In his box of Bandit crankbaits, Alabama pro Jimmy Mason will always have a root beer and a root beer chartreuse bait for each model. Why? They’re similar, but different enough.
And that’s a key element of Mason’s color selection: options for his confidence colors.
“On a brighter day with more sunshine and clear water when it’s easy for the fish to see, I use the root beer; and in darker water, or if it’s cloudy and I need that bait to pop so the fish can see it, I’ll go with root beer chartreuse,” Mason explained.
Anchoring that thought is a simple explanation: Camouflage the bait in clear water and make it stand out in scenarios of lower clarity. Another example: Mason likes black back pearl for imitating shad in stained water, but when clear water ratchets up the fish’s discretion, he turns to splatterback, which breaks up the bait’s profile.
Every angler has their personal faves, but Mason said the strategy stands consistent across the board. Adjusting colors for sky conditions, water clarity and fishing pressure are pretty common principles, but he notes the importance of not over-adjusting.
Fish response, Mason said, is your truest barometer for color choice.
“You want to look at how a fish is hooked and use that to gauge how interested they are in the bait,” Mason explains. “If your fish are constantly hooked on the rear hook, they’re interested, but not fully committed.”
Conversely, when a fish has the whole bait in its mouth, Mason knows he’s throwing the perfect color.