Bass Fishing Lure Color Selection Chart
Selecting fishing lure colors can be incredibly confusing. Walking down the soft plastics aisle of a tackle store can quickly become overwhelming considering the 100's of color variations on the market across different brands and lure types.
We have created this bass lure color selection chart to help simplify your lure color selection process based on water clarity. The chart includes some example colors for fishing in different levels of water clarity across leading brands. To understand the key considerations for effective lure color selection that led to the creation of this chart, go ahead and read out color selection guidelines below the chart.
There are other lure color charts out there which based their findings on other factors such as seasons, as well as various other factors.
General Guidelines for Selecting Lure Colors
Choosing bass lure colors can be incredibly overwhelming. All you have to do is walk into the soft plastics aisle in a Bass Pro Shops and you will be bombarded with more color options and combinations than you could have ever imagined. To make this worse, it is difficult to know what factors to consider when picking lure colors because of the fact that there are so many different opinions out there among amateur and professional anglers alike.
We put this guide and lure color selection chart together in the hope of simplifying the lure color selection process. While our approach may not be perfect, we have collated opinions and knowledge of top professional anglers such as Skeet Reese, Edwin Evers, Brent Ehrler, Brian Latimer, Brandon Palaniuk and more to try and find some common ground and create a simple, intuitive guide and tool to help you select lure colors.
The Most Important Factor - Underwater Visibility
The level of visibility/water clarity underwater is the most important factor when it comes to picking the color of your lure. Some people may fight this and say that “match the hatch” should be your goal but our research shows that the majority of professional anglers consider visibility underwater to be the most important factor. Despite popular belief, bass actually have pretty solid eyesight and to a large extent are visual predators. Picking your lure color based on underwater visibility is the most reliable, and most intuitive strategy.
Underwater Visibility & Lure Color Selection
When we speak of underwater visibility, we are referring to the overall transparency of the water. Water clarity can of course range from gin clear to heavily stained and/or murky and is affected by actual matter/silt within the water, current light conditions and depth. These three factors contribute to the overall water clarity and amount of visibility bass have underwater.
The less silt/sediment suspended in the water, the higher its clarity. It goes without saying that clearer water provides high underwater visibility.
The more light that penetrates water, the easier it is to see underwater. Sunny conditions provide better underwater visibility than overcast conditions.
The deeper the water, the less light penetration from the sun. Deeper water therefore has less visibility than shallow water. Underwater visibility increases as water gets shallower and decreases as water gets deeper.
Water clarity, light conditions and water depth are all key factors when determining overall underwater visibility. There are of course an endless number of possible combinations in this regard so we won't even attempt to explain each one. You will have to use your discretion and judgment, taking these three factors into account to determine the overall level of underwater visibility.
Determining Underwater Visibility
The easiest way to get an idea of underwater visibility is to tie on a white bait, pop it in the water and let it sink. Once you can no longer see the lure, pull it up and measure the amount of line that was under the water when you stopped seeing the bait.
Please note that these definitions are subjective and may change depending on who you speak to. We are just trying to provide a general rule of thumb:
When the water is clear and underwater visibility is high, natural translucent/semi translucent colors are your best bet. In these conditions, bass are able to see detail and these colors are most likely to blend into the environment and appear as natural prey in the bass’s eyes. More vivid/solid color baits can sometimes put bass off in super clear water as they appear less natural.
In this case, bass are still able to see fairly well but may not notice some of the more translucent, natural colors that would work well in super clear conditions. In this case, you will want to lean towards natural colors but you can start experimenting with a little bit of color. Translucent baits with a bright chartreuse tip work well in these conditions. Semi-translucent purple and reds and laminate style baits can also be effective. The general rule of thumb is that you want your bait to appear natural, but make the presentation a little more noticeable by providing some color.
When water visibility is low, contrast becomes very important. In order for bass to see your bait you are best off using solid, darker colors as they create a better silhouette/profile in these conditions and are therefore easier to see.
Hopefully this guide and chart gives you some basic understanding on how to select lure colors for bass fishing. It is important to know that while these suggestions are based on extensive research, they are not to be taken as gospel. There are times where these rules go out the window completely and there seems to be no discernable pattern as to what colors bass want on a given day. However, we feel that for the most part this information will help you make better lure color choices and most of all, help you simplify your choice when it comes to your next soft plastic shopping expedition.