Is 'Parrot' best all around lure color?

By Ted Peck - July 1, 2014
There are several critical factors in lure selection necessary to get a fish to bite the hook. These factors can be grouped under the general headings of presentation, bait profile and lure color.

Presentation is the most complex. Topwater or subsurface? Trolling or casting? Steady or erratic retrieve? Casting with the current or against it? Choose the right option in each of these categories-and a couple more-and you're well on the way to getting your string stretched.

Once an angler decides where and how they want to fish the best bait profile must be selected to most effectively achieve this goal. Spinner or spinnerbait? Lipless vibrating crankbait or deep diver? Lure size? Topwater lure? Do you want it to chug, glide or tease with little propellers at one or both ends?

Sometimes more than one lure presentation or bait profile will catch fish. Other times every option must be dialed in. Success is often driven by variables like barometric pressure, water clarity, primary forage base and time of day.

It's not uncommon to see an angler staring into the tackle box with a catatonic look on his face, overwhelmed with options. Choosing the easiest option first: lure color, can break the spell and get hooks in the water.

Modern technology has created a plethora of color patterns far beyond the palette of the prettiest rainbow. Some are more lifelike than life itself. Although lure manufacturers would have you believe these color combinations are designed to catch fish, the reality is this lure potpourri is really designed to catch consumers.

Options were much easier back in Grandpa's day-primary colors and a handful of lure options.

Remember when the firetiger pattern came on the scene? I was thinking this was about 30 years ago. But it may have been closer to 40. Firetiger is still a good color choice when fishing stained or off-colored water.

Clown pattern was introduced 20 years ago. Or was it 30? Clown is a good choice when fishing ultra-clear water. Some lure companies use names other than 'clown' to describe this pattern. Lucky Craft calls their clown pattern "Nashiki"-Japanese for $15 lure.

Over the past five years or so my initial color choice under a variety of fishing conditions is a mix of colors commonly known as "parrot". The primary color scheme is blue, with strong hints of chartreuse, and highlights of orange.

Parrot works well in water clarity ranging from ultra-clear to downright muddy. Sure, there are times when firetiger or clown is a better choice. There is much to be said for gold, silver, chartreuse and black/orange colors too.

The adage "you can't catch any fish with your line out of the water" bodes ominous truth. Better to tie on something in parrot pattern and start fishing. Epiphanies on other angling considerations will become more apparent with each and every cast.

If you're on an entirely new and unfamiliar waterbody, honing the finer points of presentation and bait profile can take time. Starting with a "search" lure which enables the angler to eliminate unproductive water quickly is a good place to start.

One of my favorite search baits is the venerable Rat-L-Trap in parrot hues. This lure originated down in Louisiana decades ago. It's bait profile has never changed.

The folks at Bill Lewis lures called their parrot color scheme "oxbow". I believe oxbow is Cajun for "catches fish". Anything is possible from a dialect which calls crappies "sac au lait".

Author Ted Peck
Ted Peck
Cap'n Ted Peck has over 30 yrs. guiding experience, specializing in multi-species fishing on Pool 9-10 of the Mississippi from Genoa, Wi. to Prairie du Chien. Cap'n Ted is a pro staffer for Lund, Northland Tackle, MinnKota, Bill Lewis Lures, Evinrude, Uncle Josh, HT Enterprises and Custom Jigs & Spins. When not guiding Cap'n Ted communicates the outdoors experience via newspapers, magazines, TV, radio and through seminars. This work has taken him all over the midwest, Canada and beyond... but he always returns to the upper Mississippi which he considers the most diverse fishery in North America. Click here for more info on Ted's guide service. Cap'n Ted's new book Mississippi Musings with the Old Guide is a personal account of his long career as a professional fishing guide on Old Man River.