Does line color matter in fishing?
First there was just clear monofilament that everybody uses and many have found it sufficient for their needs. Then clear fluorocarbon lines arrived that was touted as invisible in the water. Next came red lines whose color disappears -and thus the line goes as well-beginning from a certain depth. Then green lines were said to blend with water vegetation, thus avoiding spooking the fish. All these innovations were introduced to prevent the fish from being 'line shy'. But do they really get so?
In an experiment conducted at Oklahoma State University, some largemouth bass were given food rewards using various colored lines. As part of the study, the food was taken out after a while, but the fish still went to the line of the correct color for the accustomed reward. The study thus clearly showed fish can discriminate between colors.
Secondary information gleaned from the experiment indicated that bass were less inclined to go to a high-color orange line than lines of other colors. Additional experiments also showed less catch for anglers using such orange high-visibility lines. However, it has not been definitely determined whether the fish are spooked by the line or simply does not like the color. What is clear is that they react negatively to orange-colored lines.
The effect of water
Water absorbs light; that is clear. Depending on its clarity, water absorb certain colors first, such as red when very clear, but violet and blue -long-wave colors-when filled with rotting plant detritus, so that red, yellow and orange remain visible. Moreover, the refractive property of water enable fluorocarbon lines to 'disappear', although not really completely as believed by many. Some shine in the line surface reflect light, making the line visible. So sometimes dulling the line surface and color-tingeing it with a little green can add to the line's 'invisibility'.
From the angler's point of view
Many times, however, seeing your line is also very beneficial. There are instances when fish strikes are not easily noticeable, particularly when baitfishing. Anglers who have not felt any strikes have caught fish when they saw their lines moving, indicating fish is at the business end. High-visibility lines also enable anglers to see where their lines are, that is why flyfishing lines are often sold in easily seen colors, such as fluorescent yellow, orange, green, blue and bright white. You may not detect strikes if you use dull colors.
The new line
Lines that change from bright gold but fades out to clear when in the water appear to be latest innovation. This 'magical' capability is achieved by incorporating a photosensitive property to a clear line which colors the line gold when it is exposed to sunlight. It answers the anglers to see the line abovewater, although it should not be seen by the fish under the water. Until we can ask the fish what is its favorite color, we will perhaps never know the definite answer to the question, "Can fish see the line?" Still, it should not mean we must stop trying to discover it ourselves.
L Edwin G Rondina has been fishing for more than 40 years, mostly saltwater. Nevertheless he is extremely interested in its various forms and wants to learn to try them as much as possible. He loves to write about them to share his knowledge. Read more of his articles here, and maybe you could pick a tip or two to enjoy the pursuit much better.
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