What color lure should you use?
If only it were that simple… The truth of the matter is that there is no one color or one particular jig or lure that Large Mouth Bass prefer. There are many variables to consider such as time of day, water clarity, weather conditions and even the color of bait fish native to your area. When choosing the color of your bait you must take into account all of these factors and more. Most people don’t take the time to learn about these factors and just use random colors until they catch something then stick with that color the rest of the day. There is a much more effective way to go about this. This article will teach you how to properly select your lure or jig color for the conditions and explain the science behind it all.
To start, you should keep one thing in mind. That is many lures on the market are made to appeal to humans rather than fish. Don’t put too much faith in the flashiest, most modern design on the rack because chances are you think it looks nicer than the fish does. Generally speaking the colors that mimic the native bait fish work the best. A flash of silver might indicate a shiner or minnow to a predator fish, the dull yellow with black vertical striping indicates a small perch and a brown and orange color may resemble a crawfish. Fish are more likely to strike your lure or jig when they can (mistakenly) identify it as something they eat regularly. I’m sure we have all caught fish on the flashy lures with color schemes out of this world – they do work and I’ll explain when to use them – but in my experience the simpler colors tend to work just a little better.
The first and most important factors I’m going to talk about is the sun and water clarity. These two go hand in hand. Bass tend to change their hunting tactics depending on these factors and matching your color to your surroundings is key.
In clear water with lots of light, bass are looking for a flash. They have been conditioned to do this by thousands of years of eating fish like shads, minnows, shiners etc. These bait fish tend to have silver scales that reflect sunlight and create a flash. Therefore if you use a lure with lots of silver or sparkles, you are taking advantage of this tendency. A bright blue tends to work very well in these conditions and if you have a lure with lots of flashy silver and blue that’s even better. Any lure with a surface that reflects light well or soft body plastic with sparkles should only be used in conditions of high light and visibility.
Now when you have an overcast day or its early morning/evening when the light is not so strong you will want to go with a plain, dull color. Nothing shiny, nothing too bright. You could go with some dark greens and browns or even whites with a little dull color on them. Don’t use anything completely black until its getting dark. This is where choosing the right color becomes a little counterintuitive. You might be inclined to think that dark lures are harder to see in dark conditions but not so for fish! When choosing your lures and jigs in low light remember to match the color with your surroundings. If the sun is setting amongst deep green evergreens on shore and a dark brown bottom with logs and dark rocks, try something with deep greens and browns. If you have a big open sky covered with clouds and nothing else really dominating the land/waterscape then use a grey, dull blue or a combination along those lines.
The same principle can be applied to murky water. Bright flashy lures are completely ineffective in these conditions. Don’t use them. In this case, the darker the better. A dark color will produce a better silhouette for fish to see and that is really the best you can do in terms of choosing your color. That is because bass (and all fish) are not relying on their vision as much as their smell and their lateral line which detects movement. When fishing in muddy waters, scent and swimming patterns are more important than color. Try using dark lures with rattles or dark jigs with spinners. Although most spinner attachments are designed to reflect light they with also move lots of water, creating a buzz that any Large Mouth can detect without any visibility at all.
There is a difference between low light and water clarity. You can have low light in clear water or plenty of light in murky water. Try to choose your bait with both factors in mind. In very low light but clear water photonic lures work exceptionally well (hard body lures with a flashing light inside them) but they will have little use in murky waters because the particles of sediment will block the light from traveling very far. Darker is still better in murky water on a sunny day, but adding some scent and a rattle will never hurt your chances.
Now let’s talk about those fluorescent pink, yellow, green and orange colors. First of all, as you may have gathered by now, they will only be effective in situations where there is adequate light and visibility. Generally speaking, when fish strike at these colors they are acting on an aggressive, territorial instinct. This is especially true with our favorite fish the large mouth bass. These bright colors can actually trigger an attack response from large mouths keen on defending their territory. As they don’t resemble natural bait fish, the function of these lures is a little different than most people realize. There are two main reasons for a large mouth bass to strike at your bait. They are hunger and instinct. If you find that the bass are not hungry for your prey-resembling lures and jigs, you can try taking advantage of their super aggressive behavior by placing some of these colors in their territory. Large mouth bass will attack these just to keep them out of their established territory or simply because the obvious presence of those brightly colored fish are too much for it to tolerate.
Now that you are familiar with the basics of choosing the right color, get out there and land some large mouths! Of course, having the right color scheme won’t always catch you a large mouth if you don’t know where and when to find them, or what particular kind of bait to use in each situation. To be a champion bass angler you must know the habits of these creatures inside and out.
In the Largemouth Bass Extreme E-book you will learn the secrets of the pros including the secret weapon about colors not mentioned in this article (I’ll give you a hint, it has to do with the color red, and I don’t mean simply using red bait). Have you ever wondered how Bob Izumi can get on TV and land fish after fish after fish? Its definitely not luck. You now have the power to become just like the guy pulling out large mouth bass left and right on TV. This e-book has so much valuable information about fishing for large mouth bass that you will transform yourself into a professional and have your fishing buddies beg you for your secrets in no time!
If you thought this article was informative, you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet! For 4 FREE sneak peak previews of the Extreme Bass Fishing e-book go to ChampionBassFishing.com. There you will also find many great articles and videos about bass fishing.