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If you love bass fishing, at one point or another, you might have considered whether or not bass can see your fishing line, and whether the color of your line matters. While there are plenty of different sources out there discussing this topic, this article will provide you with a definite answer based on facts and research along with helpful information for you to consider before scheduling your next bass fishing trip.
So, can bass see your fishing line? Yes, bass can see your fishing line. Therefore, it is recommended to choose a line color that is as difficult as possible for bass to see, such as a clear, fluorocarbon line. Keep in mind, however, that the color line you should use varies depending on the environment where you are fishing or if you want to be able to see your line underwater.
Read on to learn more about how to choose the best color for your line based on where you will be bass fishing. After reading this article, you will be able to head to your next bass fishing trip with the right color line and optimize your results.
How Bass “See”
Even though bass can definitely see your fishing line, it is important to consider the way a bass’ vision works. By knowing exactly how a bass’ vision works, you’ll be able to choose a line color that will be as difficult for the bass to see as possible.
As sight plays a huge role in a bass’ ability to survive and reproduce, the bass is considered a “sight predator.” It turns out that bass actually has better vision than us humans. This is because a bass’ bulbous, protruding eye provides them with a greater field of vision – they can see things in their peripherals easier than we can.
Since bass’ eyes have rods and cones, bass can also see color. The good news for you, however, is that the ease with which bass can detect color depends directly on light conditions. When considering the visible light spectrum, red light wavelengths will generally penetrate water the least, while blue will penetrate it the most.
At night, bass only sees using their rods, which cannot distinguish between different colors. So don’t worry about the color line your using at night.
Based on the properties of the visible light spectrum, water, and basses vision, here are a couple of general guidelines to keep in mind:
- In most scenarios, a clear fluorocarbon or monofilament line will be the safest and most reliable option
- If your goal is to reduce the visibility of the line under the water, go with a clear line or a line color that blends with the water.
- If your goal is to be able to see your line under the water, go with a color line that contrasts the color of the water as much as possible.
- Bass cannot see color at night, so pick any color line for nighttime fishing.
In general, however, the color of the line will not have a drastic effect on whether a bass decides to bite your lure or not. Therefore, it is important to consider your goals. While a clear line is recommended in most situations, if you want to be able to see when a bass bites your lure, rather than only feel it, you will need to choose a brighter, more visible line and lure.
Now that we’ve gone over how bass’ vision works and some general recommendations that use this knowledge to our favor, let’s dive a little deeper and discuss the different kinds of available fishing lines and the advantages/disadvantages between color(s) for each.
Fishing Lines: Different Types of Lines
There are several different types of fishing lines out there, and each one will offer a different level of visibility in the water. I’ll go over each so you can make the right choice when you fishing for bass.
Fluorocarbon, also known as Polyvinylidene fluoride, is one of the best fishing line options available if your goal is to choose a line that is difficult for bass to see. This is because fluorocarbon has a refractory index of 1.42, while the water itself has a refractory index of 1.33. These indices being this close means that fluorocarbon becomes “invisible” in water.
In addition to its “invisibility”, fluorocarbon is a great material for a fishing line because the molecules that makeup fluorocarbon are tightly packed, which makes it the perfect weight and density needed for fishing. This also makes it more rigid, so you won’t have to worry about the line becoming stretched over time.
When compared to monofilament, fluorocarbon is less optically dense and thus harder to see underwater. Also, it has greater abrasion resistance, which means it will not be as easily affected by water absorption over time.
While fluorocarbon has many positive characteristics, there are some disadvantages to consider as well. Since fluorocarbon is more rigid, it is less manageable. This means the line might coil more often and not stay as limp during retrieves.
Also, fluorocarbon has a tendency to sink, whereas other options such as monofilament are more buoyant in water. This sinking tendency only tends to be an issue when using floating lures such as topwater, as the lure’s nose will be pulled down toward the water.
While you can’t go wrong with a clear fluorocarbon line for bass fishing in most situations, some manufacturers are releasing a pink-tinted fluorocarbon which is reportedly even better for reducing visibility. This is because the pink color loses its color entirely at certain depths, making it invisible to fish.
Overall, however, whether you go clear or pink, a fluorocarbon line is a great option for a line that will be difficult for bass to see.
Monofilament has been the most popular kind of fishing line for many years. Being less expensive than other options, it is a great option for those who only plan on bass fishing once in a while.
Monofilament is a single nylon fiber spun with other polymers or individually that gets extruded, forming a nylon line that gets wound directly onto fishing reel spools.
A cool feature of monofilament is that based on how much it is extruded, it can have different tensile strengths. The tensile strength of the line will determine how much pressure the line can withstand before breaking. Also, when containing certain polymers, a monofilament line can contain refractive properties like fluorescent which would help you see the line when fishing in the dark at night.
Some of the biggest advantages of using a monofilament line include shock absorption, resistance to abrasion, it having a uniformly round cross-section, and it being ease to tie into knots.
Regarding color, clear and blue are going to be the most popular colors for monofilament lines, since these colors disappear underwater and are difficult for fish to see.
Some disadvantages of monofilament to keep in mind are that this material is not quite as strong as braid lines, and it is made of nylon. This means that monofilament has a tendency to break down over time after extended exposure to sunlight.
A braided fishing line is the third most common type of fishing line, and the last one we will be discussing in this article.
While braided lines are not quite as popular as monofilament or fluorocarbon lines, these lines are preferred in specific situations by many anglers.
A braided line is made up of woven strands of cotton, linen, or more recently Dacron, Spectra, and Dyneema. These woven strands have a small diameter, is stretch resistant, abrasion resistant, sun-resistant, extremely strong, and do not sink.
A braided line is preferred in specific scenarios for a number of reasons. Firstly, these lines are perfect for situations where you are bass fishing in an area with heavy cover, grass, and dense wood or vegetation.
Also, if you plan on bass fishing with topwater lures or using finesse gear with spinning tackle, a braided line is the way to go, since it will resist line twists and loops on spinning gear better than both monofilament and fluorocarbon lines. Also, since braid can be wound extremely tight on a spool, it reduces “digging” and provides greater casting distance.
However, there are some disadvantages to consider.
- Braided lines are going to be a lot more visible than fluorocarbon or monofilament lines.
- Braid has a tendency to dig into itself when you horse a fish or wrench down on a hookset in heavy cover.
- Since the braid is so strong, it requires sharp clippers or scissors to cut.
- Since the braid is slippery, you have to be able to tie knots that will hold despite there being low friction.
- Braided lines are more susceptible to getting tangled or knotted.
While braided lines are abrasion resistant, they are not quite as abrasion-resistant as monofilament lines. Also, while stretch resistance is a good feature in certain scenarios, this also means that there will be no give in the line when a fish latches onto your lure, so be sure to use less drag and set the hook with more finesse.
To address the visibility issue of braided lines, many anglers add a fluorocarbon or monofilament leader line to the braid to help reduce visibility.
There are actually several advantages and disadvantages to consider when adding a leader to a braided line. Generally, however, adding a clear mono or fluorocarbon leader to a braided line will help with decreasing visibility and will help you catch more bass in most situations.
Fishing Lines: Different Color Options for Each Kind of Line
So depending on which kind of fishing line you decide to choose, here we will discuss the most popular color options available for each line and scenarios in which that color would be the preferred choice.
Fluorocarbon Line Color Options
Depending on which type of fishing line you decide to use, you will have some choice as to the color of the line. Consider the following options before picking out your fishing line to ensure that the line is less visible than the bass you’re hoping to reel in.
In most bass fishing scenarios, going with a clear fluorocarbon line is going to be the least visible and most reliable option. Since the refractory index of fluorocarbon is 1.42, while the water itself has a refractory index of 1.33, a clear fluorocarbon line will become nearly invisible underwater.
While a clear fluorocarbon line works best when bass fishing in clear water, it is still difficult to see even if the water is murky, or at night.
In recent years, some manufacturers have begun producing fluorocarbon lines tinted with the color pink. The benefit of going with a pink fluorocarbon line is that the color disappears entirely at certain depths of water. However, the difference in visibility between a clear and pink fluorocarbon line is almost negligible, so either one you decide to choose will be a great option.
Monofilament Line Color Options
So while there are only two options for fluorocarbon lines – clear and pink – monofilament lines offer a number of different colors, each preferred in different conditions.
Since we know the reliability and quality of monofilament lines, depending on the conditions you most often bass fish in, one of these options might be perfect for you.
Going with a clear monofilament line is going to be the safest in any situation. This is because the clear color has low visibility no matter what the conditions of the water are. Whether the water is clear, murky, muddy, have algae, or if it’s nighttime, a clear monofilament line will always offer low visibility. Just not quite as much as fluorocarbon.
There is also an available color of monofilament called clear blue. This color line will be more visible to the angler above the water but will be almost invisible underwater.
A yellow monofilament line is a good choice for anglers who want to be able to easily see their line both above and below the water. By having a line bright enough to see under the water, you will be able to notice when a bass has bitten your lure, even if you have not felt a tug on the line. This is especially the case in murky or muddy water.
The color red will be one of the first to begin losing its color as the line goes deeper into the water. When a red line loses its color, it becomes black. So depending on the color of the water you are bass fishing in, and whether or not you want to be able to see your line, this may or may not be a good option.
A green line is an optimal choice in water that has a green tint to it, which will most often be the case if there are algae present. If the water is clear, then you’ll be able to see the line under the water as well.
Also known as clear-blue or fluorescent, this is a great color option since it is visible to the angler above the water, slightly visible to the angler in the water, and barely visible to the bass in the water. As the line sinks deeper into the water, a blue line will become white, so this may or may not be a good option depending on your goals and the color of the water, or if it is nighttime.
Braided Line Color Options
If you decide based on the kind of fishing you’re doing that a braided line is a way to go, pretty much any color you choose will be visible to bass under the water.
If you want to enjoy the benefits of both the extreme strength of a braided line as well as the invisibility of a fluorocarbon line, something that many anglers do is attach a fluorocarbon line to the end of their braided line. This is known as a “leader” line.
To attach a leader line to your braided line, the two most popular methods are the Alberto knot and the double uni knot.
This graphic from Fix shows the approach you should take to attach a leader line to your braided line.
What About the Color of Your Lures?
Unsurprisingly, the principles and guidelines that we discussed for choosing a line color also apply to choosing a lure color; however, there are some nuances to consider.
When picking a color for your lure, try to pick a color that mimics local bait fish or crawfish that bass eat. If your lure resembles a bass’ prey, the bass will be more likely to go for a bite.
Once you’ve determined the best colors for the kind of lure bass in your region are attracted to, it’s important to consider the conditions of the water.
If the water is clear, go with a bright or translucent lure. With lures, unlike lines, you won’t have to worry about not being able to see it under clear water.
If the water is murky, muddy, or dark for any other reason, go with a lure that is on the darker side.
Similarly to lines, the color of your lure will begin to fade at greater depths. Depending on the depth of the water you’re bass fishing in, you might have to adjust accordingly.
This post at Fix.com offers a graphic that provides a visual representation of this.
2 thoughts on “Can Bass See Your Fishing Line? What Color is Best?”
FG knot is universally accepted as the best knot to join mono/fluor to braid. It has won every knot strength test vs ever other hand tied knot. It is one of if not the small knot in diameter for going thru the tip guide ring. It’s only small negative is its a bit slow to tie at first. Once practiced it’s easy to tie. Try getting a double uni thru micro guides, smoothly, if at all,, using 50-65lb braid to 14-20lb mono/fluoro leader.
I used to think that line visibility mattered, but not anymore. I switched to high visibility orange line for smallmouth/walleye fishing, as well as surf fishing, and I don’t think I’ve experienced any more or less pickups than if I had used clear or green. And as I usually fish with another experienced angler I can compare my pickup rate to his and I don’t think that I’m missing fish while he get bites, in fact I’ve had a few better days than him using the orange lines, all else being equal.
Basically, I think that on a plus/minus scale, the benefit of seeing your line at distance or in tough conditions far outweighs whatever negative effects the visibility of that line might have on the fish.