Today’s gargantuan tackle superstores allow anglers to select from thousands of different bait options in hundreds of different color variations. This can be a blessing for experienced anglers that have honed their color preferences; it can also be very confusing to less experienced anglers and anglers on a budget that can’t afford to buy one of every color on the rack.
In reality, choosing the right bait colors is actually pretty simple. By spending countless hours with the world’s top tournament anglers, we’ve been able put together the following three rules to help you choose your bait colors, both on the water and in the tackle shop.
1. Hard baits – Match the hatch (plus one):
For hard baits, there are only four color patterns necessary for 99 percent of the anglers in the country. They consist of 3 patterns that “match the hatch” on most lakes – Crawfish, shad, and bluegill. The fourth essential pattern is some type of bright or gaudy color, something like chartreuse/black back or fire tiger. These are killer when the water’s muddy, in river systems, or whenever you’re fishing in really low-light conditions.
2. Dark water equals dark colors:
For plastics, color selection is closely linked to the water conditions. In stained or muddy water, it’s all about contrast. Dark colors like black and blue, black neon, and junebug are all very visible in murky water and provide the ideal contrast necessary to generate strikes.
3. In clear water, go natural:
Although they provide lots of contrast, dark colored plastics look really unnatural in clear water situations and don’t get nearly as many bites. To maximize your bites in clear water, instead opt for something natural, like green pumpkin, watermelon, or brown. These shades won’t look out-of-place like a darker color, and the bass will be much more likely to snap them up.
What’s the one bait color that you always seem to catch fish with?
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