Scents and attractants

Last week I talked about color and the difference that having the right color can make in most fishing situations.

Keeping with that theme, we’re going to address another topic that gets debated among anglers: fish scents.

I’m going to tell you up front that I am a believer that some kind of added attractant to a lure can make a difference.

If you don’t believe it, name a popular soft plastic bait that doesn’t include salt or some other additive to make it more natural?

Salt is a no-brainer because it is the main component of blood. Anytime a bass eats an aquatic critter it is going to taste saltiness of the blood.

(I like salt on my steaks, too!)

Salt has other added benefits to soft baits. It adds weight and texture to the lure. So, for wacky rigging, fishing stick worms or soft jerkbaits, you gain castability.

And what about adding other natural scents to a lure? I can tell you that I’ve never seen a situation where it produced negative results and seen plenty where it seemed to help.

I remember years ago a company introduced Fish Formula that took the tackle business by storm. It became so popular that anglers wouldn’t consider fishing a bait without it.

That triggered an onslaught of other fish attractants and led to the development of other baits that have natural scents built into them.

The use of after-market attractants has tapered off, but I’m still a huge believer. I use FishSticks, offered in several natural flavors and packaged in a tube-like Chap Stick. My favorites are shad and crawfish which are primary food sources in most lakes.

I’ll coat my baitfish imitating lures – crankbaits or spinnerbaits or soft jerkbaits – with the shad formula and my bottom bouncing baits with the crawfish scent.

Aside from the fact that the product uses concentrated natural oils to create the easy-to-apply ingredient, I really like the fact that they aren’t messy and will stay on the lure longer.

Now, I want to clarify that bass won’t come from several feet away to hit a bait because it is coated with a fish scent, but I have seen many situations where bass that got close to a coated lure bit more aggressively or held onto it longer. That led me to believe it was because the bait tasted real.

When trying to shake off fish while practicing for tournaments, I’ve found it’s more difficult to get a bass to let go of a scented bait vs. a non-scented one.

Perhaps the most telling difference I’ve seen has been while sight fishing for bedding bass. I’ve had bass that ignored my soft bait no matter how many times I jiggled it. But when I applied my attractant and got it close to the fish, they would eat it immediately. The smell made the difference.

Another example is burning a spinnerbait coated with a scent. There are times when a smallmouth will bump a spinnerbait and not eat it, but when I’ve applied a scent, they will bump it two or three times before finally coming back and eating it. I’m convinced the scent is what kept them coming back.

I’ve been testing a new UV version that is designed to enhance the original color of a lure. I’ve only played with it for a short time, but in my mind, anything that might get me a few bites is worth trying.

Natural scents have stood the test of time, so anglers who pooh-pooh the use of taste and scent additives are hurting themselves. You need something to mask the unnatural scent of plastic, and applying a natural scent can only help you hook and land more fish.

Remember, it’s all about the attitude!