A fishing lure color selection chart is essential, allowing us to improve our chances of catching fish in various water conditions and environments. As an avid angler, I understand the significance of choosing the right colors, which can directly impact the visibility and attractiveness of our lures to the target species. In this article, I will discuss the basics of a fishing lure color selection chart and provide you with some helpful guidelines to make your next fishing trip more productive.
A fishing lure color selection chart is a useful tool that offers a comprehensive guide on which colors are most effective in different water conditions, such as clear, stained, or murky waters. These lure color charts takes into consideration factors like the natural coloration of baitfish, water clarity, and light penetration, among others. By applying this knowledge, we can select colors that mimic the local forage, creating a more tempting meal for our target fish species.
One of the general rules when choosing lure colors is to opt for natural, subtle shades in clear water while using brighter or darker colors in stained or murky water to increase visibility. For instance, light browns, tans, dark greens, and pale silvers are suitable for clear water, while dark colors like blue, black, or Junebug and bright colors like luminous pink, orange, and chartreuse may be more effective in murky waters. With these guidelines in mind, we’re now equipped to make better color choices and increase our chances of landing that prized catch.
Understanding Fishing Lure Colors
When fishing in clear waters with high visibility (4 feet or more), I recommend using natural, translucent, or semi-translucent colors. These colors blend in well with the environment and appear as natural prey to the fish. Some common natural colors include:
- Green pumpkin
By using these colors, I can give my lures a more realistic appearance, which increases my chances of attracting fish.
In waters with medium depth or less visibility, I find that brighter colors work better. These colors, like fluorescent reds, oranges, yellows, and greens, are more visible and help attract fish even in murkier conditions. Some examples of bright lure colors include:
Choosing these vibrant colors ensures that my lures will be seen among the darker waterspots or the dimly lit underwater environment.
Dark-colored lures, such as black or dark purple, work exceptionally well in murky water. These hues provide a strong contrast against the muddy background, making it easier for fish to spot my bait. Apart from black and dark purple, other darker lure colors that I often utilize include:
By using dark colors in cloudy or muddy water, I can maximize the visibility of my fishing lures, increasing the likelihood of catching fish.
|Water Clarity||Lure Color||Examples|
|Clear||Natural||Green pumpkin, Red, Watermelon|
|Medium||Bright||Chartreuse, Orange, Yellow|
|Murky||Dark||Black, Blue, Junebug|
Remember that the way I see a lure color in the store under fluorescent lights might not be the same color the fish sees underwater. Therefore, I keep in mind that colors may change as the lure descends through the water column. By having a variety of lure colors in my tacklebox, I can make the best choice depending on the water conditions and preferences of the fish I am pursuing.
Water Clarity and Lure Color Selection
When I fish in clear water, I focus on using lure colors that closely resemble the natural prey items in the area. Light penetration in clear water is generally good, allowing fish to rely more on their vision. Ghost or translucent lure colors, browns, and natural patterns tend to give me the best results when bass fishing. In this scenario, I avoid using overly bright or flashy lures, as they may appear unnatural and spook the fish.
Example colors for clear water:
- Ghost or translucent colors
- Natural patterns
Stained water usually has limited light penetration due to suspended particles, making it important to choose to lure colors that are still visible at various depths. As the water clarity decreases, I opt for more vibrant colors, such as chartreuse or orange, to help fish see the bait more easily. Additionally, I sometimes utilize two-tone color patterns or lures with contrasting highlights for enhanced visibility.
Example colors for stained water:
- Two-tone patterns
In murky water, good light penetration is minimal, making it essential to choose to lure colors that stand out to fish using their cone cells (color vision). I’ve found that darker colors, like black, blue or junebug, are the most effective, as they create a strong contrast against the surrounding water. Additionally, bright, gaudy colors, such as bubblegum or bright chartreuse, can get the attention of fish despite the poor visibility.
Example colors for murky water:
- Bright chartreuse
Click here for my best lure color for muddy water
Light Conditions and Lure Colors
When I fish under bright sunlight, I find that darker colors like black or purple work well, as they don’t reflect as much light and stand out to fish. In clean water, colors start disappearing at certain depths—red, then orange, followed by yellow, green, and finally blues and purples. However, this changes with water clarity. For example, in silty water, yellow and brown are easiest to see, while green is the most visible in water full of algae.
On cloudy days, I prefer using brighter colors like yellow or white, as they are more reflective and easier for fish to see in low-light conditions. Most baitfish, both in salt and freshwater, have white bellies, making light pastel tones, light grays, soft pinks, and pale yellows attractive to predator species. These light colors work well in both clear and stained water.
Fishing at night or in low-light conditions, I opt for solid, darker colors that create a better silhouette, making them easier for fish, like bass, to see. Some examples of mainstream lure colors for night fishing include:
- Black & Blue
- Dark Blue
Remember, choosing the right lure color depends on light conditions and water clarity. Always observe the environment to make an informed decision about the best color to use for that specific situation.
Lure Colors Based on Forage
When targeting fish that feed on baitfish, it’s essential to consider the specific type of baitfish in the area. Baitfish such as shad, perch, and bluegill are common prey for predatory fish. I recommend the following color patterns to mimic these baitfish:
- Shad: Silver, white, and gray tones, sometimes with black or blue accents
- Perch: Green or yellow on top, transitioning to a white belly with black vertical stripes
- Bluegill: Combination of blue, green, and orange, often with a dark spot at the rear of the body
Crawfish are a favorite meal for many fish, especially bass. To mimic the crawfish appearance effectively, here are some popular color choices based on their natural colors and molting phases:
- Natural Crawfish: Green pumpkin or brown with orange highlights on the belly
- Molting Crawfish: Darker shades of green or brown, occasionally with red or blue accents
When using a crankbait or soft plastic to imitate crawfish, adding some texture or small details like claws can enhance the lure’s effectiveness.
Fish also commonly feed on crustaceans, such as shrimp and crabs. To match the appearance of these forage species, I recommend the following color patterns:
- Shrimp: Transparent or light brown with flecks of pink or orange
- Crabs: Green or brown with mottled patterns of black, white, or light blue
|Forage Type||Lure Color|
|Shad||Silver, white, gray, black, or blue accents|
|Perch||Green, yellow, white, black vertical stripes|
|Bluegill||Blue, green, orange, dark spot at the rear|
|Natural Crawfish||Green pumpkin, brown, orange highlights|
|Molting Crawfish||Dark green, brown, red, or blue accents|
|Shrimp||Transparent, light brown, pink, or orange flecks|
|Crabs||Green, brown, mottled patterns|
By matching the lure colors to the forage species in your fishing area, I increase my chances of success on the water. Remember that it’s always necessary to consider the water clarity and light conditions when selecting lure colors.
Fishing Lure Color Selection Chart for Specific Species
When it comes to bass fishing, it’s essential to select the right lure color that resembles their preferred prey. Here’s a chart showcasing effective lure colors based on water conditions:
|Water Condition||Lure Color|
|Clear Water||Natural (Green, Brown, Blue)|
|Murky Water||Bright (Red, Orange, Chartreuse)|
|Low Visibility||Dark (Black, Junebug, Dark Blue)|
I’ve observed that using natural colors like green, brown, and blue works well in clear water as it matches the surroundings. In murky water conditions, bright colors like red, orange, and chartreuse become more visible to bass. For low visibility scenarios, darker colors such as black, Junebug, and dark blue can create more noticeable silhouettes.
For walleye fishing, mimicking the colors of their natural prey is essential. Here’s a list of effective lure colors based on water conditions and prey type:
- Clear Water
- Perch imitation: Green, yellow, orange
- Minnow imitation: Silver, blue, white
- Murky Water
- Perch imitation: Bright yellow, chartreuse, orange
- Minnow imitation: Gold, fire tiger, bright blue
In clear water, I’d use green, yellow, or orange lures for perch imitations and silver, blue, or white for minnow imitations. In murky conditions, I’d switch to brighter colors like bright yellow, chartreuse, or orange for perch imitations and gold, fire tiger, or bright blue for minnow imitations.
Click here to learn about my picks for the best Walleye Rods
For trout, it’s crucial to choose the right lure colors that imitate their food source. Here’s a list of effective lure colors based on water conditions and prey type:
- Clear Water
- Insects: Brown, black, tan
- Minnows: Silver, white, blue
- Murky Water
- Insects: Dark brown, black, olive
- Minnows: Vibrant pink, fluorescent orange, chartreuse
When fishing for trout in clear water, I’d utilize brown, black, or tan-colored lures for insect imitations and silver, white, or blue for minnow imitations. In murky water conditions, I’d prefer dark brown, black, or olive lures for insect imitations and vibrant pink, fluorescent orange, or chartreuse for minnow imitations.
Click here to learn more about the best times to fish for trout
Lure Color Considerations by Season
During spring, baitfish and other forage species begin to spawn, and predatory fish such as bass become more active in response. In order to match the hatch and increase my chances of success, I consider the following factors in my lure color selection:
- Water Clarity: In clear water, I like to use natural-looking colors such as green, brown, and blue. This increases the lure’s visibility to fish and mimics their natural prey. In murky water, I opt for brighter colors like red or orange, as these are easier for fish to see in low visibility conditions.
- Forage Species: I pay attention to the predominant forage species in my fishing location and choose lure colors that mimic them. For example, if shad are the primary baitfish, I use silver, blue, or white lures. If crawfish are prevalent, I go for browns, oranges, and greens.
Here’s a simple chart to guide my color choices in spring:
|Water Clarity||Lure Colors|
|Clear||Green, Brown, Blue|
As the season changes to fall, water temperatures start to cool down, and fish may become more aggressive as they prepare for the colder months ahead. During this period, I adapt my lure color selection strategy as follows:
- Water Clarity: Just like in spring, I consider water clarity when selecting lure colors for fall. In clear water, I stick to more natural-looking colors, while in murky water, I go for brighter colors that are easier for fish to spot.
- Forage Species: During fall, forage species such as shad and crawfish may change color, and I adjust my lure color choices accordingly. For instance, if crawfish turn a darker shade of brown or red in the fall, I select lures that mimic these colors.
Here’s a chart to help guide my color decisions in fall:
|Water Clarity||Lure Colors|
By keeping these considerations in mind for each season, I can make better decisions about my lure color selection and improve my chances of success on the water.
Selecting Lure Type Based on Color and Contrast
When selecting hard baits like jerk baits, crankbaits, and spinnerbaits, I focus on the color and contrast that will best catch the attention of the fish. In clear water, I choose colors that are natural and earthy, such as browns, greens, and silvers. In stained or dark water, I find that bright colors such as chartreuse, orange, and vivid reds are more effective.
In contrast, I pay attention to the silhouette and shape of the hard baits. A more pronounced and contrasting outline of the bait will make it more visible to the fish. In low-light conditions, I opt for darker colors to create a strong silhouette.
When selecting a topwater lure, such as a frog or a popper, I look for colors and movement that will attract fish. In this case, it’s crucial to consider the water conditions and the forage available.
- Clear Water: Earthy and natural colors like white, green, pumpkin, and watermelon are recommended.
- Stained or Dark Water: Bright colors like chartreuse, bright orange, and vivid reds work best.
- Murky or Cloudy Water: Fluorescent colors like super bright pinks, aqua, yellow, or lime can be more effective.
Regarding movement, I look for topwater lures that mimic the swimming patterns of local forage. In some cases, a contrasting or exaggerated movement can also provoke a reaction strike from the fish.
Finesse techniques are more subtle and require a different approach to color and contrast. When selecting a soft plastic lure for finesse fishing, I take into consideration the natural forage colors and patterns in the area. The goal is to closely mimic the natural prey of the fish.
In clear water, I would choose a translucent or pale-colored lure to blend in with the surrounding environment. In murkier water, darker colors like blue, black, or Junebug can be effective, as they create a strong contrast and are easily visible to the fish. Finally, in stained, dark, or cloudy water, consider incorporating a touch of fluorescent color for better visibility.
Remember, don’t be afraid to experiment with different colors and contrasts to see what works best in a specific location. Every fishing situation is unique, and adapting your lure selection accordingly can greatly improve your success on the water.