Review: Zeal Optics

Sustainability and quality in one package

Curtis wrangles a nice rainbow while sporting Zeal glasses

I remember the trip when I realized how important good lenses are.  I had a lot of experience fishing our local cutthroat lake with flies, and if there is a common theme for that lake, it's short striking cutthroat.  The game changer for this trip was the fact that my father in law and I were fishing standing up on our new-to-us tin boat instead of sitting in kick boats.  I was fishing a pretty bright fly around 12 feet deep and I could see the fly the whole time due to good polarized glasses.  We really weren't doing super well until i realized that my fly would disappear for a few seconds at a time, but I couldn't feel any bites.  The next time my fly disappeared I strip set and it was fish on.  We repeated this for the rest of the day in what turned out to be one of the best trips we have had on that lake.  It wouldn't have happened without good polarized glasses.

I have fished with $15 gas station cheapies to $250 lenses, and the technology that is available now is pretty amazing.  As with any other fishing related product, we are always interested in the new companies in the fly fishing world to see how they compare with already established companies.  Sometimes the newcomers rally shock us with great products, and other times it's more hype than anything else.  We met Joe Rizzo from Zeal Optics in the spring of 2015 and we were intrigued by what is by far the most environmentally friendly product in the optic field.  Frames made from bean oil???  Lenses made from plants??? Yep.  The list of eco friendly features goes on and on.  We wondered how this eco-tech would stack up against other glasses that we had used in the past so we put them through their paces pretty hard.

I got the Tracker model in both the copper lens and the bluebird HT lens.  I wanted something that I'd use for the majority of my fishing, and I also wanted a lens that I could use in low light situations (like evening caddis hatches).  My first impression was that they were very comfortable to wear and they fit my huge noggin really well.  The true test was on the water where they could definitely hold their own, and I realized that they were on par with any of the other high end lenses that I have fished with.  It's cool to be able to fish with a product that ranks highly in both technology and environmental friendliness.  I have been fishing them hard for about 4 months and I keep them out of their case on purpose to see if they can stand normal wear and tear.  So far they have proven to be very durable and scratch resistant, even though I haven't sat on them yet, which is a sure fire way to destroy glasses.
The Zeal Big Timber has an automatic lens for bright and low light.

And from Curtis:

I got the Snapshot model in a Copper lens and took them to Mexico to fish the flats with my eagle eyes and a pair of similar Costas and Maui Jim glasses on board.  I really wanted to just see how they all compared.  I was really surprised at the clarity and sharpness of the Zeal's when compared to my other two pair of "go-to" sunny weather glasses. In fact, I'd say under some conditions, I'd end up switching back to the Zeals because I was seeing the Bones a little more clearly. So after that first day of the trip, I decided to leave my other glasses back at the hotel because the Zeals were doing everything I needed them to do. Now whether or not it was a combination of the sun, the flats' coloration and the tint on these specific lenses, I can't say for sure (definitely not a knock on the other glasses) but I was still very impressed with what I experienced.

I guess we had our answers...  Zeal glasses can hold their own in a tech heavy market where eco-friendliness usually isn't as big of a priority as it ought to be.

~ Cheech

Eco-friendly:  These glasses are made from plant based products and are 100% biodegradable.

Prescription friendly: Many of their models can be ordered with prescription lenses.

Very functional: These glasses are born from high technology and perform as a high tech lens should.

Cost effective: The Tracker is $119, and the Snapshot is $79.

Lightweight and comfortable: The frame is rubberized on the critical places where it touches your face.  They don't move when you are acting a fool swatting mosquitoes.

Fog:  These glasses fogged up a little easier than some of the other glasses that we have used, but it was mainly a non-issue.

Make sure to check out the full line of Zeal products for the next time you have a pair of shades go over the side of the boat.