Lure/live bait combo is deadly

Numerous species of fish fall for this artificial lure/live bait tactic. (Photo by Brian Cope)

Anglers often disagree on whether it’s best to use live bait or artificial lures to catch fish, but for Willis Trapp of Camden, SC, using both of them together is the way to go.

But he probably doesn’t use them in the way you’re thinking. His method doesn’t pair up a live minnow with a jig or a living shrimp with a swimbait. Instead, he employs one rod with a live bait and another with an artificial lure. But don’t worry, he’s not holding one in each hand.

“Nothing is more fun than catching any species of fish on artificial lures. But on some days, they’ll follow your lure all the way to the boat without ever biting it. They just turn away at the last minute,” said Trapp.

Many years ago, he happened to have a live minnow dangling on the business end of a rod that was in his boat’s rod holder just as he made a cast with a crankbait, hoping to entice a bass into biting. As his lure got closer to the boat, he noticed a bass following it closely.

“You could tell he was interested enough to follow it, but not enough to take it. Then it noticed the live minnow on the other rod, and the fish devoured that minnow,” he said.

Any species

And ever since then, he’s used the same technique to catch everything from bass to speckled trout to cobia.

“When I’m fishing with someone else, I like to have two rods at the back of the boat, both in rod holders, with whatever live bait is most attractive to whatever species we’re after,” he said.

And while those live baits are swimming or wiggling around, Trapp and his fishing partner make casts with their artificial lures.

“I always want to make sure I reel the lure back toward the live baits so that if the fish makes it that far without biting, it will see that lively bait sitting there in reach,” he said.

While many fish end up chomping down on the live bait, Trapp said it’s not always the case.

“Sometimes, just seeing that live bait seems to give the fish confidence that what they’ve been chasing is legitimate. And they’ll finally bite the lure aggressively,” he said.

It’s not a fool-proof plan, but Trapp said it’s the next best thing.

“I catch noticeably more fish when I use this method. And on some days, it’s as close to a guarantee as you’ll ever get,” he said. 

About Brian Cope 2783 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of Carolina Sportsman. He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina. You can reach him at

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