Are Scented Baits Worth the Money?

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Last week, we wrote an article debating the merits of live bait versus artificial lures. While both have their advantages, one of the main reasons to go with live bait is the fact that it stimulates a fish’s sense of smell. 

Live bait smells like something a fish would eat because it is something a fish would eat. Artificial lures, however, don’t attract fish through smell. Unless, of course, you are using scented lures...

Scented lures are one of the many debated products in the fishing industry. So are they worth buying? Let’s take a closer look at fish behavior and scented products to find out.

Fish Anatomy: A Keen Sense of Smell

There’s no doubt that most fish have an extremely keen sense of smell. Everyone knows that sharks can pickup a minuscule level of blood, but did you know that catfish can detect an ounce of dissolved scent in the equivalent of 100,000 tankers full of water?

Salmon find their home stream primarily through smell. During experiments, fish that were blinded had an easier time coming home than fish whose sense of smell was disrupted. Think about that for a second. Between thousands of different streams, somehow they can tell each one apart, all through smell.

Fish use smell to for a wide variety of purposes, including spawning, seeking shelter, and hunting. If you consider the fact that catching fish basically comes down to stimulating a fish’s feeding instincts, then it only makes sense that adding smell could be useful.

How Scented Baits Work 

Since there are thousands of fish that you can catch, and each one hunts differently, we’ll stick to the most popular sport fish in America: the largemouth bass.

Bass are primarily sight-and-sound hunters. They respond the most to seeing and hearing lures, and less on smelling out prey. When a bass sees, hears, or feels the presence of a baitfish, he’ll move in to investigate. As he gets closer, the smell of the fish tells him that this is something worth eating, so he moves in and strikes.

While they may not grab a bass’s initial attention, adding scents can convince them the lure is worth eating. It’s like the close in a sales pitch, and as Alec Baldwin said, “always be closing!”

The other advantage that scents give you is that bass are more likely to hold a lure longer, giving you an increased chance of setting the hook. 

Tips for Using Scents

If you decide you want to try out scents, think about what fish you’re after and what food is available on the water. If you’re after smallmouth or walleye, a crayfish scent is probably a good choice. If you’re going after redfish, a crab scent is often useful.

Don’t be afraid to spray your lure heavily with the scent, and if your using pre-scented lures, go ahead and switch them out when they seem to have lost their pungent smell.

As always, experiment as much as you can with scented lures to find the right combination of scent, lure, location, and retrieve strategy. With time and patience, you just might discover that scents are a must-have tool in your tackle box.

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