Best Lure Color for Muddy Water Fishing

If it’s rained heavily lately there’s a good chance that the water where you fish resembles coffee mixed with cream. So you may be wondering about the best lures for muddy water and the best lure color for muddy water fishing.

The Affect on Various Species

Without doubt, fishing success diminishes for nearly all gamefish species when the water is brown to milky looking. This is especially true for species that rely mostly on sight to find their prey. That includes trout, salmon, pike, walleye, and most panfish in freshwater, as well as seatrout, redfish, flounder, and striped bass in saltwater. You virtually have to put a lure right on the nose of most of these fish in muddy water to get a strike. Some, like flounder, trout, and salmon, are almost not worth fishing for if the water color is really bad.

Catfish, which mostly rely on smell to find food, are also affected, though not as much, but they aren’t good targets for lure usage anyway. Bass, particularly largemouths, are more likely to be caught in muddy water than probably any of the other most popular freshwater species. This is because they have an especially aggressive nature, are ambush predators, and are especially adept at using their lateral line to locate prey.

Noise and Vibration Are Key

The best lures for muddy water fishing are those that produce sounds or produce readily detectable sound waves, i. e. vibrations. Spinnerbaits, wobbling jigs (i.e. “Chatterbaits”), crankbaits with rattle chambers, and crankbaits or other swimming plugs that produce a distinctive wobble, are prime muddy water fishing lures. Spinnerbaits and wobbling jigs are most appropriate for bass and redfish. Crankbaits are most appropriate for bass, walleye, and stripers. Wide-wobble trolling plugs are good for river salmon.

Use a Bright Color

Lure manufacturers produce an extraordinary array of colors, so you can find divergent opinions about the best colors to use under any conditions. My experience leads me to white or chartreuse as the best lure color for muddy water. Those are the colors that I reach for when it’s apparent that fish are not going to be using their vision as the primary means of finding my lure.

Chartreuse is a pretty definable color, and one I use when the water is dirty but not extremely so, as is often the case in pond fishing. But there are many variations or likenesses to white, including pearl. I’m fond of pearl, especially in soft-bodied lures, and like a pearl body combined with a chartreuse tail and maybe a chartreuse-colored jighead. Pearl with a little iridescence or sparkle is also good, though not essential in muddy water.


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Ken Schultz

Ken Schultz

Ken Schultz was a longtime staff writer for Field & Stream magazine and is the former Fishing Editor of ESPNoutdoors.com. He’s written and photographed nineteen books on sportfishing topics, plus an annual fishing tips calendar., and his writing has appeared on various websites for nearly two decades. His author website is kenschultz.com.