Let’s take a look at the importance of bait size and color in triggering hits. I’m going to also drill the importance of speed and depth a little. In dealing with all the clients as I do, the number one question I get on artificial trips is: What color do I need? The important question should be, how deep and how fast do I need to work the bait? In some lakes 7 to 8 feet of water eliminates 2/3rds of the lake surface and if the fish are at 8 feet and you are setting in 3 feet, the question of color is not real important since you probably can’t cast to them anyway. I know I keep talking about the importance of deep but it is that important. Please read my article on depth and speed.
OK Color. When what where and why? Color does have its place and the clearer the water the more important color will be. A good rule of thumb for color is bright days = bright colors, white, chrome, etc. Dark days = dark colors, black, gold etc. Blue, reds, orange, and purple seem to be neutral. Again no color is a substitute for speed or depth. There are times when a particular color may add fish to the creel. To best prove these factors, have two fishermen fish from the same boat side by side and change colors after every fish. By doing this the factor of speed and depth is removed from the equation. If color is a factor it will show to the fisherman with the magic color will catch many more fish. If one color does not out perform the other it must be speed or depth, assuming both fishermen are equally skilled. Of course this goes back to controlling the bait, which leads us back to depth and speed.
The time when color does seem to have a real place is with rise and fall type baits like worms or jigs. These type of baits are fished slow for the most part giving the fish plenty of time to look and examine a bait carefully. Most other type baits are reaction strike baits. When there is a color preference, light conditions will play a big factor in those preferences and can change through out the day.
Lets look at size and the factor it plays in the equation. Size plays a big factor in the silhouette a bait cast or the bulk of the bait and the maximum weight a bait will have. Both of these factors have a direct relationship to control. Being able to control any bait and keep it in the strike zone which is the real key to catching fish. If it ain’t in front of him he can’t bite it. The more bulk a bait has the more buoyant it is. We all know if it displaces more volume than the same amount of water and the material it is made of weighs the same or less than water, then it floats. Simply said, weight controls rate of fall, bulk of a bait its buoyancy. Factoring these two variables together gives a bait its unique characteristic. Certain baits float because of their bulk and require a diving bill to pull the bait down to its maximum running depth. That maximum depth is determined by the buoyancy of the bait and the size and angle of the bill.
Different companies number their baits in many ways. The important thing is maximum running depth. Every bait has one. Mann’s Bait Co. list their deep diving baits by their maximum running depth. Bomber list a set of numbers i.e. 5a, 6a, 7a, etc. The important factor here is knowing how deep each bait goes and being able to CONTROL that bait to run it at the desired depth. Baits that sink like a Rattle Trap, Diamond Shad or Little George all fall to the bottom. This makes fishing them different in that rather than trying to get the bait down to a certain depth you may be trying to get the bait up to a certain depth. All of these baits add a whole new set of variables. Choosing which of these different style baits is determined by depth and speed desired to be fished. It is easier when fishing slower speeds to fish up from the bottom than down from the top. When faster speeds are required top down is easier. The exception to this is the Spoon Plugs. These baits sink and will hold a maximum running depth no matter speed. While these baits make poor casting baits they run true to their maximum running depth. We will address baits and there difference in another article.