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How to Pick the Color of Your Crankbait

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Pete runs through how to choose the right color for your crankbait.

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Video Transcript


With all the popularity and the new RAPPA-LA DT-8, we thought it'd be a good time to talk about how to choose the correct color in your crankbait, a kind of general overview of it. This obviously can't get super detailed because it can really differ from different bodies of water, even different strains of fish, on what colors they key in on. That's up to you as the angler to really dial in the details there. But there's a general roadmap to help you choose the color in a crankbait. And like I said, with the popularity of the DT-8s, and we've been getting a lot of consumer questions on this, we thought it'd be a good time to maybe share a general way to pick color in a crankbait if you're going to try out these DT-8s that have been so popular.

Rule of thumb, if it's a really clear body of water, so not a lot of color in the water and fish are usually able to see the prey that they're biting, then you want to try and go as natural as possible. It's a good way to start out trying to key in on the fish location and get a bite with a crankbait, to try and be as natural as possible. And that's doing a little homework on what the forage base is in that fishery. For example, up here in Minnesota where I am, bluegills are typically the number one forage for largemouth bass. So we're going to try maybe going to this clear body of water, and I'm going to start off with something super natural that matches the forage. So, as you hear anglers say a lot, match the hatch. So I'm going to throw a small bluegill imitator out there like this.

A lot of times, not many fisheries up here in my neck of the woods are shad-based forage, but there are a few. But around the rest of the country, shad is a very popular forage base. So if you're in a real clear body of water, try to match that hatch again with like a shad pattern, a real natural pattern like this. The shad colors tend to work on more bodies of water than even sometimes the bluegill patterns will work because they do kind of also imitate just a natural minnow forage. And there's a whole bunch of different minnows out there. So those white colors, silver colors, natural minnow looking patterns. And a lot of times, if you try shad patterns, they'll work even on fisheries that aren't shad-based forages. So it's a good idea to have a shad color in your arsenal and try it on a real clear body of water like that.

Now, in the springtime, if we look at different times of the year, red always seems to come out to be a major player. There are lots of theories on why that's the case. Some people believe it has something to do with the spawn, the timing around the spawn, the best key in on that red color a lot more. There are different theories about this. It's the way the crawfish are that time of year. It's mimicking your crawfish pattern. There are arguments to it. We just know that red is a producer in the spring. I actually use it a lot in the fall as well. And I do pretty well. We've even seen red lately in some of the more stained bodies of water do really well even in the summer months. So if you're in that time frame of spring and fall, I would try having a red crankbait on. So that's either water temperatures rising or water temperatures falling. Not when they've necessarily stabilized throughout the summer. That's usually not when red is shining, depending on the body of water. But as a general rule of thumb, try out the red color crankbaits when you're fishing those early spring months or late fall to winter months.

Next up is when you're fishing a body of water that's got some stained water, stained color to it, where you don't think those fish are necessarily keying in visually on certain prey. They're eating what's moving and what's around them. If they can fit it in their mouth, they're going to eat it because they're hungry, and it's hard for them to track down their food in that body of water. Sometimes those brighter colors really shine. And the reason why I have two different options for you here is those super bright colors like this fire tiger right here have been a staple for a long time. A lot of anglers' boats, you've seen a bunch of bright wild colors like this in crankbaits for a long time, and it can cause a lot of reaction bites, and it's easy for a fish to locate this bait.

But we've seen a trend that's been around for a long time, and it's starting to rear its head again with a lot of hardcore crankbait anglers, and that's more muted bright colors. I know that doesn't seem to make a lot of sense, but crankbaits almost look like they've been in your box for a decade already, and the colors have kind of chilled out and been muted. This is the old-school color from Rapa here. Sometimes in pressured bodies of water, those fish have been seeing a lot of these bright-colored crankbaits, and a little bit more of a muted version of that can get you more bites. So if you're fishing dirty or stained water conditions and trying to get a reaction bite out of fish, sometimes go to these bright colors like this. If you're not getting those bites on this, if it's a little bit too bright and you think it's kind of scaring the fish off from committing to the crankbait, switch to a more muted one.

But if you follow this general rule of thumb across the board with your crankbait selections where you have a couple of natural patterns, you have some reds for those springtime fishing adventures, and you've got some bright colors for some dirty stained water conditions or trying to get some reaction bites out of some pressured fish, you should be able to cover your bases pretty well, and you can work out the fine details from there. So just remember, naturals, reds, and bright colors, you should be all set to catch them on a crankbait. Take care and go catch them.

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