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Crankbaits are available in many colors and patterns.

You can start some good arguments in a group of anglers by bringing up the subject of color.

Everyone has an opinion on the importance of color in catching fish, and some anglers have several opinions. We know that fish can see colors, that is a scientific fact. We even know that different species of fish have different sensitivities to different colors.

When doing seminars on walleye fishing, I often have pointed out that walleyes are particularly sensitive to the colors green and yellow-orange. I find that incredibly interesting because the classic predator/prey relationship for walleyes would be walleyes and yellow perch. Guess what colors yellow perch come in? Yep, yellow-orange and green.

When I say that, many anglers in the room immediately think I am saying the best colors for walleye baits are yellow-orange and green. I always continue by saying that the best colors for any fishing situation depend on a number of variables, including water clarity, water color, amount of sunlight, depth, habitat, prey and personal preference. Yellow-orange and green can be great colors for catching walleyes, but in some situations, pinks, whites, metallics or purple with pink polka dots may be the best.

I also believe that the color of baits and lures often makes more difference to the anglers than it does to the fish. That is why every single bait in the aisles of the large outdoor gear stores comes in 50 shades of the rainbow. Fishermen with coin in their pockets are going to buy not just one, but several colors.

If you have certain colors in which you have confidence, fish them! Confident anglers catch more fish, and catching fish makes anglers more confident.

I have my favorite colors, but I always try to start with a knowledge or at least a hunch of what prey the fish might be eating. I try to imitate the natural prey in size, shape, color and behavior. I favor natural colors in clearer water, brighter colors and contrasting colors in dirtier water. Most days on the water, I never get around to really experimenting with colors, and most days that is enough to be successful.

Under water, especially water with some color, all those artsy details on your baits — especially on a variety of crankbaits — probably makes no difference to the fish at all. Fish cannot see that sharp or clear.

If fish bite on purple with pink polka dots, sometimes you will only drive yourself crazy by asking yourself why they did that. Just keep casting it out there!

Daryl Bauer is the outreach program manager in the Game and Parks' Fisheries Division. Contact him at Read his blog, Barbs and Backlashes, at


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