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Live vs Artificial Bait, what works best for a Casual Fisherman
In my opinion, for the beginner fisherman, a live bait may offer the best opportunity for success.
When I first went fishing, we used live bait, in this case worms. I was fishing with my Dad and my uncle Curt, and Curtis was an old fisherman. He showed us how to bait the hooks, and we were off and fishing. We fished on the side of a lake, using cheapie Zebco 202 rod/reel combos and bobbers so we could see when a fish hit the line, That day we caught a whole mess of catfish, and I was hooked on fishing. That night we ate fried catfish while Uncle Curt told us fishing stories.
The next time we went fishing, we were fishing for crappie, in some parts of the world they call them bream. Again we used live bait, in this case minnows. We stopped at a bait shop, and bought a cheap bucket and a couple dozen minnows. Dad and I put the hooks through their mouths, and then cast them out. Uncle Curt showed up, and said we were doing it wrong. We needed to hook them a bit different, and then put a bobber on the line, this time to hold the minnow up off the bottom of the lake so they could swim around and attract the crappie.
Curts method was effective, pretty soon we had full stringers of fish, and we had used up all our minnows. We had another great fishfry that night.
The next time I went, I decided to try both live bait(minnows) but while at the bait store I saw an artificial lure that was supposed to mimic a minnow, so I bought it. I set up one rod with the bobber/minnow combo, and the other reel, I used the lure. That first day I struck out with the lure, but caught fish with my minnows.
The big thing with artificial baits is presentation. What is presentation? First, how the lure is tied on the line. Does it look natural in the water? Artificial lures require movement. Live bait, you basically throw out there, and it does the work. WIth artificials, you have to do the work.
You have to learn what speed to reel in the lure so it looks inviting to the fish you are after.
Another thing to consider, at least in my area, there used to be bait shops everywhere, but anymore, you have to drive a ways to get to a bait shop. If you can't access live bait easily, then you are pretty much stuck with lures. When I was in my mid 30's, I had a home with a bass pond in the backyard. It was 10 miles to the nearest bait shop, so naturally, I only used the artificial stuff. You have to learn what the fish in your area like, and what colors to use when the water is cloudy or clear etc.