Classic Tutorial: Fishing for Water Clarity


A crystal clear lake. A muddy river. These different types of water bodies call for different types of bait. Water clarity can be a huge factor in determining what items in an angler’s arsenal will yield positive results. In this classic Fish’n Canada tutorial, host Angelo Viola explains and demonstrates how to select the perfect presentation based on water clarity.

For more information, check out another classic Fish’n Canada segment that provides further detail about what baits are best suited for which types of water clarity:


Colour isn’t the only factor to consider when selecting a bait based on water clarity. Take, for instance, Pete Bowman’s experience in the 2016 Fish’n Canada episode, “Last Mountain Swimbait Pike“: “These Saskatchewan Pike were keyed in on our swimbaits so much that nothing else came close,” says Pete. It’s evident that the Pike of Last Mountain Lake were aggressively feeding—there was hardly a break in the action once Pete and his guest, Rob Schulz of G&S Marina Outfitters, found the right presentation. But why were the swimbaits so much more effective than every other option they presented to these hungry beasts?

“In my opinion, it came down to two ingredients,” explains Pete. “Number one is the square boot tail which gives off tons of vibration. When water clarity is a bit dingy or murky, vibration becomes a key factor. Number two is the bait material composition—these baits are ultra soft. This means extra movement which creates more flash as well as—you guessed it—more vibration.”

One Reply to “Classic Tutorial: Fishing for Water Clarity”

  1. I Replied on a Fish’n Canada article concerning the Blue Walleye how water is an “effective filter of shorter UV wavelengths”.
    UV light penetrates deeper in open ocean than in arctic oceans, and least in coastal waters.
    In clear ocean waters, phytoplankton can live down to depths of about 660 ft. Beyond that, not enough light is available for photosynthesis. However, photosynthesis in the ocean depends much more on the visible wavelengths of light, especially violet, blue and blue-green. The longer wavelengths of light (green, yellow and red) are attenuated quickly. That’s why at deeper than 60 ft, everything looks blue (unless of course, you have brought your light with you).
    Shorter wavelength UV light penetrates well to about 30 ft (10 m). At 130 ft (40m), only about 1% of UV light is detectable. Longer wavelength UV light (390) penetrates better than shorter wavelength UV light (290nm). Which is also true in fresh water lakes and rivers.

    This therefore, gives credence as to the depth the color of your lure can be seen by fish. As this light penetrates the water column in wavelengths, colors begin to be absorbed as the depth increases. Red produces the longest wavelengths, followed in order by orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. Those colors with the longest wavelength are absorbed first, meaning the hue fades and gradually appears black much quicker than all other colors. Warm colors are first to go, while cool colors hold on to their hue longest.

    Fish see colors very well to a depth of about 5 feet when water clarity is good. e hatch” of the predominant baitfish (generally shades of silver, white or perch) can be advantageous. Once that depth of water becomes stained and vision is hindered, change it up to brighter tones — chartreuse, red, orange. This will often stack those the odds in your favor. Cvonsidering all colors are absorbed quickly, orange and red lures will still be most visible when underwater. Chartreuse is a close second. If the water turns the color of brown, keep to the darker side of color.

    Here are a few suggestions when choosing lure color….

    In Clear Water : Natural colors – white, shiny, watermelon, green, pumpkin, browns, baitfish and crawfish.
    Cloudy, Murky, water : Dark and fluorescent colors
    Stained Water : Bright colors — red, orange and chartreuse
    Thick vegetation, algae covered water : 2-toned colored lures; no green.

    Here are a few things I picked up on from the internet. As a fish matures, it gathers distinct mental images of objects that are important to its survival. There are a couple of other notable things about fish eyes. First, the pupils don’t dilate or constrict (except sharks). That’s because fish live in pretty dimly lit environments and don’t so much trouble with too much light getting in. Human eyes get bombarded with more light than they can handle, so our pupils constrict to reduce the problem.

    The second thing about fish eyes is that the cone cells have evolved to give better color contrast depending on light conditions. For example, it’s thought that gamefish are especially good at distinguishing between different shades of blue, which helps them see prey in an environment of predominantly blue light. Freshwater fish have evolved in algae or sediment colored water and can distinguish better between shades of green, yellow or red.

    That’s why it’s often irrelevant what color lures a fish is capable of seeing. Water is natural filter that removes or blocks out certain wavelengths. So even if a fish has full color vision, some colors are just not there to be seen.

    The real trick is not to fall into the trap of believing that lure color is always important.

Leave a Reply

Back to top