99% of the time, you hear bass anglers talk about lures, the parts of the water column they like to fish in, their sonar, retrieval methods, and similar things. However, you don’t hear them talk about scents too much. That’s usually a catfish angler’s go-to topic.
Well, that’s a shame. Scent actually helps with bass fishing a lot, and all the pros know it. If you’re not using scents, you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage.
Today, we’re going to go over some basic information about scents, and then we’ll highlight the top 9 scents to attract bass and spice up your bass lures.
Let’s get started.
What are Scents?
This seems pretty self-explanatory if you’re a seasoned vet or even an intermediate fisherman, but beginners might need a little guidance. A “scent” is a product, made from natural ingredients or synthetic ones, to replicate a variety of smells.
They’re almost always liquids, and you either squirt or spray them on your lures. Some lures have cavities that you can fill with scents to let them leak out as you use the lure. Think of scents as colognes for your lures.
What Do Scents Do?
Scents serve two purposes.
First, they replicate a smell that the manufacturer thinks the target fish enjoys. There are all sorts of scents for most of the popular fish targets. Since this is a bass fishing article, we’ll only talk about the ones meant for bass. Usually, these smell horrible to you, but the fish like them. Some scents are far better than others. Some manufacturers just compile smelly junk, while others actually test their formulas. If the scent is good and works, it leaves a trail that leads bass right to your lure.
Secondly, the scent is designed to mask the scent you give off. Human smells can scare off bass. Particularly bass that have been caught multiple times in high-pressure lakes since they recognize it. Also, if you’re a smoker, just ate, or have any other weird substances on your hands, a scent can help cover that up.
Are Scents Necessary?
Scents are not 100% necessary. Tons of anglers don’t have a single scent product in their tackle box, and they still catch plenty of fish. However, when you’re trying to increase your efficiency and truly improve as an angler, you shouldn’t be looking at whether or not you can get away without something. You should be looking for every proven advantage you can find, and yes, scents provide an advantage.
The advantage might be marginal some days, or it might be dramatic. There’s no real way to tell if you caught a fish because of a scent or because of your presentation, but it’s always better to have a scent than to just chuck a lure in.
The Top Scent Products to Attract Bass
Alright, now that everyone is on the same page, we want to highlight the best scents the industry has to offer.. Some of them are time-honored classics that have been in many tackle boxes over the years, and some are more obscure, newer, offerings that just seem to work great.
Take a look.
1: Dr. Juice Super-Concentrated Bass Scent
Dr. Juice is one of the older brands in the fishing scent product industry. The brand isn’t dedicated to bass, and you can find a super-concentrated scent meant for practically every type of fish out there. However, the bass scent is one of the most popular.
Dr. Juice’s super-concentrated claim rings true. You can get a lot out of a small amount, and the scent is definitely strong.
One of Dr. Juice’s biggest claims to fame is that it was the first to start leveraging fish pheromones to attract fish. It’s a claim that makes sense on paper. This isn’t exactly an odor, though. Fish actually have completely different receptors used to pick them up.
Pheromones tend to be of more use before the spawning period because bass are actively looking to mate. Their reactions can be mixed during other seasons.
2: Smelly Jelly
Smelly Jelly isn’t as old as Dr. Juice, and it doesn’t claim to pump pheromones into its formula. It just stinks, and it’s designed to pull bass out of hiding during slow periods.
Smelly Jelly comes in a variety of flavors, and the bottles are fairly substantial in terms of weight. The two flavors you want to look at as a bass angler are called Bass and Garlic. However, you can find trout, catfish, and a variety of other flavors.
If you opt for the garlic-flavored variety, keep in mind that catfish tend to go after it, too. If you’re using a lure that resembles part of the catfish food chain, don’t be surprised if that “monster bass” you hook into turns out to be a big cat.
The main pro of this product is that it’s not a liquid. It’s a thick, sticky, gel. That’s why it’s called Smelly Jelly. This helps the scent stay on the lure you’re using throughout multiple casts. It’s a huge improvement over other options, because many liquid and spray scents have to be reapplied every other cast, or they wash right off. That makes you burn through your supply far faster than you’d think.
Unfortunately, because it’s a gel, it doesn’t tend to stretch as far per application as much as a thinly applied liquid. You need to add a slightly more substantial amount to fully coat your lure. On top of that, you can’t get it inside lure cavities as easily.
Overall, this lasts longer and is proven to work, but it has a couple of minor drawbacks.
3: Gulp Alive Minnow Flavor
You’ve definitely heard of Gulp Alive if you’ve ever gotten into ultra-light fishing. It’s one of those brands that are synonymous with it. Their crappie bites and bio-degradable pan fish lures are among the most popular for the sport. However, the brand isn’t solely dedicated to the little guys. Its scents are so popular that they’ve become staples in the bass fishing world, too.
This particular flavor, “Minnow”, replicates the scent of the bait fish it’s named after. It comes in a spray bottle that keeps you from making a mess, and it’s proven to work for bass.
Unfortunately, it also tends to wash off after a few casts. The spray bottle minimizes waste, though. You’ll definitely get your money’s worth.
4: Bass Assassin BANG
This is one of our top recommendations for two reasons, and neither of them really has anything to do with the scent. However, the scent is top-quality.
First, Bass Assassin’s BANG scent is made purely from real fish. The fish are rendered down into an oil and mixed into a solution just like the fancy essential oils you’ve seen in incense shops, but it doesn’t smell good. So, not only does it perfectly match the smell of a bass's natural diet, but it's all-natural.
Anglers do their best to retrieve their lures and clean up other people’s trash to keep pollutants from getting into the water, so some of the synthetic brands on the market don’t make much sense. They don’t align with a true angler’s dedication to bass conservation. BANG does. That’s more than enough reason for it to be your go-to scent just like it is for pro anglers around the world.
Then, there’s the unique trigger bottle it comes in. You get a lot for what you pay, and the trigger bottle lets you fully coat a lure with a single spritz. Plus, it works better than the dainty push-top spray bottles used by most other brands.
The only downside is that some other scents do last longer, such as Smelly Jelly, and the bottle is a bit awkward to fit into a tackle box, backpack, or fishing vest. So, expect to leave ample room for it.
5: Fish Sticks
Fish Sticks is another brand that derives its scent from real fish instead of synthetic chemicals. It also stands out above BANG for two other reasons, as well. It’s just a stick in a lip balm-style container, and it’s solid. So, it doesn’t take up hardly any room, and since you smear it on, it lasts a lot longer than any liquid or gel on the market.
Fish Sticks comes in two flavors, and they’re both exceptionally bass-friendly. Crawfish and shad are the two flavors you get to choose from.
There are two minor drawbacks to using Fish Sticks, though.
First, you can’t apply it in the cavity of certain lures such as Booyah frogs, and if you leave it out in the sun, it will melt just like lip balm. If you thought having a stick of Burt's Bees melt in your pocket was bad, wait until the shad-scented gloop is all over your stuff. We definitely recommend keeping it tucked away in a cool dark place unless you’re using it.
Baitmate is a popular all-natural oil that focuses on using pheromones to pull fish out of hiding to find a mate, along with covering up your scent.
We’ve talked about pheromones, but the way this oil covers your scent is with anise. This can be useful if you’re a smoker, a mechanic with oil all over your hands, or have otherwise touched things recently that can leave unpleasant scents on your lures. It covers them up so fish aren’t scared off by them.
Overall, it’s a great lure enhancer with a two-pronged approach.
However, there are a few downsides.
First, it’s an oil. So, it’s going to wash off fairly quickly, and you’ll need to keep reapplying it. Second, while there is technically a scent, the focus is on pheromones and covering up your scent. So, if you want something super smelly and tested specifically for its ability to attract bass, you might want something else.
7: Liquid Mayhem
So, did Smelly Jelly sound great, but you were worried about the lack of an ingredient list and what you were putting in the water? Try out Liquid Mayhem. Don’t let the name fool you. It’s a gel lure enhancer. So, it’s essentially the same thing as Smelly Jelly, but it has a certified all-natural formula. It’s derived straight from real baitfish.
This stuff smells horrible, and fish love it. You can also expect to cast two dozen or more times before you have to apply it again because it’s exceptionally sticky.
Unfortunately, it’s slightly more expensive than Smelly Jelly, and it comes in a toothpaste-like tube. So, it’s easy to puncture it if you toss it into your tackle box. We recommend keeping it in a container that doesn’t have sharp objects or bringing it along in your fishing vest. If the tube busts, you’re not getting the smell out for a while.
8: Berkley PowerBait
You’ve seen the Berkley name all over the fishing aisle. From rods to scented soft plastics, Berkley is a massive name. Well, that’s because this is the brand that makes Gulp. Just like Gulp is a staple for pan-fish anglers, Berkley tends to be a hit with trout anglers and everyone else.
Berkley PowerBait is top-notch in terms of attracting fish. The company makes an odd claim that bass will hold on “18 times longer”, but there’s no possible way to measure that, and it sounds like pure marketing garbage. Luckily, plenty of anglers admit the product is worth using.
You can find it in a bunch of flavors, too. If you like to target different species, Berkley has a flavor for anything you’re looking to catch in North America.
However, it’s an oil, and it’s in a squirt bottle. So, it can get messy and wasteful. Luckily, it is cheap.
9: Kickin’ Bass
Finally, Kickin’ Bass finishes off our list due to its variety of scents, substantial volume for what you pay, and extremely attractive price. You get quite a bit for just a little over $6, and that’s if you go to Bass Pro; the store notorious for marking up its prices.
Kickin’ Bass is made by Scientific Bass, a company of chemists. They’ve done a good job, too. It controls its release well, and it smells extremely strong.
However, it’s not as old and proven as the other scent enhancers we’ve talked about. So, it’s worth a try, and many say it works, but time will tell if it becomes a staple.
It’s also an oil with a squirt top. So, you’ll probably waste some.
Learn More With BassForecast
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