What colors do walleye see best?

Choosing the right lure color can be the difference between a successful walleye fishing trip and a slow day on the water. But with so many options available, it's easy to get overwhelmed. The key lies in understanding how walleyes see and what factors affect their visibility underwater.

Explaining a Walleye Vision

Unlike humans with trichromatic vision (seeing red, green, and blue), walleyes have a slightly different visual setup. They possess dichromatic vision, meaning they primarily rely on two types of cones to perceive color – one sensitive to green and the other to a range of orange and red. This translates to walleyes seeing best in these spectrums, with some ability to detect yellows and blues, but with significantly less sensitivity. Colors on the far ends of the spectrum, like violet and deep blue, are likely invisible to them.

Factors Affecting Walleye's Visibility

Even within their range of color perception, walleyes' ability to see lures is influenced by external factors. Water clarity is a major one. In clear water, sunlight penetrates deeper, allowing walleyes to distinguish details and natural baitfish colors more clearly. Conversely, stained or murky water filters out light, making it harder for walleyes to see details. Here, bright or contrasting colors become more effective.

Another factor is time of day. During bright daylight hours, walleyes rely more on color to identify prey. As light fades and night approaches, their vision shifts to depend more on movement and silhouette. So, while color selection remains important throughout the day, it becomes less crucial at night.

Using Variety of Lure Colors for Different Conditions

Knowing these factors, let's explore how to pick the most effective lure colors for various fishing conditions.

colors do walleye see best for lures

Daytime Walleye Fishing

When fishing walleyes during the day, consider water clarity to guide your color choices.

  • Clear Water: In clear water, natural colors that mimic baitfish are a good starting point. Think whites, silvers, and translucent finishes with hints of green or blue. These colors blend well with the environment and appear realistic to walleyes. However, don't be afraid to experiment with a splash of chartreuse or firetiger (orange and black) – sometimes, an odd color out can attract curious fish.

  • Stained Water: In murky water, where visibility is reduced, brighter and more contrasting colors become more effective. Chartreuse, firetiger, and even glow-in-the-dark options can be great choices. These lures stand out from the murk, attracting walleyes' attention with their vibrant presence.

Nighttime Walleye Fishing

As mentioned earlier, color selection becomes less critical at night. However, it's not entirely unimportant. Here are some tips:

  • Silhouettes: Since walleyes rely more on movement and shape to identify prey in low light, choose lures that create a strong silhouette against the water. Black, dark blues, and even glow-in-the-dark lures with a slight charge can be very effective.

  • Adding a Little Flash: While pure color might not be the top priority, a touch of flash can still be beneficial. Spoons or crankbaits with a bit of silver or gold can add a subtle shimmer that attracts attention, especially when the lure is moving erratically.

What are the Most Effective Walleye Lure Colors

While there's no single "magic" color that guarantees success every time, some general guidelines can help you pick winning lures.

Natural vs. Bright Colors

The debate between natural and bright colors is a common one. Natural colors are great for clear water conditions, mimicking baitfish and appearing non-threatening. However, bright colors often outperform them in stained water, grabbing attention with their vibrancy. Ultimately, it's a good idea to carry a variety of both in your tackle box to adapt to different water clarities.

Impact of Water Clarity

As discussed earlier, water clarity plays a significant role in lure color selection. Here's a quick recap:

  • Clear Water: Stick to natural colors like white, silver, and translucent finishes with hints of green or blue. You can also experiment with chartreuse or firetiger for a pop of color.
  • Stained Water: Opt for brighter and more contrasting colors like chartreuse, firetiger, or even glow-in-the-dark options.

Remember, these are just guidelines. Experimentation is key! Don't be afraid to try different colors and see what works best on the specific body of water you're fishing. Observing what baitfish are present and mimicking their colors can also be a helpful strategy.

By understanding walleye vision and the factors affecting their visibility, you can make informed decisions about lure color selection. With a little practice and experimentation, you'll be well on your way to choosing the perfect lure colors to entice those walleye


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