Deciphering the Color Puzzle – A Pro Panel

by Dan O’Sullivan

Bass fishing is all about decision making. Finding the location of the bait and the bass are two of the more important factors when establishing a pattern on the water.

One of the more confusing decisions can be selecting the color of soft plastic bait you are going to throw. It’s not hard to imagine why either. When you lol at the color charts of the major and minor soft plastic manufacturers, the choices can be downright mind boggling.

It seems there are every shade of the rainbow accounted for, and even some shades that are completely constructed from scratch. Then, when you factor in the potential variances each color can have in the flake department; we might as well throw our hands in the air, close our eyes and guess.

Should I choose the pumpkin with green flake, the green pumpkin with red flake, the black and blue, the motor oil or the scuppernong? Don’t even get me started on handpoured worms, the color variances in those can be three times as many.

To try and help make the decision easier, we went to the anglers who make these decisions on a daily basis to find out what factors they consider when choosing colors. With these pros, the decisions they make can be the difference between getting paid that week, or going without. So, having a set of principles to start with.

We wanted to pull someone from each area of the country, so we found anglers with broad geographical backgrounds.

We sought the help of John Crews, an Elite Series pro from Salem, Va., we talked to Dave Lefebre, an FLW Tour pro from Erie, Penn., Texan James Niggemeyer, an Elite Series pro and transplant from Southern California and finally, Justin Lucas, an FLW Tour pro from Northern California who now resides in Guntersville, Ala.

We talked to them about three major types of presentations; Flippin’ and Pitchin’, deep water worms on ledges and finesse fishing with drop shot rigs. All of them had a plan for where to start and how they make those decisions.

Crews’ Thoughts
Crews is such a fan of soft plastics that he started his own lure company called Missile Baits . In its short lifetime, Missile Baits has already gained significant traction in the retail market, and has won a National Tournament when pro staffer Ish Monroe won the second event of the 2012 Bassmaster Elite Series schedule on a DBomb.

In developing his color wheel for the company, Crews looked to develop colors that fit needs he felt standard colors didn’t fill. “I only did a handful of colors in the Missile Baits product line,” he said. “I built them all to fill a wide variety of needs for anglers.”

In the Flippin’ arena, Crews has his DBomb creature bait and Missile Craw, and he follows a standard progression of colors when choosing. “In darker water or low light conditions I tend to begin with Bruiser Flash, a black and blue combination,” he said. “The dark bait works in water that is lightly stained to dirty, and I believe the blue mimics hues found in craws, bluegill and shad.”

He said that water that is clearer gets more of a watermelon or green pumpkin hue like his green pumpkin, green pumpkin red flake and Super Bug colors. Flippin’ around grass causes him to look for baits with greens and purples in it. “Grass tends to congregate a lot of bream, so I try to mimic their colors,” he said. “My favorite around grass with clear to stained water is the Candy Grass color, which is a great bluegill imitator.”

For throwing big worms on offshore structure, Crews prefers his Tomahawk 8.75 curl tailed worm. He chooses color based on sky conditions. “In sunny conditions I tend to use green pumpkin a lot, ” he said. “In darker water or darker conditions I throw Blue Fleck or even the Bruiser color, a black / blue.”

He said he tends to experiment more with finesse worms like his Drop Craw, a miniature drop shot craw he designed. “Dropshotting is a much more visual presentation, so even in clear water, I tend towards more bright colors,” he said. “I like to try my Pinkalicious color because it gives me something different right off the bat.”

If his experimentation doesn’t pan out, he turns to more natural hues like Nattie Light when baitfish are prominent or Ghost Brown craw and his watermelon red or green pumpkin reds when he is around the springtime or when bass are feeding on crawdads.

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