Scents and Fish Attractants for Bass Fishing. Do they work?

I figured I’d open a can of worms here (no pun intended) and ask about whether you use scent or not. 

Scents and Fish Attractants for Bass FishingWay back, many, many years ago (late 1980s and very early 1990s) I used to use an attractant called Fish Formula on all of my soft plastics and jigs to give them more appeal to bass. Or at least that’s what I thought it did. 

The stuff was basically anise oil. It was a clear liquid in a squirt bottle. It smelled like black licorice. And it was messy to use. 

I used it for quite a while and really didn’t know if it made a difference or not. But at some point, for reasons I don’t really remember, I just stopped using it. 

I guess I just got tired of squirting this messy, oily stuff on my baits and then having to constantly wash my hands to get it off so it wouldn’t get on my gear and get everything all greasy and messy. 

But no matter what the reasons, I stopped using it. And I kept right on catching fish. 

I went without it, while my brother-in-law continued to use it. And I continued to catch just as many fish as he did, without having to deal with messy, oily goop on my baits and my hands. 

That was a very long time ago. I still don’t use scent. And I still catch a lot of fish without it. 

Do They Work or Not?

My own personal opinion is that it doesn’t make much difference, if any at all. 

I know that there will be some who will argue with me on this point. And, yes, I know that there may be some merit to using a specific scent in very specific situations. 

But, day in and day out, using a fish attractant makes little or no difference in how many fish you catch, especially with bass. 

Bass are sight and sound feeders, not scent feeders. 

They see things, they eat them. They hear (feel) things, they eat them. Bass do not track things down by following scent trail. 

Yes, they do have olfactory senses. But these are secondary, especially when compared to their eyes and their lateral line nerves. 

You see, fishing tackle companies make a ton of cash when they can convince us, avid bass anglers, that we “need” their product. And once they can convince a large percentage of us that they have a product we need, they cash in on it, big time. 

Not convinced? Take a look at all of the scents available to us these days. 

BANG fish attractantNot long after Fish Formula had become popular, a new arrival showed up on the market. B.A.N.G (Bass Anglers New Gimmicks) hit the marketplace with a spray can attractant (the first of its kind). It was less messy and the packaging was much more attractive. 

Bingo! It took off like a rocket and is still available today, even though the original attractant, Fish Formula, has long since disappeared. 

And now we have more scent and attractant options than we can shake a proverbial stick at. 

Berkley hit the market with their own various versions of fish attractants. They offer Power Bait attractant, as well as Gulp. 

We also have Hot Sauce in a squirt bottle, very similar to the original Fish Formula. 

So, there are lots of options. In fact, there are enough options to confuse you in a hurry. 

Anyway, like I said, I personally don’t believe that scent makes a difference when looking at the big picture. 

Comment below and give me your thoughts! 

One Response to “My Take on Scents and Fish Attractants for Bass Fishing”

  1. Brazzy

    I am not sure if this addresses the entire reasoning for scents. The article talks about scent being a factor in bass locating the bait. In that regard I would agree in that their sight, lateral line/sound, and their pure instinct help them find bait. However them striking it and holding it is another piece of the puzzle. I think fish “attractant” is kind of a nonsense term. It doesnt “attract” fish. However, scents do mask the odors of the plastisol and whatever may be on our hands. When heated, plastisol is a nasty smelling substance and we as humans also give off a scent. Masking those scents is pretty important. On the flip side its also about the taste. We are in the realm now of giving them salt, coffee, and garlic to hide the smell and taste of an imitation bait. Without the small and taste I feel like we would see more bites where they are looking to inspect the bait rather than eat it.

    Best example I can give is trout fishing with my father when I was 10. We both had the same rod, reel, line, and set up. We were both using the same power bait. When we would cast, our baits would be literally side by side. I would catch fish at a rapid pace and he would get skunked. A neighboring angler finally pointed out that my father is a smoker and his rolling that ball and putting it on the hook with his smokey hands may be the difference. I started baiting his hook for him and like a light switch he started catching fish. He didnt believe it at first, so he would bait his own hook. I would continue to catch them while he didnt. Around and around we went, but in the end we did come to the conclusion that his odor being on the bait made a difference.


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