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Walleyes, The Question Of Color by Mark Romanack

The question of color as it relates to fishing lures has been debated almost since the invention of the fish hook. As a group, most anglers take lure color seriously, too seriously. Walleye specialists are no exception.

Research biologists have documented which spectrums of color walleyes are best able to identify. The colors of red, yellow, orange and green are among the most visible to walleyes. Darker colors such as blue, purple and violet are less visible to this species.

Mark Romanack Despite this invaluable information, selecting lure color for walleye fishing isnıt as easy as it might seem. The issue of color is more complex because walleyes themselves and how they react to different colors is unpredictable.

We know the spectrums of color walleyes see best, but we donıt know how these fish interpret colors or what impact color has on their day to day feeding habits. Case in point; blue or purple lures are sometimes very effective at catching walleyes. Often these colors are even more productive than shades of the color spectrum that are known to be more visible to walleyes. Go figure!

Color and how walleyes relate to it, is a complex subject that illustrates how little we actually know about the intuitive nature of this popular game fish. Thereıs still much we need to learn as to how color impacts on fishing.

On the water, the question of color largely comes down to personal bias. We all have our favorite colors based on personal fishing successes. These biases are perpetuated to other anglers and the complex issue of lure color gets more confusing. Perhaps this is why lure color has taken on a disproportionate importance to fishing.

The best way to approach the question of color is with a eye towards common sense. Lure color can be an important element of fishing, but too often anglers let color dictate their lure choices. Color should be used to refine a fishing presentation, not establish one.

Location, lure type, lure action and the method of presentation are far more important elements of fishing than lure color. Color should primarily come into play once a few fish have been caught using a particular lure and presentation. At this point anglers can experiment with color to further refine and improve fishing efforts. If a lure and color combination that has been working suddenly stops, try changing colors before changing locations.

Thereıs little doubt that color can help improve a fishing presentation. Often the color that works best changes rather quickly as lighting, light penetration or water conditions change. With this fact in mind, anglers must be willing to change colors frequently as dictated.

The common sense approach doesnıt however answer the ever posing question of which color to start with! Water clarity is the variable that should have the most influence on selecting lure colors.

The lakes, rivers and impoundments that walleye frequent can be as clear as drinking water or so dirty a jig disappears an inch below the surface. In between are various levels of clarity including stained waters, water with algae blooms, water thatıs turbid from wave action and so on.

In general, water can be considered to be clear if you can look over the side and see the prop on your outboard clearly. In clear water situations colors that closely resemble the natural shades of available forage species are going to be the best starting point.

Excellent colors to start with in clear water include the various chromes, white, pearl, hologram finishes, fish scale patterns, plus shades of gray, brown, green, blue and purple. In water thatıs stained with tannin acid or colored with algae, a selection of brighter colors is in order.

Chartreuse, orange, red, green and pink are often the ideal choices. In down right dirty water, the brightest and most visible colors such as fluorescent orange, red and pink are often required to consistently catch walleyes.

Another closely related element to color is flash. Many lures such as spinners, crankbaits and spoons produce a considerable amount of flash as the lure rotates, wobbles or wiggles through the water. Chromes including nickel, palladium, genuine silver and gold plating, brass and copper often attract walleyes from maximum distances.

Sometimes the flash generated by these chrome finishes is over powering. This is especially true in clear water. The amount of flash generated can be softened by using hologram type finishes or by combining chromes and painted finishes on the same lures. Anglers can use various paints, marker pens, die coats or stick-on flash tapes to customize just about any lure they choose.

Selecting lures with more than one color or adding colors to baits as indicated is another way to deal with the question of color. This shotgun approach isnıt a bad idea. Lures with multiple colors tend to have greater contrast and ultimately more visibility in colored or dirty waters.

Anglers can even experiment with colors on their fish hooks and live bait. Most of the major hook manufacturers offer color dipped hooks that add just a touch of color to an otherwise natural presentation. You can even buy live nightcrawlers that are died chartreuse to make these baits more visible.

Selecting lure colors for walleye fishing can be an issue dotted with pitfalls. Sound advice is to be flexible and willing to experiment with color as dictated by water color and fishing conditions. Keep the question of color in perspective and let common sense be your guide. Most of all, remember lure color alone canıt correct for problems in location, lure selection or presentation.


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