What Bait Colors to Use When Bass Fishing

Found in freshwater lakes, ponds, rivers and streams across North America, bass are among the most widely pursued game fish. Bass are known for striking your bait or lure with an aggressive force making bass fishing an exciting sport. Baits used for bass fishing are available in a variety of styles and colors, and the best color is determined by a number of factors such as water conditions, time of year, temperature and weather patterns

A fresh bass is biting a lure. (Image: tbozok/iStock/Getty Images)


Research has shown that bass can distinguish between different colors and prefer the color red under controlled laboratory conditions. However, different colors may work better in different fishing conditions, but choosing the correct color can be complicated with the wide variety of lures and color combinations available. Keep your color selection simple by keeping only about five to six different colors in your tackle box.

Water Clarity

Water clarity is one of the most important factors that can influence bait color for bass fishing. Stick to colors such as green pumpkin, watermelon and root beer in clear water and change to a june-bug or black/blue combination in stained or dirty water. Another approach to water clarity is using fluorescent and bright colored baits for muddy water and switching to lighter colors in clear, warm water. Fishing accessory instruments are available that measure light conditions and water clarity to recommend a bait color.

Spring Spawn

The spring spawning season can be an exciting time to pursue bass because the fish are actively feeding and breeding in shallow water. When the water temperatures reach 55 to 62 degrees Fahrenheit, the bass swim into shallow waters to start the spawn. As the temperature gradually increases, switch from using darker colored baits to lighter-colored baits such as white or chartreuse. You can also choose light baits with dark contrast markings such as black, blue or green.

Weather Conditions

Weather conditions such as storm fronts or cloud conditions can influence bass feeding and activity levels that can ultimately affect your bait color selection. On bright, sunny days, choose spinner baits or blades with silver or gold and switch to painted blades on cloudy days. On cold days in the late fall, winter and early spring, dark colors such as black, blue, chrome and green may be the most effective bait colors.

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