Does that make scents?
  |  First Published: February 2016

I have recently come to the conclusion that I have an infatuation when it comes to fishing scents and the use of them. I have a growing collection of different brands, styles and smells and I would rarely fish a soft plastic or a lure without some scent applied. After thinking about this, I have come up with the following conclusions for developing this obsession.

Tracing my interest in scents took me a lot further back in my angling experiences than I expected. I remember anglers in the know, coming into the tackle shop I frequented in Canberra, swearing that the use of Aniseed on their baits improved their catch rates for natives and trout. At the time I listened, but ignored this friendly tip.

A move to Queensland and being introduced to the ABT
Bass, Bream
tournaments was my next exposure to the use of scents or, in the case of the bass events, scented dyes. I spent a bit of time around people like John Schofield, Craig ‘Simmo’ Simmons and Steve Kanowski and quickly realised that very rarely did a fly or soft plastic hit the water without being submersed or dipped in a garlic scent or garlic dye.

Simmo was also responsible for my introduction to stimulant/pheromone-based scents in a Gold Coast bream event. We had come across schools of bream free-swimming in the canals and although they showed interest in our soft plastic lures, they would not eat them. That was until he put Squidgy S-Factor on his lure and then they just smashed it. A solid bag of fish later and it wasn’t hard to understand that the S-Factor had made a difference.

The success of scents on bream can be further highlighted when Berkley Gulp was introduced to anglers. Bream couldn’t resist them (still can’t) and their natural smell and flavour has been the undoing of many bream, whether it is in a tournament or a social fishing situation.

I also found impoundment barra were not immune to the allure of scent. Squidgy Slick Rigs or Berkley Hollowbellys covered in garlic scent or in the case of the Hollowbelly, inserted into it, resulted in them being hammered by barra when you slow rolled them around the weed beds of the barra impoundments.

The seed had been sown and my collection had begun to take shape. Recently my use of scents and their value was questioned. This inspired me to look at the latest inclusions and the pros and cons they have.

Dips and Dyes

There are plenty of dips and dyes available from the original Spike It, to a plethora of colours and smells through U-Make-Em Soft Plastics (JJ’s Magic Dips). Dye pens are also available to pimp your favourite plastic or lure.

Most are used to dip the tail of your plastic in it to change the colour of the tail and to add a garlic scent to it. Garlic scent and our freshwater species go hand-in-hand. People like Carl Jocumson swear by this process and recommend doing it every 3-4 casts.

Something to be aware of in this day and age of super stretchy and durable plastics (ZMan and Zerek, to name a couple), all dips will completely dissolve or turn these plastics to mush. They are NOT dip friendly.

Gels and Pastes

The first scented gels I remember seeing in a retail outlet were the Halco Freshwater and Saltwater Scents. The storeowner wasn’t overly convincing trying to explain it to me, but he did explain that a little of the freshwater version on your lures on tough days got you more bites. I came across it again while I was running a retail store in Darwin. The locals swore by the saltwater version on their soft plastics for barra. My first purchase of a scented gel was made and my obsession had started.

The range of scented gels and pastes now available is quite significant. S-Factor from Squidgy started the ball rolling and then overseas products like Pro-Cure, MegaStrike and YUM provided more options in taste, smell, hormones, stimulants and pheromones to entice fish the eat your offering.

Locally made options like Sax Scent and Dizzy Scent provide targeted products for Australian species with different smell combinations and the introduction of glitter representing scales falling from injured fish or a bit of extra flash, giving that Aussie edge when you go fishing.

A new player I noticed at this year’s Fishing Tackle Trade Show was from the wholesaler who brings in Ecogear. Called Liquid Mayhem, it is a super sticky, super resilient gel that requires less frequent application. I look forward to putting it through its paces.

Another new trend with the range of scents available is the use of UV enhancers. These enhancers improve the ability for your lure or plastics to be seen during low light periods or in deep-water situations. UV enhanced lures have been a huge trend over the last couple of years, so it was never going to be long before switched on scent makers jumped on board.

Scented Soft Plastics

The introduction of biodegradable scented baits (soft plastics) changed soft plastics fishing as we know it. Not only are they environmentally friendly, the juices they are soaked in create a scent trail drawing the fish to them and again encourage them to eat. Berkley Gulp leads the way, with others like Ecogearaqua, Marukyu and Slam producing viable alternatives. Excitingly, Samaki has revealed a new range of soft plastic lures that hit the stores recently called Boom Baits. They are made of 10X stretchy material that is infused with scent. They should be well worth a look.


There are many who doubt the effectiveness or the need to use scents. Others believe that its effectiveness is limited to fish that are not reaction or ambush-based feeders. Scents have a place no matter what species you are targeting. Flathead are the classic ambush feeder and a fish I target regularly. There have been many occasions when I have either been struggling for bites and applied scent or reapplied scent because the bite had slowed, and got a fish the next cast. To me, this means the scent has turned a fish from looking at my lure, into a fish biting it.

Scents are no longer simply a masking agent or a smell. Huge money has been spent on research to determine the best combinations of natural (in concentrated forms) salts and bait products, mixed with amino acids, pheromones and enhancers to produce a feeding reaction from a predatory fish.

It was recently put to me that the use of scents is all about imitating a bait-fishing scenario. How do fish find your bait? The smell it produces leads the fish to your bait looking for a feed. Scents do the same, so why wouldn’t you use them?

I know why I am obsessed, because they work.

Tips and tricks

Using scents is something you need to commit to – if you are using scents give them a chance to work. Here are some helpful hints that will help you discover the wonderful world of fishing scents.

1Get into the habit of reapplying the scent regularly. I reapply scent every 8-10 casts.
2Use the features of your plastics or lures to keep the scent in place. Plastics like Squidgy wrigglers have ribs that you can pack scent into. Some plastics are hollow (Zerek Live Flash Minnow) and scent can be placed in this inside.
3Dipping the tails of plastics to change their colour, not only adds scent but also a focal point for the fish to bite on.
4Direct sunlight/heat and scent packaging are not friendly. The heat and sunlight can cause the scent to separate, melt, evaporate, and change colour or all of the above. It is worth taking the time to store them correctly to maximise their usefulness. Dyes in particular evaporate very quickly if the lids are not on tightly and stored in a cool place.
5Find your favourite/s or you will find you have several tackle boxes full of scent like me.

Scents available

Spike It

JJ’s Magic Dips and Dyes


Pro-Cure – 9 options

Halco – 3 options

Sax Scent – 5 options

Dizzy Scent – 4 options

Liquid Mayhem

MegaStrike – 3 options

Scented Plastics

Berkley Gulp – Massive range



Z-Man – 4 styles have Pro-Cure scent mixed with the plastics

Samaki Boom Baits

Reads: 2015

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