If you take a look at an online tackle store, walk the aisles of your local bait shop, or even take a peek at the baits in your tackle box you will likely see a rainbow of colors for soft plastic lures. There are shades and hues to match just about any bass fishing situation. Knowing when to use each color often comes down to the conditions for that day. Once you know these tips, you'll won't need to hope you're lucky the next time you reach into your tackle box.
Here is an easy to guide to picking the right colors.
Two Go-To Colors
The two most common soft-plastic colors used to catch bass across the country are Watermelon (and those including various flake colors) and Green Pumpkin. These colors are proven and work in a wide range of different fishing conditions. One thing that makes them so useful is that they imitate bluegill, crawfish, small bass, and other common forage for bass. They are natural colors and work well in clear water as well as slightly stained water.
If you were only to pick two colors to match most situations, go with Green Pumpkin and one of the many Watermelon hues available. Each angler should have a collection of baits in these shades.
When fishing waters with gin clear water, your soft plastic color can matter more than any other situation. Western waters are known for their extreme clarity, and because of this, they are recognized for being the birthplace or hand poured finesse worms with intricate color designs.
If your local waters are clear, try translucent colors and those with realistic patterns, as they do matter in these conditions. If you are fishing clear water, choose colors that closely match the forage and also select baits that have realistic shapes to better imitate what bass are eating.
When fishing muddy water or tannic colored water in places like Florida, a dark color is often the way to go as they stand out and allow the bass to locate your bait. Colors like black with blue flake, Junebug, and solid black are excellent choices for these conditions.
These colors also shine in lowlight conditions like early in the morning and right before it gets dark. It sounds counterproductive, but darker colors also stand out better in lowlight conditions. Just because your water is muddy or tannic, don’t rule out these shades as they are known to work in clear water as well.
There are times when unnatural colors like chartreuse or pink are an excellent choice for plastics, and it often comes to water clarity as they stand out in all situations. These colors also work well for smallmouth bass that at times prefer these colors as it appeals to their aggressive instincts. Another plus to bright colors is giving the bass a different look than what most anglers are fishing.
Soft Plastic Flakes
Many of the most popular soft plastics come in shades with different flakes. Watermelon or Green Pumpkin with blue, red, black, and purple flake is available. There are days when these can make a big difference, and the flash provided can imitate different forage and change the appearance of your presentation.
When imitating shad, silver flake is a good choice as bass are conditioned to seeing glittering and shining from the small baitfish. For bass keyed on crawfish, a red flake may be your best bet.
Another option for soft plastic lures is those with laminate color patterns. They have multiple colors molded into the bait. These allow for a unique look and can imitate baitfish that naturally have darker shades near their back and lighter colors near their belly.
One of the easiest ways to change the appearance of your soft baits is to add some color by using dye or marker pens. Adding chartreuse or orange to the tips of your bait can match the appearance of small baitfish like bluegill and perch.
Changing the colors also helps the bait to stand out in dirtier water and gives the bass something to zone in on as they prepare to attack your lure.
By having a selection of colors in each of these categories, you will have something for any situation you are faced with the next time you hit the water. Use go-to colors like Green Pumpkin and Watermelon, but don’t be afraid to try something new as you search for that next “magic color” that works great for you.