Swimbaits are versatile topwater fishing lures any time of year because they work well for most predatory species, including bass, pickerel, pike, stripers, and larger panfish. When using a swimbait, the biggest challenge for the average angler is what color of bait to use.
In fact, there are so many swimbait color schemes out there that choosing the right one can be downright overwhelming at times. At the end of the day, using these swimbait color guidelines will help ensure that you end up with more big fish in your boat.
The 3 Types of Swimbaits
In general, a swimbait is designed to attract the attention of hungry fish by mimicking the swimming action of the small baitfish, worms, frogs, crustaceans, or even rodents that they forage on.
There are also three different types of swimbaits:
Hard Body Swimbaits
These heavier lures are jointed to realistically mimic the side-to-side swimming action of small baitfish and can be used with various cast and retrieval methods. Most hard body swimbaits, like the Castaic Rock Hard Rainbow Trout, are painted in so much detail that they look like actual fish in and out of the water.
Soft Body Swimbaits
Some anglers prefer these rubber-based lures over their hard body cousins because their softer bodies feel more realistic when big fish strike them, giving the angler more time to set the hook. Based on weather and water conditions, a soft body swimbait like the Castaic Super Jerky J can also be used with a wide variety of cast and retrieval methods.
When your goal is attracting the attention of schooling bass that are chasing after chad, pair the Castaic Jerky J with a Kitana Stagger Scrounger Jig and then use either a fast retrieval or allow the lure to slow and fall as you reel it in.
Paddle Tail Swimbaits
These less expensive soft body swimbaits are designed with a thick “boot” on the end of the lure that gives them a more realistic side-to-side swimming action. A paddle tail swimbait like the RS Fathead Jr. doesn’t come with hooks, so you’ll need to use it in combination with a set up like an umbrella rig or Charlie’s Walker Rig.
Choosing the Best Swimbait Color
In addition to their different body designs and lengths, swimbaits come in a large palette of color choices. Here’s how to grab the right one out of your tackle box.
First, you’ll need to check the clarity of the water you’ll be fishing in. In murkier water, it’s best to go with darker swimbait colors like blue, june bug, or black, or brighter hues like bubblegum or chartreuse.
If you’re into smallmouth or spotted bass, they usually can’t resist a brighter colored lure like the RS Chunky Shad in Electric Blue Chartreuse. Another good swimbait option in murky water or thick vegetation is the Castaic Boot Tail in Rainbow.
When fishing in clearer water, try to imitate the food supply, which often means choosing a swimbait in natural color schemes like silver, gray, or white. Some of your top-performing clear water swimbaits include the Castaic Jerky J Swim in Blue Shad or RS Chunky Shad in Bluegill Flash.
Depending on the time of year, swimbait colors like green pumpkin or watermelon also imitate forage like small perch, crawfish, and sunfish that larger fish like bass or pike feed on. The Castaic Platinum in Yellow Perch or Castaic Catch22 in Sunfish are must-have items on any serious angler’s wish list.
You’ll also want to choose a swimbait color based on where you’ll be fishing, as different geographic regions have unique forage colors that must be considered. For example, in Texas red is a hot swimbait color starting in the spring because it mimics the crawfish indigenous to the state’s waterways.
In the Northeast, blue tends to be an effective color, which makes a soft-body swimbait like the Castaic Boot Tail Sardine in Blue Mackerel so valuable.
When you’re unfamiliar with an area, try asking the locals which colors have been working for them.
You should also do some research about which forage species are present in the water based on the species of fish that you’re going after. Try calling the local tackle shop or consulting online fishing sources for that information.
You can also learn a lot simply by casting out your swimbait a few times to see if you have any luck. For example, if the bass are spitting out your crawfish or baitfish lures, you’ll need to try a different type and color of swimbait.
Feeling a fish’s belly is also a good tip-off. If it’s soft, they are primarily feeding on prey like frogs or baitfish. If it’s hard, they are foraging for crawfish and other crustaceans.
Once you’ve learned their feeding habits and adjusted for water clarity and geographic location, you can then choose the right swimbaits to imitate the species that your prey is after—ultimately putting more picture-worthy fish in your boat!