Does lure color matter underwater?

Troutski
Troutski
Color....

Color....

hobster said:
Hey, whats up Roger. There is a book "What fish see" which was written by an optometrist who apparently went from catching 3 steelhead a year to 300. It deals with the UV lighting underwater. I am gouing to purchase it soon and have a look (no pun intended). Anyone here read it? I imagine colors are not nearly as important as people think though. We, in general, tend to overthink steelhead fishing i believe.

Read it three times and then passed it on... great read..

Chuck
 
hobster
hobster
Funny this thread popped back up, i just got "What fish see" in the mail 2 days ago with Herzogs Spoon fishing book ( to go with my Jed Davis spinner book). I have yet to read it since i started the Herzog's book but it looks very interesting. Looking forward to it!
 
cknowles673
cknowles673
hobster said:
Hey, whats up Roger. There is a book "What fish see" which was written by an optometrist who apparently went from catching 3 steelhead a year to 300. It deals with the UV lighting underwater. I am gouing to purchase it soon and have a look (no pun intended). Anyone here read it? I imagine colors are not nearly as important as people think though. We, in general, tend to overthink steelhead fishing i believe.


Dang!! That sounds interesting.
 
hobster
hobster
It is interesting, although heavy reading, some of it is over my head. It is amazing how much color changes underwater after a certain depth, almost every thing appears to be much darker except pink. Most of my fishing isn't in deep water though
 
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Senkosam
Pinstriper said it all with this one statement:
"contrast adds definition to perceived shape and also motion, which are pretty important aspects of presentation."

as did Hobster: " choose lure and color based on past success, vibration is very important, and presentation"


We can obsess all day about color, but color to each of us (especially those color blind) and fish (which may also be color blind for all we know), is different depending on so many factors as defined by the volumes of information posted above and google search definitions. Lure and live bait colors are perceived differently whether in the hand or in water - which is usually less-than-clear - as well as sun angle/time of day, cloud cover, depth, background (as related to the surface, lateral to or the bottom), shade (algae, shoreline trees, docks) and the actual properties of a color.

Then there are mixes of colors that contrast with each other such as is found in patterns and the use of black dots or stripes (see examples below). In soft plastic lures, color flakes are suspended in clear or translucent colored plastic so that brings up the question: what matters - the combination of colors or specific colors?

The nice thing about making and testing lures for over 30 years is discovering that lures that produce consistently usually do well using different colors regardless of background considerations. Lure design: shape, action, the material used to make it and size are primary with color an enhancement of those three as well as motion. When it comes to blade baits or chrome finishes, color is not even a consideration as strobe-like flashes pass by a fish and cause reaction-strikes.

What does contrast mean to fish that survive based on their sensitivity and state of awareness all hours of the day? Color brightness or black certainly contrasts to a background, but what is it about what moving objects do in a stationary environment as perceived by fish? Do certain motions/vibrations and body/tail shape as detected by the lateral line provoke most strikes regardless of color? Moving objects that contrast to a fish's environment are basically stimuli-fish sensitivity correlations just like color brightness or hue.

In each of these examples, which factor was more important as relates to contrast as defined in general:



Was it the color, lure motion or shape & size or a combination of all that was more important in provoking the strike? All I know is that after catching fish on a lure - whether bought or handcrafted - I make sure I have it and in colors I have confidence in for each.
 
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slabjig
Offshore bottomfishing, color matters some, especially shallow. Deep (greater than 100 feet), glow in the dark comes into play because so many critters exhibit bioluminescence. So something that moves and glows is just more likely to get attention than something that moves but appears black because light has been pretty much filtered out.
 
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Senkosam
Add this to my reply:
Bubs said it all while pinstriper put color in perspective as far as the physical properties of color as defined by where and when color is visualized by fish. But as with most opinions regarding what triggers fish to strike, color is or can be important but never based on universally accepted or even proven reasons. I make lures and in different colors. Each lure type I assign colors I want to believe enhance each lure's shape and action. For example, the combination of brown pumpkin with green and black flakes is my go-to for certain soft plastics and skirted jigs. At the same time, there are a few alternate colors that have proven themselves equally such as dark smoke or black with green or blue flakes. In fact, for years black or smoke gray has been a soft plastic color I have avoided using without any particular reason. As of last week, I made lures in that color, caught many fish on them and now will always include them in my boat. The reason: one that my mind simply accepts with no questions asked, but one few others might accept.

You must believe certain colors work - or don't - in order to get over the hump of trying to predict what fish want when it comes to anything lure-related - especially color. You and I could catch fish side-by-side from the same boat using the same lure using different colors, thereby proving that specific hues are not what they're cracked up to be. The same goes for you and I catching fish on different lures and presentations at the same time. If the trigger works, it works!

This is something you should try for yourself: cast the same lure in different colors, in different waters, at different times of the year or day and prove once and for all of the above. What you and I want to believe, most times, may or may not be the truth as to why fish strike lures. What is true is your record keeping of fish caught using all sorts of lures in different colors and presentations. I have over a few thousand such photo records per each water fished that I can refer to in order to always keep things real vs imagined. Interesting though is that few on different forums reply to the photographic proof I present or that have follow-up replies after testing the ideas presented. Makes me wonder, is it even worth the effort?
 
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Senkosam
One can never say for sure exactly why a fish did or did not strike,
and
It's easy to falsely assign certain causes to certain effects

Anglers that have done well catching fish using certain lures in certain colors may be prone to assigning reasons the combination worked. Anyone who caught fish on the exact same lure and color may assign different reasons the como did well. Fact is, neither can absolutely know for sure why fish struck. More and more, why fish strike is controversial - sometimes to the extreme. Long-held beliefs are hard to change especially when they support fishing successes over many years. But when does cause & effect become irrefutable? When it comes to catching fish - the simpler the correlation, the better!

It's one thing to buy lures based on someone's claim they catch fish in such and such a situation. The purchaser must catch fish with those lures to prove or disprove claims advertised in social media sources. Either way, it proves nothing as to why fish did or didn't strike but there are opportunities to disprove many of those claims and the fastest way is lure craft. I have been making and modifying lures for over 20 years starting with skirted jigs and spinnerbaits for bass. The variables were: jig weight, skirt colors, trailer types and colors; spinnerbait skirt colors, blade size shape, number and painted (colors) or unpainted (silver or brass).

No one has ever claimed that any combination of the above is crucial to catching fish. Goes to show you, details don't seem to matter to those that simplify the use of certain colors while ignoring lure action, vibration, flash, drop rate, etc. They matter!!! I found that out the first year using different combinations regarding jigs and spinnerbaits. Fact is, color was the least important variable.

Now we come to the present (last 8 years) of soft plastic lure creation and catching fish on them. Combinations of elements as with jigs and spinnerbaits matter ALWAYS! They are: size, action, shape with color a personal preference based on fish caught consistently. The first three variables matter most - ALWAYS! As a soft plastic modifier, I am like the mad scientist in his lab coming up with more discoveries that might catch fish. Add a different tail to a different body and fireworks go off when the combination seems just right to provoke that poor, dumb, susceptible creature with gills & fins. Note: I've underlined the action variable because it depends on size and shape.

Lures must exhibit certain actions supported by size and shape that provoke fish. Color in this instance, the least important variable.
example: the Senko
1. certain diameter at the middle of the stick
2. tapered ends
3. certain material to add weight but not detract from lure softness and action
4. wacky rig the best presentation

Any lure ever made must follow the above rule or it is least likely to catch fish. Does color enhance those combinations? It's easy to prove colors work consistently by simply casting & catching. When I catch fish on 5 colors using a particular lure, I don't question the reason. It's good enough just to have caught fish on many occasions blindly using those color choices.

If I were to speculate why fish strike lures, guesses would include:
1. live prey and lures each exhibit certain vibrations that fish sonar (lateral line) transmits to a fish's brain. The brain knows the difference between living and lively. Crawfish have parts that move subtly and a particular motion going from place to place. A jig & trailer has a skirt that pulsates and flairs along with a trailer that flaps. Fish know the former is edible; the latter a big question mark.

2. Fish (and yours truly) are generally inactive to conserve energy - naturally. To provoke a fish out of its stupor, convenience must present itself in that fish don't have to travel too far to sample the vittles. Does hunger have anything to do with it? Your guess is as good as mine. Proximity will always outweigh motive in my book along with the characteristics of a moving object - living or not.

3. Fish aggression exists without rhyme or reason much of the time. It just is or not. Anglers can only hope that it is present when their lure hits the water.

Sorry for the long dissertation but I got time on my hands before going to my laboratory to invent more lures capable of catching huge or at least the most fish.
 
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Senkosam
I wish I could have edited/changed the size of those huge photos. :confused:
 
Casting Call
Casting Call
hobster said:
Hey, whats up Roger. There is a book "What fish see" which was written by an optometrist who apparently went from catching 3 steelhead a year to 300. It deals with the UV lighting underwater. I am gouing to purchase it soon and have a look (no pun intended). Anyone here read it? I imagine colors are not nearly as important as people think though. We, in general, tend to overthink steelhead fishing i believe.
When you mentioned UV, well welcome to my world! if It don't GLOW it don't Go Bioluminescence is the world, we all live in. It affects us all weather we know it or not. We all react to it unknowingly. "BIO" is the common denominator for All. (look-up Bioluminescence) Tony
 
P
pcstock
Color doesn't matter as long as you have BLACK!!!
 
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Casting Call
Casting Call
pcstock said:
Color doesn't matter as long as you have BLACK!!!
I approve of this message; UV IS best with black.
 
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D
DonF
I'm not so sure how anyone knows what a fish see's! I'm not so sure color matters to anyone but the guy using it. So for different fish I do have my favorite colors but in reality I think most important is action! That of course doesn't stop me from claiming this color of that is best. Funny thing, while Prineville Res still had water I fished two or three days a week and simply didn't matter what color jigs I used, crappie seemed to hit them! An now I've gone to buying plain jig heads and painting them myself with fingernail polish. Probaably not gonna make a lot of difference but for a bit now and then my ego get's the better of me. Have some clear augertails I use on plain lead head jigs and they catch fish. Well I found clear polish with sparkles in it. I'm pretty sure it make the fish feel better that they got fooled and simply weren't stupid.

Ya ever wonder about nught crawler's? Why do fish eat them? They don't seem to come out at night on the bottom of the lake or stream. And my favorite catfish bait is chicken breast with garlic, natural food just seem to work well. I wonder if a fish could tell us what color it prefer's?
 
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Senkosam
Good reply Don and good point:
Ya ever wonder about nught crawler's? Why do fish eat them? They don't seem to come out at night on the bottom of the lake or stream.
I throw bread balls to over a dozen sunnies schooled at midday near where I'm standing on my dock. They swim from all over the pond when the word gets out that the bread is splashing. Thye bump heads on the surface to get at those little balls of bread and even go sideways in 2" of water near shore to grab them. Not a natural food by any means but highly valued.

I cast a small curl tail grub and let it sit on the bottom. A small sunnie grabbed it and took off. What was it thinking?!!
In fact discarded plastics are found in the bellies of trout in the midwest which kills quite a few eventually. The first taste of plastic and I'd spit it out!

Lures and other objects may or may not represent food to a fish, but one thing is certain: they bite many of them.
 
Casting Call
Casting Call
Fish have more than one sensory ability. The order I believe is sight (shape), color, sent, and sound. I took Jed's one step further by applying a contrasting whatever on the underside of the blade to give the chaser a target. Black, red dot or stripe of course florescent. Tony
 
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Senkosam
Problem with your sense order is at night or in murky water where lateral line detection is at the top of all the senses. Once a moving target is detected, the rest come into play with proximity. Color may not be a factor at night (moonless or with clouds), in deep water or in murky water because there is always a hue change depending on the quality and quantity of light hitting the object. Even if a fish is close the color may not be anything but light gray or black.

Is scent important? Never use it and catch tons of fish every year without it. Not saying it doesn't contribute to a fish holding on to a lure, but to suggest it keenly detects odor in the water like a dog is kind of a stretch in my book. Water and air are completely different media when it comes to scent detection. Even taste requires odor detection to be accurate otherwise only a few things can be tasted in water: salt and sugar being at the beginning of a very short list. Protein by itself tastes like bland sand, fat not too much different.

But like you I believe lures do contrast with nature thought differently and that's what sets them apart in water. Lures consist of different combinations of shape, size, action and other visual components such as color and flash. Is hue important? I'm superstitious when it comes to color - meaning- the jury is out as far as its importance. Color theory as it pertains to the strike hasn't even been proven universal to all waters, time of day or color-shade differences. I want to believe certain colors or color combinations make a difference the closer a fish gets to my lure. Hasn't hurt (except maybe the hook ;))
 
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Senkosam
Okay, so the consensus is that color matters. But what about clear plastic lures (hard or soft) that only reflect light and do as well as any color much of the time? (Note grub grip wire)













The first clear plastic lures I caught fish on were the Zara Spook and Tiny Torpedo tailspin. Then I found some clear plastic crankbaits and did well with those. What those hard plastic lures had in common was the noise produced by swinging hooks, internal BBs or a surface swish/splash soft plastics don't have. And yet soft plastic lures do well in different water clarities.

Makes me wonder if the lateral line gets it done far more than the visual properties of lures which only serves as confirmation of a lure's size and location.
 
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Casting Call
Casting Call
no arguments to what you believe. Tony
 
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