largemouth bass in clear water

Largemouth Bass in Clear Water: Best Lures and Colors

Catching largemouth bass in clear water conditions is not always the easiest of tasks and can, to many anglers, be rather intimidating. The increased visibility can make it harder to persuade the bass to actually take your lure. But, with the right type of lures and lure colors in your arsenal, fishing in clear water does not have to be a problem at all!

Natural looking lures, such as jigs, senkos, craws or baitfish-like swimbaits, should be your first choice when fishing for largemouth bass in clear water. The absolute best lure colors for clear water conditions are green, brown and shad, which all commonly match the hatch of many waters around the country.

The findings in this article are based on dozens of hours of extensive research, as well as the expert advice from a large group of American bass anglers, whom I have asked for their best lures and colors for bass in clear water, with the hep of a survey. Read about their best tips in this article!

Best Lures for Largemouth Bass in Clear Water

best lures for largemouth bass in clear water
Courtesy of Jason Eoff

As bass are able to see basically everything that moves within their vicinity, presenting lures that match the hatch of the venue you are fishing becomes extra crucial.

In order for you to produce bites and takes consistently, your baits should:

  • match the color of the bass’ respective prey
  • match the size of the bass’ respective prey
  • move as freely and naturally as possible under water

In most venues, the natural prey of largemouth bass will consist of the following:

  • shad
  • minnow
  • trout
  • smaller bluegills
  • smaller shiners
  • frogs
  • worms
  • crayfish
  • leeches

And so, naturally, your lure choice should reflect these types of prey fish and creatures. If you keep to this natural and life-like presentation, you increase your chances of catching clear water largemouth bass significantly!

Here are some of the best producing lures and baits for catching clear water bass:

Softbaits

senkos for largemouth bass

When it comes to softbaits for clear water bass, senkos and craw baits really stick out and are great lure choices for clear water bass!

Medium sized senkos closely resemble leeches and craw baits do a really good job in visually copying crayfish, both of which being a much favored food source for bass.

Another great advantage of using softbaits is the fact that you can rig them in all sorts of ways, which gives you the opportunity to test out different styles and presentations, in order to trig those clear water bass. Popular and very successful rigs for senkos and craw baits include the:

  • Texas rig
  • Carolina rig
  • Wacky style
  • Drop shot method
  • Shaky head

Chances are very good that at least one of those presentations will catch you bass! Some really good quality senkos and craw baits are actually hand made by one of Strike&Catch’s content contributors, and bass angler Kellen Johnson. Check out his Facebook Business page, if you would like to order some of his baits: KM Legend Lures

Jigs

finesse jig for clear water bass

Finesse jigs are superb clear water lures for largemouth bass and should definitely be part of bait arsenal!

This type of lure is especially successful in lakes with smaller baitfish, as finesse jigs often are of a smaller size themselves. They can imitate crawfish really well and can make a big difference in high-pressure lakes.

You can power fish them or fish them more slowly along the bottom, depending on which depth the fish can currently be found in, and how difficult it is to get them to bite.

Insider tip: Coupled with a small craw bait, a finesse jig becomes the ultimate bass killer in clear water conditions!

A very popular finesse jig that catches a lot of bass all around the country is the Jewel Bait AJ Finesse Jig. You can find it at Bass Pro Shops: here

Swimbaits

swimbait for largemouth bass

Swimbaits resembling minnow or shad are optimal for deeper water and in lakes that both hold bigger bass and bigger prey fish, as they are somewhat larger in size than other lures.

Modern 3D swimbaits are super authentic baits that look and move exactly like a baitfish would, which makes them an extraordinary lure for clear water bass!

Do not shy away from using sizes of 4-5 inches! Big bass like bigger fish and won’t have a problem swallowing such a baitfish size, thanks to their large mouths.

Two very realistic swimbaits, which really manage to match the hatch of many lakes, are the Savage Gear 3D Bluegill Swimbait and the Savage Gear 3D Real Trout. You can find them at Bass Pro Shops: here (3D Bluegill) and here (3D Real Trout)

Best Lure Colors for Largemouth Bass in Clear Water

best lure colors for largemouth bass in clear water
Courtesy of Adam Markley

In order to get the most reliable data, I went ahead and asked 100 passionate bass anglers for their best bass lure colors in clear water. Here are the results:

Lure Color% of Answers
Green57%
Brown24%
Shad19%

As you can see, the lure color green absolutely dominates, with a total of 57% of bass anglers saying that this color catches them most bass in clear water conditions. 24% of them chose brown as their favorite color, and 19% said that shad, which would be a blueish and/or silvery color resembling the actual prey fish, is their number one color for clear water bass.

Sometimes, lure research is very simple, as all the parts fall nicely into place and the drawn conclusion becomes both obvious and solid. All three colors closely resemble the bass’ natural prey in virtually any given lake or river.

The colors green and shad resemble a variety of prey fish, including shad, minnow, bluegill, shiners and perch. The color brown is linked to smaller bass prey, such as leeches, crayfish, snails and worms.

According to scientific study, green is also one of two colors that bass see most clearly and react to most strongly (the other one being red).

Conclusively, sticking to natural colors, and sizes, that closely resemble prey fish present in the clear water lake you are fishing in will significantly increase your chances of catching largemouth bass.

What Is Considered Clear Water for Fishing?

By definition, clear water is equal to being perfectly transparent and wholly, or nearly colorless.

Of course, when it comes to fishing, this definition will have to be further divided into categories and levels of clarity, as a lake’s or river’s water clarity can change frequently.

Here are some general guidelines for water clarity and visibility with regards to the approximate depth in which bass can be found:

Water ClarityApprox. depth of bass
6” or less6′ or less
6”-1′10′ or less
1′-6′15′-35′

Many bass fishing professionals also state that bass hunt primarily with the help of their eyes in water clarity that is greater than 2′, while hunting primarily with their lateral line in water clarity less than 2′.

And so, using natural looking lures and colors that match the hatch becomes extremely vital in clear water conditions with a visibility that is greater than 2 feet.

Find out which lures and lure colors work best for bass in muddy water by also reading this article: Largemouth Bass in Muddy Water: Best Lures and Colors

Where to Find Largemouth Bass in Clear Water?

where to find largemouth bass in clear water
Courtesy of Layne Smith

Two major factors are causing the bass to seek out certain places and areas in clear water conditions; visibility and heat.

Visibility causes the bass to seek out hiding places, both with regards to their natural enemies (walleye, pike and musky) and their prey. Such places can be found behind large rocks on the bottom, among sunken or under overhanging trees, in dark areas in deeper water, or around areas with a lot of vegetation.

The same behavior is caused by heat, which is warming up clear water much faster than murkier, darker one. Deeper water and shady areas are naturally cooler and provide more oxygen. Both of these factors help the bass to stay more active and alert during the warmer periods of the year.

Generally, the clearer the water, the deeper, or more hidden away, bass can be found!

What Pound Test Line for Bass in Clear Water?

As visibility under water is so good, you will want to decrease the strength of your mainline, so that it becomes harder for the bass to spot it.

A monofilament line of 8-12 lb test is considered optimal for fishing in clear water conditions. Depending on the size of the bass in your water, you could go up to 15 lb, which is considered the upper limit.

A somewhat thinner line has the positive bonus effect of giving your lures more of a natural action under water, as a lighter line will allow your baits to move more freely, and hence, more attractively for bass. A great advantage, as bass can easily spot unnaturally behaving baits and will, more often than not, give them a wide berth.

Also, try to use line that is transparent, so that it blends in with the surrounding water in a perfect way. A transparent line is to be preferred over colored or camouflaged alternatives, as these will not only be more visible, but also cast a shadow under water, if direct sunlight is present.

Feature image courtesy of Benett Rouse

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