Adding orange to bass lures

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All photos Alan McGuckin
Elite Greg Hackney with an orange tip tube.

Crayfish, mudbugs, yabbies, crawdads – call ‘em what you want – there are more than 300 different species of them in North America, and their bodies range in color from red to olive green, and even blue. 

But it’s the tiny bit of bright orange on the very tips of their large "pinchers" (chelipeds) that have become a minor obsession for anglers like 2014 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Greg Hackney, and other avid anglers like myself.

The orange highlights on many of their pinchers make these freshwater lobster species look like they’re fresh from a $30 manicure at the local nail salon.

Trying to replicate this naturally fashionable color scheme includes the use of paints and dyes on soft plastics, as well as custom painting crankbaits – because we’re absolutely convinced that adding a tiny touch of bright orange generates more bites. 

The science behind our thinking

“For whatever reason, orange seems to be the color Mother Nature chose to dot the tips of the pinchers, which likely serves as an advantage as they seek one another for reproduction, and also a warning color for predator fish to ‘stay away’ – but somewhat unfortunate for the crawfish, the contrasting orange also helps bass to find them even in off colored water,” explains Gene Gilliland, B.A.S.S. Director of Conservation, who is also a passionate bass angler.