Do Fish See Color? Key Reasons that can Influence Bait Choice

Take a stroll through the fishing department at the local outdoor retailer and you will see that lures and line come in a broad array of colors. However, does the color of the lure actually matter? The answer will depend on how fish see and depth.

Do Fish See Color? Key Reasons that can Influence Bait Choice

Apart from realistically mimicking prey items, various lures play upon the way the eyes on fish engage with certain colored baits at different depths, light availability, and water speeds. And we all know catching fish is all about using the right bait. Whether your fishing for catfish or bass fishing, having the right bait makes all the difference.

The idea of available light and color appeal at various depths also is the basis for utilizing red colored line, like Cajun Redline. The idea with this colored line is the line is going to be virtually invisible to the fish, yet it is not the best quality line available.

Despite their color, reflective lures will provide visibility and flash even within deep waters. Also, remember that clearer waters permit light to penetrate deeper, which means the lure’s color is going to stay visible for a bit longer.

What About the Weather?

Up To 20’

All colors gradually will dull as they travel from shallow to deeper depths, yet warm hues such as orange and red are the first shades to fade. To the fish, lures in those colors stay vibrant up to about 20’ deep, yet then their visibility decreases.

20 to 35-45’

Orange is the following color to fade. Orange firetiger and vibrant crawfish patterns do well until about 40’ or so.

50 To 75’

It’s where yellow lures are going to start losing their vibrant appeal; therefore, you will want to change to the Oxbow and chartreuse color patterns.

Want to see better in the water? Be sure to use a good pair of polarized shades when fishing. They help tremendously. Check out the best fishing sunglasses under 50 bucks.

Lure Colors and Light Absorption

Deeper Than 100’

Green and blue lures will stay visible for as deep as the light penetrates the water. However, in waters that have current, the opposite will hold true, and green or blue lures first lose visibility.

Apart from how water and light depth affect the appeal of a lure’s pattern, it also is important that you give consideration to how fish eyes work. The retina of a fish contains two kinds of cells: rods and cones. The cones are primarily used in the daytime and have the ability to discern color, whereas the rods are utilized for seeing in the evening and while they’re able to distinguish light, they cannot do the same for colors.

Color Suggestions


  1. Attempt to consider what the fly’s colors will appear like at the depth you’re fishing and pick appropriately. For instance, since blue is the last color absorbed and red is the first, it’ll make more sense to utilize a blue fly while fishing deep.
  2. If you’re attempting to match a certain bait, the fly’s color ought to match the bait’s color for the depth you’re fishing. In other words, attempt to match the underwater color instead of the bait’s color in air.
  3. Most fish feed by looking upwards toward the water’s surface. However, in doing so, they have a hard time telling the difference between certain colors, and the prey’s contrast against the surface becomes more critical.


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