Live Bait vs. Lure Fishing

This is an editorial blog post by our editor Dan Hagan.

One of the longest running debates among anglers is whether to use live bait or lures.  The debate focuses on two points, the effectiveness and the enjoyability of both techniques.  After many years of fishing from Florida’s Shores, I can say with great conviction that using live bait will out fish lures in most situations.

When to use lures

Over the years I have found that there are a few times when using lures will be a better choice than using live bait.  Here are a few:

  1. Fishing for Bedding Bass
  2. During a Blue Fish run
  3. During a Spanish Mackerel Run

1. Fishing for Bedding Bass

Bedding bass are highly territorial and will attack almost anything that enters their bed.  They are often times not attacking the lure to eat it, but are doing so to protect their territory.  A large lure can often out fish live bait in this situation because you have more control over the lure.  Bouncing it around inside the bed will almost always elicit a strike!

2. During a Blue Fish Run

Blue Fish are voracious predators.  They will attack just about any type of live bait, and any fast moving or shinny lure.  The problem with blue fish is they have extremely sharp teeth that will cut through most live bait, often times not taking the hook.  When a blue fish run is present a good quality plug in silver or gold paint will work very well.  A quick, but erratic retrieve will often entice an aggressive strike, sometimes even getting more than one fish on the hook (if the lure has 2 treble hooks) at the same time.  Blue fish WILL make a mess out of any lure they attack, so I recommend against using expensive lures when fishing for them.

3. During a Spanish Mackerel Run

Spanish Mackerel are one of the fastest fish that can be caught from Florida’s shores.  They have a long slender build that is propelled by a large forked tail.  This incredible speed they posess is intended to help them catch the fast moving bait fish that they prey on.  A lure, such as a gotcha jig or a gold spoon, retrieved in a fast jerky motion will almost always get a Spanish Mackerels attention.  Live bait, often times lethargic on the hook, will not be as appetizing to a mack!

When to use LIVE Bait


When salt water fishing in Florida, most places that you can fish from the shore you will either be stationary or moving very slowly.  This attribute makes live bait fishing much more effective than lures.  The live bait will not only attract fish because of its movement in the water, but it will also send out a sent that attracts fish.  I have seen it time and time again where a fish will cover great distances to pick up a live bait, while completely ignoring a lure in front of its face!

Now, I am not saying that when walking the shores of a pond a lure is not a good idea, I am just suggesting that live bait, in MOST situations, when shore bound, will out fish lures by a great margin!