Top Five Must-Have Crankbait Colors

Ugly Duckling color chart

Selecting Lure Colors for Successful Fishing


  • To improve angling success, consider how fish see and eat.
  • Lure colors that are visible to fish change with increasing water depths.
  • Bright colors look drab to a fish if presented in deep water.
  • In clear water, longer color wavelengths (like red) are visible in the shallows and shorter wavelengths (like blue) are visible in the depths.
  • On clear days, light penetrates deeper into the water than on cloudy days or at twilight.
  • Cloudy or turbid water will reduce the depth that light can reach.


Metallic Silver, Gold or Blue crankbait color


Blue Silver color Ugly Duckling crank
Ugly Duckling 4S Sinking crankbait – Blue Silver

Description: A shiny, reflective color, rendered either in a plain, hammered or foil finish, covers most of the lure’s body. Sometimes used with a secondary color such as white.

What it mimics: Shad, alewife, cisco, perch

Use this color on: Lipless and diving crankbaits

Application: Reflective colors work best on sunny days in clear to slightly stained lakes and rivers. They capture the metallic flash of a pelagic (open water) baitfish, so use them wherever schooling baitfish are likely to congregate, such as around points, offshore humps, riprap close to dams, etc.

Baby Bass crankbait color


Ugly Duckling 5S Sinking crankbait - Baby Bass
Ugly Duckling 5S Sinking crankbait – Baby Bass

DescriptionGreen sides fading to white or cream, black or dark green back, black horizontal stripe

What it mimics: Largemouth bass fry

Use this color on: Square bill and “minus” crankbaits

Application: Sounds creepy, but largemouth bass will eat their young, so try a small shallow-running crankbait in this realistic color pattern around spawning flats and sheltered bays after the spawn.

Fire Tiger crankbait color


Ugly Duckling 6 MR FT
Ugly Duckling Shad – Fire Tiger

Description: Black or dark green back, green sides, white belly, black vertical bars

What it mimics: Bluegill, perch

Use this color on: Square bill and medium diving crankbaits

Application: Stained to murky water; clear water on overcast days. This color may look somewhat outrageous, but it actually captures the hues of live bluegill to a T, so try it whenever bass are feeding on ‘gills around shallow wood cover.

Citrus Shad crankbait color


Strike King Pro Model 5XD Silent – Citrus Shad

Description: Bright blue back fading into chartreuse sides fading into white; may have orange, chartreuse or blue belly

What it mimics: Shad, perch, bluegill

Use this color on: Medium and deep diving crankbaits

Application: You can go to the bank on this color when your game plan calls for deep-crankin’ offshore structures in hot weather. A bright, highly visible pattern that draws reaction strikes when bass are suspending around ditches and channel drops, typical largemouth behavior once the water temperature tops 80 degrees.

 Tennessee Shad crankbait color


Strike King Pro Model 5XD Silent – Tennessee Shad

Description: Brown back transitioning to light green with cream sides, often with orange or red throat.

What it mimics: Gizzard shad

Use this color on: Lipless, square bill and diving crankbaits

Application: This is a subtle, non-reflective bait fish color pattern that works well in reservoirs with moderately stained water.

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