Does colour matter?
I’m frequently asked whether lure colour is important. In my opinion it is and this can easily be proven by trial and error. Experience has shown me that there will be an optimum colour for any situation, and when I go lure fishing my priority is to find it. Sometimes you can be lucky to find that predators will attack anything that moves, regardless of colour, but this happens too infrequently to rely upon. This week I am using the Rapala X-Rap Shad Shallow range of lures to demonstrate what I mean.
The UK range consists of four colours, carefully chosen from the 10 colours available worldwide, to suit UK fishing situations. There are 2 perch style patterns, Firetiger and Nordic Perch. The Firetiger is bold and bright while the Nordic Perch is more subdued. The Silver colour resembles a small roach whilst the bright orange Hot Head is an attractor colour looking nothing like anything which swims in our waters. I took all of them out for a day pike fishing on a clear shallow gravel pit to see which one proved to be the ‘killer’ colour for the day.
I chose this lure because the water is generally shallow, up to 8 feet deep, and there is a thick covering of bottom weed. My plan was to work the lures just above the weed, varying the speed of retrieve to do so and keeping the rod high to work them where the weed rises higher in the water. The X-Rap Shad Shallow sinks very slowly and it is quite easy to make it look attractive using up-strokes of the rod tip. Using the four colours evenly through the session, one thing stood out like a sore thumb. The Firetiger pattern was the one they wanted, time and time again. The Nordic Perch also scored quite well but the Silver and Hothead patterns were largely ignored. When one finally took the Hot Head, it swallowed it well into its jaws, typical of an attack on an attractor colour.
Knowing the water quite well, it was clear to me why the ‘perch’ style lures worked best as the predominant prey fish in the lake are perch and the pike are primed to attack anything which it recognises as food. On another water, it could be that the Silver pattern scores better or in waters of poor clarity, the Hothead might come out as top colour. Experience will eventually tell you which colour to try first but one thing is for sure – if you don’t try a range of colours you will often miss out on the action. Remember also that the pikes preference can often alter as light conditions change,particularly at dawn and dusk as different colours appear differently with variation in the light falling upon them.
I have chosen the X-Rap Shad Shallow as an example but this thinking applies to all lure types. Further benefits of the X-Rap are it’s internal long-cast mechanism which gives more casting distance and accuracy. They also have an internal rattle which can encourage strikes if you ‘rip’ the lure through the water, something worth trying if you are not catching with normal retrieves. They are also ‘suspending’ lures and will hover on a pause, allowing predators to take a closer look. Giving them a twitch a few seconds later often induces a strike. Because they are critically balanced to suspend, variations in trace weight can affect how fast they sink and for how long they suspend. Advanced lure anglers might want to consider fine tuning their traces to get them perfectly matched to their lures. You can easily alter the trace weight by adjusting the length of wire and using different sizes of swivels and clips.
This article was written when Mick was working with the Rapala and Storm brands. Technical details may change so check out their websites for latest information.