What Lure Colors to use

Bass and most game fish have very good eyesight at detecting color. Especially, for swim baits, soft plastics, and hard lures. The biggest question is always about lure colors. Whether it’s soft plastics, or hard baits. The answer is very simple.

Crystal Clear Visibility 
(15 feet or more of visibility)
If the water is crystal clear and you can see down past 15 feet, use clears, smokes, whites, chromes, blues, and translucents. These look the most like shad and minnows. You can also use baby bass, baby bluegill, and baby perch imitating baits. The more natural it looks, the better.

Moderately Clear Visibility
(3-15 feet of visibility)
If the water is moderately clear, you can see between 3-15 feet, use browns and greens (more natural colors). These will look like most bait fish in this type of water. They will appear the most natural and look like something the fish eat all the time.

Murky Water
(0-3 feet of visibility)
If the water is murky and you can see 0-3 feet, use dark blues, blacks, dark purples, and chartreuse. It’s that simple. The darker the lure, the better they can see it. Also very bright lures work in murky water, hence chartreuse is also an option.

Most lakes fall into the 3-10 or 3-15 feet of visibility, hence most plastic baits are usually green or brown. And you will see most baits sold in stores are of the brown/green variety.

Chartreuse is the only exception to these rules. Fish can see yellow/green very well and chartreuse works in most conditions, especially murky water. You’ll see a lot of black grubs with chartreuse tails for murky water.

Both bass and walleye see the yellow and green spectrum well, which is why chartreuse works well for them in almost any condition. You hear a lot of walleye fisherman say, “You can throw any color, as long as it’s chartreuse”.

Bass also see the outlines of fish from UV rays penetrating the water and causing fish scales to nearly glow. UV rays can penetrate to depths of up to 40 feet whereas natural sunlight can only penetrate up to 5-8 feet, with most of it being reflected off the surface. There is a line of baits that is specifically designed to reflect UV rays and appears to work very well.

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Editor in Chief

Over 40 years of fishing experience! Began as a young boy at age 10, and slowly grew deeper and deeper into this hobby! Have been a writer and technology reviewer since 1990.