Scent or No Scent?
Many anglers are religious about scent and believe it is the deal for catching bass. Many very good anglers pay zero attention to scent on a fishing lure most of the time. So which one is right? Bass do have the ability to smell and taste. Do they care? Let’s set the record straight here.
Action is #1
In my opinion, I have broken down the characteristics that I think are the most important for a bass to strike or eat a lure. Action is far and away the number one thing that makes a bass bite. If the action is right, bass will bite no matter the color or scent or anything else. Size and shape are the second most important. Lures come in many sizes and shapes and I have seen slender versus fat or tiny versus large make a huge difference in the strike ratio for catching bass.
Once we get past action and size/shape, scent is a factor on bass biting. I have caught hundreds of bass on plastic worms that smell like a truck tire but I have also seen scent increase catch rate substantially. Knowing when and what to add to a lure is key to getting more bass in the boat. Hard baits are not worth adding scent so we will focus on soft plastics here.
The most obvious reason to add scent to a bass lure is to cover up any unnatural smells. I think this is a big factor. We may touch gasoline, sunscreen, or another scent that bass could immediately spit out. Any natural scent applied to a lure would work here. In our Missile Baits soft plastics, we add anise oil to the plastic before the baits are injected. Afterwards, we add some craw oil before the baits are bagged. This assures nothing but natural scent for Missile Baits and should be considered for what you are throwing.
There is a difference between scent for cover and scent for attractant. Bass do NOT follow a scent trail and look for something to eat as a result. Other fish do but bass do not. There are some great studies done on bass that show what makes them actually eat from a scent. These studies were done on many game fish. There is info out there about what will make a bass hold or eat based on scent. These studies were done for hatcheries and farm raising fish. Us crazy bass people found this info and have tried to use it for catching more bass.
This blog does not want to get too deep into the science behind what makes a bass bite. I want people to keep in perspective that scent is only the third most important factor in what makes a bass bite. That being said, some of the scientific lessons can be applied to what goes on your lure. A laboratory is different that Lake Guntersville in a club tournament but maybe some of the right molecules on your bait can make one or two more bass inhale your bait. We all know how important even one bite can be the one we need.
So does scent matter? Absolutely. Is it the most important factor? Not even close. As a bass pro, I want every factor in my favor. I even chastised one of my marshals for touching one of my baits. It was a reaction and I apologized but I can’t afford to have even one bass spit out my bait from an unnatural scent. The lesson here is to make sure you have at least a cover scent on your bait. Use scent as your friend and put it on your side. You will be happy you do.