Learn to Fish Soft Plastics - Picking your colour
You know what it like, you stare at the tackle box and the $gazzilion dollars you have spent on plastics and scratch your head, what do I use today?
Well I still do it and truth be known, so do all experienced plastic fisho’s. This article will attempt to walk you through the steps of picking your plastic for best effect.
So we so we all have our favorites, the ones we have blitzed out on and used until the plastic is its former shadow of its once less battle scarred self. Truth be told, you are a little superstitious about it and it’s always been your Go-to pattern. This is normal for most people.
But when you think about it, 100% of the fish we catch, is on the lure we use. So if you only use one type or colour, well you get the picture, it’s kind of self affirming.
What we need to do is work out how to catch more, to work out the bite on the day and to increase our catch rate based on the type, retrieve, colour that seems to be working best.
Lets start with a little 101 on colour.
So to start with we need to put aside lures designed to catch the fisherman, not the fish. We are looking to imitate a bait specie, or trigger a feeding response.
In my experience, a lot of the time your colour selection depends on the amount of light and the water quality, maybe just maybe there is some science to it. Start by taking a minute to observe these. If the water is clear and clean, then use natural colours to imitate your bait species. The good water quality means your quarry gets a good look at your offering and may shy away if it does not look right, or if it isn it the colour or shape of what they are feeding on.
When you are confronted with darker or more murky conditions, then swap out for a darker colour. But why?, well science, let me explain.
When I was at school, science always seemed to ruin the fun. So I will try to keep this as simple as possible.
So let’s talk colour and how we see and interpret it. So our eyes work on a similar basis to fish, colour is made up light at different wavelengths, so it stands to reason that the less light, the less we see colour.
Let’s do science.
When light penetrates water it slows down, did you know that only about 1/4 of all light penetrates deeper than 20m. Some makes it through, some does not. Going deeper and deeper, the wavelengths of different colours begin to fade and then go grey because of the lack of light. For instance, at about 6m depth, red disappears, at about 10m orange goes, yellow at 20m, approaching 25m green craps out and at 30m blue has problems but black goes ok through 35m.
What does all that mean and what does it have to do with me?
Well for most creeks and shallow bays, not much. Your colours work as they do as long as there is plenty of light. But for deeper fishing, your favourite red lure is just shade of grey of its former self, catch the drift? Told you, it’s science ruining the fun again.
If we put a torch down there and re-introduced light, back comes the colour, facinating, huh. Same concept as underwater photography needing flash at depth, just more light.
Let’s talk visibility
Visibility also effects our colour and how we see it. Take a foggy day above water for instance, our visibility is reduced and colour harder to pick out detail until something gets real close right?. A dust cloud, haze or even rain are barriers between our eyes and the colours we see. So sub-surface, we know that in the water, storm runoff, algae or sediment will have the same effect. Suspended particles cut down the amount of light penetrating the water and hence effects colour the same way as depth, it’s just less light.
But one thing to remember, as mentioned before, colour fades at depth because of the amount of light reducing with depth. If you have sediment suspended, the visibility is effected both vertically and also horizontally. The double whammy.
So flashy colours work well close up in shallow dirty water but less noticeable in deeper systems or darker days. I know, mind blown.
So now think about fishing at night, fishing dead black, with no light. You guessed it, darker colours to black. But at night under bridge lights or piers with service lights, well light will show up the colour right? The more light, the more colour shows up.
Enough science, what do I pick?
Well if you have clear conditions and plenty of light, go as natural as possible, pick a colour close to the bait profile around at the time.
If you have dark or murky conditions, or both, then pick a darker colour. It will be shiloetted against the background and easier to see, that’s the reason.
In the practical sense, take all this into consideration but ensure that if there are two or more in your fishing party, you all try different colours until you find what works and then swap to that. Go with what is working, you can think it through all you like, but there might be a variable you have missed or something different on that day you had not considered. So use this knowledge to get you into the balk park and guide your colour selection but take notice of what works and try to understand why, what’s different, that’s how we fill up the pot of experience before we empty the pot of luck.
So the next time you reach for the soft plastics bag to consider what colour, perhaps maybe you should consider the shape action and design of the lure and how that might trigger a strike instead. It may make all the difference, coupled with your educated colour selection.
Till next time, have fun, fish responsibly and remember take only what you need and post the rest to social media.