Bass maniac

Action Vs. Color

21 posts in this topic

I just wanted to see what you guys think about the action vs color theory. I have read a few forums on here about this topic but wanted to give my opinion! Lol. I read a comment on here the other day saying that action catches fish and the pretty paint job catches fisherman. But I feel color does get more bites on certain days than others. I have a huge assortment of strike king series 3 crankbaits, actually about ten of each color and on different days I can catch them on one color and not the other! I try to make them bite it but they won't until I switch to one same size different color! But on that note I can catch them on say chrome blue back and loose that one and tie another chrome blue back that is same size and not. Which is my next point every out of the pack bait no matter the price has a different action so why is every one on here so tuff on the KO painters? Sure they are ko's of an expensive bait but they are DIFFERENT and have a different action so why not try them? I understand that you might have to put more effort into tuning them or some you just can't get to run. But they are diferrent in action which must just work!! Just my two cents guys what do you think? ;)

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I think you make a good point. A lure needs to look like a prey item, and color is important, especially when the fish are keyed in on a certain bait.

But you also answered your own question, too, when you mentioned one bait out of a batch working better than the rest. The difference in the action of that one bait sets it apart from the others.

This is what I consider when I'm trying to figure out what paint scheme to put on a lure.

There are three retrieve features that I think are key to getting bit.

The first is being able to achieve a reaction strike, by "surprising" a bass, so it reacts without thinking.

The second is wounded prey, where an erratic action or retrieve mimics a wounded bait fish.

The third is the passive feeding, casual retrieve, when a lure gives off no negative cues that will turn a bass away, and simulates a baitfish well enough to convince a bass that it's an easy meal.

Reaction strikes happen no matter what color you're throwing. A bass will react with a strike if it's surprised, and you lure seems to be escaping. They can't help themselves, it's hard wired into their brains. Bright colors that catch their eye are important here, like chartruese and silver flash.

The second is why baits get bit in off color water, at night, and even in muddy water. The vibration given off by a lure makes a bass aware that there's something struggling nearby. Again, in off colored water, it helps to have clearly visible lures, so the chartruese and blue, which provide both visibility and contrast, are my go to choices. The cleared the water, the more important natural lure colors become. My lakes in SoCal are seldom really dirty, so I lean toward match the hatch color schemes a lot, and hope my lures look erratic enough to attract a feeding response in a bass.

The third is really a clear water deal, and calls for the most realistic paint scheme you can muster. A bass has the enire retrieve to scope out your lure, and decide if it wants to eat it. I just read a guy's post on how he got bit on a trout colored swimbait at Clear Lake, even though there are no trout there, only hitch. A bass will follow anything that swims right, to see if it's a meal worth eating. That's the reason a 180 degree turn is so important on jointed swimbaits. They get followed a lot, and that 180 turn can trigger a reaction bite from a fish that was just curious. But it only works sometimes, and only if the lure is realistic enough, in both action and appearance, to get the bass interested in the first place.

This is what I think about when I decide how to finish a lure. But first I try to make a lure that has an action that will attract a bass in the first place.

It's like in golf. You've got to get it to the hole. 100% of putts that are short don't go in.

Edited by mark poulson

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I don't think it's one feature versus another. It's all features taken together. However, for me, there's a ranking of their attraction power on most days, on most bodies of water, and for most bass species:

1 - depth

2 - action

3 - color pattern

4 - bait size

That's just gut feeling - no science. And retrieve style/speed is as important as any factor. You hear guys say they got bit on a particular color only if they put a 1 mm purple dot on the tail, or some-such story. That kind of stuff is worthless anecdotal information. Even with a minimum variety of baits with 4 factors covered, we're talking at least 54 baits (3 depths x 3 actions x 3 color patterns x 2 sizes). I try to keep that kind of selection in the boat but remind myself that you can't get bit unless your line is wet. Flounder around too long trying hard baits and your day is zeroed.

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I don't think it's one feature versus another. It's all features taken together. However, for me, there's a ranking of their attraction power on most days, on most bodies of water, and for most bass species:

1 - depth

2 - action

3 - color pattern

4 - bait size

That's just gut feeling - no science. And retrieve style/speed is as important as any factor. You hear guys say they got bit on a particular color only if they put a 1 mm purple dot on the tail, or some-such story. That kind of stuff is worthless anecdotal information. Even with a minimum variety of baits with 4 factors covered, we're talking at least 54 baits (3 depths x 3 actions x 3 color patterns x 2 sizes). I try to keep that kind of selection in the boat but remind myself that you can't get bit unless your line is wet. Flounder around too long trying hard baits and your day is zeroed.

Bob I beg to differ in the ranking:

1 - depth

2 - bait size

3 - action

4 - color pattern

This is the sequence I do when rummaging thru the tackle box to decide which one to tie on until the fishes tells me otherwise but not before I have exhausted all the presentation variations (fast,medium,slow,pause,jerk,twitch,stop......etc). And at the end of the day.... you can never have enough lures LOL.

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Action first then color. fishing lures you need to figure where in the water column. we mainly fish muskies here. . we have some lures with literally no paint left. its the wobble that is the deciding factor. the above post are alll correct. speed temps. i look at the whole deal as

positve

neutral

negative.

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Here is a short article that I wrote for BigIndianabass on color but if you will look at the results there is something very interesting that stands out. This is not anything scientific just a lot of idle hours to test a couple ideas. This was done over a couple years time frame.

Depth was not a big issue in these tests since most of it was done in shallow water but is certinaly a factor on other bodies of water.

Living in east central Indiana I do a lot of smallmouth fishing in the three main rivers in my area. Most of my fishing is done using crankbaits about 80% of the time, maybe not always the best choice but it is what I enjoy most.

The subject of color, color patterns and the detail of crankbaits is always a main topic of discussion anytime fishermen get together so I thought I would do a little testing of my own to see if it really makes any difference.

The testing was done with a 3 color bait, one of my personal favorite colors, but using several variations of the same colors. The baits used were the same, Mdl. A Bomber Square bill in the 2” size, no alterations were made except for color. All the baits were tested and tuned to make sure they ran true before any alterations were made. If your asking why the Bombers, they were in the bargin bin at Gander Mountain.

The colors used were dark brown, chartreuse and orange and no other details were added. All the colors were airbrushed and no topcoat was used, since I would be repainting them often and a little paint loss was no problem. I tried to make about the same number of casts with each bait before changing each bait and at any given session they were all the same color and pattern. Experimenting with these baits over the last couple of years and have found a few interesting things. No matter which order that the paint was applied made any difference in the ability of the bait to catch fish. Brown back, chartreuse middle, orange belly or any combination to these colors on the bait. No eyes, gill or fin detail was painted on these baits just the color order. Also tried a couple with the colors painted from front to rear.

While doing these tests I made a small cut on the bottom of the lip each time a bait caught a fish so I could keep a record of each fish caught by each bait. At the end of all this I found that 2 of the baits had caught over 90% of the fish. 1 bait caught 55% and 1 caught 35% and only 2 of the others caught more than 2 fish.

I have since made the same tests, same baits with a firetiger color combination, black, orange and chartruse and got almost exactly the same results.

My conclusions are that action is far more important than most other factors, with color being and detail way down the list. One other thing if you have a crankbait that just flat catches fish DO NOT alter it, do your modifications to another bait and try to improve it, don’t mess with what works.

Your mileage may vary.

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When fishermen test a hard bait and make conclusions about any of the factors, including color, it needs to be taken with a big grain of salt. Their tests can never be valid experiments designed to get reliable information about which color, etc works better. Why? Because there are too many variables that are unknown and completely out of the control of the fisherman. If you control everything about the lure, the fisherman, his equipment, and his fishing presentation (and this is vanishingly rare in the "experiments" I read about), there are still a huge number of variables about the environment and the behavior of the fish that you cannot control. Many of those variables are complete unknowns. Are there more fish there? Are they active? If not, what's their mood? If you just caught one on lure X, does that affect whether other bass are more likely or less likely to bite the same lure again, or bite lure Y? Did the water clarity, oxygen content, current, lighting, and cover situation remain exactly the same between lures and between casts? Are there bass sociology factors working that you never even dreamed of?

JMHO, it will always be a mystery to some degree and that's fine. That keeps things interesting! If fishing were a dead certainty, I wouldn't be a fisherman. I listen when knowledgeable fishermen with deep experience on a particular body of water suggest particular lures, colors, etc. I don't rush to the local bait shop to get one "just like his" but I'll think about it and adapt their lure choice and presentation to my own little fishing universe and see what happens. Sometimes it can be a shortcut to a more productive day. Sometimes it will just lead you astray.

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When fishermen test a hard bait and make conclusions about any of the factors, including color, it needs to be taken with a big grain of salt. Their tests can never be valid experiments designed to get reliable information about which color, etc works better. Why? Because there are too many variables that are unknown and completely out of the control of the fisherman. If you control everything about the lure, the fisherman, his equipment, and his fishing presentation (and this is vanishingly rare in the "experiments" I read about), there are still a huge number of variables about the environment and the behavior of the fish that you cannot control. Many of those variables are complete unknowns. Are there more fish there? Are they active? If not, what's their mood? If you just caught one on lure X, does that affect whether other bass are more likely or less likely to bite the same lure again, or bite lure Y? Did the water clarity, oxygen content, current, lighting, and cover situation remain exactly the same between lures and between casts? Are there bass sociology factors working that you never even dreamed of?

JMHO, it will always be a mystery to some degree and that's fine. That keeps things interesting! If fishing were a dead certainty, I wouldn't be a fisherman. I listen when knowledgeable fishermen with deep experience on a particular body of water suggest particular lures, colors, etc. I don't rush to the local bait shop to get one "just like his" but I'll think about it and adapt their lure choice and presentation to my own little fishing universe and see what happens. Sometimes it can be a shortcut to a more productive day. Sometimes it will just lead you astray.

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I most humbly apologize for my complete lack of skill and knowledge, both as a baitmaker and a bass fisherman. It was a simple experiment, not an attempt to lead anyone astray.

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I most humbly apologize for my complete lack of skill and knowledge, both as a baitmaker and a bass fisherman. It was a simple experiment, not an attempt to lead anyone astray.

Sorry, I didn't mean my post as a counter-point to yours, Whittler. My point is that crankbaits are complicated and they operate in a very complicated environment, and it's not easy to isolate "bass attraction factors" in a scientific way. Yours was among the more rigorous tests I've read about and I appreciate the time and effort it required.

Here's a true to life scenario: I have 2 crankbaits that catch more fish for me on my home lake, and one of their common features is a similar crawdad pattern. They are different in every other factor but I think their actions, though quite different, are among the "best of the best" within their respective category of crankbait. So what's causing the bass to bite? Action or color? Personally, I usually lean toward action. But there's no rigorous scientific way to prove it. I sure ain't touching them babies and take a chance on messing them up! And maybe action + color = more bites than either factor alone.

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Great info guys! One man I think has all the answer's when it comes to crankbaits is kvd! I don't know what it is about that guy but he sure is special when he has that crankbait in hand! ( deadly actually) You have to have alot of respect for those guys to be able to go all over the country and know what bait color or size and consistantly catch fish! Of course they do have every resource as far as fishing go's thank you can think of! Lol!

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Here's another scenario to muddy the water. You can take two identical baits of the same size, same manufacturer, same color, etc. One can out fish the other 10 to 1. I had a number of the old DD22's (when Norman still owned the company) in what is now called the Bumblebee pattern. Out of 6 or 8 that I had in that color there was one that caught more fish than all the rest put together. After noticing this I experimented just to see if what I thought was true. I could be catching fish on the one, take it off and put one of the others on, and either quit catching fish altogether or not catching nearly as many. This happened on more than one occasion so I know it wasn't a fluke. There had to be something about the one bait that made it special and it sure wasn't the color.

Ben

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OK , here's my 2 -cents

How many of you guys since building and/or airbrushing baits have been able to take either sand paper or a dremel and alter a bait just enough to allow the bait to act different ? Some call it the "Hunting Effect" ? Which many pro's use to give them that edge.

Mike

Edited by MikePaintsBaits

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OK , here's my 2 -cents

How many of you guys since building and/or airbrushing baits have been able to take either sand paper or a dremel and alter a bait just enough to allow the bait to act different ? Some call it the "Hunting Effect" ? Which many pro's use to give them that edge.

Mike

My answer is ... none. I can build baits that hunt but I can't modify baits that won't hunt to make them do it. I think you're talking about lip trimming? In my experience, baits that hunt tend to have more lip area than ones that don't, so taking away material is usually not gonna help. I know some old style custom builders trim the lips on their baits to get them "right" but I'm guessing they built them with oversize lips if trimming is part of their build process.

Ben, re commercial baits. I gotta wonder why KVD has a swimming pool in his backyard. And how many baits does Strike King send him to yield the baits he actually throws in tournaments? Think about this stuff long enough and it will drive you mad.

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My answer is ... none. I can build baits that hunt but I can't modify baits that won't hunt to make them do it. I think you're talking about lip trimming? In my experience, baits that hunt tend to have more lip area than ones that don't, so taking away material is usually not gonna help. I know some old style custom builders trim the lips on their baits to get them "right" but I'm guessing they built them with oversize lips if trimming is part of their build process.

Ben, re commercial baits. I gotta wonder why KVD has a swimming pool in his backyard. And how many baits does Strike King send him to yield the baits he actually throws in tournaments? Think about this stuff long enough and it will drive you mad.

Action vs color is only ever going to be an opinion, as Bob stated, 'so many variables'. My personal opinion is that action is most important, but when I reach for a lure from the bag, I choose a color, to go with the action.

Whittler, I was very interested in your experiment with the colors. If I understood you correctly, you tried all the color variations on each lure, but still only two of the lures caught the majority of the fish, thus indicating that subtle differences in action caught the fish and the colors cancelled out. That was a well thought out experiment, aimed to prove or disprove a particular conclusion.

I build hunting lures and agree that altering the lip of a non-hunter is not likely. You may be able to tweak the tow eye to put it in the zone, but again not likely.

Many people will argue that hunters make no difference, personally, I think they do. I think the change of direction is the trigger, after all, the experienced crank fisherman does not just reel the lure in, he varies the retrieve. We have all seen fish follow the lure back to the rod tip, interested but seemingly not convinced. I believe they are convinced, they are just waiting for the baitfish to do something. But this is only going to work when the predators are feeding in a particular way. Every lure has its moments, at least we can agree on that.

Instinct tells the predator that once the baitfish changes direction, it cannot immediately change again, it is committed to the new direction and that is the time to attack. This is just opinion, not proven fact.

Dave

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The thing is if the instinct of the predator was to think that once the prey (baitfish) changes direction that it cannot change again immediatly and that's the time to attack. Then you wouldn't think you could catch them on fast slashing baits like the fluke or xrap because they would know that isn't possible. I'm not saying you are wrong vodkaman or anything that just made me think of that when I read it. ;) I personally think it's nothing scientific or anything it's just if they are hungry they eat, if they are protecting there bed they react or remove the threat, and sometimes just swipe at it like we do if a bee was flying in your face! Lol whack!!!!

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The thing is if the instinct of the predator was to think that once the prey (baitfish) changes direction that it cannot change again immediatly and that's the time to attack. Then you wouldn't think you could catch them on fast slashing baits like the fluke or xrap because they would know that isn't possible. I'm not saying you are wrong vodkaman or anything that just made me think of that when I read it. ;) I personally think it's nothing scientific or anything it's just if they are hungry they eat, if they are protecting there bed they react or remove the threat, and sometimes just swipe at it like we do if a bee was flying in your face! Lol whack!!!!

It is a timing thing. The change of direction requires a significant movement from the tail, probably twice the normal movement. The time to the next movement is one cycle of this movement, approximately quarter to half a second (guessing). The fast slashing baits fit perfectly into this theory. There is nothing scientific here, I am just trying to interpret Darwinian nature. If a predator attacks, the prey has time to change direction and survive. The predator that waits for the change of direction is more likely to survive and reproduce, so this plan gets hard wired into the fish and becomes instinct.

Everything you have written is correct. The fish are territorial and defensive. They feed when hungry, they attack when annoyed. A good example of this, is salmon. It is an established fact that salmon do not feed in fresh water, but we can still catch them by annoyance.

Predators have more than one plan of attack. Sometimes they sit in a hole and wait for the prey to swim by and suck it in when it gets too close. If the fish are feeding in this manner, then surface poppers and walk the dog tactics are probably not going to work. A successful angler quickly figures out how the fish are feeding and arms himself accordingly.

Dave

Edited by Vodkaman

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Ok ok I cant resist anymore.......This debate will never end as its ones opinion and very hard to prove. that being said here is my 2C!

Everything has a time and place. Everything matters to some extent. It's how we as anglers put together the puzzle and figure out how the fish are reacting to our presentation.

Personally I choose a bait based on conditions. Today that may be what color I think the situation calls for then choose the style, action and size. In this order all the time? NO! Do I think some of these matter more than the other? YES! But what the fish want now is going to be different than what they want in an hour, day, week.... so what matters most today isnt going to be what matters most tomorrow. Thus understanding the environment, feeding habits, predominant prey and fish tendencies should be on the top of your list.

Example...I fish a body of water here in CA that for about 2 weeks out of the year (Right before Prespawn) the only thing you can pattern a bass on is a RED crankbait. Can you catch a fish on something else? YES, but the quality and pattern comes from that red bait. It doesnt matter if you are throwing a Bomber, lucky craft or xyz bait as long as its a deep rich RED. I have won tournaments using this pattern. One where we had 23lbs for 5 and the next closest competitor was at 14lbs out of an 86 boat field. My nextdoor Neighbor is an FLW PRO and Tournament winner and he also swears by this. So my point is that during this time Color is the key indicatior not the action or other variables.

On the other hand I test my lures in my back yard and catch fish on unpainted cranks that are just sealed and looking like freankenstein. They have no paint or anything but still catch fish... so in this case Action is more than likely the leading contributor. Hunting lures I feel add to the realism of a bait and therefore only help the catching ability. Some lures truely out perform others and god knows I have had lures that I thought were the cats meaow until they got imploaded on a rock, piling, dock or one of my buddies favorite targets...MY MOTOR COWLING! :angry: But even when you have the diamond in the ruff if the fish are keying on other factors then action its not going to help you.

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everyone has touched on this subject and added good thoughts. there is no true miracle lure .every day or weather pattern shift creates different scenarios. one comment for baits that hunt .HOW TRUE.. lake st clair seems to be the most color sensitive lake we have seen. as for baits, if they have that magic action it will make a great day,. thats why we build our magic bullets. or they could be tommorows firewood.

great topic guys.

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