Scents That Attract Fish and Repel Them

Scents play a major role in fishing and knowing what attracts fish to bite the bait will yield better catch.

Scents That Attract Fish and Repel Them
Scents That Attract Fish and Repel Them
Team Guidesly

October 25, 2022, 5 min read

Updated on May 11, 2023

Scents That Attract Fish and Repel Them
Team Guidesly

October 25, 2022, 5 min read

Updated on May 11, 2023

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In most shark-themed movies, a precursor for a shark attack usually begins with a few drops of blood in the seawater. Sharks smell even a tinge of blood in a big pool or the ocean. In general, sharks and fish rely heavily on their sense of smell to locate food or prey. A fish's sense of smell is 1,000 times stronger than that of humans, due to their olfactory systems being highly developed. The scents are transmitted to the fish by the surrounding water.

However, not everything smells appealing to a fish. Some scents attract fish, while others repel them. What is appealing to humans may be repulsive to fish. Therefore, using the proper scents on your fishing lines and lures is critical to ensure a successful catch.

Let's look at some scents that attract fish and repel them and how these scents affect the success of every angler's next fishing trip. Read on to know more.

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Scents That Attract Fish

1. Human Saliva

Human saliva seems to be a fish attractant. It may even aid in neutralizing repellent scents. You can use saliva or spit to ensure your knots are dampened and attract fish simultaneously. 

man and women preparing baits for fish

2. Anything Fish

Fish definitely will be attracted to the fish scent, which makes a lot of sense. Fish travel in schools, so they naturally stick together. Applying scents of fish oil or freshly dead fish on boats, lures, and lines attract them to bite and yield a sizable amount of catch.

3. Cheese

Usually used for cooking or sandwiches, uncovering that cheese and other dairy products can be used to attract fish is surprising to learn- fish are attracted to the scent of cheese! Cheese is a very effective fishing lure for carp, tench, catfish, and other fish species. Anglers have used cheese as bait and have consistently caught fish. Live bait is still recommended, although cheese bait is a convenient alternative and one that will attract fish to your lines.   

4. Coffee

Coffee grounds have a scent that attracts fish as well. Anglers who use these lures agree that the coffee tube has attracted more bass and trout to their lines. Smaller fish surface to eat the coffee grounds. One theory for why fish are drawn to coffee is that caffeine stimulates the fish's sense of smell. Despite how unusual it may sound, coffee appears to be an effective way to attract fish and get them to bite your caffeine-laced baits.

5. Garlic

The scent of garlic is another effective way to attract fish. Garlic's smelly jelly scent draws fish to your bait, causing them to bite and hold onto it. The powerful scent of garlic camouflages any other scent present on the reel or bait, leading to many guaranteed hookups.

6. Alcohol

Another material that surprisingly attracts fish is alcohol. Beer acts as a neutralizer for other scents and helps attract fish since they won’t be smelling the substances that repel them. A good way to use this is when you got bug spray all over your gear. Pour the beer on your fishing equipment, and the smell is gone.

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Scents That Repel Fish

1. Human Natural Oils

Our body’s natural oils are scents that repel fish. The natural oils that are created in our skin are fish repellent. Since fish don’t like the human scent, it is best to use alternatives to mask your natural scent so they won’t swim away when they detect your presence.

2. Sunscreen And Bug Spray

Bug spray and sunscreen are a fish's pet peeve. If you've tasted bug spray or accidentally got it in your mouth, you'll understand why fish don't like it. It has an unpleasant taste and a burning sensation in your mouth because it is a chemical that repels insects. You must remember to wash your hands after applying bug spray or wiping sunscreen all over yourself for skin protection before touching your gear, including your bait and lure.

3. Scented Soaps

Fish are repelled by perfumed and scented soaps, no matter how sweet-smelling they may be. Avoid using them when on a fishing trip, and use unscented soaps instead or soaps that strip skin of any scent or smell if you want to catch loads of fish.

4. Cigar Smoke

Smoking and nicotine will surely repel fish. Keep smoking to a minimum while winding your reel and preparing your lines and tackle. Anglers try to mask the smell of smoke on their hands by getting some fishy odor.  

5. Petroleum Products

Petroleum products used on boats, like motor oils, unleaded gas, diesel, marine grease, reel oils, and their derivatives, are absolute repellents to fish. Ensure that you wash your hands thoroughly after touching these chemicals and before you set up your baits and lures.

Summing It All Up

Fish are attracted and repelled by certain scents. However, it is important to note other factors and conditions to consider to have a successful catch. Factors like proper baiting and its presentation, weather conditions, seasons, and fishing techniques play essential roles in fishing. 

Fish use their senses when searching for food or catching their prey. Fish have a heightened sense of smell, so lures should look, feel and sound good, but they should smell good so they don't repel your chosen fish. Avoiding scents that repel fish can bring every angler better success with their catch.

Scents may be trivial to some anglers, but they can be a lifesaver to others. Scented lures are also especially useful when the bite is slow, as when fishing in cold weather. On days when fish are abundant and taking a bite on every line cast, scented baits are irrelevant. However, on days when fishing is lethargic, and fish seldom take the bait, using scents that attract and repel fish may come in handy and provide you with the advantage you need. 

If you want to learn more about specific fish species and scents that repel and attract them, one of the best ways to become more knowledgeable is to book a local guide. Expert fishing guides have years of unparalleled experience and can teach you hands-on more about what fish species interest you most. You can book a guide near you here to learn more about local fish and waterbodies.