For as long as fishing has been around there has always been debates regarding a walleye’s vision. What color is most visible to walleye, fish all have the same level of eyesight, right? What colors do walleye like? What colors do walleye see best? What are the top colors for walleye fishing? You can ask 50 different professional anglers and you’ll likely get 50 different answers. There are even multiple walleye lure color charts out there that will tell you different things. Some will say green, some will say yellow, maybe orange or pink. So, what are the best walleye jig colors? And does color play as big of a factor in success as many believe?
As most of you know walleyes have incredible vision, and through studies we have been able to pinpoint the color most visible to walleye. We have found that walleyes see yellow and orange best, and blue and purple the least. So does that mean yellow and orange are the best walleye jig colors, and we should just forget about blue and purple? Well, not exactly. Purple is often a top producer on Lake Erie where we are located. Ask anyone who has ever used an Electric Zebra or Flush colored Bandit Walleye Deep Diver. Just because a walleye can’t see a color very well doesn’t mean that they won’t bite it. When deciding what jig color to tie on a key factor to consider is water clarity. Is it crystal clear water? Or is it stained, or muddy? The main forage of the body of water you’re fishing is also a key factor. Walleyes will prey on a variety of species. They may be primarily feeding on anything from crayfish and gobies to smelt or shad depending on where you are in the world. One tool to help discover forage base is your state’s DNR website. Some will have gill net surveys available that list caught species of baitfish.
For clear water, it’s typically more important to “match the hatch” rather than focus on a color most visible to walleye. You’ll want to use a subtle natural color instead of a “gaudy” looking bait. For example, if it’s the spring of the year and the shiners are spawning a white jig such as a VMC Bucktail Jig is a great option because it resembles a shiner. If they are focused on perch rather than shiners, a yellowish bait may be a better option as long as it still looks natural, such as a firetiger Rapala Jigging Rap. When fishing dirtier water, it’s important to recognize if the water is stained or muddy. Walleyes can see phenomenally well in low light conditions, but they can’t see through mud. So then what color is most visible to a walleye in these conditions? Muddy water can pose a challenge, and it forces you to begin moving off natural colors and go for bright “gaudy” colors. This is where you pull out the bright oranges, pinks, and reds. Metallic colors such as gold and silver are also a great option and can vastly outproduce a solid color in stained or muddy water. A metallic colored blade bait such as a SteelShad produces enough flash and vibration that a walleye can find it in some of the muddiest of waters. One of the most underrated colors in dirty water is white, especially when the sun is shining and there is slightly more light penetration. The top colors for walleye fishing in stained or muddy conditions when it’s cloudy are orange, pink and red and when sunny white and metallic.
So what color is most visible to walleye? Well, it all really depends on the conditions at hand. Try not to overwhelm yourself with choosing the right color, as it often isn’t the most important part of your presentation. Usually profile, action or speed are significantly more important variables than color. However, if you were limited to one color for the rest of your life, white wouldn’t be a bad choice. White is extremely versatile and proven to work in almost all situations. Clear water, stained water, muddy water, sunny, cloudy it just produces. White can also be one of the best color fishing line for walleye too. White braid can allow you to see more light bites, especially when a fish bites your lure on the initial fall. However, since walleyes can also see white well you’ll want to add a fluorocarbon or monofilament leader to your braid. So before you head out next time stock up on some white jigs and focus more on the speed and action of your bait then color, and you will catch a lot more fish!
I’ll see you on the water!