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About Fishing: Something smells fishy

Adding scents on lures to increase fishing success is in my background. My dad believed gas or oil on one's hands is repulsive to fish, keeping his hands clean by simply washing them with a bar of ivory soap. Before handling bait, he rubbed his hands in grass and dirt. Further masking human scent, he used anise oil on the lures and fingers.

Today's black bass fishermen buy scents by the bucket full and apply it to their lures like holy water. It becomes a confidence thing with some guys. They apply scent like it's something as important as fishing skills or ability.

Caution: Don't put too much confidence into scents. Certainly use them, but not as a cure to fix all your fishing ailments or replace a fine-tuned bait presentation, but as a tool in the tackle box.

Two basic categories of scents are available: one to mask human scent and the other as an attractant.

Use scents with a anise oil base to mask human scent. Others with amino acids act as an attractant.

Apply these scents either by spraying, dabbing or dipping the lure. Gel scents claim to last on a bait longer.

Scents come in all sorts of flavors typical of a fish's normal diet. The active ingredients in most fish attractants are oils extracted from shad, crayfish, baitfish, worms and/or other water-oriented creatures. Active ingredients in some attractants may also partially or completely include extracts of garlic, anise, other plants, fruits or seeds. Some are also laced with odorless, tasteless compounds of enzymes, hormones and pheromones that the manufacturer suggests may trigger a feeding response or other type of biological response in fish. These active ingredients are often mixed with a heavier, thicker inert base oil or gel that provides for better, longer-lasting underwater adhesion to plastic or metal lure surfaces.

The subject of scents is controversial. Do they work? Which ones work best?

The only honest answer, no one really knows for sure.

Do we really know what a walleye thinks when they see half a crawler on a slow death rig.

Nevertheless, most walleye anglers feel scents are a positive attractant on the closing phase of the strike sequence or a taste once the lure is held in the mouth.

So this is the second reason suggested for using fish attractants. Because they may provide an angler with more time, a few seconds more to realize a fish is holding the lure in its mouth and to set the hook.

Other anglers are confident scents mask the negatives — gas, oil, bug spray, sun tan lotion and other unnatural chemicals — because they may neutralize some unwanted negative scents.

I've tried scents.

Baits that are designed to be fished slowly definitely can benefit from adding scent, in my opinion. Plastic baits are particular good candidates to add scent to. Today's plastic baits already have scents added to them while in the manufacturing process.

Dave Csanda, a Brainerd writer, and one of America's leading fishing educator, put it this way: "Today's plastic baits, with added scent, it is a confidence factor for all my fishing."

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