Fishing with Bait or Lures?

BAIT OR LURE?    Which is more effective?

If you ask me, bait of just about any kind is more effective than the artificial lure. It doesn’t matter whether I’m fishing with herring strip, the rotary salmon killer, anchovy, or cut plug herring. Fishing for Coho or Chinook, bait will get more strikes, 8 times out of 10. Many of the biggest fish I’ve brought aboard were hooked on bait.

But here’s the thing. Even though I am a professional charter captain, I fish with bait less than 10% of the time. I am paid to produce the most amount of fish in the shortest period of time. Here’s why I choose the artificial lure:

1. Fishing with artificial lures allows me to fish faster and cover more water.

2. I don’t need to worry about not having the right action on my lure. As long as I’m fishing within the speed range for that particular lure, all I have to do is wait for a strike.

3. Because I can fish faster with lures, I can use a heavier leader and larger hooks. This cuts my loss ratio when I have an inexperienced client on the rod.

4. I can change the color, shape, and size of the lure to match the feed that’s in the area at a moment’s notice. I rarely take 3 or 4 sizes of bait with me if I plan to fish bait that day. On the other hand, I have dozens of different color lures in all shapes and sizes.

5. I can fish with large lures to attract only the larger salmon. If smaller salmon take a swipe an miss, the action of the lure stays the same and I’m still fishing.

6. Bait attracts all types of fish, and because you generally fish bait more slowly than lures, you can attract more attention from dogfish which if hooked will make you re-tie your leader.

7. Because of the delicate nature of bait, even a small strike can alter it’s action, making it ineffective. Especially when fishing bait from a downrigger, these small strikes can be imperceptible, especially when fishing in rough water. You could be dragging bare hooks or a badly mangled bait for as long as it takes for you to figure something is wrong because no fish are hitting.

8. Bait must generally be changed every half hour or so because of the water drag disintegration of the bait.

9. Fishing with bait usually requires fishing with a lighter leader and smaller hooks. Perfect for the true sportsman in search of his trophy. Not so perfect for a charter operator with a first time client on the rod.

All these factors lead to less time actually fishing, and more time checking and resetting bait, shaking off undesirable fish, and retying those light leaders after each dogfish.

But from time to time, bait can be the solution that will elicit a strike from that large chinook. When I’m fishing an areas such as bays, inlets, and estuaries that are holding places or stopping points for mature king salmon, bait is often the most effective. It’s also my favorite way of fishing when I have time to myself and I am fishing close to shore. There’s nothing like the feeling that at any moment the reel can be zinging and  you hooks in the stomach of another large Chinook!

Bottom Line: Fishing with lures allows me more time with gear in the water, fishing effectively than fishing with bait where it needs to be checked or reset every few minutes. Day in and day out, this will produce more fish for my guests, which is what everybody wants. But if you are looking to catch the derby winning salmon at this years’ Ucluelet salmon fishing derby, you may want a good supply of bait in your cooler. And, if you prefer fishing exclusively for trophy Chinook, check our TROPHY PACKAGE.

‘Til next time

Ray Vandervalk