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Hard bait colors and Natural Selection

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Sorry if this is in the wrong place, could not decide where it should be.        I have been noticing a trend in the custom bait painters to really try and create baits with an incredible natural appearance.   I wanted to get some thoughts on this idea.   I tend to think of this in terms of evolution and natural selection.   Fish have evolved over countless years to become what they are today, taking into consideration natural selection, I would think that the fish with the best ability to avoid detection by larger fish have the advantage of livability.   I have watched smallmouth in the clearest of water blend effortlessly into their environment, hardly being detectable.    It would seem to me that the natural colors fish present  are for attracting females during spawn, and avoiding detection by larger predator fish.  So why paint hardbaits in this manner?   It would seem to me that it would be more advantageous to fishing to paint baits that offer the most contrast and highest possible visibility in a majority of waters.   Is this just another case of catch the fisherman and not the fish?

 

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Yes and no. real prey that stands out is at a huge disadvantage because predators recognize them for what they are AND they are easier to pick out. Artificial lures on the other hand (at times) aim to fool the fish into thinking it is food. But yes, a lure's first and only required action is to fool fishermen.

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I'm not the smartest fisherman on here by any means. Nor am I really qualified to put my .02 in on this but I am going to anyways. I think that what you are saying is kind of a natural thought but what I try to do is match the hatch. That is huge in fly fishing and it is why Green Pumpkin is such a great color. You are matching a color to the natural forage of a bass. If the conditions are tough sometimes you can add some chartreuse to the tail and get bit and I think that kind of leads into you line of thinking to an extent. I don't think you can just make a bait bright pink and get bit because it is bright pink. These are strictly my opinions so value them for what you payed for them.

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3 minutes ago, stepup said:

I'm not the smartest fisherman on here by any means. Nor am I really qualified to put my .02 in on this but I am going to anyways. I think that what you are saying is kind of a natural thought but what I try to do is match the hatch. That is huge in fly fishing and it is why Green Pumpkin is such a great color. You are matching a color to the natural forage of a bass. If the conditions are tough sometimes you can add some chartreuse to the tail and get bit and I think that kind of leads into you line of thinking to an extent. I don't think you can just make a bait bright pink and get bit because it is bright pink. These are strictly my opinions so value them for what you payed for them.

I am not much of a trout fisherman, but I have read a few books that make the assertion that certain varieties of trout have excellent color vision and I could see matching the hatch to be an advantage if ones thinks along those lines.  In my own experience of predominately bass and bluegill fishing I tend to find matching the hatch to be over rated. My thoughts are that these type of fish have a much less developed ability to see color and tend to rely a lot more on contrast and vibration.   Just my own observations. 

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41 minutes ago, stepup said:

 I don't think you can just make a bait bright pink and get bit because it is bright pink. 

LOL. I have this local spot with gin clear water, where electric chicken (originally intended for pickerel) gets crushed by bass. Go figure.

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I have seen pink work well around bridges also, I was told it was because of fledgling birds falling into the water and being eaten.  In hope of not starting an entire debate about what fish see, you may keep in mind that red is a high wave length color and is among the first to lose its ability to reflect its color. 

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While I appreciate the ability to paint lures in such a fine manor, I don't believe the fish give a darn. If it resembles forage and they can catch it, so be it. I really think the fancy paint jobs are to catch fisherman first.

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There are two things going on here. To catch a bass on a lure, the lure needs to be (1) detected by the bass, and (2) once detected, it must draw a strike.  Bass have good color vision, especially in the red and green ranges. They also have good low-light vision, and their their motion detection is exceptional. They are unlikely to be unaware of any lure that splashes down in their immediate vicinity....so most of the challenge is not in getting them to notice the lure, but in triggering a strike. Color may only be part of this trigger, and it's importance probably changes greatly with conditions -- in many cases, the profile, movement, sound or vibration patterns may be more dominant factors.

 

However, characteristics of lures that differ the most from natural forage are those that should be at greatest risk of producing an adaptation response, both from avoidance learning in individual bass, and from selection pressure on the population.  Even a bass caught multiple times has eaten many, many times more real meals than they have hit artificial lures. If bass who hit artificials are removed from the population at some rate that should only create selection if bass have some basis for distinguishing artificials from real forage. The more bass can distinguish an artificial bait from natural forage, the greater capacity there should be to evolve avoidance preferences against those distinguishing features. So lures that provide good imitations of natural forage should, if anything, protect against creating selection pressure through angling.

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^^ Interesting thoughts, thanks for sharing.  I think this speaks to fact that perhaps not letting a fish get too good a look at what you are presenting and working more to trigger a response may work in our advantage.  

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55 minutes ago, Heartland said:

I have seen pink work well around bridges also, I was told it was because of fledgling birds falling into the water and being eaten.  

I've heard of cow tipping, but not flamingo flinging...

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1 minute ago, reason said:

I've heard of cow tipping, but not flamingo flinging...

LOL, what size EWG would you use for a flamingo....

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Bass lures or plugs as they were called for 100 years before the term crankbait was coined have gone through several evolutions of coloration.

Jim Bagley introduced his Bait Fry realistic bait fish series in the 70's that were photo quality replica's of real fish bass targeted; crappie and baby bass, plus walleye and rainbow trout in larger sizes. Bagley also added chartreuse background along with the natural pearl white belly versions. My guess is the chartreuse versions were for off color water anglers, the natural for clear water anglers, both caught bass in all types of water. Nearly every diving lure mfr jumped in to offer natural series lures. Where did they go? Bagley still offers a version of the Bait Fry series in small 1/4 sizes only, the original standard sizes worked great.

Today we still see lures being offered in photo finishes but they don't become standard finishes that compete with contrasting brighter colors anglers prefer. They all catch bass.

The slower moving swimbaits are the natural finish lures today, realistic artwork on some lures that justify the high price they demand and get.

Bass will strike a very wide verity of lures with even wider verity of coloration. Why? Until we can ask a bass we will never know! If you like the coloration and use it the lure has a very high percentage of working better than lures you don't use.

Tom

 

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1 hour ago, MIbassyaker said:

There are two things going on here. To catch a bass on a lure, the lure needs to be (1) detected by the bass, and (2) once detected, it must draw a strike.  Bass have good color vision, especially in the red and green ranges. They also have good low-light vision, and their their motion detection is exceptional. They are unlikely to be unaware of any lure that splashes down in their immediate vicinity....so most of the challenge is not in getting them to notice the lure, but in triggering a strike. Color may only be part of this trigger, and it's importance probably changes greatly with conditions -- in many cases, the profile, movement, sound or vibration patterns may be more dominant factors.

 

However, characteristics of lures that differ the most from natural forage are those that should be at greatest risk of producing an adaptation response, both from avoidance learning in individual bass, and from selection pressure on the population.  Even a bass caught multiple times has eaten many, many times more real meals than they have hit artificial lures. If bass who hit artificials are removed from the population at some rate that should only create selection if bass have some basis for distinguishing artificials from real forage. The more bass can distinguish an artificial bait from natural forage, the greater capacity there should be to evolve avoidance preferences against those distinguishing features. So lures that provide good imitations of natural forage should, if anything, protect against creating selection pressure through angling.

 

33 minutes ago, WRB said:

Bass lures or plugs as they were called for 100 years before the term crankbait was coined have gone through several evolutions of coloration.

 

Jim Bagley introduced his Bait Fry realistic bait fish series in the 70's that were photo quality replica's of real fish bass targeted; crappie and baby bass, plus walleye and rainbow trout in larger sizes. Bagley also added chartreuse background along with the natural pearl white belly versions. My guess is the chartreuse versions were for off color water anglers, the natural for clear water anglers, both caught bass in all types of water. Nearly every diving lure mfr jumped in to offer natural series lures. Where did they go? Bagley still offers a version of the Bait Fry series in small 1/4 sizes only, the original standard sizes worked great.

 

Today we still see lures being offered in photo finishes but they don't become standard finishes that compete with contrasting brighter colors anglers prefer. They all catch bass.

 

The slower moving swimbaits are the natural finish lures today, realistic artwork on some lures that justify the high price they demand and get.

 

Bass will strike a very wide verity of lures with even wider verity of coloration. Why? Until we can ask a bass we will never know! If you like the coloration and use it the lure has a very high percentage of working better than lures you don't use.

 

Tom

 

This and This ^^^

 

The debate has been going on in bass fishing circles now for around 40 years. Don't think we are any closer to definitively answering the question any time soon. Natural lure coloration and design has come and gone over the years. Seems like we're back in a phase where it's "hot" again from an anglers perspective. Don't forget that the late great lure designer Tom Seward developed a line of crankbaits (in the late 80s, I believe) with countershading, specifically trying to flip mother nature and make his realistic shaped lures actually stand out and not be able to blend in and camouflage. As Tom pointed out with the Bagley super naturals, where did Tom's countershading idea go? "Bye-bye" with the rest of the great ideas and lures over the years supporting both sides of the argument.

 

I think at present, the best argument for super natural stuff right now is in the area of trophy bass fishing, especially swimbaiting, where the attempt at providing as few unnatural cues as possible to the largest and most experienced bass on the planet might have merit. Beyond that, life goes on, and color/pattern is just one variable among many to consider on any given day. Some days it might matter. Most days it probably doesn't mean much.

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3 hours ago, Heartland said:

  Is this just another case of catch the fisherman and not the fish?

 

I tend to agree with this!

 

Most baitfish are defenseless. Their uniform appearance and “power in numbers” is their survival tactic. They want to blend into the school. The one that looks different will be the one that the fish key in on. The spot behind the gill on a shad imitates an eye, which confuses the predator, and can also give the appearance of more fish in the school. The transparency of some baitfish like silverside minnows make them disappear when viewed from underneath against the light of the surface of the water, and the green back makes them disappear when looking down against the green or muddy bottom of the lake. 

 

However, most baits produce some sort of noise, and vibration which I think catches the attention of the fish.

 

The unmatching colors also make our baits more noticeable in contrast with the real baitfish. 

 

Youll pull your hair out trying to make sense of the fish’s mood. Some days they want something that looks real, and some days they want something that looks like it’s dressed in a clown suit. Generally I start with natural colored baits in clear water. Dark or clown colored baits in dirty water. If no bites, I’ll adjust and try different colors or presentations until I get bit. 

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3 hours ago, reason said:

But yes, a lure's first and only required action is to fool fishermen.

Just ask the bait monkey.

 

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Theoretically, yes. But... the real world is much messier. Selection works on many (sometimes competing) fronts, in an ever-changing environment.

 

But there's lots more to the equation...

-Lures just aren't prey; They are hunks of wood, plastic, metals, feathers, etc.., and tethered to boot. 

-And... prey isn't "food" until it's been identified as such, caught, wrestled down, and swallowed. Thus, lures are even more rarely seen as "food" than prey. And, most prey out there just doesn't easily fall into the food category for a host of reasons related to what I've come to call, "economic negotiations", that have little to do with how good a paint job a lure has.

-Fish can learn and this affects catch-ability.

-Fish have personalities, and this affects individual, and now it's been documented, to population catch-ability. Some individuals have even been dubbed "immune to angling".

-As a long time fly designer/tier (where the culture is obsessively hypercritical), I can comfortably say that "imitation" to our eye (or more accurately, to our central processing center (brain)) isn't the same as it is to the fish's. Anything cognitively related is context related. That's what brains do. And, following, as fisherman, that's our playing field too.

 

I can comfortably say this too: That some flies and lures get closer to "imitation" than others. And that there are more good ideas still to be discovered.

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My thought is that with bass fishing presentation of the bait is the key. I think you could attach treble hooks to a rectangular piece of balsa wood, cast it out, and pop it along the surface and if a particular bass was interested in topwaters that day it would strike that block of wood.

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Ya but....

 

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I'll admit to you all right now that I've nibbled on this bait myself a few times

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Nice, check out the custom work this guy does.  He is amazing, this is just one of many crazy patterns he does.

 

 

JS.jpg

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15 hours ago, Koz said:

I think you could attach treble hooks to a rectangular piece of balsa wood, cast it out, and pop it along the surface and if a particular bass was interested in topwaters that day it would strike that block of wood.

 

My thought is that with bass fishing presentation of the bait is the key.

Yes, I've done it! Or things close to "a block of wood". The sad thing is, that block of wood just doesn't always work! :headscratch:

 

In the fly-fishing world, presentation vs imitation has been/is a long-standing debate. Often you'll hear, that presentation is 90% of the game. Over lots of years of both tracking down particular insect activity that trout will key on, and designing my own flies to cover them, I came to this: After you have presentation down, the fly you choose looms large. I was able to say this bc I had a few patterns that were nothing short of magic -in context, of course. The magic was that they screamed "Food!" to those trout the loudest.

 

14 hours ago, Smokinal said:

Ya but....

I'll admit to you all right now that I've nibbled on this bait myself a few times

Ya... I'll admit it too. When buying lures, part of my decision matrix is the colors and finishes that make me go "Oooooo!" :)

 

17 hours ago, Team9nine said:

...

Don't forget that the late great lure designer Tom Seward...

I haven't. I think Tom Seward had his schtick together. Patrick Sebile is a standout too, I think. And, flirting around the "imitation" side of things, I think Matt Servant has done a pretty good job.

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A bass is going to know where a crankbait is no matter what the color .

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58 minutes ago, scaleface said:

A bass is going to know where a crankbait is no matter what the color .

The more video footage I review, the more I agree with that statement.

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9 hours ago, reason said:

I've heard of cow tipping, but not flamingo flinging...

And just like that the Killer Flamingo 1.5 was born.  Just need someone to fish it now.20190110_013901_resized (2).jpg

20190110_013950_resized (2).jpg

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I've done well on a homemade bladed jig in pink and chartreuse, specifically on one local lake that has pretty clear water.

Image may contain: 1 person

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11 hours ago, WRB said:

 

Bass will strike a very wide verity of lures with even wider verity of coloration. Why? Until we can ask a bass we will never know! 

Tom

 

Again to quote the late and great Homer Circle: "Only the bass know and they're not talking".

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