In nature, crawfish colors are widely variable. Many are drab, earthy colors. Shades of brown, green and gray are common. But at times craws can be bright red, crimson, orange or blue in color too. So it pays to have a good range in your lure collection, enabling you to cover all lure fishing scenarios.
It also pays to have an understanding of your local crawfish population, so you can know which color to use and when. In many places the craw population changes color seasonally. In other places the craws remain one color year round.
Factors Affecting Crawfish Colors
Part of the reason that crawfish colors are so variable is the numerous factors that influence it. The most obvious one is species. For example, in my area we have species that are readily identifiable by their red claws, even though the rest of the body can vary from black to brown or green. Those red claws are a very distinguishable feature that fish home in on. We also have a species in certain waters that is perennially blue, so choosing a blue craw pattern makes a lot of sense in those places.
The second factor affecting crawfish colors is season. A common cycle seems to be red in the warmer summer months, trending to greens and browns as the temperatures fall. When the water really cools off they are often dark brown, dark blue or black. Of course, in many places the craws go into hibernation over the cooler months too.
The molting and breeding cycles also affects crawfish colors and are linked to season. Freshly molted crawfish are often red, orange or crimson in color. These colors often darken as the shell matures before the next molt.
Water color and diet are the other factors affecting the crawfish colors. Usually crawfish found in muddy water and low light conditions will be dark in color. In clear water the color can be a lot more variable, but is often lighter. Craws that are feeding on decaying plant material tend to be darker colored, whilst those eating zooplankton and living plant material are often more orange.
Tips For Choosing The Best Crawfish Colors On The Day
With all of these factors coming into play, you might be excused if you are a little confused about what crawfish colors to use, and when. The good news is, it’s not as difficult as it might seem! Here are some tips for choosing the right lure.
- Remember, color is rarely as important as having the right size and shape or lure with the right action, and putting it in the right place. Get those things right first, then worry about color second!
- In muddy water the craws are usually dark in color. Plus, the fish see dark colored, contrasty lures more easily in these conditions. Black, brown and pumpkinseed are good color selections.
- In warmer, cleaner water it’s not a bad idea to start with green or red craw patterns. Unless you know the local craw population exhibits blue or orange colors at that time of year, in which case the color choice is obvious.
- A general rule of thumb for clear water fishing: warm colors are for the warm months, cooler colors are for the cooler months.
Of course, tying on a lure never means that you are locked into that choice for the rest of the day. Have a good selection of crawfish colors to choose from and keep switching until you find what’s working on the day.
And one final tip, which is good for anyone, but especially for travelling anglers who can’t spend enough time in one place to figure out crawfish color cycles: Crawfish traps are cheap. It’s a pretty simple matter to toss in a trap and find out first hand exactly what color the craw population is at that moment!
BTW, Painting tutorials are available for most of the lures on this page in my custom lure painting course. Click the link below for more details or to sign up for a free beginners course.