Should you choose live bait or artificial lure? This is a question that has split many fishermen, even the most experienced ones. There are anglers who swear by live bait, while others say artificial lures work better. In reality, the best choice is not as straightforward and clear as one might think.
Both artificial lures and natural bait have pros and cons. As an angler, it is up to you to make the choice that is right for you based on your current situation and preferences.
Live bait and artificial lure, of course, have the same purpose: to get fish to take a bite. But they each have their own way of attracting fish.
How do live bait and artificial lures work?
Live bait, also called natural bait, are small animals like worms, minnows, grasshoppers, leeches, crickets, beetles, snails, frogs, and maggots. These critters are effective in luring fish because they’re part of the natural diet. Their smell, color, and texture are familiar to the fish.
On the other hand, artificial lures are colorful and flashy objects made to look like animals like small fish and bugs that fish eat. Their sizes range from small to large. They are made of everything from feathers to fur to wood to metal and plastic.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Live Bait and Artificial Lures
Choosing between live bait or artificial lure comes down to things like:
your skill level as an angler
the kind, size, and number of fish you want to catch
and how much you care about conservation
The Cost Factor: Comparing Live Bait and Artificial Lures
Live bait is free if you gather it yourself. But if you go the DIY route, you would have to spend some time collecting bait before you can go fishing. So it may not be the best option if you’re pressed for time. Live bait can also get pricey if you buy it from a shop. Unlike artificial lure, it can’t be reused.
Artificial lures, on the other hand, can be reused for a short time. You may want to buy new ones when they get worn or rusty.
Storage Considerations: Storing Live Bait vs. Artificial Lures
Live bait is harder to store. Because they’re live animals, they can get smelly and messy in storage. Meanwhile, most lures can fit inside tackle boxes, unless you’re dealing with really huge ones. If you fancy yourself a collector, you can even build a collection of lures of all colors, shapes, and sizes.
Skill Level: Which Option is Best for Beginners?
As for skill level, beginners often have better luck with live bait than with artificial lures. It takes less skill and practice to drop a live bait in water and wait for fish to bite than to cast a lure and retrieve it properly. Live bait is harder to control because it will want and try to get away from the fish, while an artificial lure definitely won’t.
If you’re aiming to catch large, aggressive, fish, you should pick live bait, although it is certainly possible to catch both large (and small) fish with artificial lures. But if your priority is number of fish over size, artificial lures would be your best bet.
Conservation and Sustainability
If you’re concerned about sustainability, keep in mind that in using natural bait, you’re essentially using one live animal (the bait) to catch another live animal (the fish). If you brought too much live bait, and stored them properly, you can return the ones you didn’t use to their habitat.
On the other hand, artificial lures, especially those made of plastic, can pollute and harm the environment when they get lost or aren’t discarded properly. In fact, lures of the soft, plastic kind are major sources of water pollution, and can end up in the bellies of many fish.
Biodegradable Lures: An Alternative to Traditional Artificial Lures
The good news is that lures made of biodegradable materials are now available, if you’re looking for alternatives to traditional artificial lures. There are even instructions online for DIY biodegradable lures.
There are also fishing spots where you are only allowed to use artificial lures, so make sure to check before you drop that bait in the water. In catch-and-release-only areas, artificial lures are better as fish can get hooked and injured when they eat live bait.
Ultimately, there’s no one-size-fits all answer. Some situations call for live bait, while others call for an artificial lure. Some anglers also just feel more comfortable using artificial lures over live bait, and vice versa. What about you? Are you team live bait or team artificial lure?