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Is it true that a smallmouth’s vision is based on profiles and not on colors?


Ohioguy25

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My buddy is telling me that smallmouth only really see the outline of the bait, and that all the different colors, flash and flake etc are gimmicks. If true, this is going to cause me to rewrite everything I have been doing in terms of lure selection.  
 

I get bored with plain, dull solid colors like green pumpkin. Does it really work that much better than Canada Craw or Goby Bryant? Also how can this be true if chartreuse has such an established use?

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1 hour ago, Ohioguy25 said:

Is it true that a smallmouth’s vision is based on profiles and not on colors?

No. But it is true that color is usually not that important. Chartreuse is a good color for most fish because most fish's eyes can see it well, even when they don't see it as chartreuse. It is also true that shape and size are often important.

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1 hour ago, roadwarrior said:

Maybe, but sometimes color is critical.

So true - When the fish are really agressive, color is not that important.  When they're not, just the color of flakes in a green pumkin senko will make the difference:  not between 0 fish and 10 fish, but between 5 fish and 10 fish.  It happened with two anglers fishing in the same boat... and I was one of them.

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1 hour ago, Ohioguy25 said:

Isn’t it sort of one or the other, that is either they can see color or they can’t?

Smallmouth bass can see colors, according to what I've read, medium red through green is what they see best.  That covers lighter reds, orange, chartreuse and green.  As you move through darker reds, blues, purple, greens, they would look the same as black.  If you look at older Rapala minnow lures, they're fairly simple a dark back, silver or white on the bottom.   

Color can make a difference with lures or jigs.  If I look at my lure box, most of my minnow lures have those colors in them.  One of my most effective lure colors is fire tiger, which you don't see mentioned a lot on the board.  Bright or fluorescent orange, yellow and green combination.  Shape has role.  Long, thin lures are good minnow imitations.  Wide body lures are good if there are shad or sunfish in the lake.  Depending on what type of soft plastic I'm using, I will normally use a chartreuse jig, unless I'm bottom bouncing I use darker colors.

Another thing to consider is the depth and clarity of the water.  That will impact how the color of the lure or jig is seen.  

So to answer your question, smallies can see colors.

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Just to throw this out there and play devils advocate for a minute...your friend that speaks with such authority has clearly figured out how these fish work so well that he's throwing one color lure and winning tournament after tournament and writing in peer reviewed scientific journals about this stuff right?

 

Any information you are given on bass from the overwhelming majority of sources can be safely considered anecdotal and personal experience, it may be true, but it might be a bunch of bull too, be very careful building a house on such quicksand.

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Absolutely not true. Smallmouth in clear water can see. This is why they get very curious about bright/unnatural colors in their environment. For example a clown or firetiger crankbait will pique their curiosity and they will travel substantial distances to see what the heck that thing is, and maybe try to eat it. 

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5 hours ago, Ohioguy25 said:

Isn’t it sort of one or the other, that is either they can see color or they can’t?

When you are real hungry does it make a difference between Burger King and Mc Donald ?  When you are not maybe it does !!!

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6 hours ago, Reel said:

So true - When the fish are really agressive, color is not that important.  When they're not, just the color of flakes in a green pumkin senko will make the difference:  not between 0 fish and 10 fish, but between 5 fish and 10 fish.  It happened with two anglers fishing in the same boat... and I was one of them.

Something like flakes would be really far down my list of explanations for this one. Lure location, water entry (sound and splash) differences, and differences (even subtle) in how each person was working the lure is far more likely.

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