Greg’s Thoughts On UV Paints For Fishing Lures
Apologies……. the links to references mentioned in the audio are missing from these show notes. I’ll update them late afternoon on 2 December, until then enjoy the audio 😉 – Doc
- Many anglers view UV colours as some kind of magical, fish attracting technology. Others are skeptical about the virtues of UV pigments as fish attractors. In this episode I flesh out some of the facts about UV colours, UV light behaviour in water and the ability of the fish to see UV light.
- There is plenty of documented scientific evidence that some (but definitely not all) fish species are able to see colours in the UV spectrum. To see UV pigments on a lure, there must be enough downwelling UV light from solar radiation to reflect off the lure and reach the fish’s eyes.
- Confusing the issue is the phenomenon of UV fluorescence, which is when UV light striking a lure is not reflected, but is absorbed and then re-emitted at a lower wavelength in the visible light range. This is what happens when so called UV lures are placed under a “black light” (UVA).
- Like humans and other animals, fish don’t need UV vision to be able to see fluorescence. But fluorescence is usually very week and gets overpowered by other (visible wavelengths). Usually in aquatic environments the UVA available to create fluorescence is very limited, so these pigments are no more visible to fish than any other paint.
- The theory that UV fluorescence makes lures easier for fish to see at depth is usually based on the mistaken belief that UVA penetrates deeper in water than other wavelengths. This is repeated numerous times in the fishing literature, but the scientific literature suggests otherwise. In reality, UVA does not penetrate to anywhere near the depths that some visible wavelengths do (especially those associated with blue, green and purple colours). Paints that glow under a UVA light are therefore very unlikely to have much, if any, benefit to lure fishers, especially when fished deep.
- It is important to note that penetration of UVA is drastically reduced when the sun is not directly overhead, when there is cloud cover or haziness in the air, when there is any kind of plankton, silt, colour or particulate material in the water, when there is shade or when there is a ripple on the water surface. Low levels of UV mean low excitation of molecules and less fluorescence.
- Coral reef fish live in environments where there is the highest potential for UV penetration, yet an Australian study of 211 coral reef species found that over 50% of them had an ocular lens that (like humans) is opaque to UV. This means that UV light can’t penetrate to the retina, and hence there can be no stimulation of the optic nerve and those species are definitely unable to detect UV as a colour.
The Bottom Line: Greg’s Approach
- Whilst the possibility that UV paints could make a difference to strike rates on lures can’t be completely discarded, the science would suggest it’s highly unlikely to make a huge difference.
- Personally, as a lure maker, I’ve amassed over 300 different coloured paints over a few decades, including plenty of blends and tints I’ve developed. But I don’t own any UV paints – and I don’t plan on rushing out to buy any!
- My advice? If you love lures with UV paint and are convinced they make a difference, keep using them. Having confidence in your lures is massively important. But if you’re on the fence about UV paints (or you’re a flat-out sceptic like me), focus on the things that really matter like sound, shape, action, vibration, flash, diving depth and so on. Either way, you’ll catch fish.