I'm still of the school that until we, as humans, can find a way to directly communicate with fish, we are stuck with supposition and assumption. As humans with the ability to think and decipher little clues that fish show us regarding why they hit we are really just putting together ideas from a human perspective. Observations we make [color of a lure or action or size] are solely from our perspective and we can adjust to changes that the fish like to make, however the why's and what's that fish toss at us anglers is still a fish focused mystery.
I'm sure we've all seen a great bite just flat out stop while electronics show that the fish are still right there. Swap out a color and sometimes we can get right back in the game. Maybe it calls for a profile change to spark things up again. Sometimes though, nothing we do seems to matter, and the fish simply have a bad case of lockjaw. Fish are fish and while they appear to have a much lesser ability to think things out because they have a much smaller brain for their size when compared to us, they still seem to have that innate ability to stump us.
My tackle pail has been narrowed down to maybe 6 different bait profiles, but each comes in a bunch of color combinations. Jig weight is the least concern as is head color.... all of the heads are either bare lead or purple. Whether the jig/bait is suspended under a float or cast on a free line is a matter of what the fish seem to prefer at the moment. For a long time I have paid a lot of attention to scent. I, at one time, was convinced that PowerBait minnows were the kingpin of crappie baits among the scented products at the time. Making my own baits sort of steered me away from worrying about scent until Gulp came along. If there is any one thing that has come along that has changed my ideas about scent and home-spun baits, it's Gulp juice, the stuff you get in a spray bottle. Literally every bait I make for panfish is kept, 50-50, either in a dry sealed ziplock or in a ziplock to which Gulp spray has been liberally applied. On way more than one occasion I have seen fish absolutely shut down on a plain, un-Gulped, bait even though they're still right where I was fishing but by changing to the Gulp version of the same bait, same color combo and fished in the same identical fashion, the bite went 180 degrees immediiately. I've seen baits soaked in Gulp spray that got fish going when nothing appeared to interest them. Yes, I know the Gulp juice isn't supposed to permeatethe plastic baits were use, however my personal observations on this are not in line with that thinking, so I'll just say don't knock it until you've tried it.
Senkosam, you bring a lot of food for thought here with much of your posting...its good to think.