There’s no doubt that color is one of the most important features of any bait no matter how you look at it. That importance lies in the fact that whether you think it’s critical to match the right color to the right water conditions, or whether you could care less if your jigheads are painted, your color beliefs (or lack thereof) still drive your decision-making process when you pick out what to buy in a tackle shop. It’s all fine and good as a matter of personal preference and opinion, that is until a researcher goes out and studies what colors a bass sees and reacts too most easily under all kinds of conditions. At that point, the subject crosses the line into the realm of appplied science. Such begins today’s topic.
Many of you might remember the Color-C-Lector from days gone by. Some of you may even still have one stashed in your boat or garage. The current version is now under the ownership of the Spike-It company, those guys who make the worm dyes and color pens. Love the Spike-It bottled dyes, especially chartreuse! Back on subject, Loren Hill was the inventor of the Color-C-Lector, which was applied for patent-wise in April of 1986. Loren took largemouth bass into the lab, and through a combination of training, positive and negative controls and reinforcements, and a lot of simulated light and water color scenarios, supposedly determined exactly which colors bass could see best under a variety of circumstances.
After compiling all his data, he then developed a type of light meter that could measure the ambient light at any given depth and under any degree of brightness. This light meter had his color data applied to it such that a needle would point to the exact color combination that should work best for a given depth, water clarity and time. You then simply had to choose lures that mimicked that supposed preference, and you’d know you were fishing the best possible colored bait for the conditions.
Before going any further, I must say that whether you believe in the device or not, his patent application entitled “Method and apparatus for selecting fishing lure color” is a must read. There are some great details including his lab and field trial research, similarly designed devices and previous color research by other scientists. Scroll past the ads at the top of the page and get right to the meat of the discussion.
With that out of the way, we can move on to one of the more fascinating aspects of this whole deal, at least to me. That is the degree to which this simple invention altered the industry, literally changing the product lines and packaging of many major manufacturers. For example, who can forget the many “weird” color combinations that all our tried and true baits started being manufactured with? Even the packaging was relabeled to list the particular color codes for that bait that matched the codes on the Color-C-Lector.
Another great example were the tacklebox manufacturers that created pre-labeled holding systems to organize your baits by. Then there were the numerous television shows at the time that had their respective anglers using the device or rendering opinions on it. A couple that briefly come to mind were Bill Dance Outdoors, who appeared to be a firm believer in the system, as well as In-Fisherman, who would go on to look at the relevance of the meter to other species beyond bass.
In the end, whether you believed in the unit or not, you might be hard pressed to find a more influential piece of tackle on the industry short of the invention of graphite (carbon fiber) rods. And based upon the websites and catalogs of the various tackle manufacturers and distributors, color will continue to be one of the largest drivers of sales in the industry, light meter or not.