Do Scents on Baits Really Matter?

This article on scented baits by Fish Allure staff member Alex Burton is a great breakdown of how scent can affect your fishing. This write-up was originally published in the Fish Allure newsletter and he’s graciously allowed me to share it with you here.


Do Scents on Baits Really Matter?

When it comes to using scents on lures fisherman are split down the middle. Some will not throw a lure without it, while others think it is just a gimmick. So do scents really help you put more fish in the boat?

Let’s start with how a fish “smells”. Fish have nostrils on each side of their snouts. Unlike us they don’t start sniffing around when they detect something in the water. As they move water flows into one nostril and out the other. Special nerves between the nostrils then pick up on various molecules in the water that the fish’s brain then interpret as scent.A fish’s sense of smell is roughly 1000 times greater than a dog. They use this incredible ability to associate certain smells to things in their environment. Be it specific plant life, other fish in their school, or food. They can also learn to associate certain smells to a positive or negative depending on how their experience with that particular scent was.

Obviously some fish rely more upon their sense of smell to catch prey, like catfish for instance. So what about more predatory fish like bass who rely more on sight and sound to find their food? The answer is yes, scent is essentially the icing on the cake for them.
When a bass is on the hunt they slowly patrol their territory. They watch for flashes in the water, feeling for vibrations of struggling or unsuspecting prey near them. After locking in on the location of potential prey they start circling in to check it out. As they move closer scent fills their nostrils signaling that this is indeed their next meal as they go in for the strike.

Based on what we know from above adding scent to your lures gives them that realism, bigger bass especially, need to commit to the strike. How often have you watched a bass follow closely behind your lure, but never actually touch it? That is why, they never got that final assurance they needed to go for it.

As I said earlier fish can also begin to associate some scents negatively, causing them to turn away from that particular source. This is especially true on higher pressured bodies of water where bass are already weary from constant pursuit. Subtle scents like nicotine from smoking or even sunblock will cause fish to shut down in an area.


Great article by Alex that emphasizes the importance of using scent to improve your fishing. If you liked this information, sign up now for the Fish Allure Email Newsletter or more articles like this delivered to your inbox!

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