Tackle shop shelves are stacked with an array of various coloured hookbaits, and making sense of them all can be a tough task.
Plainly, they all work, but is there a way to narrow your choices down to just a few colours? Now that the cold weather is here, playing about with bait colours will get you more bites, but there are four or five that I’d recommend above all others to catch in both gin-clear water and at times when rain puts some colour in the lake.
The important thing to remember is visibility – how easily will a fish locate what’s on the hook? That’s why, in clear water, lighter colours are better than bright fluoro baits that won’t have the same impact. But, in coloured water, pinks and oranges suddenly become the baits to be on.
When a bright bait is right...
With wafters, my rule of thumb says yellows and whites for clear water, fluoro pinks and oranges as all-rounders with more of a nod to coloured water. Fluoros have a strong silhouette, making them easier for fish to find. With a lighter-coloured bait you’ll be waiting much longer for a bite, if you get one at all!
...And when it’s not!
Sometimes, a ‘blend in’ bait - one which matches the pellets around the feeder - is better than a bright one. When you get little indications on the tip but no bites it means fish are coming to the pellets but not taking the hookbait – it’s time to change it to a plain banded pellet or natural coloured Pellet Wafter.
The power of yellow baits
Corn is a deadly winter bait, because its yellow colour stands out in clear water, making it easy for fish to locate it. All fish, not just carp, eat corn and will see lots of it during the summer. As a result, they associate the bright colour with food. It’s also a relatively soft bait, and so easy to pick up and digest in the cold.
Why bread reigns supreme
On a clear river, or on a commercial fishery, bread works really well – in fact, if I had to pick one bait to get a bite in gin-clear conditions, it would be bread. A big piece of punch is easy to see, and when the bread takes on water and swells up it then becomes super-soft. It takes no effort on the part of the fish to slurp it down.