The simple answer: Realistic lures have a time and place, just as highly stylized lures do.
As you fish more "pressured" waters it's more important to have ( what I like to call) "stylistic" lures that can grab the attention of bigger fish, WITHOUT turning them off- (esp if your tournament fishing and TIME is a factor).
Most fishermen see a basic Shad, Shiner, Crappie, Baby Bass, Baby Pike, Frog, & Craw pattern and think- they MUST want this- it's what they feed on naturally! And this is true. They DO feed on these......
But, a Crankbait can't (really) mimic the exact nature of any forage-; how it reacts and interacts with its surroundings, how it changes color when threatened, how it changes direction when fleeing, how sloooow it may move along the bottom, Etc. Crankbait's must be reeled to impart action and therefore would be considered "reaction strike lures" in the same category as Spinnerbait's and Spoons. Does a Spinnerbait look JUST like a shad, shiner, Craw, Etc?? Does a Spoon??? No.
The reason to purchase stylized lures is then apparent. Why??
#1. Most Fishermen want Cranks that look JUST LIKE common forage- but, IF everybody is throwing the same shad, shiner,craw pattern (relentlessly), eventually fish get conditioned to NOT strike at those color's/patterns. Therefore, fishing stylized lures can pay big dividends when your fishing that lake/pond/river that gets tons of fishing pressure.
#2. Stylized lures are vital to fishing "quickly". When you want to cover an area fast (to find those active Bass) a demure Shad/Shiner pattern usually isn't what will trigger bigger Bass to strike. Most larger bass have already been caught numerous times before they get 5 LB's, and, in most cases, have been conditioned to stay away from that "thing that looks kinda like a shiner".
How many of us have tried fishing a very realistic Live Target Minnow and caught zero fish (or dinks), then tied on a Fire-tiger Pattern and kicked butt?!!? Fire-tiger, Parrot, Bone- these are all good examples of stylized lures.
Yes, water clarity can make a huge impact in choosing a realistic or stylized lure. But, in most cases, a stylized lure will get just as many strikes as a very realistic one- depending on speed of retrieve and lure blank.
The only time realistic patterns usually outshine stylized? Cold water and super clear water. If your fishing in water temps lower than 55 and the water clarity is 10 FT plus, usually a suspending jerkbait/crankbait in a realistic pattern will be what you want to use.
Otherwise, don't discount stylized lures to rule the day. Stylized lures have won more tournaments than any other pattern....
The KEY is finding out WHICH stylized lure pattern to use. And what triggers to apply on the lure to make it stand out- but not stand out SO much it looks weird or totally unrealistic- which can be VERY difficult.
Bottom-line?? You really need both in your tackle bag! Which gives us all an excuse to buy MORE tackle.....yayyyyyyy! (lol)