“Hey what’s your favorite color?” I am asked this question all the time in reference to many lure categories. I myself can get lost in the dazzling selections found on the walls of favorite tackle stores that I frequent in my travels.
When it comes to jig fishing, skirts come in any possible combination imaginable. I use jig colors offered by my sponsor All-Terrain Tackle, but I also tie many of my own skirts and own a huge assortment of color shades in a wide spectrum of hues. But if I step back and pull my head out of the rainbow, I clearly realize that I only really need four basic colors of jigs to cover every imaginable scenario. Those colors would be black/blue, brown, green pumpkin, and white.
Now here’s when and where to use these colors:
Black/Blue. This is the first jig color that I began using when starting to learn the secrets of jig fishing back the 1980s. It still occupies trays in my tacklebox, but I now have a better understanding of when it excels. The number one thing to remember with this color is — use it under conditions of limited visibility! This means conditions of murky water, cloudy skies, or in the heavy shade of docks or overhanging trees/laydowns. Use it in tanic-stained waters as well. Black stands out better than any other color in limited visibility situations, helping the bass zero in on it. Other colors blend too well in limited-visibility conditions and get lost.
I stay away from black/blue in really clear water or bright skies (unless the water is muddy). That is because the entire jig stands out, becoming too obvious as fake, especially when fished slowly. Common variations that are interchangeable with black/blue are black/purple, black/red, black/chartreuse, black/brown. As you can tell, black is the key under the conditions described above. Sometimes fishermen will add “accent” colors to the skirt, meaning just a couple of strands of a different color like orange or chartreuse. And of course, accents come in the form of metal flake too.
Brown. Imagine a brown shade darker than cardboard, but lighter than a basic brown Sharpie marker. This becomes my primary choice in waters that are somewhere in between on the water visibility spectrum, especially if the water is more “brownish” than “greenish.” The hue is more camouflaging than black/blu, but still is noticeable. I will save it for mid-day, sunny conditions on intermediately-murked waters, but may set it aside for black/blue on the same waters under low-sunlight conditions. The color is also effective in the heavy shade of laydowns and docks on sunny days in clear water, but I will opt for black/blue if the water is muddy and I’m fishing these shady targets.
There exists countless variations of browns. I usually choose a skirt that has two different shades of brown and also has black pepper mixed in, I feel this skirt has a decent blend of camo but also is still noticeable. Recently, I have been trending with a variation that has blue accents, but not over-poweringly blue.
Green pumpkin. I prefer this color if the water visibility is clear or intermediate. I also said to use brown in intermediate clarities, however brown is for brown-tinted waters, while green pumpkin is for green-tinted waters. Water often takes on a green tint resulting from an algae bloom. Note that if the algae bloom is extreme and clarities are under 18 inches, then I am preferring black/blue. My green pumpkin skirts always have varying shades/tints of green pumpkin strands. I also like black pepper, and accents of blue strands are a nice touch as are skirts strands with metal flake. Lately, I have been trending with blue and green metal flakes.
White. While all the previous colors I use both on swim jigs and bottom-hugging jigs, white I limit to only swim jigs. I use a white swim jig when I feel like the bass are eating baitfish up in the water column. It doesn’t matter the water clarity or color, as long as bait is targeted by the bass, then white is my choice. The most classic situation is during the shad spawn, this is the number one time to use white on a swim jig. Additionally, a kind of a niche situation for a white swim jig is when bass are eating frogs.
Of course there exists many variations of white – snow white, off white, eggshell white, creamy white, and so on. My rule of thumb for white is: pick the brightest white for limited visibility conditions and pick a blended white with translucent under high visibility conditions.The blended skirt will contain white strands and translucent strands containing metal flake in blue, silver, and/or green. Chartruese is another accent color I will incorporate at a low volume.
I always put soft-plastic trailers on my jigs and I prefer that their color matches and blends in with the jig skirt. A perfect match may not occur, but I like to be in the neighborhood.
With the four basic color jigs listed above, an angler will be prepared for any body of water, anywhere. From here the question becomes – can an angler improve upon these basic colors by adding the right combo of accents in the form of flake or other strands? Personally I can’t help myself from chasing that next level of perfection and that is why I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of extra skirt material that I carry on my travels!