We buy more lures because we want to catch more fish. But, how do we pick the ones we actually need, when there are so many to choose from? Every time you go to pick up a few crankbaits, you stare at a wall of hundreds or even thousands of them.
How do you pick from unlimited sizes, depths, and colors? Use these tips on crankbait color choice in different water clarity and sunlight.
Water Clarity and Weather Always Affect Lure Choice.
How does a fish find food? If you’re a bass, you use sight and sound (vibration) to locate food. You also use sight and sound to guess at what food is what, how it’s moving, and whether you should eat it.
You, as an angler, want bass to see your crankbait well. Then you want to trick the bass into eating that lure. So, you better make it visible and look like something they want to eat. Yo must choose the right color temps for your water clarity. If water was always the same, this would be easy. It isn’t, so you must learn to adapt.
Fool Fish In Clear Water That Makes it Easy for Fish to See.
When water visibility is high, your lure doesn’t have to be as visible for fish to see it. Clear water also means the bass can see more detail of your lure. They can distinguish color tones more. They can see bright, bold designs clearly.
So, in clear water, you want to use natural looking baits. When the bass can see all baits well, they’ll know the difference. If you show them a bright chartreuse and orange lure, they’ll know it isn’t a real fish. They can see real fish all around, and you need your lure to look like those.
How Do I make My Crankbait Look Natural?
Throw something with muted colors and some transparency to it. It will look a lot more like a real fish and will get more strikes. Silver crankbaits with a transparent belly are best. The more clear the water, the less you want the lure to stand out. If you use something with color on it, pick one with light color accents and muted lines.
Your actual color choice will depend on what you want to imitate, which varies with forage and time of year. Certain forage like crawfish, for example, tend to have bolder colors on average than a shad or brim.
Crawfish and other prey also change colors throughout the year. So, for example, fishing for bass in fall
and imitating a crawfish, you might use darker colors and slow the action.
What Crankbait Color to Use in Stained But Clear Water
Stained water isn’t murky, but it isn’t gin-clear either. Think of bodies of water that pick up a lot of tannins and dyes from plant life. You may have a dark brown water, or a tributary stained green from algae.
The water still provides visibility, but colors blend into it. Brown-stained water makes yellows, reds, and oranges less visible. You want crankbaits with slightly bolder, darker or brighter versions of these colors.
The same thing applies to water stained green. Chartreuse, some yellows, and blues get camouflaged. Adapt by using somewhat bolder versions of these colors.
Remember: Fish still see well in stained water, and it’s not yet time to pull out your most wild looking colors.
Searching through your tackle box for the right crankbait color shouldn’t be a guessing game. Pic by @anglingaddiction tv on Instagram
Crank Color Choice for Murky, Stained Water
Murky, stained water is actually not the most challenging water to fish. But, many anglers underestimate how much it affects their lure selection.
When you fish in murky, stained water you want a bold, loud lure that will stand out.
Fishing in water with low visibility is challenging, as it’s harder for bass to detect your lure. In water that is rarely murky, a large drop in water clarity will make it much harder for those fish. In water that is stained and murky year-round, fish adapt to find their food in those conditions. But, your lure still needs to stand out.
When you get crankbaits for these conditions, make sure you pick fully-painted baits. That means there is no transparency, and every bit of the bait is visible. Bass will see lures with bold colors, in patterns with clean lines and good contrast. Lighter colors like white, pearl, and yellow will stand out better.
In the most murky conditions, try bright, solid, neon colors. Use cranks with strong patterns and heavy contrast. Bass may not be able to see a real bluegill, but they’ll be able to see your bluegill crankbait and assume it’s a bluegill. In near blackout conditions, making your lure visible and noisy is everything.
Combine Lighting Conditions with Water Clarity For The Best Crankbait Color Choice.
You can even think of it as Light x Water Clarity = Visibility. Light multiplies clarity in water to make visibility.
Sunshine Makes Fish See Better.
On a bright day with clear water, visibility will be at its highest. That means you don’t need to try too hard to be visible, and you want a lure that casts less of a shadow. Transparency especially helps with this.
On a bright day with stained water, you have less visibility, but objects still catch light. Crankbait colors still show, and they still reflect light with any shine or flake that they have.
Bright days with murky, stained water still don’t offer much visibility. But, visibility is still greater than it would be on an overcast day.
Cloudy Days Hide Some Detail and Drown Most Shadows
Cloudy days with clear water provide less visibility, but fish can still see quite a bit of detail. Shadows aren’t as easy to make, so baits that are more solid in natural colors work better. That way your bait will still get noticed from below.
On cloudy days, stained water still camouflages and mutes colors as usual. But, less light enters the water. This means colors like red that fall out of the spectrum underwater disappear easier. Colors like red that fade underwater will become invisible at more shallow depths. Metal flake and shiny, reflective paints are also not as noticeable.
Cloudy days with murky, stained, water offer the least visibility to fish. Pull out all the stops. Use your boldest, brightest lures that make plenty of vibration in the water. Fish won’t see them easily, so you may also want to work your cast in tighter patterns as you cover water around you.
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