In freshwater fishing, the use of artificial lures vs. bait is commonly debated. In some fisheries, the use of fishing bait may be considered unethical, while in others it is perfectly acceptable. When determining which fishing techniques should be used, anglers often take into consideration not only the fish species that will be targeted, but also local and regional traditions.
In many locations, recreational fishing regulations exist to limit fishing methods. Regulations often specify equipment specifications as well as any limitations on the use of baits while fishing. It is worth noting that some agencies define “bait” to include scents or other attractants, even when applied to lures, flies, or bare hooks.
In some fisheries, the improper use of fishing bait can result in unwanted fishing mortality when fish swallow the bait. Considerable research has been done on the issue of deep hooking, also known as gut hooking. Studies have led to the introduction of several alternative fishing techniques. In most fisheries, circle hooks have been shown to greatly reduce injury to fish from deep hooking. When traditional hooks are used, the hook must be set before the fish swallows the bait.
Live baits have several advantages over artificial lures. Their movement and scent attracts fish, even in murky water. Live baits also feel natural and fish usually hold onto them much longer than lures. Many anglers find live bait easier to use than artificial lures.
Artificial lures are alternatives to fishing with natural baits. Thousands of lure models exist, although most fall types of lures can be classified in a few basic categories such as jigs, soft plastic bodies, crankbaits, poppers, spoons, spinners, flies, etc.
Most lures last for years and require little or no special care. Artificial lures also come in a wide spectrum of colors and patterns. Most lures are equipped with specialized hooks for catching fish. The size, weight, and overall design of a lure determines its running depth, action, and other characteristics.
Several companies now offer soft plastic lure bodies that have been embedded with scents or flavors. These combine the advantages of artificial lures with fish-attracting properties that were once only possible by using live baits. Scented lure bodies are available in most popular styles including worms, slug-baits, curly-tail grubs, shad bodies, shrimp, crabs, and other designs.