Does lure color really matter? By Crazy Alberto Knie

By Crazy Alberto Knie

Does lure color really matter?  In my opinion, it all depends on the type of fish you are targeting.  Since majority of the folks here target our beloved Stripers – Here’s what I have to say about it.


Contrary to some scientific beliefs and other related researchers – I had to find out for myself and experiment different cases for myself. Not because I want to ruffle their feathers but that’s how I am programmed, and to fulfill my curiosity.  Through my findings, color does matter because I’ve encountered first hand occasions where finicky fish were selective.  Obviously there are many factors to consider and I’ve logged enough information to confirm my finding.  I find dark nights – dark color lures works better and during the bright nights, the bright color works.  However, it does not mean that is the golden rule. I’ve also have taken to consideration the water salinity and my fishing surroundings which also conclude variables. What I mean by this is simple… if you were to fish in the darkest of nights near an artificial lighting (street light or bridge light reflection), you have to take that for consideration. Under those circumstances – I tend to go with the natural baitfish patterns. For example, if there were menhaden in the vicinity, I would use patterns such as Olive back / Green and white belly.  If there were herring or shad around, I tend to go with slight olive back / silvery color with white belly. In the cold seasons when mackerel lurks, I will go green back, yellow side with white belly…   I think you get the drift what I am talking about. 


Now let’s take another interesting scenario case…  What do you do when the water is cloudy or chocolate like?  Do you go dark? Well, let’s cut through the chase, and let me tell you what works (at least for me). I use chartreuse! I don’t understand it, don’t know why, but for some reason or another, it works! I’ve used the color black to get the silhouette and it didn’t work… The chartreuse color in not a natural color and I’ve never seen it in any baitfish… but my goodness, it works like magic!


With all this done and said, you would think this is to be some kind of breakthrough and a good foundation…but guess what? It works, but not all the time. I’ve had some memorable skunky days where nothing seemed to work, and had to resort to the dark side (fresh chunk) to educate those finicky and elusive critters. Yes, I do that when the water is extremely dirty and rely on their sense of smell (instead of eyesight and lateral line usage). I am not going to dwell too much on this – perhaps on another blog. Why? Because there is actually a science to chunking!


Getting back to the color subject, I’ve been educated by some close friends who just started surfcasting and they were out fishing me 4 to 1. Yes, from time to time, it happens to the best of us and some days you just don’t have your mojo.  Perhaps I woke up on the other side of the bed or ate a banana pie or something…. but the fact is, if anyone tells you it never happened to them… be sure to stay clear of them.  I mean it! Well, anyway, my friend was giggling and having the night of his life because he was out-fishing me. I observed attentively and I asked myself, what he was doing differently and perhaps he was hitting a new found pocket or perhaps he stepped on some good dog poo.  Whatever it was, I needed to find out, and I did. He was casting a different color pattern to which I didn’t have. He said… “There were some kind of baitfish that resembled peanut bunker and porgies on the other day and he hand tied it”. I suspected it was a baitfish called Lafayette or spot… but whatever it was… he was spanking those fish with a custom bucktail with a hint of olive, turquoise, white belly and yellow curly tail.  It really got my goat and I casted everything I had that could possibly resemble that…but came up fruitless. Just before the prime tide ended, my buddy felt sorry for this old salt and gave me one of his customs, and before my bucktail could hit the bottom… the immediate slack of my line with the pronounced “bump” …. I immediately set the hook on a decent fish.  We were both side to side with fish on, our rods doubled over on consecutive casts! With the few left minutes into the tide, I needed to do something to validate why this was happening. I unclipped his custom bucktail and put it on my TA Assault pouch and switched to my reliable lure only to find out it didn’t work.  Those fish were zoned into a very specific color, and with anything else was like fishing in a barren sea. With another three casts left into the tide… I clipped back his custom, and had two fish on immediately… and it confirmed my curiosity.


In conclusion, I find it very important to pay close attention to the baitfish color spectrum and matching the hatch does matter. It can make it or break you. At the same token, it pays to work on contrast and explore vibrant colors.  After reading all this, what do you think about colors?  What’s your experience? 


16 comments on “Does lure color really matter? By Crazy Alberto Knie

  1. emgred

    Yes, there are times when color makes all the difference in the world. I have see and been involved with that scenario many times. BUT (IMHO) that kind of situation only happens one time in ten. For the most part profile, action, and where in the water column will trump color.

  2. Greg Cudnik

    Thanks Al for the good read! I agree color matters. I had plenty if experiences for what ever reason where fish were keyed in on one and wouldn’t touch another. I also agree with the high vis chart in dirty water. Spooning bass in the boat proved to me that chart is a much have and always in my bag.

  3. Jarlath Crowe

    You will observe that fluorescent green explodes brightly in deep water if you dive down 30 feet. I get my paint at Moore Art stores, where they are sold as poster paint to be used under black lights. All my treated 3 oz tin lures to be used at the CC Canal fishing pier gets the other guys mad. I have not had luck with other fluorescent colors, so let me know if you have better luck. I would like to know what other colors works at 10′ depth in night fishing.

    Perhaps I will paint a fluorescent line on underside of the darter and see which color works in the shallow depth.

  4. Tito Alas

    What do you think about the best conditions for woodpecker color lure,red headed-white bodied.Light conditions,water color,bait presence?Some suggestions for snooks and snappers from surf?
    Thanks in advance and regards from El Salvador,pacific shore in Central America.

  5. Gene

    Thanks, Al, for your usual sharing of information. On the bay side at night several weeks ago, I was watching guys catch blues consistently. I asked questions and they responded with what they were using (sp burple minnow) which I happened to have. I continued to watch the retrieve (slow with a little twitch) AND, by golly, I was catching also. It does pay to ask AND watch. Sometimes, people will not be forthcoming.

    Happy holiday to you and all

  6. lifeguard

    I do think color matters, sometimes especially contrast, but also I think there is to many variables in different situations to just come down to color. But there are those times you just scratch your head or bang it ! Great post and read Al. Keep’em coming ! Thanks


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