The Importance of Color

Boy, talk about opening up a can of worms. I mean, we’ve got purple worms, and blue worms, and electric worms and then, of course, there’s all those pretty laminates… Geesh- a guy could go crazy. The importance of color is an age-old question and battle.

The importance of a fishing lure’s color is as much of a debated topic as any other in our sport of bass fishing. Some anglers swear and rely on specific colors and keep it simple using a minimal selection. Others own bunches of colors and buy every new one that comes out. But it’s strange, most everyone seems to catch their share of bass. So, what’s the deal, anyway?

I’m not going to go into a technical dissection of how a bass’ eyes work. There have been numerous studies and tests done over the past few decades, and the information is all easily accessible if those who want to do some studying. Me, I choose not to, because pretty much I don’t care very much about lure colors–Mostly.

The Importance of Color

Oops. See, if one looks in my boat, and in my shop, and in my man cave, they are going to find multiple boxes and bags crammed FULL of all different colors. I admit it.

I own hundreds of crank baits, jerk baits, and top waters in the full spectrum of available colors. Yessir. I own thousands of soft plastics in every imaginable hue. I admit it. I’ve been just as much of a sucker for those pretty baits as anyone else over the years. But, I think I can also keep it all in context as to the “whys,” and how they relate to the “whens.”

I decided years ago, “shades” of color seemed to me to be of more importance than the actual color. And I also realized fairly early on, with a few minimal exceptions, a bass’ prey pretty much stay the same color, and they are never “Chartreuse Coachdog” or “Peanut Butter and Jelly.”

Okay, some crawfish DO tend to look like “Peanut Butter and Jelly.” Oh well.

One of my favorite spinnerbait colors over the years has been a basic chartreuse and white. Simple. But anglers who follow the studies on a bass’ vision, (I didn’t read it, but I heard about it) read how apparently bass see white and chartreuse as the same color. Dadgum, so am I throwing a “white” spinnerbait, or a “chartreuse” one?

Way back when I was a young angler, we decided to fish a local lake at night because of its ultra-clear water and spooky but healthy bass. We started about an hour before sundown, and I was fishing a very translucent plastic worm in Strawberry Red. In my other pocket, I had some black worms for after the sun went down. Except I guess I got confused.

It was an enjoyable evening of fishing, with several bass over four pounds falling for my black worms after dark. And it was very dark- we didn’t have a light on, and with our youthful vision, I reckon we didn’t need any.

My buddy was struggling some, so I gave him a few of my black worms, and he started to catch bass too. It’s what they wanted- black is THE color for night fishin’, right?

Except when we got home, and I went to put my tackle away, there on my line was a Texas-rigged translucent red Mann’s Jelly Worm. As was my buddies. What the heck?

Years later I tried this again in a night tournament on Truman Lake, and I won the event going away. I used a big live rubber jig (but I admit I forget what color), but I very much do remember the plastic worm I was throwing. It was a 10″ Berkley Power Worm in Red Shad.

Anyone wanting to explain this all to me, I’d say explain away. Except I’d rather you didn’t. Forty years of finding things that work are not to be taken lightly, and I think this red thing at night is a pretty good example of why I don’t buy into the importance of colors too much. Except when they work.

I truly believe in bright chartreuse/orange etc. baits in stained to muddy water. Too many bass have come to my boat using them. But then one time on the ever-crystal-clear Table Rock Lake I decided, for whatever reason, to throw a solid chartreuse spinnerbait with chartreuse blades. And the bass? They tore it up. So how important is this color thing, anyway?

I believe in shades. I believe most times on dark days dark lures work. I believe whatever color an angler likes may just be the best color for any given day or circumstance. And I’ll always believe when all else fails, sunfish will always be sunfish colored. Crawdads will always be (some sort) of crawfish color. And shad, blueback herring, etc. are not going to change their spots. I’ll always believe going natural first, then varying the shade, or contrast of color (for instance, in stained water going to chrome over a more “natural” shad color) is an excellent place to be. And in fact, contrast itself may be the closest thing there is to importance in lure colors. I believe it’s why the laminated colors in soft plastic lures help them work so well as it provides contrast in the lure. And it still can be a very natural-looking bait.

The Importance of Color

I don’t like to throw what other folks are using, either. As an example, I own very few black and blue baits. And black and blue, along with the green/pumpkinseed combinations are two of the most widely used colors in the bass fishin’ world. They work. And I love my natural green/whatever lures. However, I rarely use black and blue, I’m kind of weird this way.

I also believe in experimenting, but I’m the world’s worst for not changing my lure colors throughout the day. I’m horrible at it. Sometimes, when all else fails, a color/shade/contrast change may be all it takes to result in a significant change in bass catching. And besides, with all those pretty lures we have, surely one of them is the big secret, right?

If anglers, from beginner to not-so-much of a beginner, will keep their color selections simple, then significant brain power can be utilized for more important issues. Like keeping hooks sharp and learning our electronics. And lunch. You know, important stuff.

Now, where did I put my Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich?

Living the Dream,
D.W. Verts

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