Bait Fishing vs Lure Fishing: Choose the Best Way to Fish

Thomas Krik

Written by

Thomas Krik

Marc Lowe


Marc Lowe

bait fishing vs lure fishing

Are you an avid angler searching for the ultimate fishing method to up your game on the waters? As we know, anglers must put bait or lure on the hook to entice fish. When using natural bait, we call it bait fishing and lure fishing when casting with an artificial lure.

However, what exactly is the difference between these two forms of angling? In this post, we’ll dive deep into the ongoing rage between bait fishing vs lure fishing. We’ll highlight their pros and cons and the best way to reel your most memorable catch yet!

Before we dive into details, here’s a quick look at the differences between fishing with bait and lures:

Bait Lures
Effectivity Highly effective Less effective
Number of use Used only once Used multiple times
Storage requirements Requires special storage like tank wells A tackle box is enough
Target fish’s size Cast even smaller fish Larger catches and fewer nuisance fish
Productivity More productive Less productive
Ease of use Easy for beginners More complex presentation
Cost Low-cost/free Pricey

What is Bait Fishing?


When fishing, well-presented live bait will always be a sure bet. From throwing a lively worm for trout to tossing a live minnow for some crappie, bait fishing is an effective way to catch any fish species.

Generally, bait fishing involves using natural food to attract fish, which can be live or dead bait. However, live bait is the go-to option because it’s the most viable choice in almost any scenario. Their intuitive movement and scent are irresistible to fish!

Once you visit a bait shop, you can choose from different varieties of live bait. While they’re an easy meal for a hungry fish, you should understand the food of your target species before filling in your storage box.

What is Lure Fishing?


If an angler prefers to set an artificial lure on their hook, the process is lure fishing. Artificials or fake baits are designed to fool carnivorous fish by mimicking movements, behavior, vibrations, and colors of natural prey.

To many angling enthusiasts, throwing artificial lures is the most enjoyable aspect of sport fishing. It’s effective for bass fishing and chasing snook on mangroves. The process is also more proactive, letting you imitate live bait to elicit an aggressive strike.

At your local tackle shop, you’ll find an assortment of artificial baits in multiple styles, shapes, and colors. They include crankbaits, spoons, poppers, jigs, spinners, plugs, and flies, each suited for a particular scenario or fish.

Differences Between Lure and Bait Fishing

Now, let’s discuss the differences between bait vs lures in fishing. By knowing these things, you can make a more informed decision about the best way to pursue your hobby.

1. Success rate


As noted, fishing with live bait generally has a higher success rate. The genuine movement, scent, and vast water coverage can lead to more catches.

Whereas, fake minnows, eels, shrimp, crayfish, and other synthetic lures may result in a smaller number of landed fish. At times, anglers may even go home empty-handed.

2. Bait storage


Lure fishing has the advantage when it comes to bait storage and handling. Lures are plastics or metals, making them easy to store in tackle boxes or compartments.

Bait fishing, however, requires specialized containers, refrigeration, or even constant replacement to maintain freshness and effectiveness.

3. Fishing location


Lure fishing is versatile in saltwater and freshwater environments, especially if you’re in the big game. Meanwhile, bait fishing works well for freshwater fish. Most species in rivers and lakes can gobble on lively earthworms, minnows, crayfish, and many more.

4. Required skill


Fishing with bait entails more technical skill and knowledge of various techniques. Anglers need to understand fish behavior, proper casting and retrieving strategies, and imitate the movement of artificial fishing bait types.

In contrast, lure fishing is more accessible to beginners and allows for a more relaxed fishing experience. They only need simple presentations and skills to trigger the feeding instincts of fish.

5. Cost


Initially, artificials can be expensive because you need to invest in high-quality realistic fishing lures. Additionally, synthetic lures need replacement over time due to wear and tear or loss.

Meanwhile, fresh bait is often more affordable. You can even dig and collect earthworms and nightcrawlers for free in your garden.

6. Pros and Cons of Each Fishing Technique

There are also distinct benefits and drawbacks to each method. Let’s know them in the following section:

1. Bait fishing

  • Natural and effective
  • Higher success rate
  • Appealing to various species
  • Cheaper and even free bait supply
  • Easy for beginners
  • Constant bait replenishment
  • Bait can go bad or smelly
  • Hooks unwanted or smaller fish

2. Lure fishing

  • Reusable and versatile bait
  • Fewer unwanted catches
  • High chances of hooking trophy fish
  • Great for catch and release
  • Not requiring specialized storage tanks
  • Requires skill and practice
  • Not as effective as bait fishing
  • Costly

Lure Fishing Vs Bait Fishing — Which is Best for Anglers?


In reality, there’s no clear-cut answer to this timeless question. Using either type of bait boils down to your specific preferences, goals, and the following factors:

  • Desired fish: Certain species are more attracted to natural bait, while others respond better to synthetic lures. For example, trout and catfish are more attracted to live bait. Bass, pike, and musky are more receptive to artificials.
  • Fishing environment: Various angling spots may call for different approaches. For instance, cloudy waters work well with live bait, while lures are suitable for clear waters.
  • Budget: Your decision may also depend on how much you’re willing to spend on your tackle and bait. The cost of artificials may add up, especially if you want to stock multiple lures.

You can decide the best approach to your sport after considering the above pointers. In some instances, you can explore both methods to achieve your fishing objectives.

Lure vs Bait: When to Use Them in Fishing

Lures and natural bait have their particular place in a fisherman’s arsenal. Both are effective in specific conditions.

Anglers tend to fishing with lures when avoiding small fish, practicing catch and release, and looking for proactively targeted fishing. On the other hand, fishing with fresh bait is productive when you’re fishing for keeps, learning to fish, or pursuing various species of fish.

The following diagram can be used as anglers’ guide to fishing lures to help you leverage suitable bait for different water conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is live bait better than fake bait?

Generally, one isn’t necessarily better than the other; rather two different ways to approach your fishing game. As mentioned, using live or synthetic bait can be efficient in certain species and conditions.

Is it possible to use both bait and lures in one fishing trip?

Definitely! Switching between live bait and lures is a common practice among anglers. It provides the flexibility to adapt to different fishing conditions and increases the chances of catching fish.

Which method of fishing is more environmentally friendly?

Anglers who are concerned about environmental impacts may go for lure fishing. This method will not deplete natural prey populations or result in high fish mortality.


The debate over bait fishing vs lure fishing will continue among anglers. However, no one can give you the perfect answer because your choices depend on interests, objectives, and unique conditions.

Whether you choose the subtle presentation of natural bait or the flashy enticement of an artificial lure, there’s nothing quite as refreshing as a day spent fishing in a prized catch. Thus, enjoy your time on the waters and be adaptable to both angling methods!

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