Merwin: My New Lure Color Theory

Sometimes it’s interesting to try and figure out the reasons behind common fishing practices. I don’t actually know if doing so helps me catch more fish, but it gives me something that’s more fun to think about than paying taxes or mowing the lawn. The soft-plastic lure color known as green pumpkin is a good example.

Green pumpkin worms, tubes, and jigs are often cited as bass-fishing favorites from Maine to California. There’s no doubt that they work well, but why? The color is kind of a brownish yellow-green, and that in itself is a big hint.

Most natural bass foods are cryptic, meaning they are somehow camouflaged or blending in with their immediate environment. Bass learn this very early and become adept at finding and feeding on things that are naturally hard to see. The green pumpkin color, meanwhile, almost perfectly matches the color of many aquatic weeds– camouflaged, in other words, much like natural prey.

Ah-ha! So I say to myself that maybe the best way to select a soft- plastic lure color is to pick one that more or less matches the prevailing environment, weeds, or bottom color. This can at least partly explain the success of similar and popular plastic colors such as watermelon, motor oil, or junebug.

I was all enthusiastic over this theory for at least two cups of coffee this morning, until I remembered that a lot of bass are also caught on bright colors like a shocking-pink bubblegum worm. So maybe those are only the stupid bass, or maybe I need a new theory….