There are so many scents, oils, gels, and sprays on the shelves of fishing suppliers today. They all promise to help you get more bites on your lures. What does that really mean for the angler though? This is a question we really do need to answer.
Does fish attractant work and help you catch more fish on your lures? Unfortunately, there are no easy answers to this question. The short answer is yes, but a short answer is not always a simple answer. They do work, but the reason why is probably different from the reason you originally thought of.
Reasons Behind Fish Attractants and Their Use
The sheer amount of attractants, scents, oils, sprays, and other products lining store shelves is just incredible. There is way more than enough for anglers to choose from considering selection. They come in many scents and flavors including shad, panfish, minnow, crayfish, garlic, salt, coffee, and anise just to name a few. This begs the question though. Why?
What is the purpose of purchasing and applying these products to your lures? You certainly don’t see coffee and garlic growing underwater where the fish live. There may be a few other reasons than the ones mentioned, but in general, there are three main purposes for using a fish attractant of any kind. Scents do a great job of masking odors on our hands so that the fish cannot detect us. Also, they can encourage the fish to hold onto a bait for a longer period. Last but not least, is the scents ability to actually attract fish to your lure via smell.
Masking Negative Odors
Truth be told, we do not smell appetizing to fish. We are very foreign to them. Likewise, a lot of the things we come in contact with daily can end up on our lures can negatively affect their fish-catching capabilities. The first reason for using scents is probably the most important one. It is because they can mask negative smells and tastes. Negative scents and tastes on your lures are really the mitigating factors that can turn fish on or off almost instantly.
Nobody likes to eat food out of a smelly garbage can or a microwave oven that smells like it has been used to heat toxic materials. The same can be said for fish. As anglers, we come across a ton of different smells and flavors that can give fish lockjaw. Most of these smells and tastes just turn fish off. This includes things like sunscreen, insect repellent, human foods, soap, gasoline, and tobacco if you are a user. All of these are things that we come across daily in our fish-catching endeavors. The fish just don’t like things like this. Try eating food that smells like sweaty socks or rotten eggs. Exactly.
Didn’t think so. Much to the same effect, covering up these odors with a scent that smells and tastes natural will make fish less hesitant to bite. Also, a common scent that can turn fish off almost instantly, is also one I believe many anglers ignore or forget about. That is the human scent. The smell of humans. The natural scent and oil present in our own skin cells can simply make fish quit biting. Adding some sort of attractant to your bait or lure to cover that up will help get you more bites.
Make Fish Hold Onto Baits Longer
Using some sort of enhancer on your lures whether it is for taste, smell, or for both, the added profile can cause fish to hang on to that lure much longer than they would otherwise. When your lower tastes or smells like real forage, the fish are much more likely to hang onto it and try to swallow it instead of spitting it out instantly. Fish that think they are getting real food will often start to munch on it and proceed to gobble it up instead of letting it pass on by.
Attractants can make the difference between fishing and actually catching fish. A lot of the time these additives will give you those extra seconds you need so you can set the hook and stick the fish. This is especially helpful for those who are just starting out. When a fish starts to bite your fishing lure, having that extra scent can give you a few extra seconds for you to hook and land that fish especially if you missed your hookset the first time. For largemouth bass anglers, it can certainly give you an advantage.
The Art of Attraction
Although they are technically called fish attractants, these products actually use attraction as a secondary aspect instead of a primary one. Fish attractants of all kinds focus more on what the fish does with the lure once it gets bit. They try not to focus on actually drawing the fish in from afar off although this certainly can be the case sometimes.
There certainly are some fishing days when adding a single taste or smell profile will make fish pounce on your lure even if the same lure hasn’t gotten a bite all day. That is primarily what makes these products so useful. Even after you successfully choose a lure that you believe will win the fishing day for you, scents add a few different elements to your lure that the fish can freely choose. If they attack the lure because it smells good, they also get the taste once they hit it.
If they hit it only out of frustration, chances are higher that they will not spit it out as quickly because it tastes promising. If they just pick up the lure to test if it is food or not, they can smell it and taste it. It smells like real food and also tastes that way. A great example is using scents for learning how to catch channel catfish. It is easier when a layer of scent and flavor is applied because this is what they hunt off of.
Fish Scents and Type Difference
All fish attractants are not created equal. Some products just perform better than others. Some just don’t perform well at all. As a general rule of thumb though, you always want to impersonate the bait. For instance, if you are throwing a crankbait in a threadfin shad pattern, you want this scent and flavor to be a threadfin Shad or at the very least, shad in general.
Crankbaits are not generally enticing lures either. The crankbait was designed to irritate fish into striking. Again, using an attractant of some sort even on a lure like this will still mask your human odor, and give you more time to set the hook. If you are throwing jigs with mounted craw trailers into the cover for largemouth bass, you want the scent to smell and taste like a crayfish. Jigs are one of the best largemouth bass lures and can be made even better by following this formula. Utilizing this approach will often spell success regardless of where you live.
This technique is very stealthy and can even be used in the lightest finesse fishing. Although you have different packaging in many varieties, you have a few different attractant types, generally speaking. You have oils, you have gels, and last but not least, extracts. Oils do not dissolve in water so one would think that they are often used exclusively to mitigate negative odors and tastes. Those over at Berkley often insist that you should leave ALL the oil at home.
Gels are very different from oils. They are often packaged inside a tube that allows you to squeeze the product onto your lure. They do dissolve but very slowly. These come in every flavor under the sun. They often do a very good job of hanging onto your lure and they are a great option for the weekend angler looking to save some money. Lastly, you have extracts. What are extracts? Exactly like they sound. Extracts are nothing more or less than real bait in a tube.
They like to wash off quicker than gels do, but the effectiveness is purely unmatched. Getting closer to real food when real food is already being used is just impossible. Extracts are often used by lure fishermen to give their lures unparalleled attractiveness. Extracts actually do a great job at actually attracting fish.
Bottles, Tubes, Jars, Why?
These products come in a variety of different applicators as well. You have spray bottles, jars of jelly, pens, pencils, tubes of gel, and many other different products. So then, why would you choose one over the other? Well, to be quite frank, it is because the scents vary in construction as well as chemical makeup. For instance, you cannot spray a gel.
You also cannot keep oil inside of a gel tube because it will go everywhere. When you go to apply it, the oil will go all over your shirt and boat simply because you squeezed it out of a tube meant for a gel-based product. That isn’t good at all. To avoid this, the attractants are packaged differently so you can use them conveniently and with the smallest mess possible. Also, you can apply the product to a lure much quicker by spraying it than you can if you had to squeeze it on.
Everything is basically centered around being convenient to the angler. Utilizing different packaging allows the angler to choose which one to purchase. Using spray bottles is much harder to store in your tackle box than a small tube of gel or a scented pen. Scent pens can be thrown right into your glove box or tackle bag without taking up any room. Larger offerings are harder to store and transport especially across the water where you have limited space.
The Reason For Using Fish Attractants Is Simple
The reason for using these products on your lures is simple. The real question has yet to be answered though. Does fish attractant work? Yes. It works. It works and it works very well. They do a great job of masking or eliminating negative odors associated with the world up top, they can force fish to hold onto baits for much longer, and they can sometimes even attract fish to your lures. As for which ones to pick? That is purely dependent on the angler. You will have to try different products for yourself to find out which ones the fish in your area prefer. In any case, though, remember this. They are not some money-grabbing gimmick focused on catching anglers instead of fish.
What are your experiences with utilizing bait scents? Leave a comment below this post so we can hear what you have to say!