One of the many things the dedicated lure angler has in common, is an often unexplained favourite lure colour. Whether it be down to catch rates or what they believe is best to mimic a natural food source, they’ll have both a favoured colour for a given venue and condition, but very often a general all round favourite lure colour to turn to when all else fails too. The array of choices in the modern lure fishing scene is so vast it makes the Sistine Chapel look like a blank canvas.

Go back 20 years or so and the colours, certainly on the UK market, were very bland and plain, with the lure tackle market nowhere near as established as it is today. Not that this stopped the options at the time from catching and they all still catch today, with some staple favourites standing the test of time against ever increasing competition. 

Traditional metals still prove very effective. Note the colours produced by the reflective material used to immitate scales...

So what does that say about modern colours? Is the variety really an improvement and allow more options to be covered, more bait fish to be imitated and help us improve catch rates, or are they a gimmick to “catch” anglers? Are they even needed to catch fish? Have the fish evolved in the modern world, getting with the times and dismissing an old plain boring colour?

It’s fair to say that the answer to this last question is a resounding no… but the extent to which this vast array of fancy new colours will help will remain a debate for years to come. 

For now, let’s look at two clear differing scenarios, for arguments sake, to consider if lure colour is going to be an influencing factor.

The 'candy king' from Sidewinder, and other similar coloured lures produce a rainbow iridescence akin to the reflection on the metal shown above... Imitating reflection is as important, if not more so than imitating likeness.

Daylight fishing:

We’ve all heard that if it’s bright, to use dark lures, whilst if it’s dull we should use bright lures. Most of this is based on the contrast looking up at the lure from below. Within these remits, it’s no longer a case of blacks and browns or whites… we have every colour under the sun to consider… So what colour do we choose? The most obvious should be natural colours, ie greens, blues, silver and whites. The outrageous neon coloured lures which catch do not resemble anything in our seas, so why do they work? Is it because there is something different about them or the colour which gets lost the deeper the water goes, rendering the actual colour void, or does this make the choice of colour even more of an irrelevance?

I find that the  advantage of a colour, or should it be the finish, is reflection. A pearl, glitter, shiny or indeed anything which reflects light, can only mean a good thing. It’s like walking down the road and the sun catches a mirror, your natural instinct is to look… The same goes if you are snorkelling, you’ll be looking around when out of the corner of your eye you’ll see a flash of light as a shoal of sandeel turn. This is a presence in the sea which alerts predators to their prey, so why wouldn’t we choose a lure finish to act the same? Perhaps bright neon colours take the contrast argument a bit further, perhaps mimicking action is more important than mimicking likeness… perhaps getting a colour that contrasts against everything else on the seabed simply gets noticed quicker. 

What's in a blue line? Could this too be more about mimicing reflective effects?

Before I was serious about fishing, I use to do a lot of trolling from my boat, mainly for bass. It’s in an area I know to be loaded with a number of different species which would take a trolled lure.

At the time, I really only knew about the odd soft lure like the red gill sandeel and Rapala hard lures. Looking through magazines of Rapala lures, I always saw the red head with white body lures hanging out of many fish. Instantly I thought this is the lure to get, but as it turned out, it was always a failing lure and no matter where I went I couldn’t hardly catch anything, even though a soft lure was catching next to it.

After a while I gave up on that colour, thinking it was a waste of time which I found strange because I’ve caught well on a white or a red lure before. A few years on I was reading about someone having the same bad luck with the same lure so they decided to paint the whole thing white…

As if by magic the lure started catching for them. That got me thinking; Why didn’t the two colours work but a single colour did? I came up with the idea that it wasn’t the colour which was wrong it was the PATTERN. It  must of looked wrong, having the two toned colours for the species I wanted (I still caught on it but not very well so it does work).

I conducted another test where I free line live mackerel for bass. I was to troll a mackerel pattern lure and a different pattern where i chose a sardine. Surely the mackerel would out fish a sardine pattern as we don’t get sardines here in any numbers. Wrong again, the sardine lure smashed the mackerel pattern. I tried everything by using the same rods, reels, line, distance from the boat, sunny days, dark days, each side of the reef… the whole nine yards, still the sardine won. Its tests like this which makes you think, is colour really that important or is it pattern which makes all the difference?

Once you start to think how reflection and other qualities are more important than form, some lures certainly do look more designed to catch the angler!


This section will be short and sweet. 

Colour is almost irrelevant at night, our fish rely on movement and vibrations, they haven’t got superman UV eyes ( there isn’t enough light even on a full moon to emit enough light though the water as UV, not to mention that if the moon was full enough the water would filter it out anyway). They cannot distinguish a dark style lure to a light coloured lure. they have better sense at night to pick up prey without even having to look at it.

Yes, I fish with certain colours, even tho i believe colour doesn’t make much difference. These tend to be natural colours, so it makes sense to use them especially when fish see in grey scale, so I like to get as close to the greys as possible. The two main factors i believe are key, are Patterns (not colours) and the action of the lure, specifically the way it’s presented. Thought what it really comes down to is absolute confidence in both your tackle and your skills to catch your target.