Frugal Angler: Culling colors

Greg Hackney
Greg Hackney

I'm going to start this article by saying something radical: We have a tendency to make bass fishing too complicated. We like to think it's hard. In truth it's really pretty simple. Fish the right places with the right baits and you'll catch bass.

First, we should always keep in mind that we need to fish where the fish are. No lure, regardless of color, style, size or shape will catch a bass if he isn't there. Obvious? Maybe, but too many of us forget this simple fact.

After that — even if he is there — we need to throw the right size bait, with the right wiggle, at the right depth and angle, as well as the right speed. Those factors are far more important than color. Again, too many of us forget that, or don't want to believe it.

I know you hear about fish being color sensitive. There's no doubt that there are times when they are. But those times are far outweighed by the times they are not. Spend your money fishing, learning to find fish and catch them instead of buying 10 or 12 colors of every lure made. You'll be better off.

At this point it won't surprise you to learn that when it comes to color, I'm a pretty simple guy. At most I'll carry six colors of various lures in my boat. That'll cover me for all the fishing I do, and I fish the Bassmaster Elite Series. For most recreational anglers, I'd say two will get the job done — one for dark conditions and one for light conditions.

My definition of those two conditions is equally simple. Consider water clarity and the ambient light. Then make a judgment. Some situations are obvious, others not so much. Clear water with a bright sky or muddy water during a storm are no-brainers.

On the other hand clear water with black clouds overhead probably falls into the dark conditions category. Dingy water under a bright midday sun might very well qualify as light. Experience will be your best teacher, here. There's no substitute for time on the water.

I fish exclusively with Strike King lures. They're the best, and they're reasonably priced. Without a doubt they'll give you the most bang for your buck. But that's not because they have the best colors (although I think they do). It's because they have the best baits.

My two basic hard bait colors are Sexy Shad and Chartreuse Powder Blue Back. I can switch them around depending upon conditions and catch bass just about anywhere if I'm fishing right. If I'm fishing wrong, all the Sexy Shad crankbaits in the world won't help me.

My thinking on plastics isn't much different. Don't make your life difficult. Don't make fishing hard. A couple of colors will do you just fine. My choices would be Green Pumpkin and Black Neon. With those two colors I'm good anywhere I go.

The colors I've given you are my choices. I'm sure that other anglers would pick something different. We'll all have one thing in common, however. We think light and dark. Why waste your fishing dollars? Buy basic colors, and then learn to fish them right. You'll be a better angler for it. 

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