Loyalty is something that almost all of us have in our hearts in some form or fashion. It is ingrained in us from a young age and develops over the years as we grow. We are also creatures of loyalty to products or companies, and in fishing, that is no different. You can go on almost any thread on social media or in fishing forums and find that people are biased towards one product or another. They'll even go so far as to bash you for not liking the product they have or that they use. I've seen it in a couple of my articles, and I understand where you're coming from, but I also think that you have to use the things that get you what you want when fishing. Today, I'm going to throw two big bait companies into my mix of writing, and it's going to cause a little anger in some people's world. Let's go!
Fishbites and FishGum are the most prominent names for artificial bait in the surf fishing game. You will discover FishBites more readily available throughout the country in local tackle shops, some WalMart's, and on Amazon (Fishbites is NOT affiliated with Amazon as those are sold through 3rd party sellers). You'll find FishGum on the web page, through some shops online (Pompano Rich or Ninja Tackle, to name a couple), and in some tackle shops. Both have different profiles, flavors, and scents available, but the result remains the same: THEY BOTH CATCH FISH!
When I first learned of surf fishing, it was through YouTube after going down the rabbit hole of auto-play videos. If you haven't had a day where you've turned on autoplay on YouTube and let the dice roll on videos are you even an adult yet (ah, the struggle is real)? I somehow ended up on FishGum's channel and started learning about this sport and his bait. I next found myself on Bama Beach Bum's channel and started learning about Fishbites. Finding these channels was great because they were arming me with knowledge on how to do this and what baits to use. When I started surf fishing, I picked up my gear & bait from Broxson's (now out of business) and Half Hitch here in Navarre and went right to work.
When I got to the beach, I put both Fishbites & FishGum on my hooks and cast my lines out with hopes and dreams of catching a Pompano like I'd seen these guys do on their channels. Did I catch one? Nope. I did catch a sweet slot Red Drum, though, on FishBites sand flea flavor! I was proud of myself there and couldn't believe my luck. I went out again a couple of days later and caught another one on FishGum chartreuse Green! These baits are fantastic and are catching fish. I continued to keep them on my rigs in the same fashion of mixing the baits I'd put either or on the top drop and the opposite company on the bottom drop. I wanted to give myself the maximum amount of chances to catch fish while I was out there, which was how to do it. Now a days, you might even find my hooks tipped with shrimp, clam, or sand fleas for an added bonus.
I use both baits and they catch fish
I have been fortunate to meet and fish with Tony Faggioni, the creator of FishGum here in Navarre, Florida, several times. I have also been lucky to meet & fish with several of the FishBites team members while I was on the east coast of Florida and have been to their shop in St. Augustine. Both Tony and the Fishbites team are great people, and they have great products. Both are very open to customer feedback and want to make their bait better to catch the fish. This is a massive advantage to us anglers.
In full disclosure, I am personally involved with FishGum. I am one of the Ambassador Anglers for the brand, and I also fish with Fishbites regularly (I am not involved with Fishbites in any way other than I know some people sponsored by them or work for the company). With that said, though, if you go to my surf fishing cart, you'll find two ammo boxes on my handle where I store Fishbites in one and FishGum in the other. If you pull in my lines, you will find that I have both of these baits out there fishing. So why do I fish with both if I'm involved with FishGum? Tony said something to me not too long ago that stuck with me, and it is also my reason:
"I'm Pro-angler," he told me. He has told me numerous times he doesn't expect me to use and promote just FishGum. He wanted me to be honest with people when fishing and telling them what I am using. I fully believe in telling anyone that asks me what I am using the truth. I will even tell you where I caught the fish (I do post it on social media, and occasionally I'll drop a pin if someone asks). I want people around me to catch fish. I like the people I'm fishing with to catch fish. I'll go so far as to say I want them to catch more fish than I do! Sure, I get grumpy when I don't catch anything, and someone else does, but I am also celebrating that they are catching with him or her. I'll catch mine when it is my time to catch it.
Pompano on an A1A Surf & Jetty Dart, I had FishGum and Fishbites on the rig
Which one is better? This is the question I see online a lot, and I have been asked a few times personally. My answer is simple: they are both excellent baits. I cannot say which one is better than the other. Honestly, it is not an exact science for me to say this is "hands down" the best of them. What worked today might not work tomorrow. Tomorrow, the fish might only want Fishbites Sandflea. Maybe they will want FishGum Pomp Candy. Perhaps they will want only sandfleas or shrimp. If you told me they wanted a leather shoe, I'd find one and throw it! The point is, these baits get the job done, and it would be better to have both in the water than only one and miss an opportunity to catch.
If you're looking to get into the science of these baits, you'll be wading into territory that is trademarked and well guarded. They both release scent into the water for the fish to come to find and eat (we talked about that earlier). The visual aspect is another component that both of these baits present to be something the fish want to eat. This however, I believe comes down to how the angler sets the bait upon the hook. More on that shortly.
Fishbites is a combination of ingredients and amino acids to match their labels that releases a powerful scent into the water. So there is a different scent profile and flavor between the varieties of shrimp, sandflea, crab, ect. as per Brett Burford when I was discussing Fishbites with him. FishGum is a combination of real bait extract and synthetic scent stimulants of Shrimp, Sand Fleas, Crab, and more and combined into one buffet scent profile. One flavor with multiple bait scents in every pack. This excludes Secret Weapon which is Fishgum’s only stand alone bait flavor as per Tony Faggioni when I asked him about what's in FishGum. Anything further for what these baits are made of is well above my pay grade and are trade secrets. This was a serious education for me learning about these baits by writing this article.
Which one lasts longer? The answer to this one depends on the day's conditions; however, Fishbites does stay on the hook much longer than FishGum. I usually do a bait check every 15-30 minutes here in the Panhandle, and that also depends on the surf conditions. If it is generally calm with a light current, I'm aiming more towards the 30. Suppose it's a rough day, definitely 15. I am also changing my bait after 30 minutes. Yes, I will cut a fine-looking piece of bait off my hooks and put on a new bit every 30 minutes. Why? I want a fresh scent in the water. I've been told that bait scent is generally gone to very minimal after 30 minutes soak time, so I change it out for a new piece. So which lasts longer part is negligible for me in most cases.
I learned that trick on a recent trip with Chip "The Sinker Guy" Brundage. Every time he reeled in, I watched him cut his Fishbites strip off the hook and put on a new piece. I was leaving mine on until there was nothing left but mesh. He explained that fresh bait makes the difference, and he proved it as he reeled in fish after fish while I was left in the surf watching in awe of this master at work with nothing in my cooler. Since then, I've followed his advice and have had significant success. On our next outing, I was catching fish with no issues. Lesson learned!
We know that fish are also visual eaters. If you have too big of a piece of bait, they will typically pass on it. A small amount will attract more fish to come to eat it. Fishbites have precut pieces or an entire strip that you can cut from there to the size you want. FishGum comes on the strip as well, and you have to cut it to size. The width of these baits is significantly different as well, as you can see in the picture below. I cut a smaller piece (about the size of my pointer fingernail or upto a quarter) and put it through my hook. They work well like this and present a decent chunk of "something" for the fish to come to see and devour. I've caught Pompano, Red Drum, Black Drum, Spanish Mackerel, Whiting, Blue Fish, Blue Runners, and Bonnethead sharks on both baits. They both work! You will get about the same amount out of either roll with these cuts.
Left to right: FishGum, Fishbites from strip, and Fishbites from precut
So in closing, my point is very simple to you. You know they both work, so why not use what will bring you the fish? If you want to have brand loyalty and only fish with one product, all good. I certainly will not judge you for it. You're a grownup and can do whatever you wish. For me, I'll have both of these outstanding baits on my hooks, and I will be fishing with them until I can't any longer.
Thanks for sticking around and reading my article today. If you'd like to request something to be investigated or written about, please send me an email to email@example.com, and I will get on it. Thanks again, now go forth and do good things!