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Tips For Lure Color Choice Based on Water Clarity

Fishing lures are designed to catch two species, fish and humans. That's right, many of the lures that catch your eye are colored, designed and packaged for you as much as they are designed for fish. The pro fishermen endorsements, the unique containers, and sales are all very alluring to us as anglers but it is important to remember that the fish won't care about any of this.


fishing lures of various colors

Fish are very visual hunters, so they show up for the movement and color of lures. Movement is something you can control and change as needed, but the color of lures you purchase can be changed by water clarity that you can not control.


If you have a favorite spot and you know the waters well then feel free to skip right to that section, but if you are more of an adventurous angler may I recommend you pack colors for each type of water clarity you may encounter.


What is Water Clarity?


Water clarity is how far light can penetrate beneath the surface of a body of water. There are specific measurements for the clarity of water, but you don't have to worry about measuring anything. Most of the time you can generally judge the clarity of a fishing spot by eye and sometimes the conditions in that area can give you hints on how clear the water will be on that day. Learn More!


Clear Water - (Light, Natural, and Glimmering)


If you can see your lure touch the bottom of a body of water then it is most definitely clear. This high clarity means there will likely be more aquatic plants, more animals, and most importantly more fish in the area.


Clear Water Fishing

For species like bass the areas growing the most aquatic vegetation for coverage or the areas with the most overhang are the best areas to cast. To contrast all of that greenery a light colored lure is recommended.


The full color spectrum easily penetrates very clear water, so you can range from very natural looking lures to translucent lures that put emphasis on glitter.


Reflectiveness may not be a color, but it is absolutely important, especially in clear water where it can reflect the sun's rays and flash like a beacon to beckon in your next catch!


Cloudy/Murky Water (Contrast & Combine)


If you know the water to be rather clear, but it has rained earlier or if there are reports of algal blooms in the area then you can set out on your fishing trip with the expectation of cloudy water. When your lure sinks in cloudy water it will ever so slowly fade from view before you feel it hit the bottom.


cloudy/murky water

In these conditions light can only penetrate so deep into the water and this will obscure the look of your lure in the eyes of fish. You can combine a few of the factors from clear water and opaque water to come up with the ideal look of a lure in cloudy water. This means that reflectiveness and a natural look are not out of the question, however they do take less priority than a solid silhouette and good contrast.


Contrast of two major colors on a lure will help maintain a silhouette so the fish can easily track it. It also provides variation that can catch the fish’s attention in an environment that does not provide enough light to reflect off of glitter or metallic.


PRO TIP: If you are unsure of which color lure to cast then take all of the options in your arsenal and lightly string them up. Lower them into the water one at a time and mark the line right as the lure disappears from view. The mark furthest from where the lure was tied will be from the lure that is most distinguishable in cloudy water.


Opaque/Nontransparent Water (Loud & Proud)


At first it may sound bizarre to throw dark colors into dark water, but this is because opaque water can mute many qualities of a lure. Glitter is no longer reflective, natural looks will blend into the darkness, and lures with contrasting colors will even loose some flare.



Opaque water is your chance to throw that bubblegum pink, neon yellow, or dark blue lure you love. Think of it like driving on a foggy day. Those red stop signs and yellow yield signs always pop out, especially their shapes. In contrast, tan bridges and bodies of water are nearly invisible. The signs have strong silhouettes and bright colors that help you recognize and respond to them, a similar effect applies to fish when they see solid and bold colored lures.


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