I blame this great debate on bass fishing, the anglers who target that species, have wormed ( no pun intended) their philosophies into the walleye world. Sometimes they work, but it is definitely not a golden rule for those chasing eyes. Basically there are two areas of thought, and then I added a third based on my own personal experience.
Dark colors they say are a must when it comes to dirty water. Do they work down below, yes they do, but this is one area which one can argue that there is a true crossover to the walleye world. When exactly does this philosophy hold true for both sports, I would argue only while fishing up high in the water column. When targeting largemouth bass this would translate to topwater fishing. While trolling or casting walleye baits, then it work best while trolling up high or casting shallow baits like Rapala’s orginal floater and working the baits just below the surface. In both instances the sun works to the angler’s advantage and highlights the body of the bait from a fish’s vision vantage point below the bait. Conclusion written down in my journals from experience is that they work best up top in dirty water, but only works so far down below near the bottom of the water column.
White baits are something when it comes to walleye fishing that I believe has an unique niche. When snap popping hair jigs they work best in areas of water that aren’t quite chocolate, but not that good clean blue water we love so much either. The transition zone is the key to their success, whether you mix in a little pink, green, chartreuse or yellow into the mix, white is the key here. Turn that over to crankbait side of fishing while trolling, and I firmly believe this is why any pattern of Wonderbread, Huckleberry or Eriedescent works so well. It is the white base of the lure that makes it successful.
Bright colors seem to have their time and place in almost every water condition. Actually some can be considered both dark and bright at the same time. Firetiger is a prime example. Above you have a hot pepper pink with a yellow tail Wyandotte Worm from Mad Viking Tackle. This color was HOT for me personally last weekend while fishing the Michigan Walleye Tour even on the Detroit River two weekends ago.
Keep in mind that the water was not exactly clean, but you could see about a foot down. Everyone, but myself had caught fish in the boat early in the morning of the first day with some type of dark worm with a chartreuse tail. I took a break from the Minn-Kota and started working my way though my worm box. Up came out this pink and yellow combination. To be honest, I am not exactly the bright pink kind, just not much faith in it when it comes to jigging. It was different from what my crew was running though, but it also had the bright tail. I dipped it in some Lure Lipstick plastic enhancer, combined it with some Angler’s Quest anti-freeze jigheads, with just the belly dipped in orange. The next five fish in the net came on this rig.
We also noticed that the handliners around us were doing best on this Rapala Gold Flo. Red Original Floater. They can call it a sort of red, but to the regular eye, we called it orange and gold. So we rigged up some Atomic Ice forktail minnows and that worked as well after dipping in the enhancer tub that was on the boat.
Should you abandon those darker colors when it comes to jigging and trolling, absolutely not. Why else would purple be such a popular color when it comes to catching walleye? The lesson though is this, bright and white are 2/3 rds of the equation that should never be overlooked!