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Breaking the Color Barrier to Catch Bass with Larry Nixon

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Editor’s Note: Larry Nixon of Bee Branch, Arkansas, has fished competitively for 40 years and has won Angler of the Year on the Bassmaster circuit twice, the Bassmaster Classic in 1983 and numerous other tournaments. According to Nixon, who’s won about $4 million in tournaments plus sponsor money, “Bass don’t have rules like fishermen do. For instance, bass don’t know that they are supposed to bite a certain lure of a certain size and a particular color on a specific day, based on water and weather conditions, and where they are in their spawning cycle. Bass are opportunistic feeders, so many times, if you break the rules that most bass anglers hold near and dear to their hearts, you’ll catch bass that other fishermen won’t catch. This week we’re looking at how, where, why and when I break the rules.”

During the spring of the year, most people seem to prefer to fish the more-subdued colors like green, blue and shad colors or even subtle crawfish colors for lures. Very few people will use what I call a screaming color. For instance, one of my favorite springtime spinner bait colors is a fire tiger skirt with orange flake. Not many fishermen will be casting a bright fluorescent lure like this in the springtime. But on an overcast day, many times I’ll go to those orange flakes and that orange skirt to give the bass a different-looking bait. One tip that will help you catch more bass in the spring of the year is not to be afraid to use goofy-looking colors.

Another tactic that can produce some very-big smallmouths in the spring of the year is instead of using chartreuse and white on my spinner bait, I may choose all-white blades with a solid-white skirt. Another place that an all-white spinner bait can produce some very good bass for you is when you’re fishing deep ledges for largemouths. Bass don’t usually see this type of bait, so I’ve found they will attack it more readily.

Once I caught some very big smallmouths while fishing Pickwick Lake on the Alabama/Tennessee/Mississippi border, with a 1/2-ounce spinner bait with white blades and white skirts, fishing deep ledges. I don’t think the smallmouths ever had seen a spinner bait that looked like that. Remember that visibility is an important key to getting bites when you’re fishing in deep water. Therefore, don’t be afraid to try an all-white spinner bait when you’re fishing deep-water ledges. If I catch one bass using gold or silver blades on my spinner bait, and I can’t get another bass to bite, then I’ll pull out an all-white spinner bait, an all-chartreuse spinner bait with chartreuse blades or an orange spinner bait with orange blades and a fire-tiger skirt. Many times, goofy colors will allow you to catch four or five more bass that you can’t catch with standard colored lures.

To learn more about bass fishing and get John E. Phillips’ Kindle eBooks, print books and audiobook on bass fishing, go to, or for Nook books, visit

Tomorrow: Going Big in Little Water with Larry Nixon to Catch Bass

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