No doubt about it - there are some crazy color names out there for fishing lures. Nuclear Chicken. Roadkill. Baby Puke. Discover the science behind how a bass sees color, and learn which colors yield better results.
Bass Lure Colors, Simplified
Scuppernong. Roadkill. Foxy Momma. Chaos. You won't find these hues in a box of crayons, but you will find them on some of the best bass fishing lures. And though they seem random—silly, even—there is very good reason for these freaky colors and wild color combinations to exist. Bass love 'em!
This is a brief guide to help you choose the right fishing lure color for your next trophy bucketmouth. The two main things you need to consider when choosing a color are A) the clarity of water, and B) the time and type of day.
Here's the solution—simplify your color theory with these 4 basic rules:
Rule 1: Use natural, light-colored lures for clear water/sunny days.
Bass have very keen vision—in fact, their eyes are very similar to ours, and they are able to see most of the same colors we can. In clearer water and on bright, sunny days, a lure in a natural color resembling the forage they're feeding on will fool them into biting. In soft plastic baits, that means natural greens and browns and shad colors; for hardbaits, starting with a shad, bluegill, frog, or crawfish-patterned lure is a good choice, depending on the local menu.
Rule 2: Use very bright or very dark lures for dirty water/cloudy days.
In dark or muddy water and on overcast days, tie on a brightly colored lure to increase visibility, or use a very dark solid color to maximize profile visibility. A black and blue soft plastic is ideal; a white and chartreuse Glow Blade spinnerbait will also produce. For hard baits, bright chartreuse, green, or dark, solid-colored lures will perform well.
Rule 3: Local baitfish and native forage patterns are go-to colors.
A lure mimicking whatever baitfish populate your local waters is indispensable. Whether it's gizzard shad, threadfin shad, golden shiner, or fathead minnows, bass want to eat them, and you can lure them in with chrome, silver, or shad-colored lures of various designs. Spinnerbaits with multiple blades work well to imitate small groups of baitfish.
Rule 4: Don't be afraid to try something completely different.
So what about all those wacky-named colors, like green ***, puke, margarita mutilator, and methiolate? There is in fact a method to the madness. Experienced bass anglers know that presenting a completely new color to bass that aren't biting can somehow turn them back on, though it's far from settled science as to why.
If you look in a pro's tackle box, you'll see alongside the standard colors a few colors not seen in nature—hot pinks, blues, red chrome, and multi-colored lures—almost anything imaginable. Sometimes these unusual colors can be the key to success. A great example of this principle is the common lure color firetiger in Bass Pro Shops XPS Rattle Shad. You'll rarely find a tackle box without at least one crankbait in this wild, un-natural color—a mix of neon green, chartreuse, hot orange, and black stripes, it certainly looks like nothing you'll find on a bass's menu. Yet it's been a go-to color for decades, and produces bass as well as any naturally-colored lure.
The key to becoming a successful bass angler is to experiment with a variety of colors until you find what works best on your local waters. Start with colors that have produced for you in the past, or with colors recommended by locals, and then branch out. You'll learn through trial and error, and you'll eventually discover the right pattern that unlocks the bite.
Tip: Read A Simple Guide to Choosing Lure Colors for Bass
Lures for Fishing in Clear Water:
Tip: Use natural, light colored lures for clear water or sunny days. Here are links to a few popular light colored fishing lure examples:
Strike King Bleeding Bait Spinnerbaits
Rapala DT Series Crankbaits
Bass Pro Shops Stik-O Worm
Culprit Original Worms
Bass Pro Shops Lazer Eye Spinnerbaits Double Willow
STORM Deep Rattlin' Flat Wart Crankbait
Strike King Coffee Tube Softbaits
BOOYAH Covert Series Spinnerbait Double Willow
Lures for Fishing Dark Water:
Tip: Use bright or black lures for dirty water or cloudy days. Here are links to a few popular lure examples that fit this rule:
Bill Lewis Original Rat-L-Trap
Bass Pro Shops Tournament Series Squirmin' Worm
Strike King KVD Night Spinnerbaits
Zoom® Brush Hog Softbaits
Bass Pro Shops Lazer Eye Tandem Spinnerbaits
STORM Original Wiggle Wart
Bass Pro Shops River Bug
Bass Pro Shops Lazer Eye Buzz Master Buzzbaits
Your Fishing Lure Go-To Colors:
Tip: Silver and baitfish patterns are go-to colors. For example, here are links to a few go-to lure color examples that fit this rule:
Bill Lewis Original Rat-L-Trap Magnum Force
Bass Pro Shops Shadee Shad
Strike King KVD Painted Blade Spinnerbaits
Smithwick Suspending Rattlin' Rogue
STORM Wildeye Live Shiner
Terminator S-1 Super Stainless Tandem Spinnerbait
Rapala Glass Shad Rap Hardbaits
Zoom Super Fluke
Bass Pro Shops Lazer Eye Buzz Master Buzzbait
You Can Fish with Unusual Lure Colors:
Tip: They might not appear in nature, they do appear on a bass's menu! For example, here are links to a few popular unusual fishing lure colors:
Bandit Crankbaits - 200 Series
Berkley Gulp! Alive Jerk Shad
Bass Pro Shops Enticer Pro Series Rattling Jig
Norman Lures Professional Edge Baits Deep Baby N
Roboworm FAT Straight Worm
Strike King Denny Brauer Premier Pro-Model Jig
Strike King Red Eye Shad Crankbaits
Bass Pro Shops Tender Tube
Blue Fox Classic Vibrax Spinner
Check out Bass Pro Shops 1Source for more bass lure and bass fishing information.
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