Soft plastic baits

Bass fishermen have a rainbow of color options when it comes to soft plastic baits, but most slim their choices down to a limited number.

When it comes to bass fishing, I think I am like most East Texas fishermen and go for the soft plastics first. With all the grass and trees we have in lakes, it is easy to see why a Texas-rigged worm got its start around here.

When it comes to color, I am pretty open-minded as long as it is watermelon green with red flakes. That is the color I am going to go to first and probably the one I will end the day with. Even my choice in swim baits usually starts with a green with red flakes.

I remember asking a fishing guide years ago about how to decide what color to use with all the options available. He said he should probably know more about it, but he just picks the ones that look good to him. In other words, it is all about the confidence in a color.

But isn’t the idea behind a plastic worm or lizard that it is supposed to mimic a worm or lizard. So how did we get away from the original concept to a rainbow of choices?

Colors really started to slip into the soft plastic bait line sometime in the 1970s. It was then that everyone’s confidence evolved around colors manufactures called motor oil and plum. Then Culprit came out with a two-tone or laminated worm and suddenly a red and black version called the red shad became the go-to bait.

More typically specific colors get hot on individual lakes because someone wins a tournament or has an especially good run. Remember school bus yellow and pink as summertime favorites?

Maybe there is some science behind it and certain colors work better with one lake’s clarity than another’s. However it happens, a legend gets born and soon it becomes the color to have.

Tyler’s Creme Lure is the keystone of the soft plastic lure industry. Back in the 1940s, Nick Creme created the first viable soft plastic worm in Akron, Ohio. He later moved the company to Tyler because of its success in Texas. The company lives on today selling baits worldwide.

In its Pro Series line, Creme offers nine color options of worms and 10 for lizards. Chris Kent, Creme president, said green pumpkin is the company’s top color for both worms and lizards in the Pro Series.

“It has been for the last five to eight years. Fishermen just have confidence in them,” Kent said of the popularity. He said the watermelon red flake was the leader before that.

He has actually looked into sales based on color and discovered that about 80% of sales come from 20% of the colors available.

Kent said the company constantly gets requests from fishermen for colors that are suddenly hot. There are times Creme will add a color based on fishermen interest, then there are other times they look at the color and have to back away because they just do not have the capacity to make more.

The myriad of worm colors over the years has resulted in side products such as Lake System’s introduction of the Color-C-Lector in the 1980s. It was a device that was supposed to tell you what color of lure would be the best by reading the water color and other factors.

Kent said he remembered his father and two friends sitting side-by-side each with one of the devices. After sinking the probe to get a reading, each one told the fishermen a different option.

There apparently were enough people who had faith in the system because there is another version of it on the market today. Does it work? You spend the $129 and let me know. I am still trying to figure out all the buttons on a microwave oven.

With so many color options and by sticking with a few, the question becomes are we crippling ourselves by leaning too hard on one or two. The answer would probably have to be yes. I say that from experience. On a recent trip, I ran out of watermelon green/red lizards and switched to a Creme black magic that I found stuffed away. I also used a California 420 and a watermelon green with orange flake Brush Hog. I was really impressed with the Creme black magic and will be loading up on it.

Of course this created an extra dilemma of not only what color do I go with, but whether I should be using a lizard, a creature bait or what else might work.

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