CONSIDERING COLOUR in fishing
Considering colour in fishing: I’d like to revisit an article I wrote some time ago, it’s a great topic and evocative for many. Sentiment plays a major role in many cases, going with a particular colour based on previous experience even though the circumstances and conditions are different, or reverting to what you caught your PB on 7 years ago. Most of us are guilty of this in one way or another. The purpose of this article is to help simplify colour selection, especially for beginners or folks who need reassurance.
My tackle box is unexciting, you’ll find Black, Brown, Green & maybe something June bug, Perhaps even a bit of white. I like to keep it simple. I have variations of these base colours but I don’t care much for glitter. The more you fuss over which colour glitter is best the less you focus on what could actually make a difference to your catch rate.
Let me explain my reasoning behind colour selection: colour perception is relative to light penetration. When subjected to the depths, certain colours loose their integrity due to diminished light penetration. Scientists tell us that red is the first colour to be affected followed by orange and yellow. Green is next, followed by blue, purple and black. The latter three maintain their integrity at great depths, and still appear as their natural hue even as deep as 100ft depending on water clarity. At this depth, all other colours appear grey or a variation thereof. So in essence, if you were under the impression that you were fishing a Watermelon bait in 30ft guess again, It would likely be perceived as pale grey. An excellent example of this would be certain ‘red’ saltwater reef species, at depth they appear grey in colour, this is a camouflage mechanism. I’m sure everyone has seen some sort of underwater footage of reef fish.
The three most common scenarios that you’ll face are, clear water, stained water and muddy water. My basic colour selection would be as follows, in clear water up shallow, I would start with Watermelon ( gold, red, purple, blue fleck – whatever) until I can no longer see the bottom, then I would switch over to Green Pumpkin, Black or June bug. For stained water, up shallow, I will start off with Green Pumpkin, and use Black and June bug as I move deeper. During low light conditions, I might consider a colour with good contrast against the dark water.
Muddy water can be challenging so best ensure that your bait remains as visible as possible. It is recommended to use White (or counter shade) and black. It’s also one of the few scenarios where I prefer that my bait has some glitter. Scientists agree that the visibility of your bait is the overriding factor which determines whether a bass will actually commit to eating your presentation, not the shape or hydrodynamic signature of your bait.
You can refine your approach in clear water by matching your bait colour to the immediate surroundings and cover. For example, if the area has lots of weeds then stick to Watermelon. If the area has rocks or timber , try Green Pumpkin perhaps. Keep in mind that any variation of the base colours will also do.
With regards to hardbaits, if you consider what they are imitating, it’s simple. Any form of counter shade will do. If you are limited to only a few baits, I would recommend ones with a White belly and darker back. For stained and muddy water I might consider something with a bit of Yellow, Orange or chartreuse on it. Spinnerbaits are most popular in White in variations thereof. My clear water favourite is golden shiner and for stained water plain old white.
For jigs, it’s just as simple – clean water calls for shades of Green pumpkin, crabs also happen to be brown in colour… for stained and muddy water, black/blue is hard to beat. If I’m swimming a jig, white is a great option. In fact, white is the most fool proof colour for any reaction bait whether it’s a hardbait, softbait or skirted presentation.
Try not to overthink it, stick to the basic colours and be confidant in your choice. See you on the water!
Post by The Fishing Pro Shop‘s very own Pro Angler Divan Coetzee.
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