Wisdom on Colour from the Guru, Wally Robins
If you hunt muskies, this is a must read. And it also applies to bass, walleye, trout and any other fish that may occupy your non-musky time on the water. The topic is bait colour, one of the most popular subjects for anglers everywhere.
Instead of sharing information in my typical form I decided to interview an avid musky guy, Wally Robins, a fellow Field Staffer for Shimano, Loomis, Power Pro and Jackall baits. Wally’a multi-species angler but, after knowing and fishing with him for years, he’s clearly a big time musky lover first and foremost.
Let’s see what he has to say about bait colour for muskies.
ORMF – So, does colour matter when chasing muskie, Wally?
WR – Personally, I think that colour is one of the most over-rated factors when choosing a bait to throw. I’ll go so far as saying colour matters a whole lot more to bait manufacturers than it does to the fish.
ORMF – Interesting. What bait features do you feel are more important than colour?
WR – All of them from bait size, action, the depth it runs to its profile. Bait vibration and water displacement are other key criteria. Only after I’ve considered all these features do I focus on colour. And even more important is musky mood. How are fish behaving? Are they active or invisible? If you’re getting follows, are they slow deep and lazy or are fish blazing in like their butt’s on fire?
Here’s an example of how colour can be almost meaningless. Once in a while, the Musky Gods are benevolent. Fish are uber aggressive. If you can hit the water with your cast, you’re going to get bit. You can throw black, white, lime green, bright pink or a bait that looks like a paint store exploded and you’ll hook up. Conversely, during a dead slow day, if all you do is cycle through the colour spectrum, you’re playing Lotto Musky. You’re not catching for any number of reasons. It could be location. It could be you’re fishing too fast or at the wrong depth. Or your bait’s too big or too small. Rarely is it colour choice.
ORMF – Do you have favourite colours?
WR – Sure do. I lean to blacks, browns, greens, and white. Virtually everything a musky eats has white on its body. -I’m surprised that white is an under utilized colour by many musky anglers.
I really like baits that have orange in their pattern. And I have a few oddball shades including a bright pink Spanky in-line made of marabou. Every now and again, an ultra gawdy in-your-face bait is the ticket. I stress though that the colour choice only happens after I’ve considered other bait features. Remember, what we see as bright pink doesn’t mean that a musky sees pink. Until we develop an app that tells us how a musky “thinks”, we’re anthropomorphizing the animal.
ORMF – You actual know what anthropomorphizing means?
WR , I had to look it up.
ORMF – What about water clarity and colour choice? Do you use brighter colours when the river looks like a giant Tim Horton’s double double?
WR- Yes. And no. I do like brighter blades, say chartreuse or orange in dirty water conditions. But I don’t necessarily believe that a musky can see bright colours better when visibility’s low. It’s OUR visibility that’s impaired. You’d have to be a musky to really know if fish can’t see as well. Using brighter blades or glide baits allows me to see the bait as it nears the boat. This gives me a reference point and enables me to transition into a boat side circle smoothly. Basically, in dirty water, I’m much more concerned with bait size and profile and water displacement than I am about colour. A final comment on this. In the southern US, top-ranked bass tournament anglers reach for black or black and blue when fishing the heavily stained waters of many of their lakes and rivers. This flies in the face of the “use bright colours in dirty water” argument. Bass and muskies are fish. Muskies are bigger and meaner and shouldn’t be lipped. Otherwise, they’re basically the same critter in terms of general biology.
ORMF – I’m guessing you don’t recommend buying 20 of the same bait in every colour it comes in.
WR – Only if you’re crazy rich and like collecting musky baits. Or have stocks in a tackle company.
ORMF – Can you recommend three colour patterns for the Ottawa?
WR – Black, white and perch immediately come to mind. But more importantly. I suggest musky anglers use whatever colours they have confidence in. Doesn’t matter if a bait’s lavender with yellow dots. If you have confidence in it, it’s because you’ve caught fish with it. And if you’ve caught fish it’s because you fish that family of baits really well. And that skill is w-a-y more important than colour.
ORMF- Do you own a lavender bait with yellow dots?
WR- I thought the question before this one was the last question!
That’s it from here … tight lines, see you on the water!
John M. Anderson
We produce BIG fish!!
be good, do good, live well
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