I think most of us have got our heads around colour choice by now. You know, naturals in clear conditions, brights and darks in murky water or low light. That kind of thing. But somewhere along the line I've realised that the size of lure can have quite a big impact on what colour works best in any given conditions.
As ever with fishing, it feels like lure colour choice isn't always a simple black and white decision (no pun intended).
To help me illustrate this, let's simplify things. Hopefully most of you agree that the clearer the water conditions, the more natural the winning colour scheme tends to be. Yes, I know there's an argument for bright lures triggering a reaction-bite, but let's keep it simple. And hopefully you'll continue to agree that as the water clarity gets worse and the visibility reduces, lures need to be progressively brighter, or darker to remain visible to the fish in your swim. A matter of contrast.
I've been happy with that approach for... well, forever. But more recently my habits have been adapted by duties, like lure testing. If you think about it, it's an unnatural scenario. Sometimes I'm no longer relying on gut feel for lure choice, I'm using a lure that's been given to me to test. As in, someone else is indirectly choosing my lures. And with prototypes, you don't always get the choice of colours that suit the water conditions you're given. So quite regularly, I find myself on the bank rigging a lure that does nothing for my confidence. Perhaps a bright, chartreuse lure when I have crystal clear water. This has happened quite a lot over the past year. However unexpectedly, the results haven't always lived up to my pessimism.
I should elaborate. The majority of my lure fishing is with lures measuring two inches or under. Test conditions are normally a pretty standard canal where a good amount of light and colour exists through the entire depth. I've always been happy with the natural-for-clear, light/dark-for-murky approach to colour choice, however I'm starting to realise that smaller lures have far more scope in the workable colour range. Or in other words, a smaller lure can afford to be much brighter than we might expect, without becoming too 'busy' to trick a fish into biting.
Once I realised this, I naturally started to wonder if a lure with a higher degree of contrast actually offers a tangible benefit. Because if we're accepting that it's hard for a tiny lure to be 'too obvious', then of course there must be benefits to a lure being more easily seen. I expect that the effect we're talking about here is a lure's ability to bring in fish from some distance. In reality, increasing the number of unseen targets available to us, every cast. I hold on to the notion that water clarity is the condition that affects a lures ability to draw in fish over distance. For example, in clear conditions a standard Ayu coloured lure might attract fish in over a distance of 6 feet. But in the foulest of water clarity, that same lure might need to be only a couple of inches away from a fish to trigger any attention.
This is by no means a thorough explanation of lure colour choice. I'm still learning. We've ignored the available light on any given day. We've ignored vibration and lure profile altogether. But I feel there's something in what I've highlighted here. In fact it may be obvious to you. However, I really hope I've helped someone to think about their choices and perhaps highlighted why, in the quest to learn, we shouldn't always reach for that favourite lure.
Feel free to share your observations and opinions below.