The complete line of deep diving PICO crankbaits covers every fishing color you
would ever need to troll with, wherever you fish. (Photo: Brad Wiegmann)
Choosing Crankbait Colors
by Brad Wiegmann
What comes in more colors than a bag of Skittles?
The answer is crankbaits designed for trolling for crappie. The huge number of various colors and patterns can be mind-boggling for fishermen.
Mitch Glenn, the owner of PICO Lures, understands their confusion but he also knows how important it is for crappie anglers to have multiple color patterns on the boat during the summer months.
“I started out with only six color patterns in crankbaits over five years ago,” Glenn continued, “Now I currently have 40 color patterns in the PICO INT deep diving crankbaits and 14 color patterns in the PICO squarebill crankbaits.”
Glenn said the demand for different colored crankbaits came mostly from anglers, guides and pro crappie anglers.
“It’s crazy the number of different color patterns samples I get every year,” Glenn went on, “Some anglers will even paint over the existing color patterns on a PICO crankbait and then send them to me requesting their favorite color pattern to be produced. Several color patterns I have are the direct result of that happening.”
There are several reasons for the different crankbait color patterns. Water clarity and available forage top the list, but time of year, time of day, amount of sunshine, water depth along with location of the body of water they are being fished.
“Trolling crankbaits may be the easiest way to catch crappie in the summertime,” Wynn continued, “It allows me to use multiple rods that can be set at different distances away from the boat so I can target different depths at the same time. Plus, it allows me to use several color patterns at the same time so I can find out what color pattern the crappie are wanting in that area or time of day.”
Like Wynn, Grenada fishing guide Tom Lipe is a strong advocate for Offshore Tackle planer boards.
“I like to run fishing rods off the back of my boat on the right and left sides staggering them like the wings of a plane to keep them separated,” Lipe continued, “I stagger the distances from the planer board to the crankbait to find out what depth the crappie are biting on that day. Once I find out the depth and what color it’s time to reel in and take off the unproductive colors to what color patterns are catching them. During the summer months I like geezer clown, Grenada green, pink glimmer and Christmas tree.”
Wynn and Lipe noted that using planer boards isn’t that complicated.
“I use line counter reels to know how far out I’m setting the line from the planer board to the crankbait. And you have to keep an eye on the planer board because the bite can be really subtle,” said Lipe.
Both Wynn and Lipe influenced two of the newly released PICO Lures. This was the direct result in Glenn seeing first hand on how Wynn’s beach ball and Lipe’s Christmas tree color pattern was out-performing any other color pattern they were fishing.
In addition to pulling crankbaits, Glenn will push different colored crankbaits during the warm summer months. When choosing a color pattern to troll during the summer months Glenn’s go-to color is chrome/black back, chrome/blue back and chrome clown. Normally Glenn uses more chrome/black back early and late in the day or during low light conditions. Once the sun comes out, he switches to chrome/blue back. As for the chrome clown, Glenn noted its good anytime in the summer in all situations.
Forage in the lake plays a part in color selection as Glenn likes to fish shad patterns in lakes with large populations of gizzard or threadfin shad. Reservoirs like Grenada Lake in Mississippi have an abundant shad population and he recommends fishing shad color crankbaits there. He noted lakes like Table Rock in Missouri with large crawfish patterns anglers should fish darker color pattern crankbaits.
Crappie pro James Callaway’s tackle boxes are proof of anglers having multiple colors and patterns of crankbaits.
“It’s amazing the number of color patterns available for trolling, however, crappie can be selective on what color pattern they will bite,” said Callaway. “The best way to find out what color crankbaits to be trolling is to put out a different color pattern on every pole and see what they are biting then change the other rods to those color patterns.”
Crazy Crankbait Names
Fishermen and manufacturers have a lot of fun naming their various colors and patterns. While many of these names make sense, such as Splatter Back or Chrome Patterns, others are simply whimsical in nature. Some of my favorites include Wonder Bread, Peanut Butter & Jelly, Killer Bee, Beach Ball, Simply Awsum or Geezer Clown?
The fish usually don’t care what they’re called. They simply know they look good to eat, although which ones look good can vary day-to-day and lake-to-lake.
Stocking up can be an expensive proposition. Troll six rods and you need at least six crankbaits. Factor in the need to have maybe six different colors or patterns or the occasional lost lure from getting snagged on the bottom, and a well-prepared summer crankbait troller needs at least 40 or 50 lures in the boat. At $6.50 apiece, that’s a $325 investment.
Of course, you can start with less, especially if you are just getting into the crankbait trolling game. Then once you get your system down, you can add lures to your arsenal over time. The end result can pay great dividends. Productive crappie fishing is no longer just a Spring Fling. Summer trolling can keep crappie filets in your freezer year-round.
From Springdale, Arkansas, Brad Wiegmann is a professional photographer, videographer and outdoor writer published in dozens of print and electronic media outlets all across the nation. He is also a well-known guide, podcaster and social media influencer. Learn more about Wiegmann at BradWiegmann.com.