Richard did very well to boat this impressive 63cm mangrove jack on light line while on a Tweed River charter with Brad Smith.

Cracking lure colour codes

G’day everyone, and happy new year to all.

I hope you all had time to relax with loved ones and go fishing over the festive period.

While fishing is meant to be enjoyable, regularly catching fish makes it even more fun. One of the main things I pay attention to as a guide is lure colour.

You will hear many theories about what works and why but what matters most are proven colours that consistently tempt fish to strike a lure. Most estuaries in Australia work the same, the water colour varies from crystal clear to filthy dirty.

Then there is the time of day, sunny to cloudy conditions and in between. You’ll notice some go-to colours I use on my charters in the photos accompanying this article.

Regular charter client Adrian landed a horse of a whiting that measured 44cm.


Here is a basic guide to what works well and when.

One important thing I notice is colour contrasts on lures – something that will get the attention of a fish – such as red eyes, orange gills and bellies, darker back, glitter, ultra-violet specks, brighter colours.

Two or more of these features and you have a fish attracting device.

A prime example is one of my all-time favourite lures, the Ecogear ZX40 in colour 440. This is a lure that catches fish in most water conditions – the ultimate allrounder.

You can see in the picture how roughed up one of mine is after catching many fish.

The author’s Ecogear ZX40 in colour 440.


You will also notice the contrasts – darker olive back, gold flecks, lighter mid-section, orange belly, red and black eyes, brown tassels and it is UV reactive.

The chances are that something on this lure will get the attention of fish, yet there is nothing too drastic on it.

I have caught over 30 species of fish on it, including flathead up to 88cm, mulloway, whiting, bream, tuskfish, giant trevally and so many more.

If you look around, you can find various similar lures on the market, in many brands, in blades, vibes, soft plastics and hard-body versions.

Jess with a 60cm flathead that fell for a Z-Man ST GrubZ plastic in Opening Night colour.

Ecogear ZX40 colour 440

Fishing is not an exact science and occasionally, on a particular day, things work that shouldn’t work and vice versa. Sometimes colours such as charteuse work well when nothing else does.

Let’s run through some options, starting with sunny and glassy conditions.

These types of days are often the hardest because the fish can be very wary and not easily fooled. If this is the case, good choices are natural and transparent-coloured lures.

A prime example is Opening Night in the Z-Man range. This colour works well in most conditions apart from darker sky or dirtier water.

Another go-to for me in Z-Man plastics is Houdini colour, as is Midnight Oil and Blood Oil.

These and similar colours work well in various conditions. If you find they are not working, it’s time to mix it up and experiment. Try more solid, darker and flashy colours.

Emile caught a 65cm flathead on a 6th Sense Divine soft plastic on a wading trip with the author.


In recent weeks, I have enjoyed cracking the colour code on the shallow flats of the Gold Coast Broadwater when chasing dusky flathead. There are days when no bites are happening, and you start to think the fish aren’t there.

Change the lure colours and bang, the action begins and multiple flathead are hooked in a short period. A big advantage of using soft plastic lures is that you can quickly change colours on and off jig heads.

Another thing to remember is that conditions change while you are fishing. The water can clear up or get dirtier if the tide runs in or out, the sky can go from sunny to partly cloudy or cloudy, or clear up from cloudy.

It is during these times that adjustment is needed to achieve success. Here’s a summary of some of my favourite lures.

For sunny and calm to partly cloudy weather and clear to medium visibility water:

  • Z-Man 3” MinnowZ, Z-Man 2.5” ST GrubZ and Z-Man 2.5” PrawnZ in Opening Night, Beer Run, Houdini, Blood Oil, Midnight Oil, Slam Shady, Pearl, Pinfish, Bad Shad, Green Lantern.
  • Ecogear Balt 3.5” in pearl 010 and silver 115.
  • 6th Sense Divine Swimbait 2.7” and 3.2” soft plastics in Pro Shad, Ghost Ice Minnow and Clearwater Rose.
The author caught and released a 64cm flathead on light tackle and a small soft plastic in shallow water.


For cloudy and gloomy skies or dirty water:

  • Z-Man soft plastics in Golden Boy, Gold Rush, Calico Candy, Watermelon Red and Sexy Penny.
  • Ecogear Balt 3.5” in 171, 365, 403.
  • 6th Sense Divine Swimbait soft plastics in Mexican Spice.

Wild card fluoro colours include Z-Man soft plastics in Glow Chartreuse, Nuked Chicken, Electric Chicken and Pink Glow.

Ollie caught his first ever flathead on a charter with the author, this one measured 51cm.


A happy new year to all readers and may your fishing dreams come true this year!

To book a charter with myself or Brad, or if you have any fishing related questions, visit, SMS 0432 990 302 or email, or find us on Facebook – Brad Smith Fishing Charters.

About Clint Ansell

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