Angler Education

How to Fish with Scented Baits

Scented baits catch more fish. That’s a fact. And because of that, scented baits of various styles are hitting the market at a seemingly weekly basis. With the glut of new products out there all vying for your dollars, anglers need to become familiar with the subtleties and limitations of these baits if they hope to catch more fish.

Nearly everyone that uses scented baits has their own ideas and techniques on how best to use them. But before you cast one into your favorite lake or pond, there’s one word to keep in mind: slow.

To maximize the effectiveness of scented baits you have to fish the bait very slow. Whether you catch fish for a living or just for fun, you have to have a minimum amount of patience and this is where it will pay off. Because the baits have built-in attractants, many anglers get excited and want to get the bait in the water in as many different places as possible hoping that the increased number of presentations will increase the likelihood of a strike. But it’s not the quantity of presentations that is important – it’s the quality.

Because scented baits release so much scent in an area – I use Gulp! and PowerBait from Berkley. It disperses more scent than any other soft plastic bait on the market and it is important that you fish the bait slowly. This helps to build up a scent cloud in the area. That way you don’t necessarily have to get the bait in front of the fish to attract its attention. By filling the area with scent, fish that wouldn’t normally pay attention to the bait (remember most bass spend 75-80 percent of their time in an inactive or non-feeding mode) will be drawn in. That’s why I like to rig my drop-shot rigs with scented baits. By dangling a Gulp! Sinking Minnow in the same place for long enough time, I can fill the area with scent and attract bass that I might not be able to attract otherwise. By releasing so much scent into the area, Gulp! dramatically increases the size of the strike zone meaning you don’t have to worry about putting the bait in front of a fish for it to be effective.

I’ve witnessed the evolution of scent technology going back to when we used fish oils and other homemade scents to apply to our baits. I always wanted a scent that stayed on the bait and tasted good enough that the fish would hang on longer. But I also wanted a scent that dispersed. For decades we had to settle for one or the other – a kind of Catch-22. But now baits like Berkley’s Gulp! keeps the scent on the bait so the fish won’t let go and delivers the dispersion, too. Finally, the best of both worlds. And the slower I fish, the more fish I catch.