1. Gary Bayes
“I’d definitely say the colour of bait makes a difference. I’ve used mixed colour-free offerings using different colour hookbaits out the bag and had better results on red some days, yellow other days and so on.
“That was 20-odd-years ago on the A1 Pits and the River Trent and I’ve done the same several times since on a lot of waters. My last three fish from The Manor have been on coloured baits and I haven’t had a bite on plain ‘natural’ non-coloured bait. I’ve now got four different colours made up and will be making at least two more.
“When fishing for other species where more bites are available, it’s easier to see the difference colour can make, carping can be slower, especially on the slower waters but whenever I blank, I blame myself for not fishing well, trying different presentations etc., I never blame it on the fish weren’t feeding because they are always up for some food, just not what’s on offer.
“Changing the colour of the hookbait is well-documented. We produce Rainbow Pop-Ups, five different colours in one tub and they have been really well received, because it does make a difference. Some people tend to favour one colour more than the rest on our Rainbows but I’ve talked to a lot of anglers now that have had quick bites just by changing from one colour to another, so it isn’t only me that’s convinced.
“When we first introduced the Scopex Squid Red it caught lots of fish, because there weren’t many Robin Red baits about at the time. Where I’m fishing now, one angler has done really well on his own made bait which is dark brown, he seems to be the only person using dark brown bait. Now we are supplying Monster Squid Black, it is probably out-fishing the standard Robin Red version, again, because it’s a different colour.
“Darker baits, for pre-baiting and fishing over do seem to be more consistent most of the year, but I for one would never want to be limited to only one colour choice, to me it’s as important as the flavour and nutrition for catching extra fish.”
2. Iain Macmillan
“It’s a real interesting one this, certainly with regards the freebies we sling out into the lake, and indeed what we fish over the top as a hookbait. My own favourite is a lightish coloured bait, say a sandy brown colour, and I think baits which tend to be manufactured this way do take on that ‘washed-out’ look after only being submerged in the lake for a short period of time. But on the flip side, I used to have a phobia about red baits as they have a tendency to go a pinkie colour once out in the pond.
“Well, the only way to overcome my fears was to actually use a red bait, and guess what, I did very, very well on the catch front, so I always keep an open mind on what I might have to change to when I’m moving from water to water, and yes, we’ll all have our own personal favourite colours, but that’s only based on past captures and confidence.
“As for hookbaits, I’m a massive lover of something bright, and I’ve utilized this tactic in, I’d say, 99% of my angling over the last three or four years. Again, it’s all about confidence and it’s not very often my rigs aren’t flying through the air with either something yellow or white attached in some shape or form!
“I do agree that fish all over the land have been hammered on the fluoro approach, but my God they just carry on working for me. There is also the flip side of this scenario in that I’m sure some fish will absolutely shit themselves when they see the old bright traffic light hovering around the lakebed, but give them time and they just can’t help themselves, they have to have a snuffle around it to see what it is!
“It’s also a confidence thing with the colours, some anglers prefer orange or pink, but all I’ll say is find the one that works for you and stick to it, after all, all your trying to achieve with the bright hookbait (whatever colour), is to attract the fish to the hookbait first.”
3. Ian Poole
“I personally believe that the colour of your bait matters an awful lot and in some circumstances can be the difference between catching or not. Adding a fleck of colour to your hookbait in the way of a piece of fake sweetcorn or small hi-attract boilie/pop-up has produced so many carp for me and thousands of other anglers over the last few years that anyone who has totally dismissed the method is losing out in a massive way. In fact, I know a couple of anglers who fish like this wherever they go but for me, there is a time and a place for everything. It’s just impossible for one method to be the best fish-catcher on every single venue.
“If I’m looking for some quick bites, fishing through the colder months or early spring, then bright hookbaits play a big part in my fishing. However, I very rarely use artificial baits and for most of my fishing prefer the ever dependable Richworth Tutti’s and white coloured baits over anything yellow. I generally only go for yellow if I’m putting out lots of corn. Through the spring I’ve also found that pink is extremely good too. A plum flavoured bait is my own favourite but to be honest, I’m not sure if that is too important.
“The other way I look at things is that with so many anglers tipping their hookbaits off with something - be it fake sweetcorn or a pop-up, it can often pay to go completely the other way and fish something that doesn’t stand out and relies more on the attraction from its ingredients than anything visual. Rightly or wrongly, this is generally the route I go down when fishing harder waters for fish that have seen lots of angling pressure. Sometimes it can literally just be a case of keeping your eyes open and noting what other anglers are doing. If everyone is fishing in a similar way but struggling, doing something a little different can make all the difference to your catch-rate, whether that is adding a more visual aspect to your hookbait or taking it away.”
4. Shaun Harrison
“Most definitely a yes from me; it can make a huge difference to your take rate, particularly when it comes down to hookbait colour. I could quote many different situations where this has really been drilled home to me, but the last three trips I have made to Grenville are prime examples really of just how important bait and bait colour is.
“The last three trips I have Spombed a carpet of mixed size and mixed flavour/colour boilies then proceeded to fish with a selection of different hookbaits over the top. This is very much my standard practice these days. For what it is worth, the baits used as my carpet feed were Chilli Chocolate, Ghurkka Spice, Fruity Trifle and Squidberry (not yet released). All very different to each other and all emitting different food signals.
“Now, I have been fortunate to achieve multiple captures on the last three trips (hooked 17 fish) with fish varying from upper-doubles to just over 40lb, but what has been so noticeable has been the bait colour and size for that matter that they have preferred on the day. I know full well had I stubbornly soldiered on with what produced on that first trip I wouldn’t have managed the multiple captures the next two trips.
“The carp’s preference over the last three weeks has changed from dark brown, through to bright baits and then this last weekend onto my tiny 6-8mm Quest Baits Pimple Pops. In fact, all the fish this week fell to the Pimples but I struggled to get a take on them three weeks ago.
“This should show how very dangerous it is to feel you have a method right and a water sussed after one good hit. I could quote many examples of both loose feed colour and hookbait colour making a difference. I may be stubborn with rigs and keep plodding on with what I know works, but I’m definitely not stubborn in my choice of bait. To think I only had one bait at my disposal would be like tying my hands behind my back.”
5. Keith Sykes
“A question often asked, and one which leads to a variety of replies, many anglers believing colour to be totally irrelevant, whilst there are those who will argue colour can and does make a significant difference to bait effectiveness under certain circumstances. I am of the latter camp.
“All colours will catch carp, and the angler alike, take yellow, pineapple flavoured baits, I am convinced this is psychological influence rather than much else, as I believe it is the flavour more so than the colour that is the trigger. Well, a carp doesn’t know what a pineapple is, let alone the fact they are yellow fleshed!
“I look at colour in many ways, as a generalisation my warm water baits are dark, due to the inherent materials used in their compilation, whilst in the colder weather I still rely on milks, and thus my baits tend to be a nice creamy white. Is it the colour or the food signal, I’ll let you decide, but I know what I think.
“However, there are colours which I do think can give you a distinctive edge under certain conditions. I have written countless times about black baits for Zig fishing, but the black works best when there is more ambient surface light to create the ‘silver bubble effect’. Other times pink and white seem to work better, so in this situation light dictates my choice.
“Bottoms baits and pop-ups: why were baits tipped with black so successful for the big fish on a water we fished? Colour or something else? Does a dark bait tipped off with another colour become better through visual impact or other reasons, I keep a very open mind about this, however, I do like to use blue, glow-in-the-dark, pink, violet and white as alternatives, both in fakes and hookers, as ringing the changes can nick that extra bite.
“I will say this though before I finish: why does a carp prefer to pick out plastic corn over real corn at night? This is something I have noticed over the years; maybe a subject for debate in The Rotary Letter?”
6. Martin Locke
“Bait colour: one of the most talked about subjects on the bank, and as with most carpy issues, one that has no right or wrong answers.
“With winter approaching yet again, I guess a lot of anglers will already be thinking about the single bright pop-up; a method that is and always will be a winner.
That method apart, when fishing over a bed of ONLY boilies, does the stand-out brightly coloured hookbait give the fish something to home in on, to maybe get a quicker take or does give them reason to be cautious over it?
“In my experience, if you’ve got the fish going on a bed of ONLY particles, regardless of colour, to use a boilie/pop-up ‘over the top’ definitely caught you less fish as they become so pre-occupied on the particles that they become oblivious to anything else. I’ve watched Mr. carp ‘Dysonising’ the area, with the hookbait, regardless of colour, being ‘not bothered with’ as opposed to a ‘spooked’ reaction, if you get my drift.
“With a lot of anglers opting for the ‘spod slop’ mixture of seeds, boilie, crushed boilie and ‘cloudiness’, the hookbait colour choice is less important as the baited area has a mish mash of colours which hopefully gets them in a bit of a frenzy. Having said that, a little yellow Top Banana is always the nuts!
“With corkball pop-ups making a big return these days, the colour obviously is exactly the same as the freebies, and there is no doubting their success. With that in mind, the ultimate hookbait for boosting your confidence has to be one straight from the bag of freebies, fished over a big bed of the same. You know that the fish are bang-on your bait and you’re about to mop up!
“In short, through the colder months, I would try various colours on different rods and chat to the other lads on the water, you’ll soon see a pattern start to emerge so go with the flow, but still keep at least one rod doing something else, because it will change!”