Do Fish Care for Kayak Color? Does Color Matter?

Across the globe, kayaking is a popular recreational activity that hundreds partake in each year. This low impact sport isn’t just seen as a means of having fun, but as a way to improve your general fitness.

As such, the question of kayak colours may not come into play all that often. Yet, many seasoned kayakers hotly debate the question ‘is kayak colour important when fishing?’

There are both fors and against in this debate, though many side with the belief that colour does play a significant part. One of the main ways in which fish interact with their environment, and indeed others of their species, is by colour. Therefore having the right colour can increase the likelihood of attracting them when fishing.

Naturally however, due to the intricacies of any species, their senses aren’t limited in sight alone, and so to simplify their abilities to just sight isn’t only inaccurate but also ignorant of other factors, such as their exceptional sense of smell.

What is more, there is also the fact that different colours will have a different effect when out on the water due to attenuation, thus meaning that the colour above the water is vastly changed once viewed from below it. A vivid blue on the water’s surface will be dulled when seen through the filter of water, due to the way particles in the water scatter and absorb the light.

What Do Fish See of a Kayak?

In addition to the case of colour itself, we then need to ask what of a kayak is actually seen by fish.

Realistically, fish will mostly only ever view your kayak from beneath, therefore meaning they only see the underside of your vessel. As a result, while colour can attract some types of fish, it’s not the only part of your boat that you need to consider when purchasing a new one.

Shadows are cast at any time of day, but particularly during daylight hours. As a result, fishers need to be mindful of the size of shadow their vessel casts upon the water; too large a shadow can, meaning a more streamlined and smaller vessel is preferable.

Consequently, this is why kayaks are so popular with the fishing community — they help keep you lower to the water, thus shortening the length of the shadow you cast. Moreover, opting to fish while the sun casts shadows away from the water is of additional benefit.

The Best and Worst Kayak Colours For Fishing

As previously mentioned, debate is rife in regards to colour and fish, and has been for decades. Nonetheless, while scientists may claim that the impact of colour is low, many fishers say otherwise.

Therefore, there is a range of kayak colours that have become synonymous with successful and unsuccessful fishing, so dubbed the best and worst of kayak colours. Even though some of the results can be argued as being borne of opinion, the possible impact they have on your chances shouldn’t be underestimated.


This is one of the most contested colours within the community. Some fishers claim the brightness of the colour can deter fish, while others argue that how visible the colour is actually helps attract them.

If we look at it from a more scientific stance, the visibility of yellow lasts up to 22 metres below the water’s surface before it starts to fade. Consequently, it will stand out more than other muted colours, thus potentially helping to entice fish your way.

yellow kayak


These two colours don’t get discussed often in regards to fishing, yet they do when diving, and for good reason: high visibility. According to professionals, these colours will remain visible to fish as long as the refraction of light can occur in the water.

This then means that, at almost any depth, both blue and green will be spotted by fish, even in spite of their limited window of vision.


Often regarded as equally as bright as blue/green, if not more so, red and orange can be a popular choice for fishers. However, while they may appear bright on the surface, these colours become muted and decrease in intensity under the water.

What was once a vibrant red will quickly look brown or even black in greater depth of water. As a result, choosing such kayak colours may only be of benefit depending on your location, e.g. shallow waters and clearness of said water.


For those seasoned in fishing, the use of two or more colours will be well known to you. The reason for this choice is said to be because it mimics the likeness of other fish, meaning they can increase how interested in you the local fish are.

That being said, the size of your vessel can counter that, and so while clever colour combinations can indeed help, they’re not the only element of your kayak that will have an effect.


Much like the brighter multicoloured option, camouflage is another favourite of fishers. Despite the use of subtle colours, camo perfectly allows your kayak to blend into the environment, which on clear waters will prove of particular benefit.

Furthermore, if we take on the belief that bright colours deter instead of attracting, then a muted palette will work more favourably, as it will appear more in-keeping with the environment.

Environmental Factors

As you can see, while colour does and can play a part when fishing, it does so in relation to other factors, such as weather, the body of water, and so on. Therefore, it’s fair to say that one colour that might prove successful for freshwater situations might not when used for saltwater fishing.

In addition to the type of fishing you do and its subsequent location, the time of day will also play a part. This related back to the casting of shadows we briefly touched on earlier; the larger your shadow, the more off-putting it can be.

However, the belief that nighttime fishing eradicates this issue is a false one, as the moon still causes the refraction of light, thus meaning that darker environments won’t necessarily equal better fishing.

All of the above then only takes into account visual factors that can impede kayak fishing, and not the others such as sound. The vibrations from sound travel four times further in water than in the wair.

Although not related to the appearance of your kayak, the way in which kayaks function, e.g. engine free, means that the sound vibrations it creates are less. Ergo, a quiet, still and maintained position of your kayak is essential and should be used in combination with its colouring.

Other Considerations

We’ve mentioned the potential benefits of certain colours in relation to fish, but what about kayak colour above the water — why is that also important?

Even though enticing fish is your main aim, they’re not the only ones in and on the water. As a result, choosing a brighter, more vivid colour will ensure better safety overall. This is especially true if you frequent busy waters, like when ocean fishing.

Much like how colours change under water, so too do they when above it. If you’re out at sea, a white kayak may seem like a good choice due to brightness, but it has the downside of easily being mistaken as being part of a wave.

As for red, like we mentioned before, it easily becomes hard to spot in little to no light, thus reinforcing the need for a colour that maintains its brightness regardless of cloud coverage. This is why yellow once again comes out on top as a popular, and safe, kayak colour choice.

kayak fishing

That being said, while bright colours will help maintain visibility to boaters and other fishers, if you hope to use your kayak for more than fishing, e.g. hunting ducks, then opting for camouflage is the better option.

Moreover, due to the very nature of hunting, you won’t be venturing out to sea, and so the need to be easily definable from a surf/wave is less important. Not only that, but out at sea, there’s less foliage to blend into, thus rendering camou useless.

Although this is the case, many fishers suggest that you take extra precautions if venturing out on an overcast day, which is often argued as being better for fishing.


Kayak colour can affect fishing, however, it’s dependent on a number of factors rather than the singular one of colour. What is more, even if you opt for a “better” kayak colour, such as yellow, this is still no guarantee for you becoming a master fisher.