Whenever l meet other anglers, whether it is at a sport show, seminar, the boat launch or out on the water, I can just about guarantee that someone will eventually ask, “What is your favourite jig or lure colour?” It is as though once you get the colour of your lure down, everything else automatically will automoatically fall into place, and you’ll start catching fish.
It’s true, the colour of your lure is important, but it is usually far down the list of things that really matter. Case in point: Let’s assume there is a school of smallmouth bass on the structure we’re fishing and they’re relating to the bottom, feeding on crayfish, in 27-feet of water. In this instance, a natural brownish-green hue may be the ideal colour. Hoewever, if you throw a perfectly brown/green coloured topwater lure, the chances are good that you’re not going to get a bite.
If, on the other hand, I pitch out a 1/4- or 3/8-ounce tube jig, that is the “wrong” colour, let’s say smoke, but I let it fall all the way to the bottom and then slowly drag it along, I am likely going to catch some pretty nice fish. See what I mean about colour not being the most important thing?
Indeed, I’ll always remember good friend, Al Lindner, telling me about one time when he was emceeing a Professional Walleye Trail (PWT) tournament and on the last day of the event, the final top three anglers were coming up onto the stage to weigh in. Al asked the first pro to tell everyone what he was using and the pro explained it was a spinner rig and then added, “but the only colour blade the fish would hit was purple.” Of course, you know the rest of the story, the second place angler came on stage and said the walleye would only hit a “green” spinner, while the winner said the secret was using chartreuse and orange. I’ll never forget Al chuckling about it when he told me the story.
So, what is important when you pick a bait from your tackle box?
First and foremost it is depth control. You need to be able to put your bait or lure where the fish are swimming and feeding. It could be up on the surface, down on the bottom or somewhere in between. Regardless, depth control is always the most important consideration when choosing a lure.
The second most important thing is speed control. You need to determine if the fish want to retrieve your lure quickly, slowly, moderately, erratically, or maybe even lying totally still, deadstick-style, on the bottom. I often tell folks the best speed is no speed at all, and they look at me like I am crazy.
The third, fourth and fifth ingredients are the size, profile and vibration of your lure. If the bass are feeding on crayfish versus minnows that tells you something. Ditto, if they’re eating bluegills, crappies or perch which are short and squat, rather than smelts or ciscoes that are long and lean.
Now, here is where colour comes in: Once you dial in the right depth, speed, size, profile and vibration, then colour can be a hugely important fine tuning detail. But that’s what it is: An enhancement that will let you catch four or five fish when everyone else is blanking. Or, a few more or a few bigger fish than your buddy on a good day. To summarize then, the colour of your bait or lure is important, but it is never the first, second or even third most important thing to worry about.
Watch this short one minute tip that I shot on the subject for this week’s Fish ‘N Canada television show. Simply slide the adjustment bar to the 8:32 minute mark and you will see what it really means to “colour my world!”