Live Bait Vs. Artificial Lures: The Ultimate Fishing Showdown

Live baits and artificial lures are your primary ingredient in attracting your target fish. Between live baits and artificial lures, you can already notice their difference just by looking at them. Aside from looks, we will give you an in-depth comparison of these two fishing tools. 

The best advantage of using artificial lures is that you can reuse it all over again. On the other hand, live baits are easy to use, but often get lost. So, you’ll end up purchasing more that can get costly. When it comes to price, live baits are cheaper compared to artificial lures that are quite expensive. Plus, generally, most artificial lures demand better-quality tackle and a higher degree of skill.

Without using these materials, it would be difficult for you to catch fish unless you want to go fishing with a spear – just like the ancient times. Before buying either live baits or artificial lures, check out this ultimate fishing showdown between these two fishing materials.

Live Baits Vs. Artificial Lures – What are their Differences?

Live Baits

Between live baits and artificial lures, it’s all about understanding when to use each and throw a material for attracting fish. Some anglers would tell you that baits work best – both live and dead. These baits can indeed bring everything your target fish desire from the smell, color, taste, and representation of their prey. The primary issue when using live baits is keeping them alive and fresh, which may require some effort. 

The secret in using either live or dead baits is knowing what you should throw to match the hatch of your target fish. For example, if you understand what bass love to eat, you’d know what you should and should not throw into the water. It is essential to understand what fish are feeding on at any given time, or even throughout the year. It is because it switches up as the seasons’ shift.

Using baits may require more patience, so bring a bunch of endurance to be effective in using it. If you’re a beginner, it’s best if you can start with live baits because you’ll have a higher success rate even with a minimal amount of effort or skill.

Artificial Lures

One of the most significant rewards of fishing with artificial lures is being able to fool your target fish even just by using a piece of plastic. These artificial lures like plugs, poppers, jigs, metals, and soft baits can mimic various baitfish species that most predator fish love to eat. Just like in using live baits, the term “match the hatch” is the key to choosing the right artificial lures. It is crucial to pick something that has the same flash, vibration, and profile of a specific baitfish to be more effective in attracting your target fish.

Artificial lures are ideal when fish species are feeding aggressively, to utilize this small tool efficiently. These artificial lures also offer better angler controls in presentations to elicit strikes while making them look livelier and more enticing compared to live baits. Additionally, artificial lures will allow you to adjust the selection to adapt to the color of the water, temperature, and presentation.

Tricking your target fish with an artificial lure is challenging, but comes with worthy rewards. One thing is for sure – you can never go wrong with either bait or lure fishing for as long as you know how to use them right. So, start with understanding your goals and your target fish. Then, pick the right kind accordingly.

Live Baits Vs. Artificial Lures: An In-Depth Comparison

Which is better – live baits or artificial lures? It is a question that has been buzzing around, especially for most novice anglers. The answer is a little bit more complicated, which is almost the same as picking your option. Some anglers would prefer using artificial lures, while others are more confident with live baits. So, here’s a breakdown of some essential aspects that you can consider when choosing between artificial lures and live baits.

  • Cost. Winner: Live Bait is less costly only if you hunt it yourself. On the other hand, buying excellent artificial lures can last for a long time.
  1. Live Baits. Most live baits have a higher up-front cost of a cast net, but a good one can last for many years. So, you can be sure that you won’t need to replace it anytime soon. Most live bait anglers require more time and value because it may take time to catch some live bats. However, if you’re going to use live shrimp, pinfish, ballyhoo, frozen squid – you’ll probably have to go to a tackle store to purchase. So, you’ll be most likely to spend some buckets in the next few years with these live baits.
  2. Artificial Lures. Even if you stick with using a handful of artificial lures and become an expert in casting them, you would still end up buying countless packs of baits and hooks. Live baits are more prone to losing, but you may also encounter missing artificial lures. You will even have ripped soft plastic lures by junk fish and other reasons that will cause you to replace your artificial lures. This case will cost you twice when using live baits. 
  • The Size of Caught Fish. Winner: Live baits. Artificial lures may be popular to outfish live bait in terms of total fish, but they don’t have a match with Live baits when it comes to catching large fish species.
    • Live Bait. Generally, live baits are better if you want to catch lunkers, monster fish, and other world record fish species. Even when catching redfish and sharks in saltwater, or walleye and bass in freshwater – live baits will give you better results. Artificial lures can also find various trophy fish, but your best chance when it comes to size is live baits.
    • Artificial Lures. Don’t get the idea wrong; artificial lures are excellent for catching all types of fish, both big and small. Most inshore anglers would agree that artificial lures are also your other best option in catching redfish. However, if your goal is to land on the biggest fish of the day, live bait would be the top choice for most anglers. 
  • The Amount of Caught Fish. Winner: Artificial Lures because of their convenience in using them. You don’t have to spend more time looking for live baits. 
    • Live Bait. Most live bait anglers would say that they can catch both more significant and numerous fish species with live baits compared to artificial lures. However, it may not always be the case if you are getting your live baits. Some days finding live baits is tough, so you’ll end up spending more time searching for bait instead. 
    • Artificial Lures. An angler who uses artificial lures can start immediately without having to look for live baits, or even making sure that the live bait is working well. It means that you can start fishing right away.
  • Storage and Messiness. Winner: Artificial lures are more convenient to store and less messy to use. You don’t have to worry about maintaining their freshness for as long as they are still working well.
    • Live Bait. Regardless of the type ou live bait and the amount that you’re going to use, more often, they are messier to use compared to artificial lures. Plus, they are more challenging to store because you have to make sure of their freshness. 
    • Artificial Lures. These are more convenient to use and not too messy to cast. However, you have to make sure that there is enough space in your tackle box to store your artificial lures. You can simplify your tackle box by carrying a small soft tackle box that can fit everything, even in a small area. Some thin plastic lures can get messy once their juices spill but not as dirty as live baits.
  • Skill Level of the Angler. Winner: When it comes to the ease of use, most novice anglers can rely on live baits. They are easy to learn and use in catching various fish species.
    • Live baits. Anyone, regardless of the angler’s skill level, can use live baits. It means that even an absolute beginner can quickly learn how to drop a live bait, squid, or shrimp down the water. It is the same process when you’re going to inshore fishing with a cut or live bait for red monster drum, or while sitting in a boat while waiting for a bass. You can do perfectly well with live baits if you can flip a bail, reel, and cast.
    • Artificial Lures. You need to have a little skill and experience when using artificial lures unless you are trolling. It is because retrieving an artificial lure is the most critical part when catching a fish. A sloppy retrieve will either help you strike a fish, or get them spooked.

When to Use Live Baits?

If you’re fishing with live baits, here are the following fishing conditions to use them so that you can get the best outcomes.

  • Use live baits at night.
  • You use live baits when you’re instructing kids or novice anglers.
  • It is also helpful to use live baits when the body of water is muddy and discolored.
  • Live baits are ideal for ice fishing, or when fishing in freezing weather.
  • Live baits are suitable if you’re targeting vegetarian and omnivorous fish species.

When to Use Artificial Lures?

Now that you know when you can use live baits, here are some situations wherein it’s best to use artificial lures. 

  • Artificial lures are often suitable for catch-and-release fisheries.
  • You can also use artificial lures if there are abundant of undersized and non-target nuisance fish.
  • Artificial lures are better for clear water under warmer weather.
  • Use artificial lures for targeting aggressive and predatory fish species.
  • You will likely use artificial lures on waters that say “artificial,” or “fly and lure only.”

Why Should You Use Live Baits?

There are many reasons to use live baits, especially if you are a beginner. First of all, live baits are effective at fooling most fish species, and they are cheap to buy. You’ll just cast out your live lure, set your fishing rod down, and wait for the fish to come to you. You can also improvise and use something from your kitchen like leftover meatloaves. 

Most fish species hook themselves once they eat live baits. However, you must know when to strike precisely. You may not be able to reuse live baits, but you can return them to their natural environment or freeze them for future use. Overall, live baits are appealing to an extraordinary range of fish species. The waiting time may be a little bit longer, but you will nearly always catch something on bait.

Why Should You Use Artificial Lures?

Artificial Lures are simple to use, but only if you know how to use them right. Catching a fish with an artificial lure is satisfying in active and engaging pursuits. Plus, you can cover more significant water when using artificial lures. More often, artificial lures hook fish in the jaws, lips, or mouth, which makes them safe for catch and release fishing. 

What are the Different Types of Live Baits and Artificial Lures?

Have you walked into a bait shop and find yourself confused with dozens of options that you have? We know how it feels. So, we’ve listed down some types of live baits and artificial lures to increase your success rate in catching your target fish. 

  • Freshwater baits have shiners, fathead minnows, nightcrawlers, mealworms, wax worms, butter worms, frogs, crickets, crayfish, and salmon eggs. 
  • Saltwater baits may consist of anything like fresh clams, ballyhoo, mullet, crabs, shrimp, sardines, pinfish, squid, and even small tuna. 

On the other hand, artificial lures are useful for fishing. However, it may take some time figuring it out if you are a beginner. Artificial lures mimic the looks, sounds, and movements of live baits. Regardless, you still have to choose the right type of it to be able to catch your target fish. Just like live baits, you can choose from these artificial lures.

  • The types of artificial lures include artificial flies, decoy fish, LED tricks, spinnerbaits, swimbaits, floating, diving, spoon, and sinking lures.

How to Hook Live Baits?

You need to have a live bait to be more efficient in catching fish under the water. You can only do it by hooking your live baits appropriately. So, here are some ways to help you fasten your live baits.

  1. Hook Your Live Baits in their Nostrils. Nostril hooking restricts the natural action of the live bait, which is beneficial when fishing hardtail, menhaden, pinfish, goggle-eye, pilchard, or herring. It is, by far, one of the most effective methods of rigging live baits. You can do when drifting offshore, and around bait schools.
  2. Hook Your Live Bait in the Dorsal Fin. It is deadly for kite-fishing, slow-trolling, and still-drifting when you hook your live baits in front of its dorsal. This method generates actions, and aft placement captures short-striking fish. Catching in front of the dorsal fin helps in creating force so that the bait can swim head-down frantically.
  3. Hook Your Live Bait in its Throat. This method is perfect for mid-level fish because throat hooking forces a bait into the depths. Throat hooking is a proven tactic that is essential when free-lining from a stationary position to jetties, bait schools, or for bottom fishing. Also, it is a practice that is beneficial when slow-drifting, free-lining, and free spooling. 
  4. Hook the Live Bait in its Anal Fin. A live bait hooked near its anal fin is a great wat to make them swim away from a stable platform. This method is almost similar to a throat-hooked bait, except that it has no forward momentum. It means that live bait can’t breathe, which leads to panic. So, the bait will swim forward aggressively, which will allow the angler to go farther away to a specific spot.
  5. Hook the Bait in its Anal Vent. This method is ideal for anchored and live-baiting for grouper and snapper. You can do it with small live baits like pilchards, herring, or pinfish. Anal vent hooking promotes vibrations and action of a distressed baitfish. So, it can trigger predators to strike your bait. 

The Pros and Cons of Live Baits

Live baits are effective at fooling fish, which makes it easy even for beginners. Most live baits require refrigeration or a water-circulating so that you can maintain their freshness. 
Live baits are cheap to buy.Looking or holding live baits can be messy. 
You can return your leftover baits to their natural environment, take it back home and freeze them for future use.Either live, or dead baits smell stinky. So, your hands, clothes, and other fishing gear will also become smelly after bait fishing.
Most fish hooks themselves once they eat live baits, which gives them less critical pain. Live baits are non-discriminatory that can attract under-sized fish and non-target species.
Most fish species love to feed on live baits, so you will nearly always catch a fish.Live baits require more planning before you can use it because they are less spontaneous.
Live baits can attract fish with their natural scent, which is helpful if you are fishing in open water. Using live baits may often result from gutting hooked fish, which is not ideal for catch and release fishing. It is because it lowers the chance of survival after release.
The natural scent of the live baits will draw the fish towards you.Live baits can get expensive, especially if you end up losing them, or when you are not hunting your live baits.
Most species love to feed on other fish, which makes live baits the perfect option in these cases.You must keep your live baits alive so that they maintain their efficiency. 

The Pros and Cons of Artificial Lures

Artificial Lures are fun and satisfying to use.Most lures are susceptible to snagging because of various obstacles like rocks, trees, or strands of water weed.
It is an active and engaging pursuit that allows you to cover more water.Most artificial lures are expensive compared to live baits.
Artificial lures will help you catch medium to large-sized fish species while attracting less unwanted target fish for as long as you use the right type.Artificial fishing requires constant motion like casting and retrieving or trolling from a moving boat.
If you’re into catch and release fishing, artificial lures are your best option because it nearly always hooks fish in the jaws, lips, or mouth, facilitating more relaxed, safer catch and release.Fish species may become less responsive to artificial lures. 
Fishing becomes a game of action when using artificial lures.Artificial lures require a better-quality tackle and a higher degree of skill.
Artificial lures can trigger predatory and territorial responses, so you can get rush out and ambush your bait or chase it down and engulf it.Artificial lures are more challenging to use because it may require a lot of trial and error. 
Artificial lures offer unlimited uses, so you can save your money from buying too often.Artificial lures require a bucket of patience and understanding before you can master using it. 
Artificial lures are more convenient to use. All you have to do is grab your tackle box, and you can start casting. You have to keep on moving artificial lures to be more effective in catching your target fish. As a result, it is a little bit physically exhausting.

Some artificial lures appeal to most predatory fish, but you have to know first where their hideouts. Otherwise, you won’t be able to attract them, and finding them can be quite a tough task.


What Can You Consider as Artificial Lure?

For as long as the lure is from either natural or human-made material that includes hair, feathers, and other natural and artificial fibers – you can be sure that these are real. Some contents of artificial lures combine metal, wood, glass, plastic, foam, and cork rubber.

What Do Fish Like as Bait?

More often, nightcrawlers, minnows, and leeches are live baits that can catch various fish species. These baits are also suitable for bottom-feeding fish like catfish, carp, and suckers. On the other hand, small minnow or crawdad imitators are the best options for catching predator fish such as trout, walleye, or bass.

Can You Fish with Lures at Night?

Yes, more often, you can fish with artificial lures at night. Spooks, poppers, frogs, and prop baits work excellently in making disturbances on the surface of the water to attract fish. 

Final Words

If you’re a beginner, it would be more advisable to use live baits over artificial lures. The first option is easier to use and cast compared to the latter. When choosing the right type, it all boils down to understanding when and where you will use it — also, the type of your target fish. Artificial lures are advantageous when it comes to reusing them, but they are pricey. On the other hand, live baits are cheaper, but they can be messy to use. In choosing between artificial lures and live baits, remember the key phrase “match the hatch.” Regardless of your experience, always take into consideration the prey of your target fish.

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