Choosing Crankbait Colors

Choosing Crankbait Colors

multiple crankbait with different colors

Too many colors, too little time. If you had a tough time choosing the style and depth of your crankbait, then color selection can be tricky as well. Since crankbaits have evolved into hundreds of thousands of color patterns, it can be quite confusing to choose the right one for a specific situation. The old “match the hatch” trick can definitely help, but you also have to take into consideration the weather and water clarity as well.

It’s time to talk about what really matters – here’s our breakdown of crankbait color selection:


If you’ve been fishing for a while there’s a pretty good chance that you’ve heard of this phrase before. “Match the hatch” is as simple as it sounds – choose a color based on what baitfish and other forage is available. If a bass is coughing up shad, go with a shad pattern. If they’re eating craws, go with red black and orange.

The bass don’t always have to cough up bait for you to choose what color. Look around the lake and take note of what bait is present. This can be shad flickering on the surface, bluegill darting in and out of cover, crawfish moving in the shallows or even salamanders slithering around on the bank. All of these indicators will help guide you through color selection for your crankbaits.


After scoping out available bait in the area, keep an eye on the weather conditions for the day you’re fishing. Different conditions can drastically affect your color selection at times, and it’s important to tie all factors together. For example, if you’re throwing a natural, duller color like Ghost Minnow on a cloudy and windy day, you may want to switch over to something a bit more flashy even though Ghost Minnow is an exact match for the bait. You don’t necessarily have to make the swap if the first color is successful, but it’s good to have a backup plan.

Water clarity is one of the biggest factors in color choice. In fact, I’ll take water clarity into consideration more than matching the hatch itself. The rule is simple – if the water is clear, go with more natural, detailed colors. In super-clear water situations you may even want to focus more on the fine details. Choose a baitfish or craw pattern with more defined scales, eyes, gills, etc. for an even more natural effect.

If the water is stained, you can either choose a very dark pattern or super bright pattern. Both choices will help your bait show up better in the murky water in different ways. Dark colors provide a more solid contrast against the mud and brighter colors will produce more flash, both helping bass locate your bait. Colors such as Chartreuse/Black Back and Blue/Chartreuse are two of the most popular choices for muddy water fishing.


If you’re still unsure of what color to throw, we’ve put together a list of personal favorites. Keep in mind that every brand will have a different name and overall pattern but you can always find something similar.

(Here we used Lucky Craft color names as an example. Colors will vary across different brands.)


  • Ghost Minnow
  • Spring Craw
  • Ghost Ayu
  • Moss Green Craw
  • Ghost Baby BG (Blue Gill)


  • Chartreuse Black
  • Chartreuse Shad
  • Mad Craw
  • Crack Blue (Chartreuse & Blue)


  • Aurora Black
  • M.S. American Shad

Hope this guide made things simpler for you! Please leave comments below regarding any questions/suggestions you have for us. Tight lines and happy cranking!