Scent Wars

How much stock do you put in stink?

Scents and scented baits are nothing new in the bass world, but the science of scent has been at the forefront of soft-plastics innovation over the past few years with the development of proprietary formulas like Berkley’s Gulp! and Gulp! Alive!, Rapala’s Trigger X, YUM’s F2 and most recently Sci-X by Attraxx (and I’m sure I missed a few in there).

All these companies claim to have scientific evidence that their formula triggers fish to feed.

Berkley claims Gulp! out-fishes live bait. YUM says their F2 scent “is a highly concentrated formula clinically tested by the Mississippi State University under the strictest scientific conditions.” The home page of Attraxx’s website states: “The fish-catching power behind Attraxx is the result of many years of scientific research conducted by Dr. John Caprio, one of the world’s leading experts on the science of feeding behavior.”

Do you care? Do you favor one brand’s formulation over another? Will you shun a non-scented plastic or a bait that reeks of plain old garlic in favor of one of these scientifically enhanced creations? Or could you give a flip about scented plastics and focus more on shapes, colors and texture?

What got me thinking about all this was a Facebook post that Alton Jones put up after the St. Johns Elite Series event. When Jones was leading early in that event he kept saying that he had a “special bait” that was making the difference for him in catching those finicky bedding females. He later revealed that bait to be a YUM Dinger with the F2 formula.

“I just realized something important,” Jones wrote on his Facebook page. “YUM’s new F2 formula just took 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in the St. Johns River Bassmaster event. No way that’s coincidence. I guess the secret is out now.”

Are you ready to rush out and clean all the YUM off the pegs at your local tackle shop? Do you believe the magic of the F2 is what propelled Edwin Evers, Terry Scroggins and Alton Jones into the Top-3 spots at that event?

Scented baits are huge in saltwater. Gulp! has dominated the redfish tournament scene ever since it was created, but it still hasn’t managed to gain the foothold on the bass side like it has in the inshore market. The smallie fanatics on the Great Lakes love dropshotting the Gulp! goby, but it’s rare you hear about a flipper in Alabama singing the praises of a Gulp! craw. What’s up with that?

Is it just a matter of time before every soft-plastics manufacturer is forced to come up with their own science-y scent concoction? Or will there always be a place for an old-fashioned, salt-laden bait like the Senko?

I’m curious to know what the general population of bassers think about stink. Share your thoughts in the comments section.



  1. Alex Voog

    March 25, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Mega Strike and then Kick-n-Bass over it for Jigs/plastics, Kick-n on cranks. I don’t get a lot of short strikes, nor pinchers bitten off, the bass are usually “all in” when they bite..

    • Alex Voog

      March 25, 2011 at 11:51 am

      In addition to the Craw SOP , K-n-B makes a Walleye attracting ‘flavor’ that I use on cranks, jerkbaits floating “minnow” baits, and my “Wisconsin style/Monsoor/Brovarney” (with Yamamoto grub) swim jigs that makes them choke on it. I have tremendous confidence in it.

  2. Chad Keogh

    March 25, 2011 at 11:44 am

    I use Smelly Jelly in the Bass Feast or Bass Hammer scents. I feel it helps the bass find slower moving baits like jigs and soft plastics, and it makes them hold on to the baits longer even on crankbaits, spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, and topwater.

    Can’t imagine fishing without it…

    • admin (mostly Jay)

      March 25, 2011 at 4:31 pm

      I love Smelly freakin Jelly. Works!

      • Chad Aaron

        March 25, 2011 at 10:22 pm

        Yep. Smelly Jelly is the premier fishin funk I use. I also believe scent matters more in colder water (<60'F). But, I'm starting to wonder if it's because of the way I'm presenting the bait at this time… slower and more deliberate.

  3. Joe

    March 25, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    I don’t put much stock in scent. Just like color, it matters when it matters. Bass just don’t feed primarily based on scent. I’m sure it helps a little, but not enough to make me rush out and buy the latest greatest scented lures. It’s the where and when that needs your attention.

    Have you seen the variety of shapes and scents out there, there are so many effective baits that don’t look or smell like anything a bass would ever encounter in its natural habitat.

    A couple years ago, I cut down my lure selection, by at least half, and still only use about 25% of my options. I kept only a few colors and sizes of the lures I used most, and made sure I had a few novelty items for those times I get an itch to do something different. I started focusing more on where I was fishing and what I was doing, and started catching more and bigger fish. Who’d’ve thunk it?

  4. Chance C.

    March 25, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    I don’t use any of the baits mentioned except Berkley baits, but I do believe in scents. I use another brand of worms that do have scent on/in them and since I started using them I have caught more fish, period. It is my belief that the fish will find the bait and hold on to them longer. Also, since using the worms I have had more fish swallow the bait than I had previously. I also use a popular brand that doesn’t seem to have any scent on them and I know that when I use them right out of the package versus adding scent to them I catch more with scent added. Could it really be a confidence thing? Maybe, but through my experience I catch more with scented baits.

    • Chance C.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:18 pm

      Another interesting thing that I would like to know is if fish in heavily pressured lakes, where they see many different baits and scents, “learn” to avoid these baits because of a scent? I guess if that was true you would never catch a fish on a garlic scented bait! 🙂

  5. Chad Keogh

    March 25, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    In the book Knowing Bass, it was said that a dog’s sense of smell is like 1000 times stronger than man’s, and that a bass’ sense of smell is roughly 1000 times stronger than a dog’s.

    I agree that bass feed primarily through sight, but I think scent may draw them in to get a closer look in the first place. Just like if you were sitting in your living room and all of a sudden you could smell the most delicious odor coming from the kitchen. You’d get up to go check it out even if you weren’t feeling noticeably hungry just seconds before smelling it.

  6. admin (mostly Jay)

    March 25, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    I use Gulp! in saltwater all the time. Sometimes it can outfish live bait. Sometimes it also catches bigger fish than live bait. Not sure why, maybe color? (Fishing deep.) Oddly, I do not use it bass fishing….

  7. Big Brake Basser

    March 25, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    I haven’t noticed any difference using scent or not. I like salt impregnated baits because they are typically heavier and easier to cast. I do use oily scent sprays to help my lures slide through cover and give soft plastics better freedom of movement. The action and color of a lure is far more important factors to consider than scent.

  8. Azfishingguy

    March 25, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    I like the Bang scents.I use the F2 also but seems like the bang scents work great out here.

  9. Jacob Robinson

    March 25, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    I stand by JJ’s Magic. Stuff works!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Bass Pundit

    March 26, 2011 at 3:34 am

    Powerbait made me a believer then they changed the formula and I don’t think the stuff worked as well. When I was fishing tournaments seriously I would use my preferred scent all the time. Now I’m not as serious and am to lazy to mess with the mess. Still catch plenty of fish but probably not as many as I could.

    I still believe!

  11. Jesse Hall

    March 26, 2011 at 8:47 am

    I think it can certainly help when fish are not active, but not always. There are times when my partner out fishes me when he is using smelly jelly and I am not. But, there are times when I will out fish him without, so I think it depends on the mood of the fish. With that being said, I do love smelly jelly and some other scents. But do I think that the top 3 guys on the river got there because of a certain scent? I highly doubt it.

  12. SkeeterVD

    March 26, 2011 at 11:35 am

    I mainly use garlic scents to mask other smells. I smoke so that smell is on my hands, possibly gas and/or oil, etc..
    I do think at times, it makes a difference.

  13. Slicks N Tricks

    March 26, 2011 at 11:53 pm

    Zoom makes the best scent. I like it when we get fired up on some “thing” that wins an event and two of the other top 12 used it too. What about the last event when they sucked it up with there magic baits? Scents do work not because fish like them or even know what the stink is but because they give you confidence. I don’t think it makes a difference. Hell strike king has some that smell like Starbucks as my wife put it. Used a rodent flipping shallow wood a few years back on a post front day to win a little money for momma and when i got home she said it smells like you been at Starbuck.

  14. bassn1

    March 27, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Use Mega Strike. Use scents only to mask out of water scents. Want a bait to be as natural as possible. Can’t hurt. And the price is neglegable.

  15. 5bites

    March 28, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    I use bang. It’s just a cleaner way to put it on. I can’t say I know it works but it gives me confidence and cover any bad smells on my hands.

  16. Jared

    April 1, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    On Alton claiming the scent was what propelled the winners – very questionable, (he is a great salesman/marketer) weren’t those bedding fish that would be defending rather than feeding. Rarely see fish feeding when on bed. So i find it hard to believe the scientific formula was strong enough to make those fish feed. that would be some pretty effective stuff if so.
    But yeah scents work for sure, and i say do it all the time. its not like its gonna HURT your chances, can only increase them.

  17. Rudy

    April 11, 2012 at 12:53 am

    My teenage son and I have used Berkley Gulp in 4″turtle worms at a small urban pond in the middle of the city and have caught Largemouth bass all from 8″s to some over 20″s and out fished people throwing Senkos and regular power worms at least 2:1 and noticeably larger fish at the same time that swallowed the worms,than just recently and quite by accident at a small local sporting good store we found trigger x for bass in crawfish pattern ,after reading all the hype on the packaging I’d figured even at its steep price we would give the 4 pack a try. we went to a small 50 acre lake known for its bass.The bass were on the beds and we were shore fishing ,using these trigger x on a Texas rig and the bass went crazy ,most of the time the triggerx never made it more than three feet close to the nest and the bass would charge the lure ,inhale it and then start shaking it trying to kill it before we could even set the hook at one point my son felt he missed the nest and reeled in the lure as quick as he could to recast and just as the lure left the water a 2 lb bass hit it in mid air,tore off the worm and swam off with it in its mouth shaking untill it swam on to its nest dripped and then for the next couple of minutes would go back to the lure hit shake and then drop and sit on the nest ,needles to say after 10 bass between the two of us the remaining triggerx;s were wasted,we then switched to some Baas pro shop crayfish and the action slowed to a crawl with only one small male for and 2 small males for my son and they did not hit with the same vigor.

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Gitcha Bassin' Fix

The best, worst and funniest in bassin'! Jay Kumar is the guy who created, co-hosted Loudmouth Bass with Zona, was a B.A.S.S. senior writer and a whole lot more in bassin™. Make sure you sign up for the BassBlaster email!

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