One of the easiest changes you can make to many baits is to alter the colour, but does this really make any difference to catches? I don’t think that fish are attracted to any one colour, but some are definitely more visible than others in different venues, and this can influence our results.
On heavily pressured venues, using a colour that is different from the norm can also catch you more fish, especially if you use some of the more obscure hues.
What can coarse fish see?
Coarse fish have eyes that are not much different from ours. However, they can see some ultraviolet light beyond the blue end of the spectrum that we can see, useful in deep water where most light is at this end of the spectrum. Rather than what colours fish can see, we would be better asking what colours are visible in the murky depths of a river, or the clear water of a lake? Light at the red end of the spectrum is actually absorbed quite quickly. If you go down to 30 feet then even in a gin-clear lake, reds will appear as shades of grey.
Most of the time, though, we aren’t fishing in water anything like this deep, so the colours we see are not that different to what the fish will be seeing too. At night colour becomes less important. Even though fish can see quite clearly on even a moonless night, they will see in black and white, with bright colours appearing as lighter shades of grey and dark colours like red appearing almost black.
Paul's top tips for dyeing your baits
Many baits will take colours easily, and some anglers who have experimented with unusual combinations have enjoyed surprising success until the fish become ‘wised up’ to them.
Why not experiment yourself, with simple food colourings? The sky’s the limit!