How To Choose The Best Bait

February 22, 2023
Choose The Best Bait

Fishing is a beloved pastime for many people, but having the right gear and choosing the proper bait is critical in ensuring a successful fishing trip. The right bait depends on the type of fishing you plan and the prey you hope to catch.

Whether you are fishing for largemouth bass in a lake or for shrimp and crabs in the ocean, learn which types of lures and bait are best.

Factors to Consider in Fishing

When learning how to fish, bait selection is critical. To ensure you choose the right bait for fishing, consider water conditions, target fish species, season, time of day, and location.

Water Conditions

The weather and the environment can affect the behavior of fish and their feeding habits. For example, using live bait, such as worms and minnows, may be more effective in cold water. Cold water leaves cold-blooded fish lethargic and slow, so small live hook baits are generally more attractive than larger lures or jigs.

Artificial bait, like lures and jigs, may be more successful in warmer water. Fish are more active when the water warms up and more likely to approach an artificial lure.

It may be best to use bright and colorful artificial bait in murky water to catch your prey’s attention. For clear water, natural bait, such as crickets and grasshoppers, may appeal to the fish because they are visual hunters and instinctively attuned to spot natural prey when the water is clear.

Target Species

Fish have varying preferences and feeding habits, so knowing which bait specific fish eat will yield better results. While nearly every freshwater fish will bite at earthworms, mealworms, or grubs, you can also try other prey commonly found in rivers and lakes, like nightcrawlers, minnows, and small crayfish.

For larger predatory fish species like bass or catfish, try heavy-duty lures resembling small fish, frogs, or soft plastic bait that imitates a crawfish or worm. When targeting saltwater species, choose a bait that matches the species’ natural prey, such as shrimp, squid, or cut bait.


The type of bait you need should change seasonally to match fish behavior and migratory patterns. During the spring and summer, many fish species are more active and are more likely to strike at faster-moving baits, such as spinners or topwater lures. However, during the fall and winter, fish may be less active and require slower-moving bait, such as a jig or live bait.

Certain fish species, like salmon and striped bass, migrate to different areas or water depths during different seasons, requiring a change in bait selection.

Time of the Day

Some species, such as bass or catfish, are more active during the early morning or late evening, while others, like trout, are active during the midday hours. As the sun rises or sets, the light intensity and water temperature can change, affecting fish behavior and the type of bait they are attracted to.

Fishing Location

Different bodies of water can have varying fish populations and habitats, and each species may have unique feeding preferences. If fishing in a river or stream with fast-moving water, bait that mimics the natural movement of insects, such as small spinners or flies, is ideal.

If you are fishing in a still lake or pond, bait that sinks to the bottom, such as worms or small pieces of cut bait, is more suitable.

Fish Bait

Types of Fish Bait

In addition to understanding weather, water patterns, and fish behavior, familiarize yourself with the various bait types to learn which is best for your trip. Fishing bait types include live, artificial, soft plastic, and natural bait.

Live Bait

Live bait is any living organism used as bait, such as worms, minnows, or crickets. Anglers often prefer live bait because it mimics the natural movement and scent of the fish’s prey, making it more appealing to fish. However, live bait can be more challenging to maintain and requires special handling to stay alive and healthy. It is also typically more expensive and may not always be readily available, especially during the off-season.

Natural Bait

Natural bait includes bait found in the fish’s natural environment, such as insects, crustaceans, or small fish. Using natural bait can help you reel in a big catch, like carp, and is often free.

However, natural bait can be more challenging to collect and may require a special permit or license depending on the type of bait and location. For example, in Michigan, you are only permitted to use bait collected from a river, lake, or stream in the same location you caught it.

Artificial Bait

Artificial bait like lures, spinners, and jigs can be made from plastic, metal, or feathers and mimic the appearance and movement of live bait. Artificial bait is easier to use and maintain than live bait and can be reused multiple times.

Popular fishing lures include the spinnerbait, which has a spinning blade and skirt to attract fish, and the crankbait, which mimics a wounded baitfish. Topwater lures are ideal for shallow water for species like bass or pike. With a weighted head and soft body, jigs are versatile and used for freshwater and saltwater fishing.

Outfit for Fishing Adventure

Outfit Yourself for the Ultimate Fishing Adventure

You need the right bait on the end of your line to catch fish and stock your freezer. In addition to the gear in your tackle box, you need apparel and accessories to keep you warm, dry, and comfortable while waiting to land your catch.

Freedom Fatigues men’s and women’s long-sleeve t-shirts and hoodies are ideal for protection against the elements. Our selection of high-quality patriotic hats helps prevent UV damage during long sessions out on the water. Explore our complete range of patriotic apparel today, and kit yourself out for your next fishing adventure.