How to Choose Binoculars for Fishing?

Last Updated on September 26, 2023

Binoculars are not just optical devices; they are windows to a world beneath the water’s surface. They bring distant shorelines, ripples, and submerged secrets closer, enhancing your fishing experience in remarkable ways.

However, not all binoculars are created equal, and choosing the perfect pair can be a daunting task. But fear not, for in this article, we will dive deep into these factors and equip you with the knowledge needed to select binoculars that are tailored to your fishing adventures.

So, fasten your fishing vest and prepare to embark on a journey through the world of binoculars.

Understanding Binocular Basics

Before we dive into the intricacies of choosing binoculars for fishing, let’s establish a solid foundation by understanding the fundamental components and terminologies.

Understanding Binocular Basics

1. Objective Lens, Eyepiece, Magnification, and Field of View

  • Objective Lens: The front lenses of the binoculars, often referred to as the “objective” lenses, are responsible for gathering light. These lenses determine the amount of light that enters the binoculars, affecting their performance in low-light conditions.
  • Eyepiece: The rear lenses of the binoculars that you look through are called “eyepieces.” They magnify the image produced by the objective lenses.
  • Magnification: The first number in the binocular specifications, such as 8×42 or 10×50, represents the magnification power. For example, if you have an 8×42 binocular, objects will appear eight times closer than they would to the naked eye.
  • Objective Lens Size: The second number in the specifications (e.g., 8×42 or 10×50) denotes the diameter of the objective lenses in millimeters. A larger objective lens allows more light to enter, improving low-light performance.
  • Field of View: This is the width of the area you can see through the binoculars at a specific distance. It’s typically measured in feet at a distance of 1,000 yards. A wider field of view is beneficial for spotting fast-moving fish or birds.

Why do Magnification and Objective Lens Size Matter?

  • Magnification: Higher magnification allows you to see distant objects more clearly. However, it can also result in a narrower field of view and shakier images if not stabilized.
  • Objective Lens Size: Larger objective lenses capture more light, making the image brighter, especially in low-light conditions like dawn or dusk. This is crucial for early morning or late evening fishing trips.

Common Binocular Terminology

  • Exit Pupil: This is the diameter of the shaft of light that exits the eyepiece and enters your eye. A larger exit pupil is better for low-light conditions.
  • Eye Relief: This refers to the distance between your eye and the binocular’s eyepiece. It’s important, especially if you wear glasses, as longer eye relief provides a more comfortable viewing experience.

Types of Binoculars for Fishing

When it comes to choosing binoculars for your fishing adventures, you’ll encounter two primary designs: roof prism and porro prism binoculars. Each type has its own set of advantages and considerations. Let’s dive into these options and see which one might best suit your fishing needs.

1. Roof Prism Binoculars

1. Roof Prism Binoculars
  • Advantages:
    • Sleek and Compact: Roof prism binoculars have a straight-barrel design, which makes them more streamlined and easier to handle. They are often preferred for their modern and stylish look.
    • Durability: These binoculars are often more rugged and watertight, making them suitable for saltwater fishing where exposure to moisture is a concern.
    • Phase Coating: Many high-quality roof prism binoculars come with phase-coated prisms, which enhance image clarity and brightness.
  • Considerations:
    • Narrower Interpupillary Distance: Some roof prism binoculars may have a narrower interpupillary distance (the distance between the eyepieces), which might not accommodate all users comfortably.
    • Price: High-quality roof prism binoculars can be more expensive compared to porro prism models with similar specifications.

2. Porro Prism Binoculars

2. Porro Prism Binoculars
  • Advantages:
    • Wider Field of View: Porro prism binoculars often provide a wider field of view, making them excellent for tracking fast-moving fish or birds.
    • Better Depth Perception: The design of Porro prism binoculars can offer enhanced depth perception, which can be beneficial for judging distances accurately.
    • Cost-Effective: In general, porro prism binoculars with similar specifications tend to be more budget-friendly compared to roof prism models.
  • Considerations:
    • Bulkier Design: Porro prism binoculars have an offset barrel design, making them bulkier and less streamlined than roof prism binoculars.
    • Less Watertight: While some porro prism binoculars offer waterproof or water-resistant options, they are generally considered less watertight than roof prism models.

Choosing Based on Fishing Scenarios

  • For freshwater fishing, where the terrain is often less challenging, both roof prism and porro prism binoculars can work well. Your choice might depend more on personal preference and budget.
  • For saltwater fishing, where the marine environment can be harsh and wet, a waterproof or water-resistant roof prism binocular might be more suitable due to its durability and sleek design.

Objective Lens Size and Light Gathering

This factor can significantly impact your ability to spot fish, especially in low-light conditions.

1. Objective Lens Size and Light Gathering:

  • The objective lens is the front lens of the binoculars. Its size is denoted by the second number in binocular specifications, such as 8×42 or 10×50, where the objective lens size is “42” or “50” respectively.
  • Advantages of Larger Objective Lenses: Binoculars with larger objective lenses excel in gathering more light. This is particularly beneficial in low-light scenarios, such as dawn, dusk, or overcast days. The increased light-gathering capability enhances image brightness and clarity, allowing you to see details more clearly.

2. Selecting the Right Objective Lens Size:

  • For Daylight Fishing: If you primarily fish during daylight hours in well-lit conditions, binoculars with objective lens sizes between 32mm and 42mm are suitable. They provide excellent clarity and a bright view during the day.
  • Low-Light or Twilight Fishing: If your fishing adventures often extend into low-light conditions, consider binoculars with larger objective lenses, typically 50mm or above. These models ensure optimal light transmission, enhancing visibility in challenging lighting situations.
  • Weight and Portability: Keep in mind that larger objective lenses result in heavier binoculars. If you’ll be hiking or moving around frequently, the weight of your binoculars may be a factor to consider.

Waterproof and Fogproof Features

When you’re out fishing, especially near water, your binoculars need to be up to the challenge of the elements. That’s where waterproof and fogproof features come into play, ensuring your gear can handle the wet and wild conditions of fishing.

Waterproof and Fogproof Features

1. Importance of Waterproofing:

  • Fishing often involves exposure to water, be it from splashes, rain, or even dropping your binoculars into the water accidentally. Waterproof binoculars are built to withstand these situations, preventing internal damage and fogging due to moisture ingress.

2. Water-Resistant vs. Waterproof:

  • Some binoculars are labeled as “water-resistant,” which means they can handle light splashes and rain. While they offer some level of protection, they might not be suitable for extended exposure to water.
  • For fishing, especially in marine environments, it’s recommended to invest in fully waterproof binoculars. These are sealed tightly to prevent water from entering even when fully submerged. Look for binoculars with an IPX7 or IPX8 rating for reliable waterproofing.

3. Fogproof Performance:

  • Fogging is a common issue when transitioning between temperature variations, like moving from a cool morning to a warmer day. Fogproof binoculars are purged with nitrogen or argon gas to prevent internal fogging. This ensures clear visibility at all times.
  • Nitrogen-purged binoculars are effective at keeping moisture and fog at bay. They are a great choice for general use and are often more affordable.
  • Argon-purged binoculars offer superior fog-proof performance and are even more effective in extreme temperature variations.

Additional Features and Accessories

Fishing binoculars have come a long way in terms of technology and functionality. Beyond the basics, there are several additional features and accessories to consider that can enhance your fishing experience. Here’s a closer look:

1. Image Stabilization:

  • Binoculars with image stabilization technology are a game-changer for anglers. They counteract hand tremors and vibrations, providing incredibly steady views, especially when you’re on a moving boat.
  • This feature is particularly valuable if you’re planning to use higher-magnification binoculars, which can be more susceptible to shaky images.

2. Built-In Compass:

  • This can be immensely helpful for navigation and orientation while out on the water. You’ll always know which direction you’re facing, which can be crucial for finding your way back to the perfect fishing spot.

3. Rangefinders:

  • Rangefinder binoculars are designed for those anglers who need precise distance measurements to their targets.
  • With a rangefinder, you can accurately gauge the distance to a school of fish or a promising fishing spot. This information can significantly improve your casting accuracy.

4. Accessories:

  • Binocular Harnesses: Consider investing in a binocular harness for added comfort during long fishing trips. These harnesses distribute the weight of your binoculars evenly across your shoulders, reducing neck strain.
  • Tripod Adapters: For extended viewing periods, especially with higher magnification binoculars, a tripod adapter can be a valuable addition. It allows you to mount your binoculars on a tripod for a stable and hands-free viewing experience.
  • Lens Covers and Cleaning Kits: Protect your investment with lens covers to shield the objective and eyepiece lenses from dirt and scratches. A cleaning kit ensures your binoculars stay in top condition for years to come.

What strength of binoculars is best?

Binoculars with magnifications of up to 12x are recommended for general users’ comfort and sight. Higher magnification has drawbacks such as a confined field of view, an unsteady image produced by hand movement, and a small exit pupil that darkens the image.


As we conclude, I encourage you to consider your unique fishing requirements and preferences when selecting binoculars. Whether you’re an avid angler or an occasional fisherman, the right pair of binoculars can elevate your experience and improve your chances of success.

I invite you to share your experiences with fishing binoculars and the choices you’ve made. Your insights and stories can help fellow anglers make informed decisions and ultimately enhance their fishing adventures. So, gear up, choose wisely, and embark on your next fishing journey with the clarity and precision that only the right binoculars can provide. Tight lines and happy fishing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *