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Colored Lips on Crankbaits

By: Mark Romanack

Every crankbait has its day. Even red lipped cranks will catch fish, but is this the best way to approach lure color? The author feels that the diving lip of a crankbait should be as invisible to fish as possible.

Forgive me, but the lip of a crankbait is not supposed to be visible to the fish. The diving lip of a crankbait should in my mind be clear so as to be as invisible as possible in the water.

​ That’s my two cents, but obviously the manufacturers of crankbaits have a different idea of what works. A number of crankbaits on the market feature diving lips that are red or other colors. No doubt, these baits stand out when on the tackle shop shelf, but I can’t help wondering are they designed to catch fishermen or fish?


​ The design of a diving lip on a crankbait is a critical part of any crankbait. The shape of the lip dictates not only how deep the lure will dive, but how quickly it dives and what action the bait delivers.

​ Seemingly minor details such as the angle at which the lip protrudes from the lure body is also very important. The more pronounced the angle of the diving lip, the more a bait will tend to achieve depth quickly. This is true of both casting and also trolling applications.


​ Without question, the color of a crankbait matters. Day in and day out, the color patterns that work are going to change, but color obviously helps to trigger fish bites.

​ Adding color to the diving lip of a crankbait provides more contrasting color to the lure. To this fact, I have no argument. Unfortunately, I believe that making the bill or lip of the crankbait more visible to fish is not necessarily a good thing.

​ Because we know that fish see color differently than we do, the question becomes why are crankbaits commonly made with red lips and not purple, black, green or brown? I believe the answer to this question is that anglers in general feel that red is an attractive color to fish. Some might even argue that red suggests blood or an injured baitfish.

​ The truth is that red appears more like white or gray to the eye of a fish. With depth and reduced light penetration, red also fades out quickly in the color spectrum compared to other colors. So the evidence suggests that red lipped crankbaits are more about catching sales than catching fish.


​ Despite the fact that adding a red diving lip to a crankbait doesn’t make any sense to this angler, these baits can and do catch fish. We all own lures that have performed well over the years and others that didn’t exactly live up to our expectations. In the case of the red lipped crankbait, expectations vary from angler to angler. If you’re that guy who thinks adding a red lip to a crankbait is the next big thing, I’ll gladly make you a deal you can’t refuse on the one’s in my collection.


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