If you’ve ever gone into a tackle shop and seen the incredible amount of different colors on baits, you may have found yourself wondering why. While most pros put the majority of their focus on other factors, such as ensuring the bait is the right size and shape, as well as moving in the right action, there is an experience to show that some colors will help you catch fish more than others.
What Color Lure to Use for Bass
There is always an exception to the simple rule, but for the most part, most anglers believe that fish are most attracted to natural-looking and subtle colored baits when you’re fishing clear water. For more overcast or stained water, brightly colored baits can get the catch when bass fishing.
Bass Fishing Lure Selection Chart
What Color Lure to Use in Different Water Conditions
When bass fishing with high water clarity, bass, and other target fish have a better chance of seeing exactly what the bait is before they strike. If it looks natural in both shape and color, it will strike. But if it looks very out of place or brightly colored, they will avoid it.
Colors like chartreuse are easily seen by fish in stained water. For clear water, tans and more natural colors are the best bet.
What Color Lure to Use in Murky Water
Muddy water that is full of silt and mud can be a mixed bag with lure colors. Most anglers notice the best results when using black or blue. White-bellies on frog lures and chartreuse crawfish lures are the best in murky water situations.
What Color Lure to Use in Clear Water
In high water clarity, the same rules apply and you want to use a lure color that mimics the natural prey item in that area. Opting to use a ghost or translucent lure color, browns, and natural patterns will get you the best results when bass fishing.
What Color Lure to Use at Different Times of the Day
Light penetrates through clear water differently throughout the day, and will also depend on the angle of the sun from dawn until dusk, as well as the overall water clarity.
When the sun is bright and the water conditions are clear, you should always use bait that mimic the natural color and patterns of forage in the area. Bright and vibrant colors may very well scare the fish, but the right color will catch them.
Dawn and Dusk
Chartreuse is a very common choice for bass fishing in low light conditions. This color is said to not only mimic natural tones of baitfish down towards the bottom of the lake where bass sleep, but is also noticeable enough in the dark water.
When night fishing, the idea is to keep your bait in midwater rather than low. In this case, using black or dark blue is a great choice. Most anglers say the colors will contrast with the lighter night surface of the water giving bass and other target fish something to accurately strike.
What Color Lure to Use in Different Weather Conditions
When bass fishing, keep in mind the fish have excellent eyesight, and can distinguish colors very similar to humans. As such, choosing a different fishing lure color to match the time of day can mean the difference in having your lure ignored or taken by your next trophy fish.
Especially in clear water, a sunny day will give fish excellent visibility of the bait color you throw in the lake. As such, you want to go for natural patterns and subdued organic colors when bass fishing such as translucents, browns, and natural looking combinations of those.
The cloudier it gets, the less visibility a bass will have in the water. This gives you a bit more freedom when it comes to selecting your lure color for bass fishing. Bright colors can be very useful here, but so can very dark blue or solid black colors. You want the fishing lure color to be visible in the darker water so the fish knows exactly what to strike.
Storms and Rain
A wide range of bass fishing anglers swear by using solid black or even three-toned lures when the weather is rainy or heavily overcast. These darker colors provide a stark contrast that help you catch more fish.
What Color to Use in Different Seasons
While the light conditions and water clarity play a huge part in selecting your bait colors, the time of year can be important too. As an example, during the schooling months of the summer, bass will be very reactive to chrome as it mimics the reflective scales of shad which are their number one prey item during this time of year.
During the spring, the right color that gets the catch is chartreuse or anything with red highlights. Red is a great color to get fish excited as it can mimic either the internal gills or blood from prey items.
Bass are normally extremely active during the summer and will be much more aggressive when it comes to taking the bait. You can get away with a wide range of colors in most cases, though green pumpkin, ghost patterns, and whites are colors bass love.
In the fall, most bass will increase their intake of food and be less picky when it comes to taking the bait. If it looks even somewhat edible, there is a good chance they will strike. Chrome or shad patterns are extremely popular during the fall, as are crawfish patterns.
During the colder months of the winter, the metabolism of the bass will slow down and their appetites will be much smaller. As such, they will be much more picky in what they will strike. This is the perfect time for you to work with natural colors and crawfish pattern baits as well as finesse type lures to pull in more bass.
What Color to Use in Different Lure Types
Fishing with lures is a great way to double up on the color. Not only will the bass fishing lure itself help add a bit of attractant with the movement and sound, but the color and pattern will help drive it home and make a bass strike.
For areas where there is an abundance of shad in the water, using chrome or ghost lure colors is extremely effective. If crayfish or other crustaceans make up a majority of the forage available, brown is popular. As are some shades of green, dark colors, and lures with bluegill pattern.
In crystal clear water, the right color is the most natural. Solid colors can work great when the light penetration is poor or the sky is overcast. You want to create a noticeable silhouette or contrast that will entice the fish.
In muddy water, colors such as dark purple, green pumpkin, or watermelon can work wonderfully since they add a bit of contrasting color as well as a natural tone.
Hard bait colors can come in a huge range of shades and patterns, with many of them being hand painted or patterned. Pay attention to what the fish in your chosen area are feeding on as shad, crawfish, and frog patterned baits are highly effective on sunny and clear days.
The point of fishing with jigs is to mimic the natural movement of various prey items, so that alone can make the fish bite. However, natural shades and realistic patterns are the most effective here. Whether you are going with jerkbaits, crankbaits or lipless, the right color to consider is light browns and tans, dark greens, pale silvers, and translucent according to the color selection chart.
Topwater color selection can be a bit controversial, and many anglers will have their own opinion of what is best. Some of the most recommended colors are anything dark such as black. These do best in low light penetration conditions such as dusk.
Topwater frog lures are extremely popular, but most anglers will agree the movement is much more important than the color selection. However, when using frogs it’s highly recommended that you go with yellow or white belly colors. Additionally, other anglers swear that all-black frogs make a big difference and will get excellent results so you will have to try them both and see which works best for you.
Lure Choice for Other Species
What Color Lure to Use for Crappie
Crappie are drawn to orange and other colors that are similar. Orange with white contrast are a common choice when fishing. In dirty water, dark orange have been known to get the best results.
What Color Lure to Use for Walleye
Most anglers will opt for purple, as it can be great for giving that silhouette look at the surface of the water as well as being contrasting enough when sent into deeper water.
What Color Lure to Use for Muskie
If you’re fishing for muskie, red is the color to go with. Dark red is not nearly as effective as bright red, so feel free to get the reddest red lure you can find when targeting muskie.
What Color Lure to Use for Pike
The most effective lure colors for fishing for pike are highly natural shades or patterns in green, silver or black. The more natural you can get, the better the results will be with this fish.
What Color Lure to Use for Trout
Rainbow Trout are not very picky when it comes to the right lure color and will happily strike a range of different baits. If you can match the preferred prey item in the area, it will most likely get the best results, but most colors work, including blue, brown, and green.
Final Thoughts on Lure Color Selection
With such a wide color selection available in the tackle box section, it may be daunting and confusing to know which one to get. One of the easiest ways to see what works may be through trial and error. Grab a few different colors and head out onto the water to see which one gets you results, or simply go with the recommendations on the color selection chart.