If it is true, as many often say, that the bright and attractive colors and wide variety of fishing lures are designed more to catch the eye of anglers than fish, then marketing the invisible should be impossible.
Fishermen, especially those who fish professionally, have been paying close attention to one of the latest innovations in fishing tackle the concept of ultraviolet light. Ultraviolet light is invisible to the human eye but, according to scientific testing, visible to many species of fish. Not all fish have been tested for their ability to see ultraviolet light, but among those species known to detect UV are salmon, trout and some panfish. A growing list of fishermen believe that ultraviolet lures are effective in deep water or low-light conditions and are more visible to fish than any conventional color or presentation.
Kim Fundingsland/MDN - - Ultraviolet coated fishing tackle, such as these jigs and spinner, appear colorful both above and below the water. Although not all fishermen are in agreement, a growing number believe the use of ultraviolet tackle is the best approach for deep, dark or stained water.
Jim Randash, a two-time national walleye champion from of Rapid City, S.D., is a believer in ultraviolet fishing tackle. Ultraviolet is not the "catch all" all fishermen would like to tie on their lines, but Randash said it can make a big difference in certain conditions.
"Color in fishing is very, very important but it depends upon the circumstances," Randash said. "In clear water match natural colors, in dirty water, fluorescent colors. Something new is ultraviolet. We can't see it but fish and animals see it. Most of my jigs are painted UV. Fishing deep that's probably the way to go. Berkley claims UV is a gimmick. A lot of people dispute that."
As most fishermen already realize, the color of a lure changes according to the clarity of the water and the depth it is fished. Red is considered the first color to lose its ability to reflect sunlight, appearing gray in relatively shallow water and black in deep water.
"If a scuba diver cuts himself, the blood looks black," Randash said. "In deeper water, all color disappears."
The solution, says a growing number of fishermen, is to use lures with ultraviolet coating. Ultraviolet coating takes advantage of ultraviolet rays entering the water, rays that man can't see. The effect is a glowing lure without using "glow in the dark" paint.
"I found this out, when I spray my lures with UV, I outfish my regular lures two to one," Randash said. "Generally UV only comes into effect when you get deeper. I use UV fishing for walleyes using Shad Raps and lead core at 30 feet."
Tom Balcom owns Blue Jay Tackle in Thunder Bay, Ont. He became an ultra violet convert in 2009. His UV jigs and walleye spinners now rank among the hottest selling fishing tackle at Canadian Tire stores throughout Canada and are just beginning to show up in U.S. markets.
"They work phenomenally," Balcom said. "I started testing them 2 years ago. They worked unbelievably in the winter. I've been fishing my whole life, on Lake Superior for 20 years. Even the black lures, under UV light, come out a powder blue. A hot color up here in northern Ontario is pink and white."
According to Blue Jay's claim, "at eight feet in the water, the UV rays will be causing your lure to instantly glow and add flash and contrast to your lure to help it stand out and attract predators. Ultraviolet light penetrates water it is even present on cloudy days. Our Blue-Brite UV Jigs uses ultra violet light to glow up to 200 times brighter than glow in the dark paint."
"To me, it can't hurt anything," Randash said. "I have better luck with UV jigs and a lot better luck with UV crankbaits. The color still shines through but it gives it a UV glow. The No. 1 thing, still, is to find the fish. Then it is speed, then probably color is one of the least important things, but all those things do matter."
Randash carries several light filters in his boat, using them to determine what lures will be most visible on any particular day. As for spinner rigs tipped with bait for walleyes, Randash says fishermen should pay attention to the color on both sides of the spinner blade.
"When a spinner spins, you can't even see the color because it is so fast," Randash said. "But the fish can. A fish eye is almost like a movie camera. He can see every vibration of that spinner. Fish approach a lure from the back. You have to have the right color. Years ago Mepps did a study that showed the importance of the back of the spinner."
As much of a proponent as he is for ultraviolet fishing tackle, Randash said there are times when such tackle can have a negative effect. That makes whether or not to use of ultraviolet tackle another decision for an angler to make based on the conditions encountered.
"Sometimes a sudden flash of color can scare them," Randash said. "In clear water use natural colors."