The Guide to Buying the Best Offshore Fishing Lures
When you head out on the water, you want to have the best gear stocked in your tackle box—with offshore fishing, that starts with fishing lures. Saltwater trolling lures can start to blend together after doing too much research, leaving a fishermen frustrated with no clear and concise answer on which lure to purchase. The purpose of today’s blog is to help bring clarity on what to look for in an offshore trolling lure for a successful trip to the store and on the water.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT OFFSHORE FISHING LURE COLOR
In order to choose the right color, you have to account for the depth the lure will be swimming at. As the trolling depth changes, the color of the offshore fishing lures will be perceived differently. The shorter the wavelength required to illuminate a color, the deeper the lure can swim and maintain its color.
Let’s take a look at the full primary color spectrum and breakdown the behavior of each color and what depths they are most suitable at.
Lure Color: Red (Ideal Trolling Depth: <20 ft)
The color red (including lighter pinks) will lose their color in as little as 30 ft of depth. This long wavelength color (700 nm) works great for topwater lures, as it is most vibrant at the water surface. As soon as the lure starts diving, it will slowly turn to a grey color due to the inability to receive enough light to show the red color. On days of rough seas, there is more light refraction due to the waves, allowing for less light to penetrate the water. In this case, the lure may lose its color in as little as 20 ft of depth.
On overcast days or nights where there is limited sunshine, we advise against using red lures due to their inability to show their color in low light conditions.
Lure Color: Orange (Ideal Trolling Depth: <30 ft)
This color is capable of diving to approximately 40 ft on a calm day where the sun can uniformly penetrate the seas and as little as 30 ft on a rough day. Orange is one step ahead of red at only 600 nm wavelength, but still only considered a viable option for most topwater lures.
On overcast days or nights where there is limited sunshine, we advise against using orange lures due to their inability to show their color in low light conditions.
Lure Color: Yellow (Ideal Trolling Depth: <50 ft)
The yellow and green colors are one of the most popular combinations in offshore fishing. Blended together, they can resemble the color scheme of a Mahi Mahi which happens to be one of the most desired fish by both humans and other pelagics. The yellow color has a wavelength of approx. 570 nm and will lose its color at approximately 50 ft of depth. Yellow is commonly mixed with green to resemble the “chartreuse” color. On rough seas, the yellow color can fade to grey at 40 ft of depth, which is the tipping point of most diving lures. Yellow is a great topwater lure, but when choosing a diving lure, it should be combined with green or blue so the lure is more vibrant and attracts your target species.
On overcast days or nights where there is limited sunshine, yellow will work well as a topwater lure but we advise against using it as a diving lure due to the inability to show color in low light conditions.
Lure Color: Green (Ideal Trolling Depth: <70 ft)
As stated above, when combined with yellow the colors can make for a very desirable color combination. The color green (520 nm wavelength) will stay vibrant to 70 ft of depth and start to lose its color close to 80 ft of depth. Green is a great color for more diving lures, as diving lures typically do not dive to these extreme depths.
On overcast days or nights with limited sunshine, green works well as a topwater fishing lure and will work great for diving saltwater lures as well.
Lure Color: Light Blue (Ideal Trolling Depth: <90 ft)
Before we educated ourselves on lure colors, I was convinced the blues would blend in with the color of the water and were not as desirable. I was completely wrong and mistaken. When at depths beyond 70 ft, light blue (490 nm wavelength) is one of the few colors that will remain vibrant. As the depth approaches 90 ft, the lure will start to lose its color. Light blue lures work well on overcast days, rough seas, and at extreme depths.
When light blue is combined with dark blue and metallic silver color, this color scheme can be a deadly all around lure. The metallic silver works well as a topwater lure while the blues hold its vibrance when at greater depths.
Lure Color: Dark Blue (Ideal Trolling Depth: <100 ft)
One of the lowest wavelengths of all colors, with the exception of violet, dark blue will hold its vibrant color at depths beyond 100 ft. Dark blue has a short wavelength of 460 nm and as the water depth approaches 120 ft, the dark blue color will slowly turn to a grey.
Lure Color: Violet (Ideal Trolling Depth: <200 ft)
Violet is THE shortest wavelength of all colors visible to humans at 390 nm. Violet will maintain its color at depths beyond 120 ft and as deep as 200 ft. Due to the way humans perceive light, we see violet as an ultra dark blue color (hence the reason water is dark blue at extreme depths). The sunlight is capable of penetrating the seas to approximately 650 ft of depth in certain areas of the world.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT LURE COLOR: SUMMARY
Topwater Lures - on a clear and sunny day, any color will be capable of being seen and it’s best to use the color that best represents the bait of your target species. Pink is a go-to for most topwater lures.
Diving Lures - Most diving lures will go past depths of 30 ft, which mean it is typically a waste of money to purchase a diving lure that is pink, red or even orange in color. You may still get bites when run alone, but if compared to another colored counterpart the other will most likely have better results. Yellow / Green / Blue colors work very well as diving lures.
Note: Violet and purple are two completely different colors. Purple is a blend of blue and red (opposite ends of the color spectrum) whereas violet is its own color. They have similar appearances but are made from different wavelengths, causing different behaviors when underwater.
HOW MUCH ACTION DOES A SALTWATER LURE NEED?
While it’s true that many offshore anglers have had success dragging skirted lures of different colors, we have had limited success when we run a Pelagic Minnow next to it which has constant action and rattling noise, forcing fish to bite it whether out of shear curiosity or to appease their appetite. We are firm believers that high action lures will attract more attention from fish similar to a billboard on the side of a highway. A plain billboard with a simple ad will get your attention, but if you put a flashing billboard saying food stop ahead, the likelihood of you take action on the flashing billboard vs. the plain billboard is much higher. The same concept applies to lures in this case.
THE FINAL DESIGN: OFFSHORE FISHING LURE
At the end of the day, the goal is to find an optimal lure that will increase your fish strike rate and run an entire spread of those lures so you can entice your target species to take action when they come into sight.
We’ve taken these design characteristics into account to develop one of the leading offshore fishing lures around in the Pelagic Minnow. Instead of presenting eye candy color options that appear attractive to an uneducated customer, we present color options designed to meet the performance of the lure itself. For example, we are not going to offer a pink or red diving lure because they would lose their color when they dive. Similarly, we are not going to offer a lure with limited action when we know pelagics have a higher strike rate on high action lures. Our goal is to educate you and help lead you to more successful offshore fishing trips with lures designed for a purpose.