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Question on colors?


Rob G
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Now it seems to me, that my olive bugger tends to perform better when the water clarity is good and the black performs better when the water is more stained. Now I don't know this to be fact but I think these tendencies seem to hold up on my home waters. Does anyone have any general rules that they tend to live by, or in other words, what condtions dictate what color or fly that you first pull out of the box when you reach the water's edge? Again thank you for your thoughts.

 

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Now it seems to me, that my olive bugger tends to perform better when the water clarity is good and the black performs better when the water is more stained. Now I don't know this to be fact but I think these tendencies seem to hold up on my home waters. Does anyone have any general rules that they tend to live by, or in other words, what condtions dictate what color or fly that you first pull out of the box when you reach the water's edge? Again thank you for your thoughts.

 

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The general thinking is dark colors for dark water and light colors for light water. At least that's the premise I work off of. But, there are times I'll break the rules.

 

Your mileage may vary.

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Steve, go to youtube and type in Woolly bugger and I think there must be at least 5 people that have posted how to tie them. If you don't care for that format, google "how to tie a woolly bugger" and I'm sure you'll dig up plenty of tutorials.

 

Mark, I didn't weight those two buggers with any additional wire, but I will frequently use .025 or .030 wire, and then to tell them apart in my box, I will often use a different colored bead head like copper to keep them easily identifiable.

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to tell them apart in my box, I will often use a different colored bead head like copper to keep them easily identifiable.

 

 

Or use different colors of thread. My system is to use Tan thread for unweighted, Brown thread for lightly weighted and Black thread for heavily weighted. Works for any subsurface fly from a size 4 Woolly Bugger down to a size 20 trout nymph.

 

Joseph

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Or use different colors of thread. My system is to use Tan thread for unweighted, Brown thread for lightly weighted and Black thread for heavily weighted. Works for any subsurface fly from a size 4 Woolly Bugger down to a size 20 trout nymph.

 

Joseph

 

Joseph, That's a much better idea and would give you many more options. Thanks

 

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I don't believe river smallies are all too concerned about fly color. Frankly, I think they're more interested if they can catch it before another smallie does and if it's worth their effort.

 

The only steadfast rule I believe in is "you catch more fish when your fly is in the water." (Don Rego, please leave that comment alone) With that incredibly brilliant bit of wisdom imparted, I don't change up flies very often and keep my false casts to a minimum. I always keep my fly boxes I bring out with me chocked full of flies of every color, size, etc. but seem to fish the same flies on my dry-patch outing after outing. When they get too beat up to swim right or I lose it, then I go back to my fly boxes.

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I have to disagree with your comment that color does not make a difference. Size, shape and action and my most important feature, weight, (give me any color fly that stays near the bottom rather than the right color fly that rides too high in the water column) usually are more important than color but it still is a factor. I do not try to tell the fish what color they are going to eat today by only offering them one color (no choice). I tend to switch colors every fifteen minutes until I get some action. If the action stops, I change again and usually I can pick up a couple more on a different color. If changing colors fails to draw any strikes I'll drop a fly size and start the process over. I let the fish tell me what they want. Listen to the fish, don't dictate to them. You can always catch some fish on any color but you will get more with the right one.

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One thing that I'll do and please tell me your thoughts on the matter but if I walk the river to my finishing point and if I decide to retrace my footsteps to get back to my vehicle, I'll almost always change the fly or at least the color dramatically on the way back. My thought is if I just caught fish or at least just showed them something that they may have hit and I didn't pick up on, that they may be hesitant to hit it again. I'm sure they probably don't have long term memory but... maybe they remember for at least an hour or two??

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I fished in Sullvania Wilderness Area with Dave Franklin before he turned to fly fishing. In less than an hours time I watched him hook and lose the same bass twice before finally landing it on the third time around. How did we know it was the same fish? There was three purple slider worms in the corner of its jaw when we boated that 19"er. Memory? But I also had fish miss on a pattern then run for the hills the next time I swam it by them. Then I've had fish follow a fly to the boat, changed colors and caught it on the next cast. There's no guessing what they're gonna do. But there is a very true saying,"If you don't like the results you are getting, change what you are doing".

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I took the liberty of skimming the first sentence from each of the posts you put up on this subject and deleting the terminal tackle terminology:

 

Now it seems to me, that my olive xxxxx tends to perform better when the water clarity is good and the black performs better when the water is more stained.

 

and this one:

 

One thing that I'll do and please tell me your thoughts on the matter but if I walk the river to my finishing point and if I decide to retrace my footsteps to get back to my vehicle, I'll almost always change the xxx or at least the color dramatically on the way back.

 

Re-read what you wrote; these are important, informative statements for fly casters and spin casters alike. Now stop reading what the others have written regarding this subject. It's their opinion.

 

Yours is a theory that already works for you and you seem comfortable putting your theory into practice.

 

Interestingly, we're learning from you.

 

Joseph

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Craig, A good friend of mine who used to fish the big time pro bass tour always would have several different rods at the ready and if a bass would hit but miss his bait, rather than cast the same thing again, he would always pick up a different rod and throw a different lure immediately and often get it to hit again. For what it's worth he said this was common practice on the tour.

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"Yours is a theory that already works for you and you seem comfortable putting your theory into practice."

 

Joseph, I guess that's my point in that these are just theories of mine but have not been time tested enough to know as fact. I claim to be no expert on smallmouth fishing in rivers as this is something I've just pursued the last couple of years. I'm here to learn and hopefully people will share with me their theories and ideas so I can weigh them against what I have found and ultimately become more knowledgable and therefore more successful on the water. I would rather not stop reading what others have written since their opinions might one day become mine. :)

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I think that color can make a difference for smallmouth fishing, especially if you are fishing in clear, slower moving water. I have seen it numerous times when an olive colored crawfish pattern (fly or plastic) worked much better than brown or some other color. I had that happen to me this year on both the Kishwaukee river and Sylvania. At Sylvania this summer, I couldn't buy a hit on brown crayfish jigs or flies, and I literally ran out of olive colored flies and jigs.

 

If you are fishing in a manner that will induce reaction strikes, color doesn't make as much of a difference. If you a fishing in a more slow and deliberate manner, then details such as color and size of a fly can much a big difference.

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I tend to switch colors every fifteen minutes until I get some action. If the action stops, I change again and usually I can pick up a couple more on a different color. If changing colors fails to draw any strikes I'll drop a fly size and start the process over. I let the fish tell me what they want. Listen to the fish, don't dictate to them. You can always catch some fish on any color but you will get more with the right one.

 

Though if you caught fish after changing colors, it wouldn't really prove anything since you don't really know whether or not the fish would have hit the original bait, or if he was even there in the first place.

Rarely is there anything scientific about fishing.

 

Echoing MT's sentiments with regard to the fly being in the water. Changing flies every 15 minutes maybe fine for a guy that fishes all day, but I can't remember the last time that happened.

 

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I once fished a trout ranch in Missouri called Connies. They had a particular pool in the stream called the meathole. In the clear water you could see literally a hundred or more large rainbows in the pool. Using a small # 8 receding hare worm I proceeded to catch just about every fish in that pool. I did so by rotating thru five different colors of the same pattern. I'd catch 7 or 8 on a color and they would stop hitting. I'd change colors and get a half dozen more and so it went all day. If I had stayed with the original color and if the water was off colored so I did not know that there were additional fish to be caught, I probably would have caught considerably fewer fish. But I never consider any feeding binge over till I try at least one additional color in that spot. Yes I have go to colors that I usually start with but I'm not afraid to "shake the tree" when nothing is happening.

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  • 2 months later...

We all have or look to develope patterns for the particular stream, flow, clarity and weather.

 

On my home water I have an area that olive won't work till mid-June. A couple miles downstream the gradient, structure, canopy and conditions are different that olive will work in late May.

 

Open your mind to try the contents of your selection and be prepared to see as the fish rather than the fisherman.

 

 

 

 

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While I'm not a fly guy , I do have experiences and thoughts about color . For me it's speed and depth control , size , profile , vibration and flash that matter . Color and scent are so far down the totem pole in the decision making process as to be negligible .

 

I have deliberately changed colors after every fish on a variety of types of lures and continued to catch fish . I have gone through a rotation of 8 colors several times in a trip and the fish kept hitting every one of them . This has happened often enough to make me believe that color doesn't matter much . There may be a few times when it might but in my experience that doesn't happen enough to worry about .

 

The most important thing about color is the confidence factor , If you have confidence in a color by all means use it , as you will fish harder and better with it . If changing colors gives you confidence , do so . If you don't believe , you aren't going to pay attention and you will miss fish . If you think I'm not going to catch fish , you prolly won't .

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Well, since I started this mess and have read with significant interest the following posts, I'm beginning to agree with what has been stated above, that we as fishermen probably do spend too much time thinking about color and not enough time about depth, profile and size. It's easy to understand why, since we as humans are so readily able to see subtle color differences, we assume that fish are able to see them as well. And since we as humans are always searching for a cause and effect relationship (when in reality there often is none) and when you throw in the fact that lure manufacturers and fly tying materials are sold in every hue possible so that more material$ or lure$ will be purchased, probably explains why. I like Craig have seen rare instances where I was able to treat the day's fishing as though I was managing a controlled experiment, unfortunately it hasn't happened often and was while fishing for crappie or bluegill. In those cases, it was evident that color was an extremely significant factor. If you ever get a chance to read the book, "What Fish See: Understanding Optics and Color Shifts for Designing Lures and Flies" by Colin J. Kageyama, I would suggest doing so. Maybe because I evaluate people's eyes all day long and have a better understanding of optics then most, I'm a little biased but it did make for some interesting reading. All in all, thanks for everyone's insights and as for me, this year I'm going to weight my buggers more fully in order to get them down in the water column and we'll see if that rings the dinner bell more often :)

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