Harness ultraviolet rays to hook more fish
If you’ve ever gotten sunburned while enjoying a fine day on the water, you know all about the power of the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
While many fellow anglers feel your pain, few fully understand that you can also harness the power of UV light to put more fish in the boat or on the ice.
It’s all based on solid science.
“Special coatings that reflect and react to ultraviolet light can make it easier for fish to see lures in certain conditions,” explains Team Northland member Scott Glorvigen.
A veteran tournament competitor and guide, he’s a firm believer that such optically brightened baits can increase our catch rates.
He opens the discussion on UV by comparing the concept to glow-in-the-dark finishes, which have long been popular among legions of Northland anglers.
“I’ve fished phosphorescent finishes for years,” he says. “In fact, if I had to choose one jig color to use every day, all season long for walleyes, it would be Northland Fishing Tackle’s glow watermelon.”
Glorvigen acknowledges that the catchy mix of lime green, chartreuse and orange hues appeals to a hungry ’eye’s predatory instincts.
“Certainly, these shades mimic the colors of yellow perch and other primary baitfish,” he says. “But I’ve seen glow watermelon out-produce non-glow firetiger so many times, even though both patterns share similar base colors, I know the glow must have something to do with it—and I believe it’s because glow makes it easier for walleyes to find my jig.”
Like phosphorescent paints, optically brightened UV finishes increase visibility. The effect is hard for human eyes to appreciate, but fish see it clearly.
“Many predator fish can see UV light with wavelengths ranging from 400 to 315 nanometers,” Glorvigen explains. “And, while color quickly fades as water depth increases, short-wave UV light is visible to fish down to 100 feet or more.”
Fishery scientists confirm that the markings, scales and skins of a variety of creatures up and down the underwater food chain reflect UV light, including fish markings, which means walleyes and other gamefish most likely use UV visual clues to identify potential prey.
“Make no mistake, UV light isn’t just a factor in deep water,” Glorvigen adds. “It can also be a big deal in the shallows in stained water and during low-light periods.”
Indeed, Glorvigen reports that his personal UV epiphany occurred while ice fishing the shallow, stained waters of Lake of the Woods while ice fishing with his son.
“We were fishing right next to each other using the same Northland Buck-Shot Rattle Spoons,” he begins. “I was putting on a clinic but he was having a harder time getting bit. The only difference in our presentations was my spoon had a UV finish. When he tied on a UV Buck-Shot, his catch rate jumped right up with mine.”
UV finishes aren’t just for hard water, of course. They can make a big difference when trolling a variety of presentations including spinner rigs in shallow, windswept areas where suspended sediments reduce water clarity, and in deeper, off-colored waters.
To cover the spectrum of ice and open water needs, Northland’s ever-expanding UV lineup includes the UV Buck-Shot Spoon, UV Forage Minnow Spoon, Buck-Shot Flutter Spoon, RZ Jig, Tungsten Fire-Ball UV Jig and the Pro-Walleye Series Micro-Blade Spinner, Long-Shank Spinner, Crawler Harness and Float’n Crawler Harness.
Northland’s UV-brightened color patterns span the rainbow from Glo Watermelon and Ruby Red to Bubblegum and UV Fire Perch.
Glow Vs. UV
Understanding the differences between UV and glow finishes is key to knowing which one fish, when. “Glow emits light after being charged with an external light source, while UV treatments reflect existing ultraviolet light from the sun,” says Glorvigen.
“Glow works in low-vis daytime conditions and at night,” he continues. “UV is perfect for algae blooms, tannin-stained and turbid water, plus low-light situations early or late in the day, and whenever there’s heavy daytime cloud cover. Because its light comes from the sun, UV is generally a non-factor at night, although some people are experimenting with light systems.”
Manufacturers like Northland Fishing Tackle harness the power of UV light by crafting a blend of reflective base coats, special matte finishes, fluorescent paints (which emit light that’s already been absorbed) and optical brighteners. In so doing, they’re able to create finishes that absorb UV radiation and re-emit it in vivid colors that are easy for fish to see.
“As with other parts of your presentation, determining which UV patterns trigger the most strikes under different conditions requires experimentation,” Glorvigen adds. “Factors ranging from mood of the fish to the forage base can make one pattern a knockout and another less effective.”
Glorvigen says it’s well worth the effort to learn the ins and outs of UV. “This is truly a new frontier in fishing,” he says. “Anglers who work optically brightened products into their fishing programs can ride its cutting edge and catch more fish in the process.”