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Let me preface this article by acknowledging that the color combinations of your arrow fletching will in no way improve your overall hunting performance. 

Understandably, this article will be aimed at enlightening archers who see colors perfectly (or close to), hence the article will be of no benefit to archers who are color blind. 

On a similar note, it is important to understand that not all eyes are the same, even amongst people with no visual impairments. A color one person sees perfectly fine, another may have difficulty seeing. 

In short, color is not objective, though our eyes signal that we see something similarly, it is very likely we all see differently to a tiny extent. 

Why Does the Color of Fletching Even Matter?

Color combinations mostly help to ease the search process of released arrows, but they also enhance the ability of archers to study their flight patterns and arrow groupings.

Though perhaps more importantly for some archers, colorful fletching is aesthetically pleasing, providing some with an inexplicably better feeling when shooting with eye-catching arrows (fletching in this case).  

Ultimately, leaving yourself time to consider what colors to use for shooting may be a greater benefit than what you may initially think.

What Colors to Use for Hunting

In terms of the best color of fletching to use, many combinations can be practical given that the convenience of the colors generally depends on the environment you find yourself in when bowhunting. 

Ideally, your choice of colors should be the opposite color(s) of your surrounding environment. This is simply because your brain will notice the contrast in color far more easily when the difference is drastic.

Nevertheless, choosing a combination which suits nearly all circumstances is definitely a sound option.

In most conditions, a combination of highly saturated, vibrant colors such as pink and cyan (or white) will certainly serve you the best. We will explain why in further detail below. 

Fluorescent and highly saturated colors work well in various terrains and different light intensities because they excite most of the cones in our eyes. 

But let’s focus on the best colors for specific conditions.

Further Reading: Best Fletching for Fixed Blade Broadheads

Best Colors for Specific Conditions

Bright Light Conditions (During the Day)

  • Our eyes are particularly sensitive to yellow and green (vibrant colors) because more light is reflected by bright colors. 

  • More light reflected results in excessive stimulation of the eyes. 

  • Yellows and greens are at their brightest during the day, which means it is very easy to lose sight of arrows with green and/or yellow fletching. Therefore, shooting yellow/green fletching during the day when yellows and greens are at their brightest makes it very easy to lose sight of your arrow(s).   

  • Reds, oranges, or pinks are likely the ideal choice of fletching during the day. 

  • Blues are less brightly perceived, but still somewhat noticeable (to you and deer). 

  • Black fletching is another option which may work well for you during the day because the brain can detect darker colors rapidly.

Low Light Conditions

  • Low light conditions require brighter colors.

  • In low light conditions (such as twilight), the less-sensitive cones in our eyes begin to shut down, and our rods become mostly responsible for vision.

  • Studies have shown that rods are insensitive to wavelengths longer than roughly 640 nanometers (red light). Essentially, rods are blind to red light. 

  • Therefore, if you want any hope of detecting the location of your arrows, it is best to avoid using reds and oranges at low light. 

  • A better option at night would be green, cyan, or yellow fletches because before color disappears completely due to low light, our peak sensitivity of vision shifts to our rods’ peak sensitivity which is blue/green light.

During Fall or in a Forest Environment

  • The red and green colors surrounding the environment will engage plenty of cones in your eyes. 

  • Pink and Cyan are particularly helpful in a forest or during fall. 

  • Yellow is also a reasonable choice of color to use since seeing a yellow object in flight is quite easy to see in this environment. 

  • However, finding yellow fletching between the green leaves and grass can be extremely difficult. Searching for an arrow requires us to use more peripheral vision than focal vision. 

  • Rods are more numerous than cones in the periphery, this explains why yellow is hard to detect amongst green.

Grassy Fields

  • Like shooting during the day, when shooting on grassy fields, hot pink fletches should be best followed by oranges and reds.

Snowy Conditions

  • For the hunters that are not dissuaded by hunting in snow, saturated primary colors (red, green, and blue) are the most noticeable colors on the bright white ground.

  • Yellow and white are terrible colors for hunting in the snow because the white snowfall exhausts the eyes, thus making the snow and yellow/white fletching practically indistinguishable.

You Might Also Be Interested In: Tips For Finding Waterproof Feather Fletching

Best Colors for Certain Animals?

When determining what color of fletching to fit onto your arrows for hunting, obviously you want to consider what colors you see effectively, but you should also think about what colors your targeted game see.

Different animals have distinctive types of color vision; hunters should ensure the color of their fletching is not alarming to the intended animal.

Deer and Other Dichromats

Humans convey color information through three different cone cells in our eyes (red, green, and blue), meaning humans are trichromats.  

Most mammals possess dichromatic vision akin to people with protanopia (red-green) color blindness. In short, the cones which detect red light are absent in most mammals.

Accordingly, deer cannot differentiate reds, oranges, and yellows from green. This makes these colors particularly useful for hunting them.

Deer see shades of blue most effectively. Deer lack the UV light filter present in humans and other longer-lived animals. This suggests that deer perceive blues and other short-wavelength colors approximately twenty times better than humans. 

It is also wise to avoid using too much white because white reflects all colors (blue included).

Therefore, if you keep your arrows with blue or white fletching in a quiver, you may want to cover the fletching to reduce your chances of being spotted.

Bird Vision

Birds possess photo-pigments with sensitivities at four or five peak wavelengths, which makes them tetrachromats, or even pentachromats.

Due to their long evolutionary path, birds can see all colors along with ultra-violet. 

Ultimately, it is best to avoid bright, fluorescent (and white) colors when hunting birds.

Blood Detection

Many hunters appreciate having at least one fletch which is white (or a light color) because the color and consistency of blood can be quickly and effortlessly observed on the surface of a lightly colored fletch. 

Understandably, it is much harder to examine blood on dark fletching. For this reason, dark fletching is unfavorable among a wide range of hunters.  

Note that another great reason to use white fletching as a second option is that it is easy to see since white reflects every wavelength in the color spectrum. 

This means our eyes do not need to open as much to absorb the white light.

Alternative to Colored Fletching

While many hunters are content with using colored fletching to locate their arrow and observe their flight path, other hunters prefer to use arrow wraps with very distinctive colors/patterns to see their arrows.

Arrow wraps are not only noticeable outside, but they also allow hunters to show some personality and shoot with style.

Reflective Wraps and Reflective Tape

There are hunters who use reflective arrow wraps or apply a small amount of reflective tape to their arrows as the reflective material considerably increases the visibility of arrows when light hits the reflective regions.

Note that they are especially visible when light hits them in darker conditions.

Conclusion

Having colored fletching which is highly visible can be incredibly useful for hunters as it eases the process of looking for release arrows and allows for a more convenient observation of flight patterns and arrow groupings.

Generally, fletching will be most visible when the combination of colors opposes the surrounding environment. 

Ultimately, if hunters want their arrow fletching to be most visible, they will have to change the colors depending on the time of day (light level) and hunting land. 

Hunters may even want to consider what colors the intended animal can see. It is best to avoid using fluorescent colors when hunting birds. Whereas reds, oranges, and yellows will not be detected by deer. 

However, selecting colors based on the surrounding environment is very tedious and simply isn’t essential. For this reason, it is very understandable to use a combination of colors for all circumstances. 

The best combination for all situations is pink and cyan/white. Pink is visible in numerous environments, while blood on lighter colors such as cyan and white can be examined effortlessly. 

Once more, arrow wraps are also great for increasing the visibility of your arrows and making them aesthetically attractive.

Another factor to consider, which may be more important to your hunting conditions, is finding the quietest possible vanes

In short, while the color of fletching cannot improve overall hunting prowess, visible fletching can speed up the time you take searching for your arrows and generally reduces your likelihood of losing arrows.

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