Lure Colors: Water and Weather Conditions
Published on Bassmaster.com October 6, 2008
Last time we talked about lure colors and the time of day. This time I want to talk about colors as they relate to water and weather conditions.
Most bass fishermen believe you shouldn't throw the same colors in muddy water as you would in crystal clear water. So, water clarity may be an angler's single most important consideration in choosing lure colors. According to the BASSlog, the best colors for extra clear water are green pumpkin, watermelon red flake and watermelon. Bluegill, shad and white are the next best colors.
For both clear (3-5 feet of visibility) and semi-stained (2-3 feet visibility) water, top colors are the same as extra clear except there are more fish recorded for watermelon than for watermelon/red flake. Shad, chrome/blue and black/blue are the next best colors for those waters.
The biggest surprise to me is that there isn't a big difference from gin clear water to muddy water. The best baits in muddy water are green pumpkin, chartreuse/white, watermelon, black/blue, shad and white. The main difference is that chartreuse/white is favored over watermelon/red flake.
Sky conditions and water depth don't seem to matter a whole lot when it comes to what colors to use. Watermelon and green pumpkin are again at the top for each depth and sky condition with one exception each. For water depth, once you get over 25 feet, silver is the top choice. Obviously, that's because structure spoons are best for those depths, and most spoon fishermen use silver spoons. For sky conditions, both clear and cloudy skies call for the same colors. However, on rainy days, white is the top choice over watermelon and green pumpkin.
We can also query the BASSlog entries and separate them according to the type of lure to find the best colors for each type. Doing this, I'm sure you can guess the best colors of soft plastics.
You guessed it! Green pumpkin, watermelon and watermelon red/ flake are at the top for most all soft plastics categories. Other good choices are black/blue, junebug, black, red shad and blue fleck.
As for diving crankbaits, the top picks are shad, baby bass, blue/chartreuse, white, firetiger and green orange. For lipless crankbaits, you should have chrome/blue, red and chrome/black in your arsenal.
Shad is by far the best color for hard jerkbaits with twice as many fish recorded as the runner-ups clown and black/orange.
If you like fishing skirted jigs, you should throw black blue, green pumpkin or brown. If spinnerbaits are your thing, white, chartreuse/white and chartreuse are best. For spoons, it's silver, blue/white and gold. Best swimbait colors are shad, watermelon, and golden shiner. For the bladed jigs, it's white, chartreuse/white and green pumpkin.
As for topwaters, best popper colors are shad, firetiger and chrome/black. Best colors for stickbaits are chartreuse/white, blue and shad. For prop baits, try chrome/blue, green or gold/black. Finally, if you like to make some noise, use buzzbaits that have either white, black or chartreuse skirts.
To summarize, it seems that the best choices for most lures are those that blend in with the environment or resemble the food bass are accustomed to eating. Shades of green are the best colors for most soft plastics. I'm sure this is because green is the predominant color in the water. The majority of plants and water creatures are comprised of shades of green. Green pumpkin has caught more fish than any other color recorded in the BASSlog. However, if you were to group watermelon and watermelon/red flake together, they would outnumber green pumpkin. Other good colors for soft plastics are black/blue, junebug, red shad and black.
If you're throwing baits that are designed to mimic the forage that bass live on, you should be sure to match the color with the forage. I'm certain that some colors do work better than others in some situations. I know firsthand that shad and chrome colored baits work well in lakes with shad as the primary forage. The same fish may well bite any color you put in front of it, but your best odds of getting it to bite is to match the color of the forage or blend with the environment. After all, most forage is designed to blend for its own protection.
I also believe that confidence is important. If you are throwing colors that you have confidence in, you are more likely to work them properly. You will need to do some experimenting to build up your confidence. One thing's for sure, every fish you catch will be on a color that you throw. If purple is the only color you cast, you won't catch any on watermelon or green pumpkin.