to industry articles, most fish are capable of seeing most of the primary
colors in the spectrum. Unfortunately, we don't know what the fish associate
with those colors when they see them. Do they think it's food? Or maybe
an enemy? We're not sure, but we do know that color can make the difference
between a monster catch and a embarrassing day on the lake.
Coloring a Soft Plastic
Soft plastic lures can be colored in a variety of ways, the most common
of which involves mixing liquid dye into the plastic prior to molding.
Unfortunately, this technique limits the number of multicolor lures that
can be produced in a given time frame because it requires preparing multiple
batches of colored plastic and sequentially layering them within the mold.
To avoid this delay, many commercial soft plastic manufacturers have started
"printing" lures. This process involves producing a single color
lure (usually clear) and then applying a finishing coat of color to produce
a multicolored pattern. After the pattern coat is applied, the lure is
given a final thin clear coat of plastic to seal it.
Different Fish See Different Colors
In order to see color, a fish needs to have at least two cone cell
types in its eyes. Bottom-dwelling fish (i.e. catfish) have only one type
of cone cell so they see everything in shades of gray - they can determine
an object's brightness, but not its color. Many shallow water surface-fish
(i.e. trout, minnows, carp) have four cone cell types, allowing them to
see all colors, including the hidden ones in the ultraviolet spectrum.
Other fish such as the bluegill and the bass have two cone cell types,
limiting their color distinctions to black, browns, greens and reds (and
possibly yellows for the bass). Although most of these fish can discriminate
between very fine shades of the colors they can see, this ability has
no effect on what they select for food - a fish will be equally excited
by a red lure and a tomato lure.
there is no chart explaining the color viewing capabilities for each species
of fish. With this is mind, it is best to make color selections based
on color contrast rather than actual colors. For instance, pick a lure
with two colors that would appear differently, regardless of their actual
color. Here is an example of how a some fish might see a blue and red
lure - notice the color contrast exists in all three views:
Color Filtration in Water
Water filters light. And since all color is actually colored light, water
will filter colors. Certain colors cannot be seen below certain depths
because light is broken apart when it hits the water and certain wavelengths
(colors) are filtered out. The severity of this filter depends on the
clarity of the water, wind conditions, time of day and lure depth; dirty
water, high winds, deep water, and evening hours mean fewer colors. To
understand these effects, we must first understand the relationship between
light and water.
The colors of the spectrum (the colors of light) are Red, Orange, Yellow,
Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet. A mixture of all of these colors produces
white. If an angler were to stand in the center of a very deep lake and
shine a bright light into it, the colors within the light beam would gradually
disappear as it traveled toward the bottom. At 10 feet, red is almost
gone, orange is disappearing, and yellow is starting to fade away. At
35 feet, orange is gone, and yellow is quickly disappearing. At 75 feet,
yellow looks greenish-blue and the only visible colors are blue, indigo
and violet. As we pass 150 feet, blue and indigo are hard to see and violet
is disappearing. At a few hundred feet, ultraviolet is the only color
left, and it is not visible to the human eye anyway.
Neon colors, however, do not disappear when the spectrum colors do. This
is because they "fluoresce", meaning that they glow when hit
by ultraviolet light. We have heard reports of brightly visible fluorescent
pink and yellow colors at depths of 125 feet and deeper!
Keep in mind, however, that these water color filtration rates assume
that the water is crystal clear. Pollutants, sediment, and wind can drastically
affect these numbers by rearranging the filtration order and decreasing
the overall depths of all colors. Under these circumstances, red-orange
seems to be the most visible, assuming that your lure depth is not greater
than 20 feet. That said, here are some tips from anglers on how to pick
Super Clear: White or clear. Use glitter for color. All colors
are visible to 10 feet.
Clear Water: Blue is most visible. White is visible. All colors are
slightly visible to 10 feet.
Green Water: Green is most visible.
Water: Orange, green, and chartreuse are most visible. Red is slightly
Muddy Water: Red is most visible.
Here are some additional suggestions to help with low light (first light
until sunup), medium light (sunup until the sun reaches 20 degrees to
the horizon), and high light (from 20 degrees to the opposite horizon)
Low Light: Blue, purple or black work best. Use with silver flash.
Light: Red and orange work best.
High Light: Brown or gray work best. Use with fluorescent accents.
NOTE: When the light level falls below 0.1 foot candle (clear night, no
moon), all colors become just shades of gray and cannot be seen by the