Oct 22, 2013

Product Review: Smith Optics Tenet with Low Light Ignitor Lenses


Smith Optics has been leading the Fly Fishing industry in quality optics for many years. In recent years we have seen even further forward movement with great lens choices like Ignitor and Polarchromatic Copper and frame choices like Dover, Chief, and Frontman. Smith Optics sunglasses not only have great style and fit but provide incredible clarity with Techlite Polarize Glass lens technology.

For this review we are going to check out the New Low Light Ignitor lenses.


My Name is Greg and I am the Tormented Angler! Why am I tormented you ask. Many reasons come quickly to mind but there is one reason that fits this article. I am a gear Junkie! I am forever in search of the perfect Fly Rod, Fly Reel, Waders, Boots, Boats, Jackets, Layering, Fly Boxes, Pliers, etc. and Today’s feature; "Sunglasses".

TSA Mug Shot
Everyone has history with sunglasses so I’ll try and keep mine brief and get on with what’s got me excited today. Many years ago I discovered what quality sunglasses lenses could do with a single pair of high end sunglasses. I would have never paid the price for these at the time but instead my first pair of really good glasses was gifted to me. Well the sunglass industry is forever in debt to that faithful friend because I have been sold ever since and never turned back. No more headaches, comfortable frames and the ability to see like never before are just a few benefits from technology. That was many years ago and I have long since retired many pairs of high end optics. I became a huge fan of brand X or (better known as Brand O) mostly due to the sporting ability. My glasses went where I went even in places most never dare to take these costly investments. Whitewater, canoeing, boating, water skiing, bicycling, motorcycles and everywhere else life has taken me. Even my passport picture shows me with my sunglasses on top of my head and now TSA asks me to please put my sunglasses on to confirm that it’s me.

So I know it sounds like I have this figured out so the question remains why am I still tormented?
Well brand X seamed to start shifting more toward style rather than function and the old favorites were no longer fitting my needs. Fishing had become the primary sport and quality lenses are now a greater necessity than ever before. As fishermen we have to cover a wide range of needs in eyewear. Bright light, low light, polarizing, all day comfort and the ability to stay put when that unexpected dunk occurs.

2013 Rio Trip - Fly Line and Smith Optics testing. Missouri River
A few years back I found myself on a quest for better sunglasses. 
Quest for better...  I-Cast - IFTD Show
Many fly fishing friends were wearing Smith Optics and really raved about the Techlite Polarized Glass for its unmatched clarity and scratch resistance over plastic lenses. The Photochromatic Copper seemed to be the lens of choice for many fishermen for its versatility in a wide range of light and its ability to adjust to different levels of light. I agree glass is the clearest lens especially over the duration of its life but it does come at a price. Typically glass is heavier and needs a full frame to support it. At the time I had tried all available Smith frames we stocked in the shop and just could not find the all-day comfort that I was used to. Our product Rep. George Cook would come in the shop and see me with brand X on and just shake his head in disgust. The question came up many times over, why? I had the same response every time, because I forget I have them on!

Over the past couple of years my opinion has evolved. Being the gear junkie that I am, I never stop watching the changes in products. I will repeat myself; I am forever in search of the best gear! What I started to notice was new frames and lenses coming available like the Tenet frames and Ignitor lenses. With some help from Smith Optics Representative I found myself wearing my first pair of Smith’s called Terrace. The Terrace gave me a good fit and nice style and set me on my way to becoming a fan. The next pair I tried were the Chiefs. A nice feature of this sunglass is great full coverage and available bifocal reader which is becoming more important for tying on those tiny dry flies. The Frontman is another frame style that instantly became a favorite and is available with the new Chromapop lenses. Great style and all day comfort is what are going to keep this frame style around for many years to come. These are just a few reasons I have become a Smith Optics fan.

But wait there’s more!

This year’s new addition is more convincing than ever that these guys are really using forward thinking to reach the ever demanding needs of the fly fishermen. Introducing the Low Light Ignitor lens. It has always been common belief that if you needed (wanted) a low light pair of glasses, amber was the only choice. But staring through yellow lenses tires one’s eyes and they are no good with any sunlight at all. Low Light Ignitor lenses are very different. First you don’t feel like you’re looking through yellow. The colors you see are very natural looking. No matter how low the light is in dawn or dusk, you don’t feel the need to remove them to be able to see…It’s like you’re not wearing sunglasses at all. And my surprise was after the sun came up I forgot that these were low light lenses. I could see with extreme clarity and never felt the need to switch glasses. I’m not saying these are a good choice while fishing bright light situations such as flats fishing but I wore them right through noon day in the Deschutes River Canyon and it never occurred to me to switch glasses.

I also want to brag on the Tenet Frames!

As I mentioned earlier fit and function is as important as optical clarity. There was never any doubt that Smith Optics are among the best optical lenses available but that fact is no longer important when your sunglasses are sitting in the bottom of the river. They must stay put! The sunglasses I chose for this review are the Tenet. The Tenet frames provide a large fit and medium coverage I found ideal for my large noggin. They are crafted from the frame material called Evolve which is an eco-friendly light weight durable material that is over 53% bio-based. So do they stay put? These frames as well as many other Smith frames use hydrophilic megol nose and temple pads. Yeah I’m not sure what that is either but the answer is yes, they stay put and this gripping power increases when introduced to moisture.

Conclusion – Less Tormented

The search for better in the sunglass world has resulted in a win! I conclude that Smith Optics has achieved perfection in a low light lens as well as frames that stay in place and not in the rivers’ bottom.   


Author: Greg Darling  
The Tormented Angler
Gorge Fly Shop Product Specialist

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

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