Anglers who use artificial lures have been adding scents to them for years, either dipping the lures, spraying them, colouring them, or applying the scents in other ways. Many lure manufacturers also incorporate scents directly into their baits.
One bait additive may not smell like much, but it does change the soft plastic bait in a way that makes it more attractive to game fish. Salt-impregnated baits are very popular now. The salt makes the soft plastic softer. Fish tend to hang on to a bait longer if it contains salt. Some anglers swear by baits with salt in them, stating that they catch many more fish than other baits. Whether this is because the salt attracts the fish, or simply because the fish holds the bait in his mouth longer, giving the angler a better chance to set the hook, I a matter of debate. But many anglers do prefer these baits over others.
Scents are impregnated into baits as well. Anise-scented baits abound in today’s tackle stores. These baits have a strong scent that attracts fish, and they are a staple in most anglers’ arsenals. Many anglers who start to pour their own soft plastics choose to buy an anise scent to add to their baits as it is readily available and works well for most game fish, especially brown and rainbow trout.
Garlic is another popular scent that has been around for a long time. Garlic-scented baits have a very strong smell, and an angler can even taste the garlic on his or her hands after handling these baits. There are also garlic markers on the market today. These markers come in yellow (chartreuse), orange, blue, and red. They can be bought individually or in packs with all of the colours. The great thing about these markers is that they not only add scent to the bait, giving the angler the ability to attract fish from farther away than non-scented baits, but they also add colour. Sometimes a subtle colour change is what it takes to get a fish to commit to a lure. For instance, a chartreuse tail on a green pumpkin worm may be what makes a fish bite. Or an orange head and a blue spot on a white fluke might make it look more realistic in a given situation. So, these markers have a double benefit: scent and colour. Garlic is known to work on most sea dwelling species along with freshwater trout, perch and bass.
Another scent that many anglers have been trying is coffee. Coffee is mainly used for bass fishing in both Europe and America. The old but well known Strike King coffee tube started this craze years ago, and many anglers state that this scent is one of the most effective on the market. A mixture of ground coffee beans can also be cold filtered (without adding sugar) and lures dipped in these to give a similar effect. The cold coffee infused water can also be mixed with vegetable oil to help it stay on the lure longer. Another option is to brew coffee and add to a little petroleum jelly while it is still warm, once it cools you can then spread it onto fishing lures easily with your fingers. It is unclear what the coffee scent resembles to a game fish, but there is no doubt it draws them in.
Yet another recent development is that of a product know as Fish Sticks. These scent attractants come in two fish-attracting “flavours”, Cryogenic Shad and Cryogenic Crawfish. The Shad scent has real Shad (minnow / bait fish), anise oil, fish oil, and salt in it. It smells like a bait fish, and is great in situations where game fish are chasing that type of forage. The other scent, Crawfish, is made with real crawfish (freshwater crayfish), garlic, and salt. This scent is very strong and an excellent attractant scent to choose when game fish are keyed in on the movements of crawfish. Many anglers prefer these sticks over spray-on scents that can be messy and stain boat carpeting and clothing. These sticks resemble a large lip balm and can be rubbed directly onto the soft plastic bait.
There are a wide variety of scents available to anglers today, and most soft plastic baits come with some sort of salt or scent in them already. Even those who have moved to pouring their own soft plastics are adding these elements. Many anglers believe, though, that in order to give the fish something different, a scent should be added to the bait right before casting or pitching it into the water. Some anglers will not throw a bait without enhancing it with a scent first. There is no doubt that attractant scents have the ability to call fish in from a longer distance, and they are a great addition to any angler’s tackle box.