Fishing Information

Do Fish See in Color

Fish do indeed perceive color. Every fly fisher knows that or ought to know that. Like humans, the retina of a fish have rods and cones. Cones are used in the day and rods at night. Color vision evolved to help fish identify potential food. In the environment of the fish, the background will either be the bottom, the water itself, or if looking up for food it could be the sky. The bottom is normally tannish olive to green. When looking across the water, the background appears pale silver blue. But if the water is off color due to algae or high water one must take that into consideration as well. Skylight becomes more important at dusk and dawn when it contains more reds.

Thus for opportunistically feeding game fish, flies with bright or contrasting colors and/or a lot of flash will make them stand out against the above mentioned backgrounds. The Mickey Finn, tied with yellow and red, and a silver body is one of the most effective attractor patterns. As for dry fly attractors , the Royal Wulff is still hard to beat, with its red and peacock body and white wings. Black flies, because of their strong silhouette also are easy for fish to spot. Let's not forget patterns that contain strands of flashabou or other tinsel that reflect light when stripped or while drifting through the current are easy for fish to spot.

The fly fisherman also must remember that color behaves differently in water that it does when seen in the air. Water is denser, and the colors are diffused quicker. Cloudy days where there is less overall light will offer less visibility, and colors will disappear quicker in the depths of the water. And the clarity of water obviously greatly effects this as well. This is important in fly selection because certain colors travel farther in low light than others. Red is the first color to disappear, usually at about 15 feet in clear water, followed by orange and then yellow. Blues and greens are visible to the fish as long as there is light. Yet silver and white will be brighter.

So while the Mickey Finn is obviously a great choice as an attractor fly, it would not be as good a choice in murky water or if fished deep. A better attractor might be a white Woolly Bugger or White Marabou Muddler.

Color is also important to remember when matching the hatch. Since fish use vision as the deciding factor to strike, one's offering must be the correct color. However, very small differences in hue seem to not be much of a factor as most insects will vary slightly in color as well. But if the intensity of color the artificial fly has can be a factor. If the artificial is more intense than the natural it is more likely to catch fish. Why this seems to work is somewhat a mystery. It is understood that fish see deeper into the ultraviolet range than humans, so perhaps they are just seeing something we don't. It could also be due to the effect water has on colors. Perhaps we'll never know, but like many things in fishing, why something works is not as important as just knowing that it does work.

While color is probably not the most important factor in a fish striking a fly. The above considerations are nevertheless a good thing to have in the back of your fly fishing mind.

About The Author

Cameron Larsen is a retired commericial fly tier and fly fishing guide. He now operates The Big Y Fly Co. at

This RSS feed URL is deprecated, please update. New URLs can be found in the footers at

BBC News

Shellfish industry under threat due to fishing restrictions
BBC News
The West Wales Shell Fisherman's Association claims the ground is no longer viable, and it is calling on the Welsh Government to open up a different area within the SAC for them to fish. Prof Mike Kaiser from Bangor University, who has researched the ...

and more »

Friday Fishing Report |
From Pickwick Lake, the Mississippi DFW reports Alabama-rigs, single swimbaits, rattletraps, jerkbaits, and spinnerbaits are all catching pre-spawn bass. Most anglers are focusing on transition areas leading to the spawning pockets. Gravel bars ...
North state fishing reportOroville Mercury Register
Weekly South Florida Fishing Report - March 22, 2018Palm Beach Post
Hagerman Valley presents many angling options (fishing report, March 23)Idaho Statesman -User-generated content (press release)
all 55 news articles »

Seattle Times

No rescue by Congress for $75M fishing boat in Anacortes that can't ...
Seattle Times
America's Finest, a $75 million, 264-foot catcher processor, is shown here at the dock at the Dakota Creek Industries shipyard in Anacortes. By now, it was supposed to be working off Alaska, the newest addition to the fleet of Kirkland-based Fishermen ...
U.S.-Built Fishing Vessel Cannot Fish in U.S. - The Maritime ExecutiveThe Maritime Executive
No waiver granted for fishing vessel | News |

all 5 news articles »

WDFW FISHING RULE CHANGE: Klineline Pond to close for kids ...
Access Washington
Location: Klineline Pond is located at Salmon Creek Regional Park, on NE 117th Street, in Vancouver, Wash. Reason for action: This rule change is necessary to ensure a safe and successful Klineline Kids Fishing event. Several thousand fish will be ...

and more »

Certain local rivers will close completely to game fishing on March 31
The Daily World
April will consist of low-morning tides. On these two days, there will be an exception to the normal rule of no morning digging since the low tide will be occurring close to noon on the dates the beaches will be open. In regards to river fishing ...

and more »

Popular Mechanics

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch Is Mostly Made of Fishing Gear
Popular Mechanics
The patch, in fact, is made up mostly of abandoned fishing gear. According to the study, fishing nets alone make up 46 percent of the 79,000 tons of garbage. The rest of it is also largely made up of fishing gear, including eel traps, oyster spacers ...
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch Isn't What You Think it IsNational Geographic
World's largest collection of ocean garbage is twice the size of TexasUSA TODAY
Evidence that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is rapidly accumulating plastic | Scientific Reports - NatureNature
YouTube -The Ocean Cleanup
all 163 news articles »


Fishing with X-ray vision -
(WRDW/WAGT) -- Gene Jensen, also known as the Flukemaster, has always loved teaching people how to fish. That drive led him to build one of the top fishing channels on YouTube with nearly a quarter million subscribers, but just a little over a year ago ...

and more »

The Courier

The Courier » Catch the local March madness fishing frenzy
The Courier
Every year, avid fans can't wait for March madness to get underway. They get prepared by reviewing stats while developing strategies that will work to bait their opponents into a few fatal errors. Their hope is to be able to brag about a long stringer ...
Forty of 81 fishing teams fare well on opening day of MWC | Free ...LaSalle News Tribune

all 4 news articles »

The Northwest Florida Daily News

Coast Guard responds to diesel spill after fishing boat catches fire
The Northwest Florida Daily News
The Coast Guard and local agencies responded to a diesel fuel spill in Pensacola Bay on Friday. Coast Guard Sector Mobile watchstanders received notification of a 50-foot commercial fishing vessel catching fire while moored at Joe Patti's Marina in ...

and more »

Columbus Telegram

About time to think about fishing again
Columbus Telegram
With warmer temps in the works, ice is melting and I have been thinking about fishing again. Most of the smaller lakes have open water, but there is still some ice on some of the larger lakes. A word of caution about ice this time of year. As the ice ...

Google News

home | site map | Ocean Photography
© 2006