About “Color”


 “Does Color Matter?”
By Neil Taylor, Strike Three Kayak Fishing


“I’d like to believe we live in a world without color”.

A quick glance at the walls in any tackle shop and I realize that is simply not the case.   For fishing lures, it is a question that is often asked “Does color matter?”   Ask ten anglers and get ten different responses.   There is an adage that “colors catch fishermen, not fish”.   There is a certain amount of truth to that but there are successful trends that go with specific colors of lures, so color is definitely important even if it isn’t a critical situation most of the time.    A long time field-testing the different lures and trying out the various colors, I have realized that color does have some significance.

The biggest decision on lure color is situation dependent.   There are some colors that connect better than others in particular situations.  Typical daytime fishing in Tampa Bay waters; successful anglers will narrow their color selection to a few “go-to” choices varying somewhat based on the species they target.    White, gold, rootbeer, green/white, gold/white and are all regular choices in this situation to catch just about anything that passes by a feeding fish and are common selections for redfish, snook, speckled trout and a majority of the other species. 12F

Consider ”nighttime versus daytime”; tannin-stained water versus clear waters; and some species-specific trends.  There are colors that work at night that I wouldn’t use in daylight.  Some of the regular daytime selections work well at night, but I will switch to some interesting color choices for nighttime fishing such as pink/silver glitter, black or silk chartreuse.

Water clarity is very significant for color selection.  In murkier waters, darker color lures will work better.  In clean, clear waters lighter shades of lures do well.   Fishing vast sandy bottom areas, try white tails, as many of the baitfish that are found over sandy areas take on a white or “silvery” shade.  Two-tone lures are laminated baits and create a great silhouette for the fish to see.  My favorites are Shimmer Gold, Seaweed Shad, Greengo and Shrimply Shad in the 12 Fathom series of lures.

Deviation from colors listed above applies to different choices in “lures.”   There are the soft plastic baits and then there are the plugs.   Inside the plastic bait category: “Shrimp” style tails I recommend that you choose flesh tone colors of those lures to best mimic the look of a shrimp.   Glo Shrimp in the 12 Fathom Saltwater series is a great selection, particularly for the SlamR.   In late spring to early summer, the maturation of mullet that spawned in mid to late winter: The choice of the pearl white Fat Sam Mullet is a fine choice and mimics the white sides of the “finger mullet” that exist in the billions at this time of year.

Flashy but inexpensive: Give your wife or girlfriend some BLING (mullets) for the next special occasion!

Flashy but inexpensive: Give your wife or girlfriend some BLING (mullets) for the next special occasion!

Species dependent considerations:  A great choice to throw in Tampa Bay area waters is gold.   The payoff in incidental catch:  Pompano.   Pompano are suckers for gold or yellow.   “Bling” gold in the 12 Fathom Saltwater Series is particularly enticing because it is a heavily yellow-ish tinged “clear gold.”   Redfish are another species where color may be a factor.   If they are actively feeding on a variety of things, various colors will all work well.   If they are concentrating on crabs for their meals, the trick to catching redfish is to use colors like darker greens, motor oil or rootbeer.   Catching will ensue if the lure choice matches the hue of the crabs the redfish are eating.

There are many choices in jighead colors as well.  If you are going to ”pick just one” buy red.    The reasoning: Baitfish’ eyes turn red when they are under stress, blood is red, and gills are red.   Other colors work and unpainted jigheads will also work great, but red is always a great choice.

Topwater lures or suspending twitchbaits, people have their favorites.   If you go to Texas, you will see a lot of pink being used.  Other regional preferences exist.   Chartreuse or yellow is very popular in many places.    Like the laminated plastic baits, many anglers prefer the two-tone lures.  Several popular choices are green top and a white/silver belly.   Another universal favorite:  White body with a red head.   Again, fueled by confidence, people develop their “favorite colors” even though these big noisy topwaters all attract fish if moved correctly, regardless of the color of the lure.

When it comes right down to it:  While color choices are significant to success, maximize your success by paying more attention to the action you’re giving a lure.   Don’t dismiss the “trends”, keeping the right assortment of colors, changing the jig color in situations where the others aren’t yielding results.  It is much more important to develop confidence in the lures but pay attention to what seems to work best for you, in both technique and selection of colors.   Make your lures move enticingly and be ready to set the hook!

Other articles you may like to read on lures:

Damaged Lures

December 2011 spotlight product: The 12 Fathom SlamR

January 2012 spotlight product: The 12 Fathom Mullet

February 2012 spotlight product: The 12 Fathom Buzz Tail Shad


Neil Taylor Owner and Guide: www.strikethreekayakfishing.com PH: 727.692.6345 Email: Livelybaits@aol.com “Something violent is about to happen!”

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Neil Taylor
Full time kayak fishing guide, Neil was an advocate for conservation since before the time he started guiding. Outdoor writer, speaker and radio show host, Neil connected closely with Captain Mel Berman and did many positives with Mel to promote ethical angling. After Mel passed away, Neil managed www.capmel.com and eventually became that web site’s owner.