Lure Color Selection. Picking the Right Lure for Your Needs

Lure color selection

Whether you're a pro-angler or simply like to fish for fun, chances are you've been to buy fishing gear at some point. It doesn't matter if you shop online or go into a sporting goods store, a dedicated tackle shop or just into Wal-Mart, once you get there, you're confronted with a seemingly endless selection of different lures.

For anyone who doesn't fish professionally, the sheer number of different lure shapes, sizes, colors and brands can be overwhelming. There are just so many choices! In addition to picking the type of lure you need - worms, jigs, spinners, spoons, etc. - you also have to pick the right size, the right color and a ton of other factors.

So how do you choose?

Well, you can't just pick the ones that are prettiest, and it's also not a good idea to pick up the one Jerry from work swears he used to catch a 20 pound bass. Picking lures endorsed by pros can also be tricky because you never know for sure whether the pro-angler endorsed the lure because it's great or simply because someone paid him a ton of money to do so.

The best way to select the right lures for your tackle box is know exactly what it is you need before you hit the store or the website. Do some research and find the right lures for the type of fish you're trying to catch. Pick a size that won't throw off the balance of your rod, and know what colors work in which situations.

How to Choose a Lure Color Chart

Different color lures are used for different types of water, different seasons and different weather conditions. Below we've included a handy fishing lure color selection chart to make choosing the colors for your fishing expedition as easy as can be.

Lure Color Chart

  • Stained, Dark Water - Bright colors, such as chartreuse, bright orange or vivid reds.
  • Clear Water - Colors natural to the earth, such as browns, white, greens, pumpkin, watermelon.
  • Murky, Cloudy Water - Fluorescent colors, such as super bright pinks, aqua, yellow or lime.
  • Water Full of Plants or Algae - Most colors with the exception of greens. Lures with two separate colors work best.

Matching the Pattern of a Fish's Prey

Another great thing to keep in mind is what fish are eating in a particular season. Normally, fish are eating whatever other fish or aquatic creature is spawning at the time. If you're fishing for a certain type of fish, check out the water and the season; see what creatures are spawning during that season.

Once you know what is spawning, you'll have a pretty good idea of what your fish are eating because freshly spawned baby fish are the easiest prey for other fish. If you can purchase lures that look similar to whatever is spawning at the time, you have a great chance at catching plenty of fish. Experts refer to this as "matching the hatch."

"Matching the hatch" will depend mostly on the body of water in which you're fishing, although the season of the year will have an effect too. For instance, if you're fishing in a lake in early summer, that's bluegill spawning time. If you go fishing with bluegill-patterned lures, you're sure to do well.

The three most common patterns based on spawning seasons are the bluegill pattern, the shad pattern and the crawdad or crawfish pattern. Another popular pattern is the chartreuse pattern, but it's a little different than the others. Each of these patterns looks exactly like they sound.

The bluegill pattern is a mixture of natural greens, black and dull yellow to mimic the appearance of baby bluegill. The shad pattern is silver on top, white on the belly with a strip of yellow through the middle; it looks just like a shad. The crawdad pattern is mostly red, black and some metallic colors to look like the hard shell of a crawfish.

The final pattern, the chartreuse pattern, is the only one that doesn't really fit with the other three. It's incredibly bright and vibrant, almost gaudy, with splashes of blue and black across the back. This lure works great in dirty, muddy water or in foul weather conditions.

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The Exception to the Rule: Plastic Lures

When it comes to buying plastics, picking the perfect lure is even easier. The only consideration you need to make is what the water looks like wherever you're going to be fishing. For example, if you'll be fishing in dark waters, you need lures with a lot of contrast. So you'll pick a plastic that is even darker.

If you're fishing in clear water, though, you'll want something that looks natural and realistic. These are browns, natural greens and other colors that would naturally be swimming around in the water. Dark colors don't look natural in crystal clear water and won't attract many fish.

The Importance of Contrast

Fish eyes aren't much different from human eyes. How do humans pick out things from far away? They look for the contrasts between two items. If two items are the same or similarly colored and are at a distance, you're not going to be able to pick them out easily.

The same goes for fish. Your lure needs to contrast easily with the water in which you're fishing so the fish you're trying to catch will notice it easily and quickly.

This means not fishing with a green lure in the middle of an algae or lily pad-covered patch of water. Yes, it may blend in with the surroundings and look natural, but that's the problem. It looks too natural, and the fish can't distinguish between it and the plants.

When you're hunting, you want camouflage. You want to blend in with your surroundings and not be seen. However, when you're fishing, you want the exact opposite. Your lure needs to be clearly visible to your prey.

If you're unsure of what color lure will contrast nicely with the water, use a lure with multiple hues on it. That way, even if your green doesn't show up, that bright swash of orange across the top will. Two- and three-toned lures are great for people who can't really tell what colors are needed for good contrast.

Bass Lure Color Selection Chart

Although fish may eat different things, each species has a specific prey it prefers to eat, just like most other animals. The best way for you to catch a fish is to use a lure that looks and moves like their preferred food source.

This means mimicking the color, size, shape and markings of their prey. For bass, that preferred prey is going to depend on the area in which they live. Bass eat practically anything, but they're particularly fond of herring, shad and crawfish. Larger bass will, of course, eat larger meals, including rainbow trout, lizards and anything else they can find.

Mostly, the guidelines for picking the right color lure for bass fishing are the same rules as listed on the color chart above. You'll pick your lure colors depending on the water and weather conditions. However, if you'll also try to pick lures that resemble shad, crawfish or herring, you'll have the best luck.

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