Rain, snowmelt, storms, or sediment; there are lots of reasons why lake water can get muddy. But if you are using the right lures and colors, then stained water will not prevent you from catching lots of bass!
Slightly bigger lures that make noise and vibrate are your number one choice for bass in muddy water. When it comes to the right lure colors, blue, black, and white are catching far more bass than other colors do in such conditions.
These findings are based on extensive research and the answers of hundreds of largemouth bass fishermen, whom I have asked for their best lure and color picks for bass in muddy water. Read all about their expert tips in this article!
QUICK SUMMARY: This article recommends 3 highly effective lures for largemouth bass in dark or muddy water. They include crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and softbaits and all of them can be found on Amazon.
Best Lures for Largemouth Bass in Muddy Water
As visibility is lower in muddy water, bass will have a harder time seeing clearly and rely more on their lateral line. Hence, you should choose lures that:
- are bigger than your usual largemouth bass lures
- make some noise in the water
- cause some vibration
If you are using lures that have one, or all of the above-mentioned features, then you are already well on your way to catching more muddy water bass!
Here are some specific lure types that will produce largemouth bass in such conditions (in descending order):
Crankbaits are undoubtedly the number one choice for many anglers when it comes to bass in muddy water.
Not only are they a bit larger than other bass lures, but because they often are bulky, they also create a lot more movement and vibrations, as they push aside a lot of water.
Another great advantage of using crankbaits in muddy water is that they often come with rattles, which makes them very noisy lures and perfect for largemouth bass to spot in murky conditions.
So, crankbaits can actually combine all of the above-mentioned important lure features (bigger size, noise, and vibration).
Spinnerbaits are another great lure choice for muddy waters. They combine the features silhouette and vibration in the most perfect of ways.
Thanks to an often present spinner blade/jig combo, they create much more vibration than other lures. That’s why you should go for a pair of Colorado blades on your spinnerbait, as these will produce the most vibration and displace the most water on their way in.
If you’re using extra-large blades, you can also retrieve your lure very slowly, while maintaining the same depth, which further increases your chance of hooking up to a bass in water that’s got low visibility.
Thanks to their rather advanced and versatile lure structure, spinnerbaits also have a great silhouette, if you’re using the right lure color.
Shads are more of a silent bass killer type of lure, but their great strength lies in two very important features:
- Shads with long, wide, and/or curly tails create a lot of vibration and movement in the water
- Shads, in combination with a heavier jig head, will create extra vibration when hitting the bottom
Fishing with shads also allows you to present your lure more slowly, which can be advantageous in murky water, as bass sometimes need more time to locate your lure.
Don’t shy away from waiting several seconds after each twitch. Often, largemouth bass will pick up a “resting” shad from the bottom, if you give them enough time to do so!
Best Lure Colors for Largemouth Bass in Muddy Water
I asked 100 bass fishermen about their lure color preferences for muddy water. Here is the surprising result:
These colors stand definitely in stark contrast to each other (black vs white), and they might seem a little odd at first glance. But, when it comes to underwater light, visibility, and silhouette, they actually make a lot of sense!
Starting with the most obvious color in dark and murky water, white simply sticks out and can be seen more than other colors in these conditions. Regardless, it is the weakest of the three suggested lure colors for muddy water, because its color intensity is somewhat weakened due to the lack of light. It also has virtually no silhouette to it.
Both blue and black, on the other hand, do have very strong silhouettes. After all, one of the synonyms for the word “silhouette” is literally the word “black”.
It is this feature that makes these lure colors so extremely powerful in dark and muddy water, even though the thought of using very dark colors in dark water might go against our reasoning as smart fishermen.
But only if you think of the colors themselves, not the actual solid shapes that these colors can produce in poor light conditions underwater. As soon as you make that mental switch, using blue and black lure colors can become your absolute best chance of catching largemouth bass in muddy water!
Can Bass See in Muddy Water?
Yes and no. This is a rather tricky question. It is suggested that bass, and many other fish species, can in fact see in muddy and dark water, but not merely with their eyes.
As their visual senses are somewhat lowered, due to the limited visibility in such conditions, they instead “see” much more with their lateral line and taste receptors. The latter does not apply to lure fishing, as the baits you are using don’t smell nor taste anything.
Instead, the main focus is really on the fish’s lateral line, which is a line of sense organs running lengthwise down each side of a fish. This system of sensory receptors is an evolutionary masterpiece that allows the fish to detect even the slightest vibrations, movements, and pressure gradients in the nearby water.
Another research paper has shown that bass eyes react most strongly to yellow, green, and red wavelengths (red colors) if there is sufficient sunlight for them to reflect.
If there isn’t, which often is the case in muddy water conditions, then darker colors, such as blue and black actually catch the bass eyes’ attention much more, as these colors create much more visible and concrete silhouettes.
That’s why it is so crucial to use both vibrating and moving lures in combination with the colors blue and black!
RELATED READING: Do You Need a Wire Leader for Bass?
Do Bass Bite Better in Muddy Water?
Once again, this will depends on your lure choice. If you are using the right kind of lures and colors for muddy waters, the answer is a solid yes!
So many times, I have caught so much better in dark and muddy water, compared to clear water. We are talking to entirely different spheres of fishing!
For one thing, less light and dirty water mean plenty of opportunities to hide, both from other predators and from prey.
Practically the entire water area has potential for otherwise nonexistent ambush points, which means that the bass will move more freely than in clear water conditions.
Because of that freedom, they will also feed with more confidence. It is perhaps because of this, that bass will, on certain days, bite like mad in murky water.
They simply don’t seem to be able to adequately figure out if your lure is real prey or not. But as it moves, feels, and sounds like prey, they will happily go for it.
I wrote a related article on best lures and colors for bass in clear water. Make sure to check it out as well: Largemouth Bass in Clear Water (Best Lures and Colors)
Why Does Water Become Muddy?
Water can get muddy and cloudy for several reasons. The most obvious ones are rain and snowmelt. This is why lots of venues tend to muddy up right after the winter season.
The massive amounts of rain and snow that flow into a water system wash all types of material and organic and non-organic matter into it (dust, dirt, soil, sand, etc). The increased movement of the water system, caused by stronger currents from e.g. rivers draining into a lake, further enhances the muddying or cloud effect.
Algae blooming in certain lakes is another reason why a lake can have murky or cloudy water.
A third reason is the lake sediment itself. If its structure is rather soft and made up of e.g. silt, clay, or sand, any top or bottom water currents or shifts will cause such a lake to become extremely muddy or dark.
Essential Tackle Tips
If you’re looking for solid and reliable bass fishing equipment, these tips might be useful for you.
This tackle is of top quality and sells at a very decent price on Amazon.
Rod: Shimano SLX 6’10”
An awesome baitcasting rod of the highest quality! This rod is super lightweight, has great sensitivity and phenomenal action. Casts anything between 1/4oz. and 1 1/2oz. Fits both beginners and seasoned bass pros. Easily the best baitcasting rod for the money!
Reel: Shimano SLX XT 150
An affordable high-performance baitcaster reel that’s perfect for bass fishing with both light and heavy lures. Shimano’s stuff basically lasts forever, so you don’t have to worry about buying a new reel anytime soon! Makes for a great bass combo together with the Shimano SLX rod.
Mainline: Power Pro Spectra
Without a doubt, one of the best braids available today. Zero stretch, great feel, and immense strength make this line the perfect pick for bass in both open and snaggy waters. Put on an 8-12lb test and you’re good to go.
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Feature image courtesy of Kellen Johnson