Color and Fishing-Part 1 Crankbaits

I am a firm believer that most bass lures catch the bass fisherman and not the bass. Bubba Bass does not notice the pretty patterns on all of those high dollar crankbaits; however, in saying that, I have more than 230 crankbaits in my boat, on the counter, and in boxes in my closet. In those boxes, I have every color of the rainbow; and not just one color, I have three to five different versions of the same bait. As far as plastics go, I know that watermelon with red flakes is on fire here at Buggs Island. Looking at my plastics, I see shades of white, black, orange, and pink, not to mention shades and hues of green, red, and blue. As I pull out my (3) spinner bait boxes, I notice gold, nickel, copper, silver, and even a couple of painted blades in there. Do not look at the forth box that includes all of the extra skirts in a 1000 different color combinations.

Where am I headed with this? Does bait color matter to a bass fisherman? Oh, my Lord, absolutely yes. Does color matter to a bass? Ah, I’m not so sure.

As I flip through my new Bass Times, there is an ad for Zoom plastics on the inside cover. They offer 99 colors. Lucky Craft has 11 colors just for the popular Sammy. Bill Lewis has 54 colors for the Rat-L-Trap. Gary Yamamoto has 57 colors available for his line of plastics.

Those are enough choices to make my head spin.

I cannot be convinced that bass can tell or see the difference between Green Pumpkin/Watermelon and Watermelon/Lemon. In my opinion, technique and presentation far outweigh the color factor.

When I first started fishing tournaments, I bet I carried more than 50 crankbaits in 20 different colors and patterns. I had a hard time deciding what bait to throw. As I look back at the last tournament season, I soon realized that I only used a handful of those crankbaits. The other ones were just space eaters and added weight to my tournament bag.

After some serious thoughts and with a look back at my successes and failures on the water, I have cut down my crankbait selection to just a few colors. I think crankbait colors should imitate two specific forages, shad and crawfish. I rely on simple colors that mimic these two forages. There are some fancy names for these colors so I will try to name them the way most will recognize them. For most all of my crankbait fishing, I use Tennessee shad, silver, chartreuse/blue back, brown/orange combos. Also, firetiger is a tremendous crankbait color for me here on my home lake, Buggs Island.

I am not convinced that bass get conditioned to a certain color either. In a tournament, last season, we were throwing a silver/blue back trap. We had been catching fish all week on this bait, but on the day of the tournament the bass shut down. So my partner made a switch to silver/black back traps, and I changed depths and smoked him. He continued to struggle even though he switched colors.

Day in and day out, green pumpkin is in every single tournament angler’s plastic bag. It depends on who you ask, but some believe bass become conditioned to colors. Some anglers scream, yes they get used to certain colors. Some, like me, do not agree that bass get used to certain colors. With presentations like flipping and pitching, bass do not have time to decide or analyze the color. They hit out of reflex, anger, or hunger. Can you say reaction strike?

Keith Redd (Reddman)

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