One of the keys to winter bass fishing success is fishing with the right lure colors and patterns that best imitate the natural forage found at your body of water during the winter fishing season.
In the winter, the best lure and bait colors to use for bass will depend on the water clarity and natural forage. If the water clarity is clear, natural color tones like brown, green pumpkin and ghost patterns are best. If the water is murky, black and blue or bright colored hard baits will outperform other colors.
In this winter bass fishing lure guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about selecting the best winter bass fishing colors based on the different conditions you’ll face. This article will end up saving you time, money and most of all help you catch more bass this winter.
Let’s get started.
Best Winter Bass Fishing Colors
One thing that I’ve realized over the years while fishing for bass in the winter is how important the color is on your baits and lures. At times winter bites can be hard to come by and having the right color tied on can dramatically increase your odds of catching more fish.
So what are the best colors to use during the winter? In my experience the best wintertime bass fishing colors to use are green pumpkin with black flake, smoke colors, natural shad/minnows, and black and blue.
With that being said, my lure and bait color selection will depend on water clarity, type of lure, light penetration and available forage in the body of water I’m fishing.
Let’s discuss each of these categories.
Best Winter Colors by Water Clarity
Perhaps one of the most important factors that will help you determine what lure color to use is water clarity. In the winter, the water is often clear making natural tones and color patterns my ideal choice. In clear water I like using green pumpkin soft plastics and ghost or clear based hard baits. These colors look more natural to any nearby bass and will help you get more strikes.
In stained and dirty water, I like using black and blue based colors for jigs and soft plastics and bright and bold colors for my hard baits. When the water is really murky I’ll throw baits with rattles or that displace water. The extra noises and vibrations will help nearby fish better locate your lure.
I’ve put together the following info graphic chart that will help you select the right color in each condition you may face.
Best Winter Colors by Lure
Here is a breakdown of some of the most popular winter time bass fishing lures and what colors I’d recommend using for each.
A jig is a winter time staple that should be in any anglers lineup during the colder months. In clear water, I love throwing a brown jig paired with a green pumpkin trailer with black flakes. I’ll also mix in brown and purple or green pumpkin and purple colors. When the water is stained or murky, I’ll switch to the tried and true black and blue jig paired with either a black and blue trailer or a green pumpkin trailer.
Best Winter Jig Colors
- Brown & Purple
- Green Pupkin
- Black & Blue
When fishing with hard baits in the winter the best colors to use are ghost and natural colors. The water is often very clear in the winter and the more natural ghost colors will get you more bites. If you do find yourself in a situation where the water is murky I like to throw hard baits that have more of a solid color. This will help the bait stand out in where there is less water clarity.
Best Winter Hard Bait Lure Colors
- Natural Shad
- Ghost Red (Late winter/early spring)
If you have experienced bass fishing in the winter you know the water clarity becomes super clear on most bodies of water. The clearer the water the better the bass can see and the more important it is to match the hatch and throw natural looking color patterns.
When throwing swimbaits in the winter I like lean on colors like natural shad colors, rainbow trout patterns or other colors that closely resemble natural bass forage
Best Swimbait Lure Colors
- Natural shad patterns
- Baitfish colors
- Rainbow trout
Make sure to check out My Recommended Bass Fishing Gear and Tackle Guide to ensure you have the right gear for your next fishing adventure.
Exceptions to the Rule
As we all know, fish don’t always play by the rule book and act exactly how we think they will in each situation. Through experimentation, I’ve learned there are three lure colors that always seem to work regardless of the condition. I wish I could tell you why they work, but all I know is they flat out catch fish.
Here are three bass fishing lure colors that work anywhere in the country and during any condition
Bass love pink worms. When the fishing is tough and I need a bite I’ll turn to a pink worm like the morning dawn color by robo worm. It’s even better if the pink worm is tipped with a chartreuse tail. Why does it work? Who knows. What I do know is that this color is a flat out fish catcher and should be used in the winter.
Another great off the wall color that can be super productive during the winter and throughout the year is purple. A purple worm is hard to beat and often gets overlooked by many anglers fishing in the winter. The next time you head out try using a purple worm or trailer. They work.
Chartreuse & Blue
Perhaps my favorite color exception to the guidelines I’ve explained is chartreuse and blue. Smallmouth, Largemouth and Spots all seem to love these colors. There is something about this color combination that just works. It’s an extremely versatile color that works in clear water and stained water and will catch all bass species.
How to Select the Right Wintertime Color
When deciding on what color of bait or lure you should choose there are three important factors that you should consider. Water clarity, light penetration and available forage. The combination of these three things should guide you and can help you determine what color to select.
The water clarity on the body of water you are fishing at can be a big factor. If you are bass fishing in the summer when the water is clear, natural colors that closely resemble bait fish tend to work best. Colors like green pumpkin and brown are great options.
On the other hand, if you are fishing in stained or muddy water dark and bright color patterns will help allow the bass to better see your bait and help it stand out. Colors like black & blue, junebug, white/chartreuse will be excellent options in these conditions.
The light or lack thereof is another factor to consider and can play a big role on what colors you should throw. When the sun is high and there is a lot of light penetrating through the water chrome and lures that give off flash or sparkle are great options.
The sun will reflect off your lure much like it would as it deflects off a fish grabbing the attention of any nearby bass. One of my favorite soft plastic colors in these situations is watermelon red or purple. They still have a natural look but have an added flash to them making it hard for any nearby bass to resist.
Another important factor is the type of forage your bass have available to them in your water. If you are in a fishery where the bass are known for eating bluegill or trout. Throw baits and colors that closely resemble bluegill and trout. On the other hand, if shad are the bass main forage, throw shad style patterns. Matching the hatch is a great way to choose colors and will result in more success.
For more in-depth information check out: How to Choose the Right Bass Fishing Colors
Winter bass fishing can still be a great time to catch fish. Adapting the color of lures and baits you have tied on based on the fishing conditions you face will save you a ton of money and will allow you to catch more wintertime bass.
Now go out and apply what you have learned in this bass fishing color guide and go catch some fish. Best of luck out there.