Claire Corlett

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Fishing Lure Color Selection (Part 1). How Colors Look Underwater

Fishing Lure Color Selection (Part 1). How Colors Look Underwater


Hi, I’m Greg Vinall Most lure fishermen have strong views about lure color But most popular lure color theories are just hooey! In fact, fish would have to break the laws of nature To even see the lure colors that lots of guys use! Fishermen become so convinced about some colors That they fish them more often and with greater confidence So it’s only natural they catch more fish with them! Lure companies want you to believe in lure colors So they can sell you more lures! As a lure maker I spend a lot of time Thinking about how to catch fish on lures Including what lure colors are most effective. So in this series of videos I’ll give you A very simple version of the science Behind how fish see lure colors And we’ll cut through some of the garbage about lure color This information should be useful not only To my fellow lure makers, but also to anyone Who is choosing a lure to buy next Or choosing a lure from their tackle box for a specific purpose Objects can look different underwater Than they do in air And thats because water changes the way that light behaves And that in turn changes how object like lures are seen Lets start with a very simple concept Let’s look at how the intensity of light changes The way we see color I would like for you to imagine that this box Is a tank of very pure water and we are about To drop the two lures in the picture into it So we are holding the lures at the water surface Where they are getting 100% of the sunlight from above The colors that you see here are 100 percent intense. Now, light that coming to the water from above Does two things when it strikes the water surface Some gets reflected away, And some light penetrates into the water The light that penetrates the water also gets absorbed, so the deeper you go into the water the less light gets down there As we immerse the lures in the water the amount of light gets reduced surprisingly quickly In fact, 25% of the light is reflected or absorbed by a depth of just 1 centimertre, or half an inch! by the time the lure reaches a depth of just one metre, or 3 feet, more than half of the light at the surface has been lost In fact, only 45% of the light at the surface actually penetrates down to this depth So you’ll see a significant reduction In the brightness of the lure colors by this depth If you’d like to do a home demonstration of what this means Try replacing an 80 watt light globe in your lounge room With a 40 watt light globe and see How that changes the intensity of colors that you can see And this happens at just 1 meter, or 3 feet Below the water surface By a depth of 10 meters (33 feet) 78 percent of the light that was available at the surface Has been lost Leaving only 22% of the light to illuminate the lure Many home made and commercial fishing lures Will dive to depths of greater than 10m So you can see how water depth affects the way fish see lure color Lure color simply becomes less important the deeper you go To illustrate this point better lets put these lures on the screen at the same time so you can do a direct comparison Here is the scary thing that I haven’t told you yet Until now, we’ve been talking about what happens in in ultra-clean water, on a dead calm day with the sun directly overhead Unless you regularly fish a long way offshore in tropical marine waters at midday in perfect weather you’re probably never going to experience this kind of light penetration Under any other circumstances a whole range of factors will reduce the penetration of light in the water So for freshwater fishing and near-shore coastal environments Things are very different In these areas a whole range of factors Affect light penetration. Such as plankton growth, which can significantly Reduce the depth to which light penetrates Turbidity from dirty water, suspended silt or bubbles Can reduce the penetration of light Dark colored water caused by vegetation And of course the angle of the sun and the amount Waves and ripples on the water surface can affect light penetration It goes without saying that if you are fishing under overhanging bridges, lilles or vegetation That will also reduce the amount of light that reaches your lures And yet, everyone who fishes regularly for bass and other species Knows that fish normally lurk in dark and shady places And bite best at the low light periods around dawn and dusk! In part 2 of this video series we are going to look at How specific colors are affected by this phenomenon But for now the important message is quite simple The visibility of all lure colors is affected by water depth So you need a larger selection of lure colors For shallow, clear water applications in the middle of the day Than you will need for deep water applications in dirty water at dusk I hope that you take the time to
watch the second video in this series When we’ll start to explore what colors work best for deepwater fishing

85 comments on “Fishing Lure Color Selection (Part 1). How Colors Look Underwater

  1. Yeah, it seems to depend a little on where you are fishing and what species you target. I have a preference for natural colors at any time, I like to "match the hatch" with local baitfish when I can. But bright reds, hot pink and fluoro green work great in clear shallow water at one of my favorite fishing spots. In clear, shallow water the fish can see most colors, so it comes down to their preference on the day.

  2. good to know, but do fish see color like we do? or do they see it better in water then we do? is this video showing what they see or what we see?

  3. If any of you have ever used culprit worms, you may be familiar with a color they call "tomato". That is an orange with yellow and green flecks, and some green swirls in certain sections, particularly the tail. This is a GREAT worm color for shallow, stained water, and I've caught many bass with this "tomato" color, even with other, similar colors. That orange/green works GREAT in shallow water. This is a well-kept secret. Good luck all.

  4. i live up here n Maine where we have the ability to ice fish. Now if all this were true, then how come in 70 feet of merky water, darkened by the ice, are the fish still able to see my dark blue puppet minnow? i mean, sure some of this is true but you tell me.

  5. Actually, what you are saying exactly supports what I say in my video – dark colors like blue, purple and black are often the best in deep dark, dirty water, not because they are visible, but because they create a strong silhouette. You also touch on one of my favorite points – under these conditions color is often irrelevant because fish aren't feeding visually. In fact, they sense movement using their lateral line, in much the same way as we feel a breeze blow across the hairs on our arms

  6. ok thx i had a hard time trying to find your point in this video so dark collors are best for dark water. ok thx. i was way backwards. now the ice is melting here and its time for spring fishing. so now with all the darkness gone, bright colors work good?

  7. They'll work better in brighter conditions, yes. But in deep water the size, shape and vibration of a lure will always be more important than color. Lure color will always play a bigger part in shallow, clear water and is less important the deeper you go. Even more so if the water is less than clear, or in your case when the ice blocks out a lot of the light before it even gets to the water

  8. @tacticalimpact98 because it makes a stonger silohete, or outline fish feed on instict and a small percent of sight trust me on that i have been studying fish behavior for goin on nine years

  9. @327caveman yes there is a HUGE difference just depends on what type of fish you are talkin about. for.example walleye so great in very dark water, where bluegill bass and crappie cant as well

  10. i belive the colors like yellow and white and much better because they absorb the least light, so colors does matter.

  11. Thanks for your thoughts! Technically, white absorbs less wavelengths, but not less light. Yellow just absorbs different wavelengths than other colors. But try this: Look at a yellow or white lure through a piece of blue cellophane and what color do they appear? Water has a similar but less dramatic effect, so white lures tend to look blue at depth. What does this mean in practical terms? Lure color is more important in shallow, clear water than it is in deep or dirty water.

  12. Great stuff! Thanks for the feedback, I'm glad you've found my videos useful! Stay tuned, when I get some time I'll produce more in this series.

  13. Fish see different to us. In fact, they can see different wavelengths in some cases, like UV. But at the end of the day, this isn't about what they are (or we) are able to see. It's about what is there to be seen. To clarify, ask yourself this: what color is a red shirt when you look at it in the dark? It's still red, of course, but if there isn't red wavelengths bouncing off it you can't see it. Or another example: what color is a piece of whit paper if you look at it through red cellophane?

  14. I've shared this on my blog, this truely is a fantastic and very helpful video, I have a question though, How do fish see the colour white?

  15. una pregunta amigo que colores me recomiendas para pesca de orilla en la playa y como puedo tener mayor alcance con un señuelo desde la orilla?

  16. Greg, Thanks to your viseo's I now know how to better fish the region I'm in. The Choctawhatchee Bay here in NW Florida has a couple of rivers running into it and therefore sometimes I get "dirty" water. and the bottom is a mixture of sand and mud in some places. But thanks to your video I think now I'll be better prepared depending on weather and what phase the moon's in.

  17. Good stuff, and a bonus tip: Turbidity tends to absorb most wavelengths except red, so if you're fishing shallow and the water isn't too dirty then using fluorescent orange, green or yellow in turbid waters can sometimes make your lures that bit more visible because they use the red to enhance these other colors. Give it a try! Greg

  18. Thanks Rueben, appreciate the support. How white lures look beneath the water surface depends a little on conditions. In clear marine water, white gets slowly more blue the deeper you go. In most lakes it gets either a green coloration of goes red, depending on whether particulate material is from silt/sediment or algal growth. Under almost all conditions a stark white lure gives great contrast, making a white lure very visible.
    Great Question!

  19. I have been a underwater photographer for more than 20 years.
    I just wanted to tell you, you are,VERY wrong about the amount of light entering the seawater. There certainly is NOT a 25%, loss of light in the first 3/4" of water. If you really want to know the facts.
    Try taking a Gossen Luna light meter,in a u/water housing,and take your own readings. Light,travels much further than you think,
    especially in the first 15' of water.
    Just had to send this, there so much false imfo on the internet.

  20. Thanks Robert. I'm a professional aquatic scientist and I can assure you that the light attentuation figures I've provided are correct. I did quite a lot of underwater light measurements during my doctoral studies 15 or so years ago, but I'll admit I haven't done much since. The massive loss at the surface is due to reflective and refractive effects as the light passes from air to water, whereas the loss you are referring to is the loss due to absorption once the light has passed (cont)

  21. (cont) through the air/water interface. You are right that the light that remains immediately below the water surface penetrates further (depending on water clarity). This is because the attentuation in the water medium is due to absorptive and dispersive effects. The Gossen Luna won't give you this information – you need a cailbrated sensor at the water surface measuring ambient light simulatneously so you can correct underwater attentuation. All my studies were done using a (cont)

  22. (cont) underwater irradiameter with ambient light correction in the 400-700nm range. Thousands of aquatic scientists, oceanographers and physicists have measured this same effect, so there are plenty of publications you can read if you want more information.

    I've kept all of this in a very simple form because it is intended for lure fishermen, not photographers and scientists.

    It's a mistake to assume that everyone on the internet hasn't done their homework, this info is correct 😉

  23. Thanks for the support buddy and great point about the light meter. And incidentally, fish see light differently to people. Most scientists agree that the profusion of rod cells in the fish's retina indicates they are highly sensitive to contrast, while the low proportion of cone cells indicates they probably don't see color as well as we think, although it's different for different species, eg Reef fish see a lot of colors (even UV), while freshwater fish often see less colors.

  24. Incidentally, I've published an article on light penetration and fish vision on Amazon. YouTube doesn't allow links, but if you go to Amazons Kindle store and search "Greg Vinall" you'll find it 😉

  25. just one problem with this its what we see not the fish or game that sees the same thing light pent looks diffrent to us than what the fish or game see

  26. Sorry to say Scott, but you're 100% wrong. Light penetration is a physical phenomenon, what our eyes see is biological. Attenuation of light is the result of the absorption of light energy by water molecules and the scattering of light by particulate material, it's got nothing to do with how our eyes (or a fish's) interpret it. Our eyes detect the remaining wavelengths and interpret the info. It's true that fish see differently to humans, but they can only see those colors that penetrate.

  27. This is excellent info. I always appreciate data based on science. I wonder if it is so awfully important to understand exactly how fish see colors. In that the color we see is still the same no matter how the fish experiences the the color. A purple lure is still purple no matter if it is viewed under low light or high light. Even though we (and fish) experience the color differently under varying conditions. I have found that contrast and movement can be just as important as color.

  28. Thanks for the positive feedback! Fish do see color differently to us and in fact some species of fish see color different to other species. It's all to do with minor differences in how theireyes work. For example, pelagic gamefish (eg sailfish) see blue in more shades and more vividly than freshwater species can, which are better adapted to see shades of reds, yellows and greens. I couldn't agree more about movement and contrast – far more important than color!

  29. Not really, no. If your lures are near the surface then red hooks may be visible to fish, but if you are fishing deep or are in anything but perfectly clear water they'll probably look the same to the fish as any other hook – gray.

  30. Most of my lure fishing is done in 1m or less so colour is very important. It wouldn't be necessary for certain fish to be camouflaged or very brightly coloured if they were colourblind in their surroundings,would it? Hehe

  31. this is just a shot in the dark, but I know some birds and also some sea creatures see colours differently then us.  So although for us a lure down deep might be bland and almost invisible, to some fish it might actually glow if they have those specific rods in their eyes.

    again. im just inquiring and not stating anything.  if anyone knows for sure feel free to respond and fill me in.

    thank you

  32. i think you anticipate that humans and amphibians have a similar sense of sight. we dont share the same color receptors or the same conditions that led them to evolve. i believe you are not doing the common fish justice in calling them somewhat color blind

  33. The good Doctor comes from the part of the globe that has so many aggressive feeding fish that they will jump in the boat or go after a bare hook like it was squid, mackerel and salmon bellies all in one.. Lure color? Thats for the rest of us who live in poor fishing waters to ponder.

    Everywhere else, they use a decent small fish catching rig called drop shot, down there they use a rig called a Drop Bear, just ask em what they catch on them rigs……yup, Megalodons.

    Life is indeed not fair.

  34. What colours and sensitivity to different wavelength can the different species see? The size of the eye and the characteristics of the eye also applies. However it's good for someone to take this scientifically.

  35. Awesome, this info is going straight to my mentors at the NRC/WRO (National Robotics Competition/World Robotic Olympiad)

  36. I believe go "camouflage" with the area u are fishing are one of the ways. My favorite choices of colors usually are, red head, clown or watermelon during bright day at the shallow green or clear water. we go deep purple or red by the dark. when the fish are in feeding frenzy mostly all will work. Colors doesn't seems matter when u are fishing for barramundi at night as it can see in the dark, I usually catch a lot of them at night with soft bait or zerek's live shrimp.

  37. Thanks Greg for the great videos. I have been watching all 4 and it has completed changed my mindsets of coloring of lures. One question here how would you define shallow and clear water? I do a lot of rock fishing and my favorite spot in Sydney is an open sea spot, 7 to 10 metres deep, when the sea is calm (around 1m swell) during a sunny day, standing and seeing from high rock (15 m high), the bottom structure like reefs and flat can be quite clearly seen. Is this a typical shallow and clear water?

  38. And another question about how fish react to color given that a condition that colors are well available to be seen. Let's assume a shallow and clear water in an open sea enviroment, how far the pelagics like kingfish can see and do they tend to react better to unnatural colors (e.g. pink, orange) or natural colors, or it depends on? Thank yuo so much in advance.

  39. Thanks. It is great to have someone with your Scientific credentials explain such things in an accessible way.

    What is your opinion on glow in the dark type colours for use in deep water? do you think they look too unnatural or are they a potentially useful option?

    What about UV colours?. Is it just a gimmick? I would love to see a small video on UV. I think it would be a very popular video judging by the market popularity of UV colours.

  40. Hey Greg,
    I like how everyone thinks they are smarter than you about shit they never even studied.
    LOL!
    Go Figure?

  41. You explained your claims exceptionally well and in an appropriate manner. Your scientific credentials, as others have mentioned, allows your claims and evidence to be more easily trusted.

  42. This was very simply explained. Truth is that fish sight is much more complex than that. Some fish have red/green color blindness, but see UV light and IR light, while others have a very good color sight and also se UV and IR in addition to the same color range as we do. UV light is the light that reaches deepest down in the water, so Fluorescent colors which pick up UV light and reflect it in a color range that we can see will show up with their correct color at much deeper depths than for instance a plain Orange, Yellow or Green.
    Usually Fish don't ahve time to check out details as the lure is zipping past them at a high speed, so basic colors are all what is needed. take the classic white with blue back color. Add detailed scales, gill plates and finns, and the lure will certainly catch more anglers, but not more fish.
    There is one detail though that fish do take notice of, and that is the eyes. Checking which direction a prey is looking is important for a predator. tests show that adding a realistic 3D eyes to your lure will give more strikes.

  43. I only have good results with either bright colors, or a combination of bright colors and shiny-ness.
    Only fish in salt water though, but the few times I fish in fresh water, bright yellow and red, combined with black, chrome or copper are the only combinations that gave me results.
    Well apart from soft bait, those should be natural IMO, looks like a fish, acts like a fish, get "feeding" bites, everything that doesn`t look like prey is just antagonistic bait, and those are the ones I mentioned above.
    I love science, but why fish any other way than the one that gets you fish? 😉

  44. I’m 72 years old, I keep using the same colors over and over again because of success. I’m in a rut, I know I’m losing fish because I Stopped experimenting along time ago. I do not have time to experiment anymore, I’m so thankful there is people that have studied the subject, so I can take a shortcut stopped experimenting along time ago. I do not have time to experiment anymore, I’m so thankful there is people that have studied the subject, so I can take a shortcut. I am so stagnant in my selection.

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