Guidelines for Selecting Lure Colors

Guidelines for Selecting Lure Colors

Matthew Davies image of several different color baits

Many bass pros put significantly less emphasis on lure color versus any other factor. Dedicated fishermen know that the key factors when fishing are selecting the right location and what kind of mood the fish are in. Rarely, if ever, does a novice fisherman know that fish do have moods. When it is dark and gloomy outside, they are not too keen on doing much. When it is bright and sunny, they are far more active. In this regard, fish are a lot like humans. Think about it. When was the last time you wanted to go out when the weather was poor? However, lure color does play a factor. I, Matthew Davies, will discuss the color options and when to use the different colors. So, join me as I lure you down the path to selecting the right lure for the right situation.

Rules of Thumb

When it comes to selecting a color, the most fundamental rule is to choose a lure for the water you are fishing in. When you are fishing in murky, brown, or low-level conditions, you want to choose bright colors. By doing this, the fish will be able to see your bait more easily. Fish do not have that great of eyesight. Even though they live in the water, their eyes have the same resolution as ours in the water. Think about the last time you were underwater with your eyes open. While you could make out shapes and sizes, you could not have a clear picture of what you were looking at. The same goes for fish. Bright colors allow the fish to see the bait you are presenting. They will recognize this as something they like to eat and attempt to eat it.

For example, when you are fishing in a lake that you can see a foot or less down, you will want to have something that will give off a reflection from the sun. Dull colors will not do this. The bright colors will help. Consider using spinners or crankbait that will move and reflect light from the sun above. On a side note, when fishing in the rain, you will have to use scents to attract the fish. Most of the time, the sun is behind the clouds when it is raining. There will be no light for the bait to reflect off. Simply using soft bait with a scent will increase your chances of catching a fish.

When fishing on a clear day and in clear water, you will want to dull down your bait. In nature, animals that are brightly colored are known as dangerous. They mark themselves this way to ward off prey. If you are using a brightly colored lure, fish will instinctively avoid your bait. Rather than deterring the fish, choose colors that more closely resemble the natural color of the food you are trying to entice the fish with.

For instance, when fishing for bass in a lake that you can see to the bottom, you will want to use something like a crawfish bait. The color should closely resemble the natural state of a crawfish, which is a brownish color. When using crankbaits in clear water, lean to the side of natural finishes with as few color changes as possible. Fish will not recognize the bait as something they can eat and will steer clear of it.

Making Adjustments

Never be afraid to try something new when you are out fishing. As long as you stick to the rules of thumb, you should be ok. Sometimes you may have to step outside the box, and that is fine. Just don’t mix and match the lures. In other words, never try to use a soft color bait in cloudy water or bright colors in clear water. Instead, try different baits. The key to fishing is to figure out what the fish want to eat. Sometimes it is soft bait, sometimes it is hard bait, and even other times it is jigs or spinners. Each location will have types of fish they are used to eating. The fisherman’s job is to figure out what the fish are hitting on and replicate that to the best of their ability.

Two situations require special color consideration – topwater and night fishing. In nearly every instance in both of these situations, you will want to use a dark bait. When it comes to topwater fishing, the darker colors are more comfortable for the fish to see against the sky’s lighter background. As for night fishing, I know I said you want to use bright colors when the fish can’t see, but this rule is thrown out the window when you are fishing at night. The dark color in this situation will help the fish see the silhouette of the prey they are trying to eat. Thus, using dark baits in both cases is recommended. In terms of color, think more along the lines of dark blue or black lures. Additionally, attaching spinners at night is not a wise choice.


In closing, I would like to remind you that color is far less critical that time, location, and water clarity. There are no hard and fast rules to colors, only the brightness level. However, when you are selecting your colors, try to choose ones that closely resemble the food the fish are trying to eat. Going to fishing websites, you can find out what the fish in that area like to feast on. Beginners need to use a lot of different lures. You will find that the more you learn about fish, the less you will have to take on your fishing trips. That is why I, Matthew Davies, suggest buying as many different colored lures when you start. Doing this will allow you to figure out what the fish want to bite on. Once you have figured it out, all you need to do is take those lures with you when you return to that lake. There will no longer be a reason for you to take hundreds of lures when they only bite on one or two. Just make sure that when you go fishing, you have enough replacements if you happen to lose a lure to a snag or a fish that breaks your line.

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