We went to the cranking authority himself, Kevin VanDam. He’s earned much of his $5.3 million in winnings on these baitfish imitators, and has seen many colors come and go, but here are his five favorites.
1. Sexy shad
VanDam’s go-to shouldn’t be a surprise to those who have been around bass fishing for any length of time: sexy shad. VanDam helped develop the color and he - and thousands of anglers - have more confidence in it than any other for good reason: it’s one of the best all-around shad imitators there is. “This just flat catches ‘em,” he said. “I’ll use it in a KVD 1.5 squarebill down to the deep-diving 6XD, both by Strike King.”
2. Chartreuse sexy shad
VanDam’s second favorite is a variation of Sexy Shad, but is a little more visible. “Chartreuse sexy shad is great on a lot of the Tennessee River lakes that have a little color in it; it stands out a bit more,” he said.
3. Black back chartreuse
His third favorite color is black back chartreuse. It’s what he used to win the 2011 Classic in Louisiana, but he’s had success with it from Michigan down to Florida, where he had a top 10 finish on the Harris Chain by slinging a KVD 1.5.
#4 Green gizzard shad
VanDam will go for green gizzard shad color when he’s fishing clear water. “This is a great natural-looking baitfish pattern,” he said. “It can pass for a shad or bluegill and works from Amistad to Table Rock to the Great Lake. I also like it for jerkbaits and topwaters.”
5. No. 622
His fifth choice is Strike King’s No. 622 color, a more realistic-looking bluegill pattern. I like this when there are no shad in the lakes and the main forage is bluegill,” he said. “It’s got a blue patch on the front just like a bluegill has and is great around the spawn and the spring.”