Despite some lure colour combinations that are more aptly named for a candy store than your local bait shop, simplicity still has its place in your tackle box.
Bubblegum Watermelon Swirl or Candycane Purple Fleck have surely found their way into fish yaps at one point, but the colour I reach for when targeting big fish is straight black.
Black is especially effective in murky water and low light conditions. Here are some black-bait favourites of mine and other angling pros.
Rigged wacky or weedless, a black stickbait has put more bass in my boat than any other lure.
Straight black works great, but offerings with either blue or red flecks can also make fish tick.
Fish 5-inch stickbaits on 4/0 hooks along the edge of weedlines and adjacent flats early and late in the day when you are targeting bass (mainly largemouth). I prefer to fish them Texas rigged and weightless in these situations.
Mid-day fishing will require you to drop these among lilypads or around timber.
Stickbaits can also be very effective for largemouth when hooked wacky and drop-shotted on rocky slopes in Canadian Shield lakes.
When targeting smallmouth, downsize to a 4-inch stickbait and a 2/0 hook.
I reach for a black buzzbait when I’m looking for bigger than average bass and pike, especially in the fall when trophy pike and bass feed heavily around remaining green vegetation.
Water temperature above 60˚C is key for this presentation to work.
Early in spring pike season, find your waterbody’s warmest water and work a buzzbait through emerging vegetation. Don’t be surprised to see pike streaming in from 20 feet away or more to attack your lure.
In the summer, throw these buzzbaits parallel to weedlines or along undercut banks, especially in the morning and evening to connect with prowling largies.
Hollow Body Frogs and Toads
Natural colours blend in too well in murky water, but black frogs and toads excel.
Like with the buzzbait in the spring, find shallow water with emerging vegetation on the north side of a lake and throw black toads to sun-loving pike.
Bring a few bags of your favourite toads because pike are notorious for cutting off the legs without ever coming into contact with your hook.
During the dog days of summer, hollow body frogs fished among lily pads will get the big largemouth to come out and play.
Warm, overcast, and calm days are ideal days for frogging.
Jig & Pig
A tournament favourite, many a paycheque has been cashed on a simple black flipping jig and trailer.
These are versatile baits with jig weights available from ¼ oz to 1 oz, making it easy to match vegetation density.
Tournament angler, guide, and owner of RJnBirdees Outdoor Adventures, Rob Jackson says, “A straight black jig and pork rind is what I flip in murky water and in overcast conditions when I’m looking for bass. Generally speaking, when fishing murky water, a lure has to either put out a big silhouette, or be very bright.”
He adds that low light conditions, even on clearer bodies of water, are prime times to tie on something black.
The majority of the pike and bass that have seen the bottom of my boat have done so with a spinnerbait in their mouths.
Trolling spinnerbaits is my go-to for putting clients onto pike. White spinnerbaits are great for numbers, but when I’m looking to take big pike, bass, and even walleye, from a weedline, a black spinnerbait with black blades and a black trailer is hard to beat.
When trolled at 1.8 mph to 3 mph and in or near the outboard’s propwash, strikes from pike can be ferocious, and often times visible, which adds an extra element of excitement and anticipation to the day’s fishing.
Take your fishing to a dark place this summer, and become a believer in black. They might not be as pretty as the candy-coloured baits, but they are just as sweet.