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bonefish

Top Water Baits - Does Color Make a Difference?

31 posts in this topic

Being relatively new to the muskie scene, I was perusing a muskie catalog so I could make my Christmas list. I was in a bit of a daze looking at all the color options available with every single bait. Because my gift givers need specifics, it made me think about topwater colors in particular. Does color really matter? If the primary purpose is sound and vibration, is there any value in having a few different colors of the same bait?

My first thought was that it doesn't make a difference, but then I started thinking about those times before/after sunset where your ability to see in the water is kind of affected by the angle of the sun on the horizon. Maybe a different color would create a different presentation at that point?

I'm interested to hear your opinions.

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I have thrown many colors of topwaters. I always bet on black.

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As long as it's orange it doesn't matter (am I joking? I'm not sure) - my favorite topwater doesn't have much paint left on it anyway.

I'd rather throw a different color of my favorite topwater, than a different topwater of the same color. I'm not one to split hairs, especially on color.

Best to pick out something that looks good to you because you're going to be staring at it an awful lot.

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50inch, what is your favorite top water?

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I've got all dark topwaters for the most part, a few have some orange or firetiger flare.

IMO, typically the fish are looking up and seeing the silhouette. Being that the sky is almost always lighter than below them, you want a darker color to create a bigger silhouette and also more contrast against the sky.

My best one's are like 50inchpig's, almost no paint left which would go to show how much it matters...I'd change the style of topwater before i'd worry about the color.

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um, it's the uh, you know that one that sputters and um, it floats kind of, uh, on top of the water and i have a hard time remembering exactly what they call it but it kind of looks like, um, a wounded something or other and makes noise, i have to go now......

just kidding. love my LOWrider, smaller one, got one with the offset shaft that just kills, numero uno, top of the A list, and usually stays wet the whole month of september. two reshafts, 4 props, a bunch of superglue and more hook changes than any other bait i have. the one bait in my boat nobody else throws.

DeBo fears it, he trembles at the sight of it. he stops casting his bulldawg and just runs the boat when i throw it, net in hand. it's the sawed off street sweeper of musky fishing.

also a big fan of my superhumper, there's lots of good topwaters out there.

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I would try dark lures on overcast days with stained water. Also bright lures on clear lakes and during those sunny days. That kind of is the rule of thumb for all lures though.

All lakes are different though. It takes time on the water to tell what they want to eat. But when you find the right one its a blast and fish will be flying!!!!

Also dont set the hook to early. Wait tell you feel some weight and give it [PoorWordUsage]. Very tuf to do at first but you will get the hang of it. I lost my fist 10-12 fish on top water then someone told me to not even look at the lure when I was reeling. So I did that and it payed off BIG TIME!!!

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I'd rather throw a different color of my favorite topwater, than a different topwater of the same color.

50-

Wow, you may want to trademark that one before someone uses it in either of the two main musky mags!! wink

That said I agree with you, when thinking of baits in general I agree. Just this year I had a component on a lure fail after some good action and it was done for the day, I remember thinking, "I wish I had another..." instead of just reaching for something else with orange and black spots - I believe the action has more to do with it than the color - that doesn't mean I'm not going to get three of each color of the hottest new lures this year though. My mom still yells at me for staring into the fridge waiting for a meal to appear - very similar to the way I stare at all the colors in the Lakewood waiting for a fish to appear.

-erik

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IMO color is a confidence issue almost in all cases. For me, I will match the color of the forage for a particular lake. My best topwater that I have caught a ton of fish on is a darker yellow. I've caught fish on it during the middle of the day with bright blue bird sky and no wind. I've caught fish on it during the middle of the day with clouds and wind. I've even caught fish on it at night. You missed out on the topwater bite though, that was 3+ years ago. You might still get a fish here and there on topwater, but it's not nearly as good as it used to be. Not sure why, but it might have something to do with the fish being conditioned on pressured waters.

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Quote:
You missed out on the topwater bite though, that was 3+ years ago

That is when Double cowgirls and bulldogs came out. And now that seems to be what 90 percent of people are using. I think thats why you dont hear about topwater as much!!! Which is just fine!!!

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Nah, that's speaking from experience. I never go by what I hear people catching fish on. My posts are always in regard to my experience. I've thrown topwaters over and over with very limited success in the last 2 years. Over prime spots and conditions during the best time of the year for topwaters. I will catch 10 to 1 on other baits compared to topwater. Or in this last year ratio for example, 54:1.

Brian, are you saying you have been doing well on topwaters this last year?

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I hear you. Last year ratio for me was 56:3. But I fished mainly 2 lakes. If I would have been on the lake I used to fish a lot, the ratio would have been over 50 percent(more caught on top water then anything else.) It seems topwater is just been so streaky the last 2 years(due to pressure.) One day you only see fish on topwater and nothing else and the next its the complete opposite!!! But, heck thats why we all chase them darn things.

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I would agree that the last two years have been really slow for topwaters. I couldn't buy a fish using them on WBL. There is only 1 metro lake that I even had a follow from a muskie on a topwater and that lake gave multiple follows on 2 days and never again for the rest of the year.

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this is an older post of mine for top waters. it's good info, at least IMHO it is.

Quote:
hey coot

this is a hard one. top waters are a different breed when it comes to the stages nessassary to make a muskie want to hit it. maybe you've noticed that not all muskie are of the same personality? or at least it seems? i played with the whole tweaking thing on my lures for years. what i learned was sound is relevent but not the end all. i'll quote another of my posts...

IMHO, sound, visibility and contrast are the most important features any lure, not just top water, can have to maximize it's ability to attract a fish to it. not nessassarily in that order depending on the situation. recognition of movement is enhanced with contrast, which is the main focus in any lure i do, even my solid color ''glass'' baits. the rest takes care of itself as long as i do/use the right things. here is where sound is relevent. as the main ''atractant'' in a top water lure. because under water sound travels around 4 times faster and much farther and is amplified... basicly just a different decernable sound other than the normal ''natural'' surounding sounds is really all that is nessassary. hence the popularity of some for the plop. what's going to make that plop sound? not waves or moving docks or even a swimming weasle. duckling? please. nothing. so it's different and easily located by vibration (which is sound BTW). so now the fish hears it (feels) and see's it....

now what? another of my quotes from the same thread... Quote:at this point none of the above matters anymore and the next stage of important lure features kick in.... action and profile. after it's noticed and recognized as possible food, action and profile are the most important factors for that irresistible ''trigger''. let's say for arguements sake ''speed'' and ''motion'' are included in ''action''. remember, sometimes complete stoppage is an action. or just a simple twitch. do you wanna take a stab at the last most important feature(s) of a lure?

also... probably the biggest mistake made with top waters, any style lure really, is just fishing with it any old time. it's more complicated than that. if the fish are deep eating deep forage your chances at that point are pretty slim fishing on top. and just because there is a fish around the shallows it doesn't mean he's eating. actually he's probably full and resting from feeding. might get a reaction strike might not. early and late are the BEST times, IMO, for surface prop style. and bulgeing spinnerbaits. i'm not a walk the dog guru or anything but they seem good anytime and are too little used over deep water.. but if you made it this far i'm sure your tired of reading. so. in closeing... my advice is get some of light, dark, and moderate colors (natural). high contrast and mono-color blends, mix of same color with different tints on the same lure. and only get ones you'll be confident in.

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I had a very good topwater year. The months of september and october were 2 of the best months I have ever had on topwaters. I think that I spent $200-$300 on buying new baits because I couldn't keep my old ones running. I have always been black black and more black when it comes to topwaters. I do like a little glitter or maybe a baby loon design but it has to be dark. That's just my confidence thing, it doesn't mean that it's right. Anyways, when I had to buy a new one, they didn't always have the same color in stock so I would have to buy a different one... Sometimes I had action the next time out, sometimes I didn't.

To me, it's the sound first; color second. I know that I catch quite a few more fish on black than I do brighter colors but maybe thats because I don't throw them on bright sunny calm days. (doesn't meant that you can't though)

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I had a lot of fun fishing topwaters this year and with decent success. They are a lot of fun and easy to use for less experienced people that are fishing with me.

Tigers like them a lot too, especially in the late/early light conditions as mentioned above.

I liked the topwaters so much that I have three Medium "Rides" coming from HCTackle!

hctackle

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Quote:
I liked the topwaters so much that I have three Medium "Rides" coming from HCTackle!

three (custom) ''Rides'' and i figure i'll throw ya a bone too laugh ..(free).. haven't really decided what yet... but Cjac, what would you think of a tandem spinnerbait with Hybrid Deer tail/Rabbit wool dressing? rabbit wool is white and deer tail is anything. yellow chartreuse head with a quality saltwater hook? of course it will be tied the Heckler way. smile ... or 3 oz. fireball jigs tied up the same with the saltwater hook?

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I'm just looking forward to open water in 6 months to toss a few new custom HCTackle topwaters!

Spinnerbaits are always a great option too, underfished in my opinion, I'm just as guilty of not throwing them enough as anyone else. Tempt me with one and I'd likely want more! Natural hair spinnerbaits and bucktails make a nice "cone" in the water around the hook, enhancing the weedless aspect of a spinnerbait in my opinion.

Thanks for the help and recommendations with my initial request! Can't wait to see the finished goods!

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Quote:
Natural hair spinnerbaits and bucktails make a nice "cone" in the water around the hook, enhancing the weedless aspect of a spinnerbait in my opinion.

good call.

cool. i'll pack a Heckler slow rolling special in there. 1 1/2 oz or so. maybe an orange head.

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Sounds great, but you certainly don't have to! Many thanks....

It coincides with one of my '09 plans....more spinnerbaits. It's a "go to" bait for bass and pike, so it needs more use for muskies. Even bofwin eat 'em!

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Black is hard to beat under clear skies and calm to slightly calm conditions, but I really prefer orange belly topwaters during lowlight and dark conditions and wind. Pink has been pretty good during overcast or clear windy days.

If I had to pick only one color...I would definitely choose orange over black.

Brett Waldera

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I feel it does.

I match my color choices based on complimentary colors on a color wheel. Orange and blue oppose each other on a color wheel so if you set orange next to something blue the orange will really jump out at you as opposed to setting it next to something red or yellow.

Look at a colorwheel and start playing around with the complimentary colors. It's pretty neat stuff.

Black remains consistent because it absorbs all different colors of light. So it will remain the same under high sun or low light. The difference is that under bluebird skies, because orange and blue are complimentary, that orange bait will be much more defined than a black bait will be. The black one will be visible but the silhouette of the orange bait will be clearer therefore a muskie will be able to hit them more efficiently. There have been times in bluebird sky conditions when I have noticed this. A black bait has fish all over it but they miss by jumping over the top of it, off to the side, etc. Clip on an identical bait in orange and they don't miss.

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Color plays HUGE in getting fish hooked, but I don't think it matters as much to get them to strike. If anyone here has spent any time scuba diving you will probably have observed what I'm about to say.

When you look up from underwater at the surface there are 2 major factors that affect as to what you see on the surface (aside from water clarity): light and wave action. In bright light with little to no wave action you can see pretty much anything. When the light conditions get low you tend to lose the ability to see color depending on how deep you are. The deeper you are the less color plays into it. Water clarity dictates how deep "deep" is.

Now when there's waves things are different. On wavy days each wave makes a shadow and the entire undersea landscape has varying light conditions. It's like a mellow strobe light of bright and dark flashing all over the place. In these conditions black on the surface doesn't show up on the surface nearly as well as bright colors. Especially when light levels get lower.

I've found in my experience that on overcast wavy days both black and bright colors get strikes, but they seem to track and eat the bright baits more effectively. It took me a couple days of hot topwater action a few years ago (20-30 strikes in a could hours) to really put it together, but it's no contest. The depth of water does make a difference, but as a general rule of thumb I do this: dusk/night: black, choppy: bright, bright/calm: whatever I have confidence in although I am partial to shinny topwaters on bright, calm days.

All of that being said, SOUND means 10x more then color does. If a topwater doesn't sound the right call it's not going to get bit. Color is used primarily as a bulls eye for fish that are called in with sound.

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Great post Shawn. Great to have a resource like yourself here.

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