The best colors to catch bluegill or any panfish

Many people seem to think that only natural baits (like nightcrawlers) can catch bluegill. Nothing could be further from the truth! There are many artificial lures that can catch bluegill all day long.

But because people don’t know these lures well, they often don’t know the colors to choose. And bluegill eat lots of different things, so how could you know what colors to mimic?

Because bluegill focus less on eating specific things, you should instead experiment with colors that are easy to see in the water. In fact, finding the most visible color in the water is often the best choice. This includes chartreuse and other bright colors, white, and natural minnow colors (like silver and black).

Below I’ll go into each color in depth, what types of lures they work best with, and when I would throw them.

Chartreuse & Bright Colors

A chartreuse or bright pink lure is probably the best all around bluegill catching color. It’s my first recommendation to start out with if you’re new to lure fishing. 

When bluegills congregate in schools, they can have a very aggressive mentality. When competing with hundreds of fish for food – you eat the thing that you see first. Bright colors like chartreuse work really well for that reason. They are easily identifiable in almost any water color – but if you have dirty water at all they are even better. 

Any lure can have these colors – but my favorites are pink and green rooster tails, also called inline spinners. The spinner can be colored or metallic, but you want the tail itself to be a nice bright color that is easy to see. I have pulled in many bluegill on a hot pink rooster tail.

Other good baits for bright colors

If you want to go more soft plastic, try a smaller grub in chartreuse. It won’t look like any natural bait you’ve ever seen, but it can get bite after bite from hungry bluegill.

If you see bluegill feeding on bugs on the top of the water, a bright green and yellow topwater grasshopper is a great choice and maybe the most fun you can have fishing. Just reel it slowly below the water’s surface and let it float periodically. They’ll come up and hammer it.

But if the bluegill in your area are tight lipped and not going for bright colors, try going with something more natural like a white.


For some reason, white is one of those colors that just flat out catches every fish. Crappie, bass, trout, you name it. Every fish will bite white colored lures. Bluegill are not any different. If I can’t get a bite on one of the brighter colors I will often switch to white. Or if the water is extremely clear, white is usually my go to. 

The reason white works well is that it is more natural for a variety of species bluegill eat. Grubs and other insects can look white in the water. Smaller fish that bluegill feed on often have white bellies. It’s a very natural color bluegill are used to feeding on. But still easily noticeable in clear water as well. 

The number one white lure that will catch bluegill for me is a simple white grub. I often put it on a small spinning jighead (like a roadrunner) when I want to target large bluegill or even catch a few crappie in the mix.

But a lot of minnow imitation lures will work in white two. Find small swimbaits or fluke style baits like these and you can also catch great bluegill.

If those don’t work, you a Betts popper in white is also a great bait in clear waters when bluegill are near the surface.

best color lure to catch panfish bluegill white curly tailed grub

Natural Colors

The last color to go to when nothing else works are “natural” colors. By natural – I mean lures that have colors exactly like what they are imitating. So an example would be a minnow type lure that is painted to look like a fish. Or a crawdad representation made to look exactly like a crawdad.

These aren’t great for catching a lot of fish because they often don’t stand out enough. But when bluegill won’t eat anything that looks unnatural – sometimes they are all that will get a bite. So if you are in a fishery with bluegill that are heavily pressured (a lot of people fish there), these are as good of lures as you can use next to actual live bait.

My favorite option here is a small rapala minnow like this one in any silver type of color. These really look like small minnows that bluegill will feed on and get bites when nothing else does.

But if you want to change it up you can also try mustard yellow grasshopper type lures like the Rebel grasshopper, which are great to mimic grasshoppers that bluegill absolutely kill for.

My personal best bluegill has come off a Rebel Crawfish imitation in orange and brown. Little crayfish are a delicacy for bluegill and they’ll love these in certain conditions.


If you’re just starting out bluegill fishing, try and buy a couple lures in each color and just see what works for you. Start with more bright colors and if they don’t work, work your way to more natural colors. Also, start with moving baits like a minnow crankbait, and then go to slow or non-moving baits like a plastic worm. Just remember to keep it in the bright color family (yellows and pinks), and then white, and then anything natural colored. 

Leave a comment if I missed your favorite color for bluegill!

One Comment

  1. Thank you for sharing all of those good tips on how to catch bluegill they are one of my favorite fish to eat

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