those truly rivaled the quality of these newest Costas. As a whole, they are simply superior in every aspect and really help me to #SeeWhatsOutThere whenever I step outdoors!