One thing I struggled with for a long time while bass fishing is knowing what color to use to “krak” a few bass. I’ve narrowed my color selection down to a few basic elements, and it seems to have worked for me. Here is my algorithm to help decide on the best colors for bass fishing. Hopefully this will help you have more confidence in the color you are using.
The Best Colors for Bass Fishing
Selecting the right color can be a critical component of bass fishing. I’ve been in the boat several times with others having the exact same bait on in a different color, and not doing as well. I’ve found it valuable to switch things up occasionally and try different colors. Here are my 4 basic rules of thumb to help find the best color for your bait to get more bites.
1. Weather :
Weather affects water visibility dramatically. Clouds can decrease the sunlight that hits the water, and the wind creates waves to break up the amount of light penetration. On windy days or cloudy days, sometimes it’s important to get a little flash on your bait. I’ll try white, chartreuse, and anything with a silver or gold blade to help entice some strikes. I’ve found the brighter colors work better in low light conditions.
2. Water Clarity:
Visibility changes dramatically with clear water or muddy water. A bass just can’t see as far in stained water, as he can in clear water. Here are my favorite colors in the three different types of water clarity of clear, stained, and muddy.
Clear Water: (Visibility greater than 6 feet)
Most of the places I fish have clear water. My rule for clear water color selection is to look at what color the bottom of the lake looks like. Most bait fish, and forage blend in with there surroundings. Lake bottoms typically match the color of the forage. Good clear water colors are green pumpkin, baby bass, ayu, bluegill colors, and watermelon.
Stained Water: (Visibility between 3 – 6 feet)
This is my favorite water clarity. I feel like bass love to stage in stained water wherever it can be found. My rule of thumb for stained water is the same as with clear water. Match the color of the bottom of the lake, but add a little flake in your baits. I feel a little flash helps draw strikes with limited visibility. My favorites are green pumpkin purple flake, watermelon with red flake, and smoke with purple or red flake.
Muddy Water: (Visibility less than 3 feet)
Dirty water limits visibility drastacilly, so I use stark contrasting colors. Baits that are black, red, white, or chartreuse are a good option when you are in the mud. I like to use white, red, and chartreuse on moving baits like crankbaits and spinnerbaits. When slowing down in dirty water, I like black for jigs and other soft plastics. Sometimes a hint of blue or red flake is a good idea as well.
3. Water Temperature:
I’ve found water temperature can also play a roll in what color’s to use. I’ve notice forage, such as baitfish and crawdads, have different color patterns at different times of the year. When the water is cold use dark colors like black, or black and blue. Then when it warms up use living colors such as brown, green, and smoke gray.
4. Water Forage –
This is probably the best rule for choosing bait colors, and you here this from fly fisherman all the time “match the hatch.” Find out what type of forage the bass are preying on whether it’s shad, crayfish, bluegill, and use colors that are similar. My favorite colors for imitating shad and bait fish are the popular japanese colors of Ayu and Wakasagi. Use green pumpkin, or gray smoke baits when trying to key on a crayfish bite. If you are trying to imitate bluegill, try using green pumpkin colors with a splash of chartreuse and purple.
I hope this will help you the next time you are on the water find the best colors for bass fishing. Try using this logic, and see if it helps you spend less time switching colors and “Kraken” more bass! Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog for more great posts on tips to help you get “Kraken” bass. Also, leave a comment about your favorite colors, and when you like to throw them. I’d love to hear what colors you like.
I have had good luck with purple in the NW, especially purple spinnerbaits (I have to make my own when I can find good purple skirts), I fish a lot of muddy water, so always carry a bunch of junebug and black/blue baits. White is a good color in about any water clarity. I am still trying to find the best colors for western bass, so your posts on the subject are greatly appreciated.
I’ve had good success with pink and purple as well. There aren’t many baits in those colors, so I could see how it would be beneficial to make your own. Good thoughts! Thanks!
Great article colors can really make or break your turn out!
It’s amazing how much a difference it can sometimes make. Thanks!
Hey JB, what lake in Utah do you think holds the biggest bass? I’ve been fishing up north, Pineview and Mantua mostly. I’ve read your posts and seen the pictures from sand hollow and am going there in the late spring. But bass fishing here seems few and far between so I want to target some pigs this year. Thanks for everything man! You ever make it up north again let me know, I’ve got a bass boat and know a few spots for some good smallies at Pineview
Consistently Quail Creek Reservoir is your best chance for a 7 plus pounder. Next on my list would be Gunlock Reservoir. It only is open to boats for a short period through the year, and only on weekends. There is tons of forage in that lake to get those bass big. Anytime you want to go, give me a holler! Thanks for the offer!
Looks like you hit all of the high points!! Nice job explaining!!