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Simplifying Lure Color

Brandon Cobb

Jordan Lee baits

The walls of most tackle stores resemble a psychedelic kaleidoscope with thousands of colors in every lure imaginable. Options are great, but at some point, it can get overwhelming. From merthiolate (yes that’s a real color) to electric chicken (also real), where in the world do you start? When it comes to bass fishing there are no set rules on what colors work when, but it can be simplified somewhat.
First, we’re talking soft plastics. I keep well stocked in a variety of baits. But I like to have a surplus of go-to colors, rather than every color under the sun. I would say soft plastic colors can be lumped into 3 categories: bright “bass fooling” colors, natural, and dark.
I like the bright colors to trick bass into biting, especially in the spring. For some reason, we may never know, bass will absolutely crush a brightly colored worm when they are up spawning. Next, we talk natural colors like green pumpkin, watermelon, pumpkin, etc. These are my bread-and-butter colors for soft plastic fishing. Green pumpkin resembles a multitude of forages all across the country and is probably the staple color for nearly every angler in the country. I’m no different. Dark worms are essential in many situations. A worm that is black or heavy on the black hue is perfect for extremely dirty water or night fishing. Seems opposite right? But, black shows up much better in dark waters than any other color. When it comes to plastics, pay attention to the color as a whole. The 7 flakes of green glitter vs. blue glitter probably isn’t going to make or break it.
Now let’s think hard baits. Hard baits can vary some depending on the type of bait. When it comes to crankbaits, I’m thinking about 3 groups as well. You have natural baitfish, bright, and craw patterns.
The natural patterns excel in clear water situations, where you’re trying to match the hatch. Bright colors are awesome for stained-water situations. A firetiger or chartreuese can out-fish a natural color tenfold in muddy water. Craw colors are phenomenal in the early spring. A bright red craw catches more fish in the cold prespawn than any other color. Topwaters are different. Keep in mind when fishing topwaters, the fish are looking at the bottom. When I used to work in a tackle store, I can’t tell you how many people would say “It has to have a blue back!” The whole time I was thinking, “You do know bass can’t fly.” I think about clears, whites, and blacks for topwaters. It can be trial and error to see which is most successful.
Color selection can be one of the most overwhelming choices in fishing, but simplifying it down can help. Look at big changes not too subtle differences. Good luck!

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