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Finesse News Network's Gear Guide: The orange jig test

Finesse News Network's Gear Guide: The orange jig test

Since April Fools' Day of 2006, when Shinichi Fukae of Osaka, Japan, and Palestine, Texas, showed us how alluring  a red jig affixed to a Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits' Shad Shape Worm was to the largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass in Beaver Lake, Arkansas, a  red Gopher Tackle Mushroom Head Jig has been the jig that we have used the majority of the time  during our Midwest finesse outings at the flatland reservoirs that grace the countryside of northeastern Kansas.  And when we weren't wielding a red Gopher jig, we were using a chartreuse one.

But after we  posted Caitlin Young's  science project  entitled "The Color Preference of Catfish" on this blog site on Jan. 3, we decided to spent some time throughout 2012 dabbling with another jig color. Young's science project indicated that blue caught the eyes of channel catfish better than  pink, black and chartreuse. Thus, Young's observations provoked us to add blue to our jig repertoire.

We also pondered about adding another color or two. One of the colors that we thought about was orange.

What spawned our orange ponderings was  a statement that Don Iovino of Burbank, California, uttered several years ago during a telephone conversation in which we were discussing the effectiveness of red for alluring black bass.

Iovino is one of the West Coast's deep-water finesse masters. He also is the proprietor of Don Iovino's Bass Fishing Products and a noted tournament angler. Moreover, he has been giving chase to the black bass that abide in various Western waterways for more than a half of a century.

During that telephone conversation,  Iovino said  that an orange,  8 mm, fire-polished glass  bead often allures more bass on his doodling rigs than other glass bead colors, such as red, purple, blue, black, silver and brass.    He also manufactures an orange-crayfish colored slip sinker to accompany the orange bead on a doodling rig.

Within the ranks of Midwest finesse anglers, there is some debate about the color of the head of a jig.  Some of these anglers say it is best to use an unpainted jig, hinting that color isn't important.  Others say the size of a 1/32-, 1/16- and 3/32-ounce  Gopher Mushroom jig is so small that its color has a minimal affect its ability to allure a largemouth or smallmouth bass. Others says they prefer their jigs to be painted  black or green pumpkin. It is interesting to note that Shin Fukae only uses a red jig during the spawning season, and during the rest of the year, his finesse jigs are painted with a green-pumpkin hue.  There is another contingent of finesse anglers who say that the color of a jig can make a difference.  Some of these color proponents contend that color of the jig is similar to dipping a short segment of a Senko-style bait into a bottle of  Spike-It dye, which a goodly number of anglers do -- even some of the anglers who argue that the color of the head of the jig isn't important dip their baits into Spike-It.

Bill Reichert of Lincolnshire, Illinois,  noted in an e-mail that opinions about the effectiveness of the color of a jig are based more on speculation rather than tangible facts. Therefore, he and Will Reichert, who are exceedingly ardent and talented Midwest finesse anglers, volunteered to garner and assemble some tangible facts about the effectiveness of jig colors.

Here's what Bill wrote about how he and Will tested black, blue, chartreuse, orange and pink 3/32-ounce Gopher Tackle Mushroom Head Jigs and what they discovered:

"After dedicating three outings to this endeavor, we think that we have collected enough data to begin making some conclusions.

First, let me discuss some of the details about our approach.

Will and I fished three lakes, spending four hours at  each lake,  and we did not count the time spent running between spots or re-rigging.


We worked with two matching spinning rods and reels.  Both combos were spooled with eight-pound-test Berkley Vanish fluorocarbon line.

One outfit sported an orange 3/32-ounce  Gopher Mushroom Head Jig dressed with a 2 1/2-inch PB&J Z-Man Fishing Products'  ZinkerZ.

On the other spinning outfit, we switched baits every hour. For one hour, we wielded a pink 3/32-ounce Gopher jig and PB&J ZinkerZ, then we rigged that outfit with a blue3/32-ounce  Gopher jig and PB&J ZinkerZ, which was followed by a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig and PB&J ZinkerZ, and the last one consisted of a black 3/32-ounce Gopher jig and PB&J ZinkerZ.

The five jig and ZinkerZ combos that they used.

Each of the blue, black, chartreuse and pink jig and ZinkerZ combos were pitted against the orange combo for a one-hour time period, with Will and I each throwing orange half of the time in order to remove technique from the equation.  Additionally, we equally divided time controlling the boat in order to eliminate the influence of casting angle preference and other factors.

During this experiment, we counted all of the largemouth and smallmouth bass that we encountered.  Any fish that we hooked and could visually identify was counted even if the fish was not brought to hand, as we were strictly examining the ability of the jig to elicit strikes and hook fish.

Three different lakes were selected for the experiment.  For this experiment, we will call them Lake A, Lake B and Lake C.

Lake A is a 300-acre central Wisconsin glacial lake with depths to 42 feet.  This lake is primarily a largemouth fishery, but during the testing we did land our first smallmouth bass out of this body of water after hundreds of hours of fishing it across the years.  Water clarity here was exceptionally clear. Most of the fish came from depths that did not allow us to visually observe their attitude toward the baits.  Lake A had been sprayed with an aquatic herbicide seven days before we conducted the test, but the  catch rates and health of the bass seemed within normal limits. For the purpose of this experiment, we will consider this a largemouth fishery. We fished this lake on Aug. 8.

The weather on this outing  was mostly cloudy. The high temperature peaked at 81 degrees. The  wind was 10 mph from the east.  Barometer during fishing time was  steadily falling from 30.05 to 29.95

The best fishing times, according to the solunar calendar, were supposed to  occur at 4:09 p.m. and 6:09 p.m. It is interesting to note that  our tests never intersected with the solunar calendar's best fishing times.

Will Reichert and one of the largemouth bass that they caught.

Lake  B is a 7,000-acre central Wisconsin glacial lake. It is known as a quality smallmouth fishery, but largemouth are present in both numbers and size.  For the purpose of this experiment,  we will consider this a mixed-bass fishery.

This lake is deeper than the average  central Wisconsin lake,  and it has relatively clear water. The bass were often caught in water shallower than seven feet,  and they could often be seen (by Will with vision superior to mine) approaching the bait,  which allowed us to identify fish that changed their mind about an offering upon closer inspection. We fished this lake on Aug. 10, and the solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing time occurred from 5:44 p.m. to 7:44 p.m. It was  partly sunny. The high temperature was 79 degrees. The wind had gusts that reached24 mph from the northeast.  Barometer during fishing time steadily falling 30.05-29.97.

The roughest day weatherwise occurred at Lake B.  On this endeavor, we spent almost 90 minutes of time relocating to get our four hours of fishing in.  The other two days were rather normal, and during each of these outings, we  spent only 20 minutes moving to other locales.

Lake  C is a 1,300-acre northern Wisconsin glacial lake with depths up to 49 feet.  Lake C is the least eutrophic of the three lakes.  And the boulder-strewn areas that we fished were devoid of aquatic vegetation. This lake contains both largemouth and smallmouth bass, but the  smallmouth bass is the dominant species. Thus we will consider this a smallmouth fishery. We fished this lake on July 24, and according to the solunar calendar, the best fishing time occurred from 3:29 p.m. to 5:29 p.m.  It was mostly sunny. The high temperature reached 82 degrees. The  wind angled out of the southeast at 7 mph.  Barometer during fishing time was steadily falling from 30.07 to 29.97.

All of the tests took place during the middle of the day, occurring between 10 a. m. and 3:45 p. m.   During two of the outings, rough weather forced us  to make some rather lengthy relocation runs. Therefore, we were afloat more hours during those days, but we fished and executed the tests for only four hours.

We closely and consistently monitored the surface temperature. At all three lakes, the temperature registered 77 degrees when we started and peaked at 79 degrees at the end of the tests.

Here are the results of our tests:

Lake A

Pink vs. Orange: 6 to 6

Blue vs. Orange: 4 to 7

Chartreuse vs. Orange: 5 to 1

Black vs. Orange: 5 to 2

All colors vs. Orange: 20 to 16

Lake B

Pink vs. Orange: 2 to 2

Blue vs. Orange: 16 to 2

Chartreuse vs. Orange: 7 to 4

Black vs. Orange 10 to 5

All colors vs. Orange: 35 to 13

Lake C

Pink vs. Orange: 6 to 5

Blue vs. Orange: 2 to 7

Chartreuse vs. Orange: 5 to 4

Black vs. Orange: 5 to 7

All colors vs. Orange: 18 to 23


Pink vs. Orange:  14 to 13

Blue vs. Orange: 22  to 16

Chartreuse vs. Orange: 17 to 9

Black vs. Orange: 20 to 14

All colors vs. Orange: 73 to 52

Additional observations: All three lakes receive moderate to heavy fishing pressure with lakes  A and  B also hosting tournaments regularly.  Only two bluegill were caught during testing and both came on pink jig heads.  While fishing at Lake B, Will was able to see the smallmouth bass approach and hesitate to hit when using both the pink and orange jigs.  In total, we caught 125 bass:  88 were smallmouth bass  and 37 were largemouth.  Although orange did emerge victorious on Lake  C, it came out behind the other colors on overall testing.  Orange and pink scored very similarly across all three lakes, leading me to believe that the fish view them similarly.   In addition,  Will saw the smallmouth bass at Lake B  displaying similar hesitant behavior to the orange and pink jigs,  which they did not display to the other color jigs.  In most cases, when a jig demonstrated dominance in one angler's hands, that dominance would usually continue following the 30-minute switch.

Conclusion: The color of the jig head does make a difference in the way fish react to a lure.  Orange can be a useful color at times,  but it did not display a dominance across the board.

For smallmouth bass, orange beat the other colors, but only by one fish,  which is statistically insignificant.

For largemouth bass at Lake A, the other colors combined to outfish orange by almost a 3 to1 ratio. Blue jigs caught the most fish, followed by black jigs."

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