Seeing like a Musky or Pike.

Posted on July 27th, 2018

I answer many angler-questions every day. One that really caught my interest was a  Messenger text asking me what color lure is best to use when targeting Kawartha Lakes musky. Instead of just giving the colors I went into more lengthy detail that if you fish musky, it may be useful to you.


Musky and pike eyes are very unique because of their location on the head of both fish, and how their photoreceptors (ability to see in low light and color in brighter light), work. Their “rods” (photoreceptorts that enable seeing black & white and in low light), are more developed than their “cones” photoreceptors that enable seeing colors in normal light). Their eyes do not adjust well to seeing color in low light conditions, but they can detect a “silhouette” from a fish or lure and especially high-contrast colors like red/white, black/white, very well. Also, because of the position of their eyes near the top of their head and forward,  their eye sight creates “opposite triangulation” .  The result is their eyesight crossing it’s sight-lanes forward which produces “binocular-vision”. This enables both species to be able to detect targets at a distance when they ( pike or musky), may be out-of-sight of their prey.  The down side of this “crossed-vision paths” is that if a target is close & directly in front of them they may not be able to see it very well and that’s when they switch to using their lateral line sonar to confirm location of target from their vibrations going through the water.  That’s one of the reasons why I like to use large “paddle-tail” swim baits that “slap” the water from side to side to send out important vibrations.

How can you use this vision information to choose lure colors. Color of your lure is most likely the most important detail musky & pike are attracted to.  For bright conditions and clear water the best colors are bright and bold natural 7 fluorescent colors.  For low light conditions early & late in the day, overcast skies, during rain, algae blooms and murky water, high-contrast colors, dark colors, and especially black (which is the lack of color), gives the best silhouette and can more easily be detected by both fish. My all-time top musky “jerk-bait color” & topwater lure color is black. And yes, musky can see very well at night and can feed very efficiently.

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