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Ask ten people, you’ll probably get ten answers, “what’s your favorite lure color?” We all have our own favorites usually based off our own experience and a high degree of success. Probably the biggest controversy rages over crankbaits. They are offered in so many types, lipless, deep diving, squarebill, with or without rattles and on and on. Next in the war of colors is most likely the family if soft plastics, and add the endless size or shape and you have increased the color quandary. With spinnerbaits you have the complex color question of blade and or skirt color. The answer isn’t a bigger tackle box it’s a common sense approach to bait choice.

Somewhere Under the Rainbow
I use a simple set of criteria for my baits whether I’m casting for bass, bluegill, crappie or anything else. My considerations are based off three distinct criteria; sky color, water color and the velocity of the wind. Clear sky, clear water and slick surface conditions point toward choosing neutral to light colors. Most gamefish feed by sight to a large degree, brilliantly bold colors are too easily recognizable as to their being fake. Subtle is the key for fish of all sizes that depend on their vision to seek, track down and inhale their food choices. If there are some clouds, stained water and a slight ripple on the water I move up in the color scale to mid-level colors generally matching the seasonal look of the local crawfish population. The reason the wind speed matters is the amount of light that penetrates the water and the amount of visibility afforded the fish. The most colorful class of lures is reserved for the extreme situation of heavy cloud cover, “dirty” water and stronger winds. With a diminished range of vision I go with the “glow in the dark, batteries included” highly visible baits. A good starting point is high-vis chartreuse, some blaze red or orange and possibly a smattering of black. In supremely stained water I sometimes opt for a straight black bait. The theory for me is the same as a night fishing lure, dark or black presents a silhouette that the fish can track.

Somewhere Under the Rainbow
So that’s the basics, but to really take the bait color challenge to the next level you must think outside the tacklebox. Minor alterations can make a major difference. One of my most often stolen (copied) tactics are the bait changes I frequently use. One of the simplest is the change out of the front hook of hard baits, crankbaits, jerkbaits and wake baits. The red hook draws the attention of the predatory class of underwater creatures. I’ve tested the theory repeatedly by no red hook, front hook and back hook each time the proof is that the fish the large majority of the time is hooked on red. With a basic bait like a jig, I’ve taken a large spinnerbait replacement skirt and changed out the standard jig skirt. The result is a larger, more fluffed out, more visible look. There are also more color choices in spinner skirts than there are in jig skirts. Another plus is the additional water resistant bulk will change the drop speed of the jig keeping it in the strike zone for a bit longer. Spinnerbaits are an experimenters dream. Blades can be added, snipped off, shapes changed, new colors attached, skirts replaced or even removed to allow for a soft plastic minnow to the shaft of the spinner. Customized blades have proven effective. A chartreuse blade with a spritz of red spray paint have proven to be a great bass bait in off color water. Recently a blue willowleaf blade produced some incredible catches in clearer waters. A willowleaf blade added to the end of the arm of a buzzbait has been a long time trophy bass bait. Adding flash to the churning / gurgling of the original lure has produced some giant size fish.

There are thousands of combinations and applications. Experiment, consider small adjustments based off the environment, as well as conditions and somewhere under the rainbow is a fish for you.