How to Choose the Right Bass Fishing Colors

One of the most common fishing mistakes that I see new anglers make is that they don’t understand what the right color of lures or bait they should choose in the different fishing conditions that they are faced with.

Not having the right color tied on can be a costly mistake and can be the difference between having a great day out on the water and coming up empty handed.

Understanding when and why to fish with a particular color can have a huge impact in your success and will dramatically increase your chances at catching fish and will save you a lot of time, headache and money.

So, how do you know what color of lure to choose and which colors will work best? To help you answer this question I have put together this bass fishing color guide to help fish with the right bass fishing colors at the right time.

Bass Fishing Color Guide

There are three main factors that every angler should think about before deciding on what color of bait or lure they should choose: light penetration, water clarity and preferred bass forage. Let’s look at these three components more closely and describe how they affect us as anglers.

Light Penetration

Light penetration is simply the amount of light or sun rays that can move through the water. On bright sunny days you’ll have more light penetrating the water. On the other hand, on cloudy days less light will be able to penetrate the water.

The amount of light penetration on a given day can influence where the bass will be located and the type of lure colors and flash that will be the most effective. In general, in low light conditions dark and bold colors are typically more effective (black, chartreuse, white etc.).

Water Clarity 

Water clarity is basically how clear the water is and how far away you can see your bait in the water. In clear water conditions bass will be able to see you and your lure from far away and in stained or dirty water they will have a harder time locating your lure.

The water clarity can play a key role in how far a bass will be able locate and strike your lure. You should adapt to the water clarity conditions and throw natural colored lures in clear water and bright/bold colors in stained and muddy water.

Bass Forage

Another important factor every angler should consider when selecting a color or pattern for their lure is the forage of the bass in your body of water. Matching the hatch can be one of the best ways to catch fish. The more closely your bait looks like what the bass are feeding on the better. Do some research and figure out what type of forage is in your waters and match it the best that you can.  

Lure Color Chart

Understanding the three factors I mentioned above is critical if you want to be fishing with the right colors. Now, let’s take a look at the different colors and how you can use them in the different fishing conditions that you’ll face.

To help you visualize this better I have put together the following bass fishing color guide chart. This color guide will help you make sure you chose the right color in the right conditions.

Best Colors by Water Clarity

Clear Water –  The best colors to use in clear water conditions are those that closely resemble the targeted bass forage in your waters. The more natural you can be the better. My favorite colors to use in clear water conditions are: ghost/translucent patterns, green pumpkin, browns and other natural looking colors.

Stained Water – In stained water situations I like to throw colors that will stick out a bit more but aren’t too bold. I’ve had the most success in stained water with white & chartreuse, brown & purples, junebug and natural colors.

Muddy Water – Bold color choices and loud lures are the key to being able to draw fish in when the water is muddy. In these conditions black and blue colored baits are tough to beat. I also like throwing white’s and chartreuse as well.

Best Colors by Light Penetration

Sunny – In general on sunny days’ bass will have a high visibility range especially in clear water. For this reasons the best colors to throw in sunny conditions are natural colors and patterns. Ghost (translucent) colors work great as well as greens, browns and other natural looking colors.  

Cloudy –  When it gets cloudy or starts to storm the bass will have less visibility in the water making it harder for them to see your lure/bait. This can be a big advantage at times. In cloudy conditions the best color of bait & lures to use are bright and dark colors. My favorites are white/chartreuse dark greens and browns. These colors will increase your lure visibility and draw in more bass.  

Best Colored Blades

Typically, blades come in three different colors: gold, silver and painted. Each one has its own unique flash and time when it works best. Everyone has their own personal preference but here is a general guide that I like to stick by:

Silver = Works best when its sunny

Gold = Ideal for stained water or when its cloudy

Painted = Great for muddy water

Best Bass Lure Colors by Season

Now that we have laid the foundation of how to select the right color in different fishing conditions, let’s look at the different bass fishing seasons and how color choice can play a role throughout the year.

The guidelines I have previously mentioned can be applied year round, but that there are also few other things that you should consider depending on the season that you are fishing in.

Spring Bass Fishing Colors

The spring is one of the best times of the year to be bass fishing, but having the right color of lure or bait tied on can play a big role in your fishing success.

The best colors to use for bass in the spring are ghost patterns, chartreuse, white, brown, black & blue, and red depending on the water clarity and light penetration and bass forage.

For additional information on the best bass fishing colors to use in the spring check out our spring bass fishing color guide here.                           

Summer Bass Fishing Colors

Summer can be one of the most dynamic times of the year to be fishing. The hot temperatures spike the bass activity level and they can become more aggressive and can be caught with a wide range of presentations.  

In the summer the best bass fishing colors are browns, whites, chartreuse, junebug, black/blue, green pumpkin, ghost patterns depending on the conditions.

Fall & Winter Bass Fishing Colors

The fall and winter can be a great time to be bass fishing as well. In the early fall bass will start feeding heavily preparing for winter. As temperatures continue to fall so will the bass activity, so it’s important to get your colors right so that you can take advantage of the few shots that you get.

In my experience the best fall & winter bass fishing colors are shad patterns, green pumpkins, craw patterns and black/blue depending on water clarity and light penetration.

For more insight on the best bass fishing colors to use in the fall check out this article.

Do Lure Colors Matter?

If you have ever walked down a tackle aisle or looked at different baits and lures online, you’ll notice there are so many color options and patterns to choose from.

With so many choices you may be asking yourself: Do lure colors really matter? Having the right color tied on can increase your odds dramatically of catching fish. Success is in the details and choosing the right color can make a big difference.

 What colors work best at night?

If you have ever fished at night you know how important choosing the right color & lure can be. The best colors for night bass fishing are: blacks, white, chartreuse, green pumpkin. Dark and bold colored baits are going to be your best bet at night, especially when paired with a lure that will draw the bass in with some vibration and water displacement.

 Final Thoughts

Let’s be honest there are hundreds of different colors and patterns we as anglers can choose from with any given soft plastic bait or lure. With so many options it can be overwhelming trying to decide which one is right for you.

I hope this color guide will simplify the color selection process for you and allow you to easily identify and adapt productive colors for the different fishing conditions you’ll face.

I am confident in these colors and what we have discussed in this article but I would still encourage you to always experiment and find the colors that work best for you.

If you would like to view other resources about selecting bass fishing lure and bait colors check out the following resources

Best of luck out there

Tight Lines!

Aaron Warner

Aaron Warner is an avid angler with over 15 years of experience. He has participated and won fishing tournaments all over the country and enjoys fishing for bass, trout, walleye and other species.

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