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John Merwin lives in Vermont, where, when he's not tying flies, building lures, or digging up worms with his backhoe, he writes the monthly Fishing Column for Field & Stream magazine.

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September 26, 2008

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Merwin: Red is a Gimmick

The color red has become the hottest thing in fishing tackle over the past few years. From red line to red-splashed lures, it seems as if every angler is somehow buying the trend. But I happen to think the whole red thing is the biggest bunch of BS in all of fishing.

Cajun Line helped start things a few years ago by marketing a translucent-red monofilament they still claim to be “virtually invisible” underwater. That’s allegedly because colors are filtered out by water as depth increases. The color red is the first to disappear. But even though the color disappears, the line does not; it turns gray.

If you’ve ever watched one of the many films of a shark feeding frenzy, you’ll have noticed how red blood appears to be black in the blue-green depths. By Cajun’s account of red’s “virtual invisibility,” that red blood should be invisible, but it’s not. While the color itself is gone, its tone or value remains.

Red splotches on lures and red hooks, meanwhile, are more ways in which we as anglers are being played for suckers. Supposedly, these simulate a blood trail or wounded baitfish. But do you really think a bass looks at red dots on a Rat-L-Trap lure and thinks to itself, “Ah-ha! That must be an injured shad. Better eat that one right now!” I don’t believe it.

Speaking as a fisherman, I do happen to like the way red looks on certain lures. But to paraphrase Clark Gable’s classic line in Gone With The Wind: Frankly, my dear, the fish don’t give a damn. 


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Blue Ox

I have some of that cajun line and couldn't agree more. Still catch fish with it, though.


Let's not forget too that Merwin is still fishing linen line, so these new-fangled innovations are for the kids and their devil music.

Alex Pernice the fly rod winner

Lol, thats funny...

Blue Ox

Try as I might, I just can't picture Stevie Ray Vaughn as the devil. Especailly when I'm kicked back and relaxin with his rendition of 'little wing' playing.
Now Axl Rose on the other hand...

Scott in Ohio


As I glance up at my (scant)collection of 13 old lures hanging from my grand-dads fishing rod in my den I note that about 2/3 are splashed with red. Not really a new gimmick, just some recent marketing that seems to be working.


Dr. Ralph

Sounds good, but I caught my largest Rainbow ever this week on some of that red Cajun line... I'm sure it had nothing to do with the line though. Unfortunately he was slightly under 15" which I don't suppose is too impressive but I'm ecstatic. I had a Brown follow my lure for a while and he was at least 2' long, but to no avail.