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Old 10-08-2010, 07:33 AM
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Default Fly colours

I was just wondering, what is the reasoning used in some colours of Striper/Blues flies? There are a lot of pretty psychedelic colours used, but all the baitfish are shades of black, grey and a little bit of flashy silver. Is it a visual spectrum thing for the fish, or am I overthinking it?
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Old 10-08-2010, 12:16 PM
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Default Re: Fly colours

Good question-- and all kinds of theories. But basically they could be lumped into:
attraction
imitation and
artistic

Attraction: Like the plugs used for stripers by surfcasters, there are striper flies in all kinds of colors. Some plugs like yellow darters, "chicken scratch" (yellow and gray) or "school bus" (black and yellow) Bombers, "blurple" (black and purple) needlefish have a well deserved reputation for catching fish. And weird patterns like "wonder bread" (white with pink and light blue highlights) "tutti fruitti" (chartreuse and pink) are catch fish. So flies in those colors naturally followed. Mother nature does a pretty good job of camouflage and if you're a baitfish having a light underbelly, a silvery side that reflects surrounding water and a dark black that makes you hard to see from above is a big asset. But if you're throwing a fly in a churning mass of water water, stained water in a harbor, into a dense school of frantic baitfish, or in low light, you might want something that will stand out from a distance. In this case flies with bright or weird "unnatural" colors are more of an attractor than an imitator.

Some colors also offer increased visibility--- chartreuse for example tends to be a hot color, and menhaden imitations (and stuff like deceivers) tied in chartreuse are often used in the murky stained water of harbors--- and as you know that's one of the standard clouser colors. Colors like chartreuse, greens, and blues also tend to be more visible at depth, as is black and white.

Black and purple are often go to colors at night because some believe they offer a good silhouette against a night sky.

Yellows and oranges often seem to work well at dawn and dusk.

And there are some areas like the Monomoy flats off Cape Cod where flies with pink have a reputation for being particularly effective.

Imitation - Another reason is that when you actually look at a live baitfish you'll notice that what appears at a quick glance to be a silver critter with a dark greenish back actually has purple, pink, violet, orange, blue, yellow highlights from the natural iridescence of the baitfish. So many flies are tied with this in mind --- by mixing different colored strands of bucktail for instance, or different colored saddles in a flatwing fly, or tying in a few strands of colored bucktail as highlights on the outside of the wing.

And many fish take on the color of their surroundings-- so a sand eel from a light sandy flat may look much different with highlights of pinks and yellows and light blues than one over a dark muddy bottom with highlights of dark purples and deep greens.

Then there's the creative side, where similar to painting, colors are put together to form some appealing eye candy. And, for many there's the attitude that if you're going to tie something it may as well look good-- perhaps striper flies haven't evolved in to as high an art form as classic Atlantic Salmon flies, but some tyers are getting close.

You you can also use materials like bucktail to blend colors like mixing paint. So for example, you could actually mix strands of
blue and yellow bucktail = blue, yellow, and "green".
Red and yellow = red, yellow, and "orange",
red and blue = red, blue, and "purple"
red, blue and yellow = red, blue, yellow, 'orange", "purple", "green", "brown"

This all implies some sort of logic to this rocket science, and you'll hear endless debates about the best colors for a given situation or best pattern-- because that's what we do, and you'll be tying up all kinds of stuff in no time like the rest of us. All this said..... 90% of the time you'd probably do as well with just a handful of blue over white deceivers and a handful of chartreuse clousers.
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Old 10-08-2010, 04:35 PM
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Default Re: Fly colours

Check out this page from Stripermoon. Ken's bait fish gallery
The different colors in the photographs are eye opening

Ken Abrames' Stripermoon
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Old 10-08-2010, 07:59 PM
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Default Re: Fly colours

I still laugh at myself when I think how proud I feel that I fooled a creature thats meant to be sooo much less developed and dumber than us humans. I love this game.

Thanks again gents for your advice.
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Old 10-09-2010, 09:12 AM
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Default Re: Fly colours

Mark, your thoughts on this were so good that I had to save it to a document for my personal use. I really liked what you said there. Good stuff!!
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Old 10-09-2010, 10:04 AM
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Default Re: Fly colours

Ditto to Kelkay
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