I love chasing bass both with conventional and fly gear. As any fellow conventional bass angler knows, the selection of lure colors is incredibly vast. Some hard and soft baits from major manufacturers seemingly come in a bazillion colors. Sheesh. Are they really all necessary?
In the past, it was easy to get wrapped up in all the different color combos. A few tackle companies out there definitely made some nice profits off me! They say that "some lures are designed to catch fishermen more than fish" which is a phrase I now FULLY agree with.
Over the years I bought many differently-colored baits that I really didn't need. Christmas was a whole other story! When assembling my yearly list as a kid, I can remember thumbing through catalogs and writing down all the different color codes of baits I hoped to get. My mom must have dreaded making some of those orders! While in those younger days I was easily dazzled by all the various color schemes, as I grew older, wiser (hah), gained more fishing experience, and valued money more, my thinking drastically changed and I gradually whittled down my color selections of both lures and flies to be pretty basic—regardless of the species I was after.
Nowadays, I tend to put far more emphasis on the presentation rather than being ultra-particular about the fly color. The one personal rule I always follow is to carry the "standard" natural and/or proven colors in addition to a few variations that are suitable for different water and light conditions.
I'll often build my arsenal off these standard/proven colors to include a few other slight color variations. Depending on the fly, I want to carry a selection of flies ranging from light to dark, sparse to solid, and/or subtle to flashy. While other colors may be on-hand just for experimental or fun purposes, just the most basic imitations and the variants of these form the basis of my streamer boxes.
In my case, a prime example would include streamers that imitate threadfin shad. To start, I'd first carry a pretty standard solid shad color that'll contrast well in stained water. For variants, I'd carry the same flies with little to no flash and tied sparser for more sensitive conditions. The same basic thinking goes for a fly like a Woolly Bugger that imitates a variety of food sources. To cover those varying light and water conditions, I'd carry them in olive, black, and an in-between color like a cinnamon or tan. This spans the color range from light to dark and gives you versatility while keeping things super simple.
Experimenting sure can be fun and productive, but I don't feel that it's always necessary to fill my fly box with tons of different colors or a whole mess of different color schemes just for imitating the same type of forage. Sticking with the basics typically does the job just fine as long as the flies are fished properly and put in the strike zone. If I was to build a Christmas wish list of flies or lures nowadays it would be far, far shorter than years back.
Have fun in fly fishing and fly tying, but remember that simplicity can often catch the most fish!