Can Bass See Color? – by Steven VonBrandt
This is a topic that comes up many times when discussing bass lures, and the proper colors to use. Biologists know that bass can see colors, and they probably can see red and green better than a human. Bass also have better visual acuity, which helps them during daylight and the darker periods of the day near dusk. Although there has been much written about how bass use their lateral line and sense of smell when feeding, their eyes are still their most vital sensory organ.
LURE COLOR AND WATER CLARITY
The clarity of the water is a key factor in determining what color lure to use. In clear water, that is les than five feet deep, bass can see colors extremely well. In these conditions lures that mimic the baitfish available, such as spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, and crankbaits, should be used in silver and gold finishes. The silver and gold flashing more closely resembles a baitfish in this type of water, and as they wobble, and flash, they attract bass from long distances.
When you are using lures such as jigs, tubes, worms, or anything that is designed to resemble a crawfish or an eel, then the best colors would be a subtle green or brown in the clear waters. In stained water, which is what we have the most of here in the Northeast, that is water with a visibility of around one to three feet), different colors may come into play. Brighter colors such as firetiger, charteuse, citrus shad are better producers here. In muddy water, (that is water that has a visibility of one foot or less), dark colors produce the best. Bass will hit on crawfish patterned crankbaits, brown jigs with orange trailers, black and blue plastics, etc.
SKY CONDITIONS AND COLOR
Many people don’t pay enough attention to the sky conditions during the day. The changing conditions of the sky dictate what color you should be using.
When fishing minnow type lures, keep in mind that shiny colors like silver and gold loose their effectiveness under heavy cloud cover. In clear water, silver or gold can be rendered nearly invisible when the sun goes behind the clouds, because they reflect the grayness around them instead of the sunlight. When this happens we always switch to a bone or a pearl-white color. Jigs, Creature baits, and other bottom type lures can be hard for bass to see under dark skies. When this happens we use the same browns and blacks that we use in the muddier water, even if the water is clear, but it has become cloudy or very dark.
Chartreuse is another excellent color when its cloudy. We found that Chartreuse is more effective on small lures such as grubs and small crankbaits. We just use it as a secondary color on the larger baits in these conditions. Just the right amount of a bright color such as orange or chartreuse can attract bass, just as too much of a bright color can sometimes turn them off! The best thing to do as a rule is to add bright colors to the baits a little at a time until you determine what the bass want. Once, in Virginia, the bass absolutely wouldn’t hit any lig you had unless it had a small fleck of Chartreuse on the trailer. Too much and they ignored it.
ADD FLASH WITH FLAKES
There are many soft plastics that come with different flakes built it. A Yamamoto “IKA” tube in smoke , is a good example. This worked extremely well for us this year in all the rivers and lakes where there were a lot of shad, and the “Sweet Beaver” worked well also, but seemed much better than the Kreature on several occasions when there were not as many shad but more crawfish in the areas we sampled.
Flake colors usually work best when it is sunny in clear to stained water. On cloudy days, or in muddy water, try using different plastics with black flakes, or pepper, mixed in for contrast. There are many other color combinations that work well in various waters all over the country, but if you learn these simple basic techniques for color matching you can’t go wrong.
Source: Can Bass See Colour?