Whether it matters all that much to a fish or it really just boils down to a confidence thing, having the perfect bait in your hand can make all the difference at times. We’ve had baits that have gotten banged up over the years and, with a little nail polish, we were able to restore them to their original glory.
Then there seems to be a particular color bait that dad loves that goes out of production every year or two. With a little nail polish, you can take a similar color bait and get back close to the original at least. Again, it may just be a confidence thing and not matter to the fish at all.
I have played out the scenario many times in my head of a fish turning to annihilate a passing squarebill and just before he inhales it, he slams on the brakes and realizes the bait only has 2 vertical black stripes and not three. The bass aborts at the last second, narrowly missing the hooks of the bait and flushes a sigh of relief through his gills after the close call.
It seems a bit ridiculous when you think about it. But I have seen anglers from my dad to pros who have amassed millions of dollars in endorsements and winnings vehemently and earnestly swear it makes a difference. And I believe they believe that, which is why it all boils down to confidence for me. And confidence is the ultimate difference maker on the water.