A Boyd’s Eye View: What is it with the classic red and white color pattern in fishing lures?
Some vintage plugs in the red and white color pattern.
Fishing lures have been a fascination of mine for most of my life. It all began back in Joplin, Missouri, on the corner of 32nd and Main. The old Southtown Bait & Tackle store was there, marked forever in my memory by the iconic bass sign right out front. The store is no longer there, but the memory of that magical place will always be with me. The open bins that lined the isles were filled with every conceivable contraption ever designed to catch a fish, or at least it looked that way to me.
The first lure I bought there was an inline spinner. It was a couple inches long, had an elongated metal body on a wire shaft with a French-style spinner blade on the front and a small treble hook dressed with white feathers on the back. The color was a brilliant white background covered in bright red dots. My granddad helped me pick it out. We were headed for the river to take advantage of the white bass run. I remember distinctly him telling me, “You can’t go wrong with that color pattern. Red and white lures catch everything that swims.”
Well granddad was right (as usual when it came to fishing), and the red and white spinner did the job nicely that day. Over the years I have owned many baits colored red and white. The most popular pattern over all has to be what in lure lingo is known as the Redhead pattern; white body with the head portion painted red. From deep diving plugs to topwater baits this pattern has been adorning fishing lures as long as these hard-body baits have been made.
I have no idea why this color combination is so effective. One could speculate it has to do with the contrast, or the fact that in slightly off-colored water the white of the lure is easily seen. It really doesn’t mimic any baitfish I’ve ever seen, but the predator fish eat it on a regular basis. Heck, it may be the same sort of reaction a matador gets waving a red cape in front of a bull; it just irritates the fish into hitting it.
No matter what size lure or material, you can most likely find one in red and white.
And it doesn’t matter whether you are talking saltwater or freshwater. No one goes on a Canadian fishing trip without a red and white Dardevel Spoon, and anglers fishing off the east coast rarely hit the water without a red and white surface plug in their tackle box.
While the red and white color scheme is not my first choice on the water these days, I can honestly say I don’t leave the dock without at least one red and white lure in my box. Its just not right going fishing without one handy. Its been like that for me since that first trip to the tackle store in Joplin. As a matter of fact, I’m hard-pressed to walk past a red and white lure these days without at least picking it up, and more often than not it finds its way home with me. I have a ton of them; most will never get wet. But they are eye-catching, and for me that’s the sign of a really good fishing lure. It must catch the angler before it can catch a fish.
That’s my Boyd’s Eye View at least. Carry on.