Water clarity and color play a prominent role in lure selection. In clear water, most fish species are visual feeders, and choosing baits that effectively imitates a primary forage species is paramount.
But, when the water muddies up, fish rely more on their lateral line to detect prey, and the name of the game becomes silhouette and vibration.
That may seem simple to many anglers, but there are so many baits on the market, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when choosing the right baits for different water clarities.
We’ve put together the following list of primary considerations for choosing baits in both clear and murky water.
Murky: When the water’s dirty, it’s all about giving the fish something to target. Choose crankbaits that have a wide wobble, loud rattle, and bright colors. Baits with square or coffin shaped bills generally have wider wobbles than those with round lips.
Clear: In clear water, it’s more important to imitate the actual forage species that fish are feeding on. Try crankbaits in natural colors like shad, bluegill, perch, or crawfish. Round billed, silent, and narrow profiled baits are also most effective.
Murky: Just like with crankbaits, the more thump the better in murky water. The best spinnerbaits for these conditions will have big single or double Colorado blades, and bright skirt colors like chartreuse, red, or fire tiger.
Clear: The most effective clear water spinnerbaits will be those that produce a ton of flash. Willow blades produce the most flash, so try double willows or tandem blades in shad patterns, whites, or silvers.
Murky: In dirty water, louder is better when it comes to topwater presentations. Try “clacker” style buzzbaits for murky water, chuggers that make a distinct “bloop” sound, and loud double prop baits.
Clear: In clear water, subtlety is the key. Good bets are walking stick baits, poppers that feature more of a “spitting” action than a chug, and subtle wake baits.
Murky: In murky water the two most important things to think about when choosing a jig and trailer are bulk and contrast. You want to choose a jig that has a bulkier profile so that it puts off a large enough silhouette that the bass can find it. You also want to choose trailers with lots of action.
Clear: When the visibility is high, subtlety is the key to jig selection. Opt for smaller, spider cut, and more natural colors when choosing a jig. Trailers should also look realistic to accurately represent a crawfish or bottom fish.
Murky: In case you haven’t gotten the trend yet, the best baits for murky water will feature lots of action-causing appendages, a large profile, and dark colors like black and blue, black neon, and junebug.
Clear: To maximize your bites when using plastics in clear water, select baits that have natural colors (greens and browns) and either directly resemble a forage species – or feature a subtle, enticing action.