Can Fish See Your Lures At Night?


If you’re thinking about fishing at night, you might be wondering if fish could even see your lures at night. I mean, really, if you have a hard time seeing them, how can a fish possibly see the lures?

This seems like a pretty reasonable conclusion. Until I dove into the research. 

The majority of fish can see lures at night, but their vision is limited. So fish depends on their other senses, which are slightly heightened, when vision is limited, to detect food or predators. As long as your fishing where the fish are, they will find your lures, even at night. 

All fish have some sort of “night vision,” but how good is their night vision depends on the species of fish and the depth they live in. But there’s so much more to understand about using lures at night. Like does the colour matter? What type of lures should you be using at night?

So let’s dive into these topics some more!

What Colour Should Your Lures Be When Fishing At Night?

As anglers, we hear a lot about how colour matters when fishing during the day, but does this still hold true when fishing at night?

The lure’s colour doesn’t matter a lot when fishing at night. The lure will appear as a silhouetted figure against the night sky in most cases. Instead, use lures with a reflective coating like chrome to create a shimmering effect from the moonlight giving a more natural appearance.

Intuitively, you might’ve been thinking of using a lure with bright colours to contrast against the darkness. In fact, bright colours tend to lose their colour in the absence of light.

Try experimenting with this in your home. Find a room and start slowly blocking out the light, such as offing the lights, covering windows, etc. You’ll notice the more light you block out, certain colours will turn darker than others.

So what does this all mean? Colour doesn’t like that big of a role when fishing at night. Instead, try to use lures that have more reflective coatings. But, if you’re fishing near a well-lit pier or shoreline, then, by all means, experiment with different colours since you have more light. 

What Type Of Lures Should You Use When Fishing At Night? 

Picking the right type of lure and learning how to give it the right amount of action plays a big part in how successful you’ll be fishing at night. 

The reason for this might be surprising. 

A lot of fish use their eyesight for hunting their prey, especially topwater fish. As it gets darker, their ability to see in the dark is reduced, but their other senses are heightened.

Typically most fish can sense movements and vibrations in the water, helping fish detect prey or nearby predators. This ability is slightly heightened at night when visibility is reduced. 

By picking the right type of lure that creates a certain action underwater , we can use these heightened senses to our advantage. But which type of lures should you use?

  • Spinner Bait: Knowing that you are looking for maximum movement and vibration, the spinnerbait is at the top of the list for lures that fish will sense at night. Spinner Baits Lures have features that make them top picks for being noticed at night, including sound and movement. 
  • Buzz Bait: Buzz Bait Lures has similar features to spinnerbait but is used exclusively in shallow water, an excellent night fishing location. The vibration and sound of the buzz bait on top of the water make it attractive to fish in dark waters.
  • Poppers: With nighttime fishing requiring movement and sound for your lure to be seen, a Popper Lures is an excellent addition to your tackle gear. Poppers create the sound disturbance you are looking for in successful night fishing.

Using Artificial Light To Increase Your Chances When Fishing At Night

Adding artificial light, like lanterns and spotlights, can improve a fish’s ability to see in the dark; this can be especially effective with inshore saltwater fishing. Because most saltwater fish tend to ambush their prey and adding light increases their ability to strike. 

Flooding the surface with Submersible Artificial Light also helps bring small baitfish to the top of both fresh and saltwater, and that’s good news for you because the bigger fish will usually follow.

Many anglers use LED lights that change colour when fishing at night to attract fish. Different colours of light will penetrate water after different depths. Knowing how deep a particular colour will penetrate the water will help you make the right choice on what colour light you want to use. 

Here are a few colours that disappear the deeper you go:

  • Red – 15 feet
  • Orange – 25 feet
  • Yellow – 35-45 feet
  • Green – 70-75 feet

What Colors Are Best for Night Fishing?

Night fishing lures are all about contrast and lighting. When in doubt, go with a dark lure when fishing at night, primarily black or dark blue. For the most part, dark lures provide a better contrast against the light of the night sky, making them easier for fish to see and strike at night.

Using Moonlight to Determine your Night Lure Color

According to Outdoor Life, the amount of moonlight will impact the best colour of lure to use when fishing at night.

  • A dark night with little/no moonlight: Fish with solid black, brown, or blue lures.
  • A clear night with bright moonlight: Use bright colour combinations, like green/orange or even red/chartreuse. 
  • A cloudy night with some moonlight: Dark lures with some contrast work best, such as red/black, blue/black, or green/black.

Experimenting with Glow Sticks in Night Fishing 

Knowing that many fish are attracted to light, adding glow sticks to your night fishing gear could be just the added element to help you land the big one in the dark. Glow sticks work really well in dark, murky water and come in a variety of sizes. The most popular choice among anglers is One Inch Glow Sticks, Three Inch Glow Sticks, and Six Inch Glow Sticks

Glow sticks not only help with attracting fish but can also help in marking your equipment in the dark. When fishing at night, it can be almost impossible to see your line in the water, but placing a small glow stick to the floating bobber will allow you to keep track of your line and notice when a bit has occurred.

Glow sticks are especially useful in night saltwater fishing because many saltwater species actually emit light. Many fish see the light as their natural prey, such as squids and bio-luminescent plankton, and some fish are drawn to glow sticks just due to pure curiosity. Either way, glow sticks can attract what you came to catch.

The Best Time To Try Nighttime Fishing is Tonight!

Fishing at night can be just the challenge to add to your fishing adventures, especially in the summer heat. Just keep in mind that fish use senses other than sight to detect food in the water much more effectively than they can see in the dark. Using specific lures, lights and the correct colours, you might find that nighttime is your new favourite time to fish.

But before you pack up to go on your first nighttime fishing adventure, did you know what depending on the species of fishing your fishing for and the location, you might not be allowed to fish at night. That’s right; it might be illegal to fishing at night in certain circumstances. Learn how to check if it’s illegal to fish at night by checking out this post.

Happy Fishing and Tight Lines!!

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