It hasn’t quite reached the Ford versus Chevy level, yet the artificial lure versus live bait is a heated debate among anglers. While there’s no denying live bait will help put fish in the livewell, artificial lures offer speed and convenience that can make a big difference when anglers need to fish efficiently.
One of the most efficient and productive methods of sport angling is to use natural baits, or live bait. Natural baits are effective because of their familiar texture, odor, and color, and require a relatively simple presentation. They are generally most effective when acquired locally, outweighing any hassles involved in obtaining them.
The common earthworm is universal bait; almost every fresh water species will hungrily gobble an earthworm. Grubs and maggots are excellent bait along with grasshoppers, crickets, bees, aquatic snails, small frogs, tadpoles, crayfish, and even ants. Many anglers believe that roe—fish eggs—is superior to any other bait.
Some anglers prefer to use artificial baits or lures, made to imitate prey or prey characteristics such as color, flash, or shape, which fish find attractive. A quick look down the aisle at your local tackle shop will tell you that artificial baits come in a bewildering array of styles, shapes, strategies, and colors, ranging from massive, shiny silver spoon-like devices trolled for big lake fish to wispy dry flies, tiny bundles of feathers and fur delicately cast to flighty trout.
Seasoned anglers usually carry more than one kind of lure and try to cover all three zones of the water column: surface, subsurface and bottom. Specific lures for each zone and species enables you to get attractive baits to the fish regardless where it is holding. There are hundreds of different types of artificial lures, but most fall into one of seven basic categories: crank baits, plugs, poppers, spoons, jigs, spinners and flies.
Not only does picking up live bait from the marina take up precious time that could be spent on the water, but artificial lures allow scrappy anglers to wet a line whenever they’re near water but can’t stop in to pick up live bait—even in the morning before heading to work, while on a short lunch break or when traveling and you can only fish from land and don’t have all the typical tools and accessories available.
Artificial lures also offer a more precise presentation. The earthworm or other live baits don’t offer as much control over how the bait behaves underwater. If the live bait dies, it sits on the bottom or goes with the current and anglers lose the attention-grabbing action that can elicit bites. With artificial lures, anglers control the action—you can mimic an injured bait fish, pop it off the bottom and more. Artificial lures also give the angler a bit of extra pride in knowing their rod movements helped to trigger each strike.
Lastly, bigger baits can attract trophies. While big fish have a tendency to surprise anglers by striking on baits both big and small, bigger baits can help entice massive trophy fish to attack. However, purchasing bigger live bait varieties can get expensive quickly. Larger artificial lures help mitigate costs because they can be used effectively many times over.
Having so many lure choices can be confusing, especially to the young or novice angler. When using live bait you don’t have to worry about choosing a color or an action. You don’t need to impregnate a real worm with some fish-attracting scent. Live bait looks and smells natural, so you are not trying to deceive a fish with movement or a paint job.
It is easier to learn to fish using live bait since you’re not confronted with numerous choices on what lure to use and what color to pick, and you don’t have to put live bait right in front of a fish like you usually do with lures.
Plus, bait can be cheaper than lures and in fact, you can collect most bait for free!
Like all great debates such as Coke versus Pepsi, the lure versus worm debate will never reach any type of conclusion as anglers will most likely continue to experiment with both while clearly favoring one over the other.
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