Aren’t fish color blind? Or maybe I am confusing them with another outdoor creature. You certainly wouldn’t think that I believe that if you were to take a look in my boat and see the myriad of baits nestled away in their respective compartments.
In order for an animal to see color they must have cones in their eyes to sense colors. The more cones the more colors they can see. Catfish don’t have these cones and can only see light and dark, however other gamefish can have up to 5 different cones.
But I digress. There is just about every different style of bait under the sun packed away neatly in little bins and containers throughout my basement, garage and boat. I tend to think that I have become some type of fishing hoarder.
There are boxes and boxes of baits hanging on the wall or inside of organizers and the one thing they all have in common is that where there is one you are sure to find at least a second one in the same color. You just never know when you are going to have a day when that “one” color is going to be the hot bait for the day and heaven forbid you lose it to a log or rock.
Colors are, in my opinion, key when it comes to catching fish. In fact I am a believer that color matters much more than painted on eyes or fish scales. The approach that I have started to take that it is a color versus pattern argument. This is a different way to look at it.
A bait doesn’t have to look like a fish to catch fish, but it does need to create a presence in the water that will make the fish bite. This is where color comes into play. The color gives the bait a different profile or appearance in the water. It can make the bait really stand out when the water is discolored or when the water is especially clear as well.
Sure, the action, vibration, noise, and profile of a bait are all very important to being productive or not. However, you can have all the right pieces of the puzzle put together, but that one little piece of the color variable might not be quite right and you will not be catching fish.
A great way that this color theory has proven is when trolling for salmon on Lake Michigan. I can have 6 different trolling spoons in the water at the same time and they can all be by the same manufacture and have similar patterns on them, but there will always be one spoon that has that right color combination that is catching fish. Sure enough as I change out another spoon to the same colors that spoon too will be a top producer.
Is this solid evidence to prove my theories right? Not really, but I have the right to believe what I want to believe and would be happy to put anyone up to the challenge of proving me wrong.
Now let’s flip this around a bit and get a bit deeper into the color debate. How about those red hooks? You know they catch more fish right? I say this with tongue in cheek as this is where my color theory takes a dramatic turn and flips the other way.
Personally, red hooks don’t make any difference on a bait. I do know the science behind the red hooks and how at shallow depths they are supposed to look like a bleeding fish and at deeper depths the red color will disappear, however this is not enough for me to change all the hooks I own to red hooks.
Now don’t get me wrong, it is not just color that can draw my attention to a particular bait. Patterns on the baits can certainly change the way a bait presents itself both under the water and out of the water, but I am of the opinion that the color is number one priority, and the pattern comes in as a close second.
Fishing is not an exact science and too often people tend to take it a bit too seriously. There have been huge debates over topics such as the red hooks vs. non-red hooks and they are really never resolved. Why would you waste your time arguing over a silly point like this when you could be out on the water fishing instead?
In the long run the essential item to keep in mind is what works best for you. If you are catching fish then don’t change. Keep doing what you are doing and don’t let others push you into changing the way you fish. Every fisherman has their own opinion, and who is to say that theirs is right or not?
I will be the first to admit that the way I fish may be completely opposite of the way the majority of others fish, but it works for me then there is no way that I will change. If it isn’t broke then don’t fix it. Fish how you want to fish and someone doesn’t agree, well, then let them learn the hard way.
Companies make millions every year because they had a magic color bait that won a major event. Remember when “sexy shad” was the must have color? There may be fads every year and the trends will come and go, but the main thing to keep in mind is to stay true to how you fish and you will continue to be successful.
If you are struggling to catch fish then it is time to evaluate what you are doing and think about what you can change. Colors of your baits may just be one of them and don’t let that take you by surprise. We can all use a little change and don’t be afraid to mix it up a little.