The Facts (And Fictions) of Adding Scent To Fishing Lures

Ask 10 anglers whether scent is important in fishing and you’ll likely get 10 pretty distinct opinions. Cruise the shelves at the local tackle shop and you’ll see that many baits advertise some type of scent, ranging from salt or anise to proprietary formulas touting years of scientific formulation.

The question is – do they really work? The answer, as it so often is in the real world, is a resounding “sort of.”

Here is some fact and fiction behind how effective scent can be to anglers.


We know that fish species have sensory organs in their bodies. Sharks can “smell” blood from miles away, and a catfish will quickly respond to stink bait presented on the bottom. Certainly there is some ability for a bass, panfish, or other commonly sought after fish species to respond to a scent in the water, the problem is – scientists haven’t figured it out yet.

Regardless, there is plenty of empirical evidence out there that scent works. Everyone’s got the buddy that swears by some concoction because of the one day when he whacked them using it and everyone else didn’t.

So – is it likely that using scent will turn a zero fish day into a whack fest? No, but can it possibly get you a couple extra bites, make the bass hold the bait a split second longer (giving you time to set the hook), or give you the confidence you need to fish more effectively?


Not all scents are created equal. One thing scientists do know is that bass and other fish species can only interpret scents that are water soluble. Fish “smell” by interpreting chemical signatures that are dissolved in the water. Scents that are heavy in oil may smell great to you, but they won’t dissolve and thus the fish won’t get a good whiff. Instead, use scents like the Berkley Gulp! formulation or FishSticks Cryogenic Crawfish that dissolve in water and give the fish something to really hone in on.

Are fishing scents important to you?

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