Can fish see color? What colors do they see? Although not all fish have been academically tested on this, the general answer and consensus among anglers is YES, fish can see color! Most fish are like humans in which they can see the three basic colors of red, green, and blue. So when choosing a lure, picking the right color does make a difference. Here are 5 quick tips when choosing the color you are aiming for.
1. How depth affects lure colors
As you might expect, the deeper the lure goes in the water, the more it's color starts to fade off from it's true colors on how we see them. In particular, the red-white lure in the middle row becomes more of a black-white lure in deeper depths. In general, Yellow, whites, and pinks tend to retain more of it's color than the rest, even at deeper depths.
2. How do lure colors appear in murky water?
This picture shows the same lineup of lures as the above pictures, and we can see just how much color is lost for each one in murky waters. Among some expert fisherman, white, green and yellow tended to be the more popular choice when fishing in unclear waters. Honestly I can see why. If I can't even see half the lures in this picture, then it's just as likely the fish won't be able to see it either.
3. Do the color of surface lures matter?
From the bottom view of the lure, for fish looking up at the surface, we can see that none of the color remains for any of the lures. No sunlight is reflecting on the bottom of the lures so the colors cannot be seen. The only thing that it shows is a dark silhouette to the fish.
4. How much color is lost on depth?
When choosing the color of your lure, these graphs show both what colors tend to retain themselves and what colors tend to pop out more under their respective conditions.
The left graph shows how much a lure will retain true to it's color at specific depths. Blues and Greens tend to hold themselves better due to color of the water itself, where as reds and oranges are much more affected. So when choosing red and orange lures for clear waters, be sure to take into account the color loss so you can have a better idea of what you want your target to see.
The right graph on the other hand shows how much each color is reduced in murky waters. As we might expect, the greens and yellows have less color reduction due to murk. However Yellows and greens are less effected due to it already being that color.
5. Light Lures
One way to offset imperceptibility of lures is the use of light lures. I've already discussed the how colors can fade depending on water conditions, making your lures become more difficult for fish to notice. Glow stick lures become much more noticed in waters due to it standing out to the fish. The lure also maintains a bit more of it's color due to the glow given off by the stick, giving it more light to expose it's color. This has become a popular type of lure in most Asian countries, as it has become standard to some.