Best Colors for Plastic Worms

Top Plastic Worm Colors

largemouth bass hooked with rubber bait

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Soft plastic lures are a popular choice for catching many species of fish, but they are most commonly used for bass and panfish, such as crappies and bluegills. Soft plastics are available that mimic crawfish, frogs, minnows, and leeches, but soft plastic worms are a mainstay for the bass fisherman. Soft plastics are thought to be so effective because the texture of the lure feels very natural to a game fish, which means they will hold the bait in their mouths for a longer time, giving you precious extra seconds to set the hook. 

Plastic worms come in a variety of sizes and shapes, and there are several ways they can be rigged with hooks. Experienced fishermen experiment with different combinations to meet different circumstances. In this article, however, we'll discuss the various colors available for plastic worms, with suggestions on when to use them. 

Be aware that there are many theories about the best worm colors to use. One rule of thumb suggests that darker colors are best for fishing dark, murky waters, while lighter colors are best for clearer waters where light penetration is good.

Each expert fishermen has their own theory, though. Tom Mann, the founder of Mann's Bait, changed the world of plastic worm color around 1970. Not only did his Jelly Worms come in lots of colors, but they also smelled nice. Although Mann sold millions of colored worms, he is famous for saying "I will fish any color worm, as long as it is black." Bill Dance, in his book titled  "There He Is" says "Any color will work as long as it is blue."

The manufacturers of plastic worms also will weigh in with their recommendations on color, and some, like Berkley, will flat out declare that there is no rule of thumb for choosing a color--only trial and error. Fortunately, soft plastic worms are very inexpensive, so you can easily keep dozens of them in your tackle box and experiment at will. While in most situations the goal is to make the lure look as natural as possible in the water, there are times when the bass will respond to something a little out of the ordinary. 

Everyone has their own preferences but here are ours:

  • Black
    We agree with Tom Mann--it is hard to go wrong with basic black. Black works well in all colors and clarity of water, and it closely mimics the color of some favorite bass foods such as leeches. When in doubt, we go to black.
  • Green Pumpkin
  • Green pumpkin is another all-around color that works in any color water. It is a standard color for soft plastic lizards, finesse worms, and other worms. Bass seem to love the color, and it looks natural in the water. ​
  • Junebug
    This dark purple color has green flakes in it to make it shine, and it is especially good in clear water. I often use it rather than black when I want a little sparkle.
  • Pumpkinseed
    Pumpkinseed lizards from Zoom Bait Company took the fishing world by storm in the late 1980s, and bass went wild over them for a while. That color is still great and was the basis for other colors, such as green pumpkin. The color was first arrived at accidentally when a manufacturer accidentally mixed colors, but once fishermen started using them, they proved to be surprisingly successful.
  • Watermelon
    It's hard to beat this clear, green color in clear water. Although it seems to blends in, bass seem to find it easily. Adding some red glitter sometimes makes it even better. Glitter in worms can make a big difference.
  • Black Grape
    This old color was my favorite for many years. A dark purple/blue color, it seemed to be a favorite for bass where I fished, and I used it extensively in the 1970s. I especially liked the old Creme Scoundrel Worm in this color.
  • Blue
    Bill Dance likes it so it has to be good, right? Basic blue is a good color in most water colors. Add a red tail and it really shines at times. A bright color tail on a worm, whether the worm comes that way or you dip it in dye, often makes the worm better.

You can often make a worm better by dipping it in a dye to make a bright tail or accents. It is conjectured that this is especially true in heavily fished waters, where bass have grown leery of standard worm colors, and they see a worm with an unusual accent as being different and therefore safe. Most dyes also give the worms a strong scent, which can also help. We especially like JJ's Magic, a dip and dye that comes in different colors and adds a strong garlic scent.

Laminate worms are also good. These worms have one side one color and the other side a different color. Our favorite is a NetBait T-Mac Worm in a color they call Bama Bug. It is green pumpkin on one side and Junebug on the other. I now use it most of the time on my jigheads.