Pelagic fishing with polarised Binoculars
  |  First Published: May 2013

Byfield Optics, an Australian owned company, has released the world’s first polarised binoculars.

Polarising has been around for some time and is by no means new technology as most sunglass brands offer polarised lenses in many shapes and styles, so why not binoculars? Getting polarising lenses in binoculars has traditionally been a very expensive exercise, however Byfield Optics has added the polarising advantage to their range of military grade binoculars for the general public. This has opened new doors for sports fishers and boaties in numerous ways. And best of all, I received a pair of Recon 10 x 42 binoculars to try out in the field.

The first trip out with the Byfield Optics binoculars was on a northern pelagic fishing trip with Wayne Kampe and his wife Denise to the offshore grounds of Fraser Island.

When fishing for pelagic fish such as tuna, mackerel and trevally, it is literally find the bait and you’ll find the fish. There are many ways to target these species, but I prefer to sight cast to large and concentrated bait balls just under the water’s surface.

Large pelagic fish look for bait schools in the water column and push them to the surface. The predatory fish do this as it gives the baitfish less chance of escaping. Birds pick up on the surface activity and will take advantage of the bait being close to the surface allowing them an easy meal.

So the birds are your best friends. They are your eyes in the sky and to see the birds hovering and swooping on a bait ball requires good eyesight and a good pair of polarised sunglasses. With the introduction of polarised binoculars, I wondered what sort of unfair advantage they would give me. I was keen to find out.

Polarising. Why the need?

Polarisation filters only allow vertical light waves to pass through and thus reduce glare by up to 60%. This allows your eyes to relax and having these waves blocked allows you see under water to pick up hazards such as rock bars, sand bars and fish.

By adding polarised lenses as a standard feature within the Byfield Optics binoculars, the user can see more clearly as the glare and reflections are mostly taken out of the equation. I found that the focus was crisp and clear at any distance while I was scanning for feeding and hovering bird flocks.

One thing I noticed immediately was that I was able to see the fish from a fair distance away, smashing the bait on the surface. I attributed this to the glare reduction that made it easier to separate targets at distance. To Wayne’s amazement I called a school of feeding fish about 1km out as spotted mackerel and his first comment was, “How the blinking hell can you see that far? All I can see is clouds and water.”

I can confidently say that if I did not have the Recon binoculars onboard we would not have had the opportunity to catch as many spotted mackerel, as I never would have ventured as far out as we did. It was easier if I stopped the boat, re-checked my direction then continued on towards the birds, as I found it hard to hold them still enough while underway, a factor of the long distance that I had spotted the mackerel in the first place.

I am not a hunter or a shooter’s back side, but surely these would also be a valuable tool for anyone wanting to see long range targets on land, especially when the sun is high and the glare is at its peak?

Another use for these binoculars would be general navigating, be it on a yacht or a family cruiser in waters that you have not chartered before.

The design of the Recons is so suited to any marine activity. They are light, water resistant, weather proof, fog proof, dust proof, nitrogen filled and have a uniquely designed eye piece to accommodate prescription glasses. The non-slip grip works well with wet hands and they are light to hold. I found the lenses to be clear and crisp with no change whether you are looking at objects in close or at long distances.

The binoculars come in a plastic hard case that is foam-filled for added security for when the binoculars are stowed in your boat, car or garage. This ensures they are ready to go when you need them to be ready to go.

Where from?

Log on to www.byfieldoptics.com.au and follow the prompts in their online store. The model I tested was the Recon Polarised 10 x 42. This particular model has a field of view up to 1000m and they weighed a mere 745g. They now have a big brother that I’ve been told is far better for offshore use – the Tracker 8 x 56, which would be well worth checking out if they are better than the Recons.

As any keen angler would know there are polarised sunglasses and there are polarised sunglasses. Like everything, you get what you pay for. The Recon retail for $765 inc GST. My initial reaction was, how much? But after seeing what these binoculars are capable of, I believe they worth every cent, especially as I fillet the last of the spotties for dinner tonight.

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