Step inside a local tackle shop and you'll likely find the walls covered with lures of just about every hue you can imagine. Red, chartreuse, brown, pink, "fire tiger", even translucent, the list goes on. It can be overwhelming and make even the most seasoned angler ponder - does color even matter? Well, unless you're fishing lures at depths below 30ft, the answer is yes. Color plays an important role when selecting a lure, and knowing which colors work best in different water conditions can help turn a disappointing day of fishing into a great one. We've broken down a few basic principles to keep in mind the next time you open your tackle box.
Murky vs. clear water
The most basic rule of thumb for selecting lure color has to do with murky vs. clear water.
In clear water with good visibility, fish rely more on their sight to track down prey. Your lure needs to look like their natural forage - both in its movement and color. Since fish can get a solid look at your bait before committing, lures with more neutral colors are the best bet. Brown, bone and dull red are colors that work well in clear water with high visibility as they more closely resemble crayfish and small baitfish - a favorite snack for bass and most sport fish.
When fishing clear waters, stick to lures with dull, natural colors to produce strikes
For murky water, very bright or very dark lures are the best choice for attracting fish's attention. Chartreuse, yellow and bright orange can help increase visibility through cloudy water, while a dark blue or black lure will maximize your lure's profile and silhouette in the water. Both are effective in murky and cloudy water - so start with one and if needed, switch to the other.
Very dark or very bright lures are the best for murky waters
Night fishing? Go dark
When fishing at night, dark lures are a must. Although it may sound counterintuitive, black or blue lures will actually be more visible in the water at night than a bright lure. This is because a dark lure contrasts with the lighter sky above it - creating a silhouette of the lure's profile in the water. Think of it like this, for fish looking up in the water column, a dark lure in front of a lighter backdrop will be more visible than a bright lure in front of the same. It's simply a matter of your lure blending in vs. standing out.
When fishing at night, dark lures are more visible to fish because of the silhouettes they cast in the water
When fishing in waters shallower than 30ft, color plays an important role in the selection of a lure. Choose one that maximizes visibility while also most closely resembling your quarry's natural forage.
What colors have worked best for you? Let us know in a comment below!