Over the years, my spinner formula has boiled down to a success pattern that relied on using either a gold or silver Panther-Martin lure. Usually, I would fish the gold and my son would fish the silver. The first of us to start getting results would determine what both of us would use for the rest of the day.
This resulted in a tackle box packed with these lures in various sizes. Of course, you cannot wander the isles of Bass Pro Shops without being tempted by other “flavors” – so I do have a variety of other colors that I could not resist buying. But, I never use them. Prior to my recent commitment to learn to fly fish, I had made the resolution to use these odd colors until they were all lost or proved that they were a frivoluous purchase.
The new news is that I now understand the science behind what color to use – and it all hinges on the sensitive eyesight of the trout. Everyone knows that trout are cagey, fickle creatures who have a superhero’s extra sensory perception that allows them to just know when a fisherman is in the area. The science is that they can feel vibrations was we approach and that they have acute vision that leverages the bending of the light to be able to see above the water. In fact, in LL Bean’s Ultimate Book of Fly Fishing, it confirms that you need to be below a 10 degree angle measured up from the top of the water to be invisible to a particular fish. “How to Catch a Trout Every Time” has a more detailed discussion of how this works and how to use it to your advantage.
With eyesight this acute, it is not surprising to understand that a trout’s eyes are sensitive to light. The reveals the secret – on a bright day, use a dull lure. On a dull day, use a bright lure. Looking at the silver and gold standby and thinking back to when they have been effective, this tracks well with my experience. In the Shenandoah, where the trees are close and the water is well shaded, I was usually more effective with the silver. Out on the North Branch and other big water, the gold usually proved to be the winner.
The old favorites – the basic Silver and Gold
Using this new understanding, I’ll tailor my use of lures and seriously use this information to really see if all those other colors I own might be more effective on the inbetween days.
Bottom Line: This is the spin fisherman’s equivalent of the fly mandate to “match the hatch”. If you do not pay attention to the relationship between the sensitivity of the trout’s eyesight and the flash of your lure, it may become a rejection mechanism instead of an attractor.
As I move into learning to fly fish, I’ll discover if the flash/color has any impact over there as wel…
Some of the other flavors that looked good in the store, but I have not been able to bring myself to use given the reliability of the silver and gold.
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore