Dress Up Softbaits With Accent Colors

Adding color to your softbaits can have a powerful impact on your fishing success.

We’ve all heard the taunting jab that most of the today’s softbait colors catch fishermen and only a small percentage actually catch fish. Draw your own conclusions based on actual results, but don’t overlook the powerful impact of adding accent colors to your favorite plastics.

With dipping dyes or highlight markers, chartreuse is most common because it resembles the natural accents of a bluegill. It’s also a popular choice in Louisiana’s tidal bass fisheries because local shrimp sport chartreuse tails.

Blues and oranges mimic a bluegill’s undersides, so touching up a soft-body swimbait or a soft plastic stickbait like YUM Dinger or a Yamamoto Senko with these hues is a good bet.

Color placement depends on your objective. For craw baits on jigs or Texas rigs, knowing the seasonal looks of the crustaceans you’re trying to imitate will guide your accent color choice for those claw tips. Florida pro J.T. Kenney’s a big fan of chartreuse tips on green pumpkin craws, but spring finds a lot of crawfish with orange in their claws, so he’ll adjust accordingly.

Swimming baits and worms with ribbon tails generally garner plenty of attention, but more subtle baits can often benefit from a little tail makeup. This is particularly helpful in murky water or dim conditions. It’s also an effective trick for bed fishing, as a sharp contrast in tail color is hard for a wary fish to ignore.

For topwater frogs, the belly is what bass see, so target your accents appropriately. Simple black, green or brown lines or spots can add just enough enticement to trigger strikes. But don’t overlook bream colors—orange and blue—as frogs can also be used to imitate a bluegill.

Potomac guide Steve Chaconas points out that some frogs have a round lead weight on their bellies to maintain an upright posture. Adding orange dye or nail polish here masks an unnatural color with something resembling bass forage.

With soft plastic buzzfrogs, such as Gene Larew’s Three Legged Frog, backside accents would get lost in the blur of those kicking appendages. However, Bassmaster Elite Series pro Fred Roumbanis still finds a place for accent color—on the bait’s chin. A little patch of orange on a highly contrasting color such as white or silver utilizes that natural forage color to essentially paint a target that helps bass zero in on the lure.

New Hampshire tournament pro Joe Lucarelli takes a similar approach with his drop-shot baits. With those like the X-Zone Slammer, he’ll dip the head—not the tail—in JJ’s Magic garlic scented dye so bass target the end with the hook.

And for anglers who regularly fish a Senko stickbait, here’s a great tip: Pinch the bait between your thumb and forefinger and rub a small area. Two things will happen—you’ll work more of the salt to the surface, and the bait’s color will darken.


Other Points To Consider

  • Dipping dyes are quick and convenient, but beware the spilling hazard in rough water.
  • The dye marker fits neatly in your pocket for frequent uses, but keep that cap tight or you’ll be wearing garlic scent all day.
  • Scented dyes aren’t just about attracting fish; they also mask human odor and related fish-spooking smells. Your after shave, that breakfast burrito, the morning gas stop – they all coat your hands with residues that can transfer to your baits. Hence, a little garlic goes a long way.


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