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August 23, 2021

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Fish Scent: Three Top Presentations for Adding Them

Fish Scent: Three Top Presentations for Adding Them

You can walk into any tackle shop today and probably find a shelf lined up with different scents or attractants. Inarguably a hot topic of debate amongst anglers today, you may have wondered yourself what they're for or how they're used. However, the real question is: do scents work?

Each nostril in a bony fish has two openings, an entry and exit point. Water passes in through the entryway, flows past the sensory cells, and exits through the rear opening. Fish that live in deeper or more turbid waters rely more on their sense of smell to help them navigate their surroundings.

Fish use their nostrils (also called "nares") to distinguish chemicals in the water. By doing so, they're able to evade predators, find a partner during spawning seasons, and have added direction during migration. Sometimes these natural scents in the water exist as pheromones, which are triggered and released during a fight or flight response. 

If some fish, like a channel catfish, can respond to smelly bait, can others like brown trout or largemouth bass do so too? That’s a question that scientists have yet to fully determine despite the multitude of experiential evidence that a lot of anglers swear by. The only thing for certain is that fish can only understand water-soluble scents.

Whether you’re a believer in this tactic or not, fish scents, often called “attractants” are widely used today to add a little “umph” to certain presentations. After all, any extra edge over your target species should be welcome. 


3 Best Presentations for Adding Fish Scent


Shakey Heads or Jigworms

Jigworms are a perennial favorite of anglers – they’re simple to use, have great action, and are almost always successful. This rig is essentially a plastic worm that's attached to a lead weight or jig, and scenting these lures isn't unheard of. Jigworms are simple to use and have very subtle action that black bass go crazy for, whether you’re fishing in weedy areas or casting with finesse near shallow cover.

Also known as a shaky head, jigworms are used by either letting the lure linger in one area or by jigging it up and down. Alternatively, some anglers make them “swim” on the retrieve, which involves a combined movement of weaving and shaking the bait through the water. Anglers love the jigworm because there is no proper technique and sky's the limit when it comes to creativity. One thing is for certain, a scented bait on the jigworm can diffuse scent over a large area. The swimming and bouncing action of a scented jigworm is sure to attract dormant or inactive fish hiding in cover.


Wacky Rig

Any seasoned angler will know how to tie a Wacky rig, which is often used for heavier baits. It's a deceptively simple setup that involves sticking the hook right through the middle of the worm and is particularly effective in keeping bait floating in the strike zone longer. 

A scented soft plastic on a wacky rig is one of the best presentations to combine with attractants. The natural action of the rig itself acts like a fan that disperses the scent over a wide area. However, a scented craw, tube, or fluke could do equally well doused with some scent.

Moreover, Wacky rigs offer fish such as largemouth and smallmouth bass with a slow-sinking presentation. This, coupled with action from slight movements on the rod, are an effective technique to waft out and disperse scents. Since Wacky rigs are often used in shallower water, scents can maintain their concentration for longer periods of time.


Drop Shot

A drop shot rig, if you're not familiar, is a weighted main line with a hooked bait with leaders attached to it. Most often, straight tail worms or minnow-like baits are used for bait. This finesse fishing technique gives the bait a natural presentation in the water, which can be moved with slight movements of the rod tip to attract attention. Using scents or attractants on a drop shot rig can take your game to a whole new level. 

Drop shot rigs rely on casting in the same position and letting the bait rest and linger in the water. When in the stationary position, a scented bait can effectively dissolve its attractants in that same area, building a "cloud" of scent. 

Moreover, handling a drop shot rig involves jigging it rig up and down, which can help the scent dissolve even quicker in the water, and can possibly attract more fish. You have to be quite reserved and patient though with how long you let it rest in the water and take care not to take it out too quickly. You also need to re-apply the scent on every retrieve so that you can create a denser cloud of attractants around your target area. 

Scenting a drop shot rig can likewise work with fish that are inactive or dormant since it can entice them out of their holes to investigate. Since you’ve created a cloud of scent with your rig, your target area is now larger. You don’t have to worry so much about getting bait right in front of the fish to get them to bite. 


It Makes Scents

No matter what presentation you use, it’s important to remember that scents or attractants are not a complete solution – it won’t fix your technique nor will it guarantee a boat full of fish at the end of a trip. Instead, they are an optional add-on, that quite frankly, hasn’t been scientifically proven to provide any form of dramatic results. 

Nevertheless, it does make sense to gain any kind of competitive edge you can get in sport fishing, whether it's against fellow anglers or against your target species. Adding attractants to your lure can’t really do any harm since it doesn’t increase your skill level nor does it sharpen your instincts. 

So, if you have some extra cash laying around, we highly suggest giving scents a try and let us know how it turns out!