Water color plays a larger role in fishing than most people realize. It affects the fish's vision, color perception, level of activity and wariness.

Vision is the next to last thing a fish uses in locating its prey according to some studies (taste is last, at the very last instant).Vision plays a pivotal role in helping the fish determine whether the object it has tracked and located is worth striking. In muddy water or at night, it may see only a blur the split second before it engulfs a bait. This can work in the angler's favor.

But if the water is ultra clear, the fish may want a good look before it makes a decision on whether to strike. In such cases, your technique will have to be on the money to be productive.

The condition of the water also will play a role in how well a fish can see the color of the lure you're presenting. Blues and greens penetrate the deepest and can be seen most readily. Red fades more quickly than any other color even to the point of appearing black at depths of 20 feet. In murky water, even the penetrating colors fade quickly.

The best bet for an angler is to use a color that approximates the color of the critter he's trying to imitate most closely. Silver has been shown to be effective at a variety of depths. And red, even though it fades quickly, is tops for bass in shallow water. But color alone is rarely the key to success. Motion and presentation are always more important.

No mater how the water affects the perception the fish has of your offering, if its condition dictates to your prey that it's just too risky to be feeding, it won't strike. If a fish is accustomed to clear water, muddy water will put it off and vice versa.

Generally, in clear water, subdued colors and smaller, duller spinner blades are in order. When the water's like strong Lipton tea, you can get away with the larger and more gaudy stuff.