Go Easy On Using Fish Attractants for Bass

Practical Advice on Using Fish Scents or Attractants for Bass

JJs Magic
JJs Magic. 2011 JJs Magic licensed to About.com

I notice many anglers exuberantly using some type of fish attractant while bass fishing. They'll grab a particular lure they're about to cast, hold it over the edge of the boat, and pour it on. Is that really practical? 

There are many different fish scents ("fish attractants") available and marketed heavily to bass anglers, and claims often focus on the ability of the product to "attract." In my opinion, if a bass takes your lure, it will usually spit it out within 2 or 3 seconds if it doesn't accept the taste of it. But, if it likes the scent or attractant, it can hold the lure up to 30 seconds before it rejects it. So I believe that a fish attractant doesn't really "attract" fish, but may cause the fish to hold on longer, and thus increase your chances of hooking it.

Companies that manufacture these products want you to apply them liberally. This can get expensive. There's no point to spraying it on a hard lure. And most soft plastic baits that are on the market today are manufactured with some type of scent or flavoring already embedded in them or coated on them. Why would you want to douse this same soft plastic lure with additional attractant? It makes no sense.

However, there is a more practical  reason why one would want to buy and use some type of fish attractant. A largemouth bass can detect a minute portion of a substance in about 100 gallons of water. That is an incredibly acute sensory ability. It proves the old wisdom that's it better to gas your boat up the night before fishing, so that any gasoline residue will have been washed off your hands before you go fishing the next day.

Wash Hands; Put Attractant On Them

Now, let's get right to the point that will save you money. When you go fishing, the first thing that you might do before you hit the water is to wash your hands with soap and water. Hopefully this will clean any foreign or disagreeable scent off of your hands, meaning that your lures will not be exposed to that when you touch them. 

Secondly, take your container of fish attractant and pour a little bit on your hands, then rub them together like you would if using a hand lotion. Now you're ready for action, because any lure that you touch will have this fish attractant added to it (so will your line, fishing rod handle, steering wheel, and other things, of course).

Just think of the money you'll save by doing this instead of by pouring the liquid over your lures. A bottle should now last far longer than it did before, and it will have the same effect, as well as save you money.

Which ones to use for bass fishing? I use only natural scents, such as shad or crawfish, but you can experiment to see if others work for you. Garlic- and salt-embedded products are very popular, but since they're not natural in freshwater, you have to view these strictly as masking agents rather than attractants.

Above all else, remember that proper retrieve and presentation are more important factors.

This article was edited and revised by our Freshwater Fishing expert, Ken Schultz.