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Which lure colours work best for marlin and tuna?

Updated: Aug 2, 2021

When planning what lure to pack for a trip or your next lure purchase to entice the big one, we often faced with the question of which colours work best? While in many circumstances there is no one colour that is better than others but some colours in some areas do stand out, while some colours work better in some conditions? Or is it more the lure action or position will get you the bites on the day?



Where to begin?

Choose lure colours that have a history of being successful in a particular area that you are fishing. Think about time of day, weather conditions and local baitfish that target species are feeding on. Colours that represent certain species of baitfish available in areas can and do work well, although we get bites on “outrageous’ colours – think luminous green, tutti frutti and like. Sometimes it’s the complete opposite to what you’d expect a natural bait to look like yet it still gets the bites!


As a general rule for marlin and tuna lures, darker colours closer to the boat, smaller or lighter colours further away or in the long or rigger positions. The theory behind this is that the darker colours provide a better silhouette in the "messier" waters



In the US, blue and white is a popular choice yet in Australia we don't see it too often? We'd be more likely to see and Evil or Luminous green in the spread Down Under. Black and purple is a "must" for big blue marlin for many anglers yet some swear by pink and white?


Start to think about the local food source for fish and look to colours that "imitate" them. The best advice I can give is basically ensure you have a variety of colours in the spread


Black and Purple (Purple Rain, Big Bad Barry skirt combo), a great imitation for frigate and skipjack tuna

Evil (blue/silver over green/gold) popular imitation for sardines, slimy mackerel and flying fish

Blue white or blue silver and transparent outers - flying fish



Pictured below is a pacific saury, a popular food source for many game fish, with a big dog Medusa and green evil Tube either side , while they are not a true realistic representation of the species they do make a good "hybrid color" and work well in areas where saury's are prevalent



Basically, you need to become familiar with what has worked in the different regions you are fishing. Be sure to ask locals, sometimes a particular lure will seem to outperform all others. If you are lucky enough to be “in the know”, you can benefit with more strikes at the end of the day and the more strikes equals a higher hook-up rate. Also, it pays to experiment and try something new. If there are fish in the area they may respond to something unexpected

After you gain enough experience you will become the expert and know of other ways to increase your own hook-up ratio. And as always—a little luck never hurts along the way.


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