Artificial and live bait are both effective methods of fishing, with advantages and disadvantages for each. The bait choice is a combination of preference, assessment of the situation, confidence and legal restrictions. Artificial and live baits are used in fresh and salt water for every species of game fish.
Availability is often an issue when choosing between live and artificial bait. Live mullet, shrimp and other baits are available only on a seasonal basis. Artificial lures and baits are available in tackle shops on a year-round basis. The artificial version is purchased well in advance of a fishing trip and stored in a tackle box. The live version must be purchased or collected as close to the trip time as possible to ensure it is alive and fresh.
Live and artificial baits are only as effective as the skill level of the angler. The angler must locate fish and make a decent presentation for each type of bait. Live bait is more user-friendly because the bait will wiggle and swim without your assistance. Artificial baits require different retrieves and motions to create action. Live bait is harder to rig and must be replaced more often, since it wiggles off the hook or dies.
Maintenance is the main issue for live bait. The bait requires a system and resources, an environment that keeps it alive. Worms are stored in refrigerators, and livewells with oxygen pumps are used to store live baitfish and shrimp. Artificial bait requires only a plastic bag or tackle box. Artificial baits are typically durable plastic, wood or metal objects that last for a long time and may be refurbished with new paint and coloring.
Artificial baits typically cost more up front, but the baits last longer and are a better value in the long run. Live baits must be purchased or caught on a regular basis to maintain fresh stock. Artificial baits are an investment and will last for years if strong knots are used and the baits are not lost.
Your preference will be determined by using and experimenting with both types of bait. Many anglers prefer live bait because it has a natural scent and motion that is difficult to imitate. Others prefer the techniques required for simulated motion and resemblance in lures and flies, as well as the limited requirements for storage.
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