Are Red Lures Worth the Hype? Choosing the Best Lure Color

No doubt about it – there are some crazy color names out there for fishing lures. Nuclear Chicken. Roadkill. Baby Puke. Discover the science behind how a bass sees color, and learn which colors yield better results.

Bass Lure Colors, Simplified

Scuppernong. Roadkill. Foxy Momma. Chaos. You won’t find these hues in a box of crayons, but you will find them on some of the best bass fishing lures. And though they seem random—silly, even—there is very good reason for these freaky colors and wild color combinations to exist. Bass love ’em! 

This is a brief guide to help you choose the right fishing lure color for your next trophy bucketmouth. The two main things you need to consider when choosing a color are A) the clarity of water, and B) the time and type of day.

Here’s the solution—simplify your color theory with these 4 basic rules:

Rule 1: Use natural, light-colored lures for clear water/sunny days.

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Bass have very keen vision—in fact, their eyes are very similar to ours, and they are able to see most of the same colors we can. In clearer water and on bright, sunny days, a lure in a natural color resembling the forage they’re feeding on will fool them into biting. In soft plastic baits, that means natural greens and browns and shad colors; for hardbaits, starting with a shad, bluegill, frog, or crawfish-patterned lure is a good choice, depending on the local menu.

Rule 2: Use very bright or very dark lures for dirty water/cloudy days.

In dark or muddy water and on overcast days, tie on a brightly colored lure to increase visibility, or use a very dark solid color to maximize profile visibility. A black and blue soft plastic is ideal; a white and chartreuse Glow Blade spinnerbait will also produce. For hard baits, bright chartreuse, green, or dark, solid-colored lures will perform well.

Rule 3: Local baitfish and native forage patterns are go-to colors.

A lure mimicking whatever baitfish populate your local waters is indispensable. Whether it’s gizzard shad, threadfin shad, golden shiner, or fathead minnows, bass want to eat them, and you can lure them in with chrome, silver, or shad-colored lures of various designs. Spinnerbaits with multiple blades work well to imitate small groups of baitfish.

Rule 4: Don’t be afraid to try something completely different.

So what about all those wacky-named colors, like green ***, puke, margarita mutilator, and methiolate? There is in fact a method to the madness. Experienced bass anglers know that presenting a completely new color to bass that aren’t biting can somehow turn them back on, though it’s far from settled science as to why. If you look in a pro’s tackle box, you’ll see alongside the standard colors a few colors not seen in nature—hot pinks, blues, red chrome, and multi-colored lures—almost anything imaginable. Sometimes these unusual colors can be the key to success. A great example of this principle is the common lure color firetiger in Bass Pro Shops XPS Rattle Shad. You’ll rarely find a tackle box without at least one crankbait in this wild, un-natural color—a mix of neon green, chartreuse, hot orange, and black stripes, it certainly looks like nothing you’ll find on a bass’s menu. Yet it’s been a go-to color for decades, and produces bass as well as any naturally-colored lure.

The key to becoming a successful bass angler is to experiment with a variety of colors until you find what works best on your local waters. Start with colors that have produced for you in the past, or with colors recommended by locals, and then branch out. You’ll learn through trial and error, and you’ll eventually discover the right pattern that unlocks the bite.

All credit for these great tips goes to Bass Pro.

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