The Great Fishing Bait Debate: Part 2

By Andy Whitcomb

Aug 10, 2015

Which is better, live bait or artificial bait?

Which is better, live bait or artificial bait? Live bait catches fish but only if you take steps to keep it alive and cast gently so it remains on the hook. With artificial bait, you have complete control.

Here are some ways you can make artificial bait (fishing lures) superior to live bait:

  • Placement.
    You can cast forcefully to gain extra distance with artificial baits without fear of casting off the hook like live bait. Artificial bait also can withstand tricky casts like “skipping” under docks. And then you can do it again and again and again; presenting the fishing lure at differing depths, angles, and speeds.

  • Erratic action.
    One of the best triggers for a bite is to make it “act anxious.” Just like playing with the cat, if you twitch the toy the right way, at the right time, even a fish that isn’t hungry will hit. Rarely do Bassmaster Elite tournament anglers retrieve a crankbait without an unexpected pulse, twitch, or pause.

  • Fast action.
    Nothing means panic more than a fishing lure racing back to the boat or shore. Sometimes a topwater frog bite is a slow occasional twitch, but other times a rapid retrieve of a frog is the best bait for bass. A buzzbait is another great lure to get fish fired up. That “plip-plip-plip” as it scurries across the surface will be sure to gain attention.

  • Fly Fishing Streamers.
    Fly fishing doesn’t always mean drifting flies. On the retrieve of streamers, Lamar Underwood in “1001 Fishing Tips” shared,” A streamer should be fished fast enough so you’d seriously doubt that a salmon could catch it.”

  • Artificial Bait Imitates Life.
    Next time you are near water, watch for feeding fish. Notice which bait fish get selected by hungry predators. Then, make your artificial bait similarly communicate, “Easy meal.” It is a good idea to check your state regulations, even with artificial bait to make sure there isn’t some limiting number of hooks or barbs.

Andy Whitcomb
Andy Whitcomb
Andy is an outdoor writer ( and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to since 2011. Born in Florida, but raised on banks of Oklahoma farm ponds, he now chases pike, smallmouth bass, and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After earning a B.S. in Zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at OSU, Iowa State, and Michigan State.