Why Don’t Bass Anglers Use Live Bait?

Bass fishing is a popular outdoor activity, and anglers have various choices when it comes to bait.

Many anglers find bass fishing with live bait boring and love the activity of casting and reeling rather than sitting and waiting for a fish to bite. Others like to cover water quickly with artificial lures.

Why don’t bass fishermen use live bait? It’s an interesting question and a hotly debated topic. This blog post will discuss why anglers don’t use live bait despite its effectiveness in catching fish.

Can You Use Live Bait for Bass Fishing?

You certainly can use live bait for bass fishing, but here are a few reasons anglers don’t. First, live bait is not allowed in most (if not all) tournaments. Also, live baits are messy, and you must keep them alive, which can be difficult in hot or warm conditions. Finally, live bait is flat-out forbidden in certain areas.

Bass Fishing Technique

Bass fishing with live bait is easier for new bass anglers and can be an excellent way to introduce kids and others to the sport. In addition, dangling a juicy worm, crayfish, or crawdad out there is very hard to resist. If bass fishing with live bait is legal in your area, you might find many fish to catch.

However, there is a skill in learning the habitats of the fish. It takes time, practice, and patience to cast artificial lures to learn the locations and habits of bass instead of just tossing a worm out there while taking the sit-and-wait approach to fishing.

To be successful, you’ll need to learn how and where bass hang out. Generally, bass prefer cover, like logs, branches, rocks, and vegetation near deeper water. You can also target submerged structures such as stumps, weed beds, and drop-offs. Bass like to hide and wait for their unsuspecting prey, so cover plays a vital role.

The Advantages of Artificial Lures

Using artificial lures has some distinct advantages over using live bait. One of the biggest benefits of using artificial lures is covering more water quickly. With live bait, you typically drop the bait, sit back, crack open a cold one, and wait for the fish to bite. Instead, anglers can use artificial lures and quickly cover more water to target specific types of cover or structures.

The Versatility of Artificial Lures

When bass fishing with artificial lures, casting and reeling in a lure is essential to the game. Your casting and reeling technique may vary depending on the lure you choose.

Add pauses during your retrieval for slower presentations to allow the lure to flutter, which bass like to take advantage of.

When retrieving a crankbait or other medium-to-fast-moving lures, try different speeds and actions until you find what works best. For example, a slow, steady retrieve can help attract fish, while a faster one might bring aggressive strikes.

Artificial lures also often have features that live baits don’t have. For example, you can find artificial lures with added scents, rattles, vibrations, or other types of attraction that can be very effective in enticing fish.

Cost-Effectiveness of Artificial Lures

Worms, crayfish, minnows, the list goes on. When bass fishing with live bait, it’s a never-ending cycle of buying bait, which can add up over time.

Nothing is more frustrating than losing a brand-new shiny lure, but artificial lures can be more cost-effective than live bait because you can reuse the same lure longer before replacing it. Additionally, artificial lures come in many shapes and sizes that appeal to bass so that you can target various fish with the same lure.

It’s not a guarantee you will save money because lures are not exactly cheap, and they get snagged on rocks, tree branches, and other crap lurking below the surface. But you can catch a lot of fish with a single lure, whereas live bait is one and done.

The Disadvantages of Live Bait

Live bait can be an excellent option for anglers to increase their catch. However, there are some disadvantages to using live bait you should consider before using it. Live bait can be expensive, and high maintenance, and it may not always provide the best results compared to artificial lures.

Live Bait Requires More Maintenance

Keeping live bait fresh is critical and can be a pain in the butt, especially if you fish in a warm or hot climate. You have to make sure you keep the bait cool and fresh to be most effective and to keep it from smelling horrible, making you wish you were fishing with lures.

Live Bait Can Be Harder to Control

Skilled anglers can cast, hit their spots, and manipulate the action and depth of an artificial lure. However, you are limited in what you can do with live bait and it can be harder to control. As mentioned earlier, fishing with live bait is more of a drop in the water and wait.

Live Bait Is Messy

Worms, minnows, whatever your live bait of choice, it’s all messier than artificial lures. Sure, you can soak a live lure with an unpleasant scent, but it’s still not as messy and gross as hooking up a live worm.

Gut Hooking

Sure, using live bait for bass fishing can be an effective way to catch fish, but it can also cause severe internal damage to the fish. Gut hooking is exactly what it sounds like. With live bait, there is a greater chance that bass will ingest the bait and the hook, making hook retrieval difficult. As you try to free the hook, this can lead to injury or death for the fish.


There are various reasons why bass fishermen refrain from using live bait. One of the most common reasons is that it is against the rules in most or all bass tournaments, and some lakes only allow artificial lures. Additionally, many anglers prefer to perfect the skill and welcome the challenge of using artificial lures rather than relying on live bait.

Finally, there is a legitimate concern that bass tend to swallow hooks more readily with live bait than artificials, which can harm the fish.

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About the author
Steve Morrow
Steve Morrow owns Paddle About, an outdoor recreation and travel blog. Steve loves to travel, kayak, paddle board, camp, hike, and spend time outdoors with his wife and two kids. When he's not exploring the great outdoors, Steve enjoys writing about his adventures and sharing tips for getting the most out of your outdoor experiences. He has a lot of interesting stories to share, and he's always happy to help others get more out of life.