Scented baits

Using scented baits

I have been fortunate enough to use a number of scents and scented baits over the years. There are many who choose not to use scented baits, as there are converts. Here are some of my experiences that might tip the scales in favor of scented baits.

I have not been to the Pure Fishing laboratory and test tank at Spirit Lake Iowa. I do know the men and women who test and evaluate their scented baits are truly dedicated and have achieved some remarkable results.  But I am just an angler looking for an edge. It did not strike me as important until I looked back in my fishing experiences that I felt I was on to something.

Rigging leeches

Some twenty years ago I was fishing in a highly competitive walleye tournament. The bite was traditionally slow but that year was exceptional.  There were very few fish taken by jigging or trolling and the majority of anglers opted to slow drift rigging leeches. The leeches we bought that year were small in size and marginal in quality.  When I put them on a number 6 octopus hook, they soon tired and just trailed behind the hook. I was not getting bit so I gave my leech a coating of PowerBait Walleye scent.

The first thing I remember was how the leech detested the scent and it started to squirm as if on a hot boat deck. I slipped this squirming, fighting leech into the water and watched as it lifted and swam away with a #6 octopus hook. It didn’t take long the familiar “tick” signaling a bite. I believe that the PowerBait Walleye scent enabled a top ten finish in that tournament. Many times since, my fellow competitors have reminded me of what they saw me do in that tournament as they struggled to get a bite.

Frozen minnows

Gulp makes multiple scents available in spray bottles and PowerBait has their own viscous liquid scents in squeeze bottles. When I get frozen minnows that don’t look or smell fresh in the tub whether salted or not, I will squirt some PowerBait or Gulp scent on the frozen bait.

Fresh minnows have a distinctive odour. Much sharper than frozen or freezer burnt bait. The only way to improve your bait is with a good splash of PowerBait or Gulp scent.

Salted minnows are also very good bait.  Some claim the salt tastes like blood to a fish. I really don’t know. I know the salt, if properly applied, keeps the scales set and bait better preserved. I also believe the salt leaching from the bait is like a blood trail, making your bait noticeable from a greater distance.  Adding scent to salted bait adds that little boost necessary to attract and catch fish from a greater distance.


Lately I have had the time to search for minnows. I have found some success and have been comparing my fresh caught frozen bait with commercially sold tubs.  I can honestly tell you that in every instance, my fresh caught frozen bait out fished the commercial bait.  And size didn’t seem to matter either.  My bait was usually smaller than the commercial baits but far more pungent.  When I put the two baits to the nose test, the results mimicked the catch.  There is no doubt in my mind that scent has a huge influence on catching fish.  Any angler who is looking for that edge had better stock up with Gulp or PowerBait scents.

Product knowledge

I have written elsewhere about PowerBait and Gulp products.  Many consumers and anglers look at the store display and automatically think Berkley is just out to beat the consumer by offering two different brands of scent in different packaging.  I have spent years educating consumers and anglers about these two completely different products and will continue here.

PowerBait scent is derived from an oil based formula.  The scent is captured / impregnated into the baits during the moulding process.  PowerBaits remain flexible out of the packaging and are more forgiving than Gulp products.  The more your PowerBait gets chewed up, the more scent that is released.  If the bait is not holding properly on the hook, tear off the damaged portion and keep fishing.

Gulp is totally different and has to be treated differently as well.  When you look at Gulp products in the ziplock pouches or in tubs, they are in a free liquid.  Gulp products are water based and the baits are moulded with a specially formulated base that accepts a water based scent.  The body of the bait accepts the scent and releases the scent more freely than PowerBait. Because Gulp products are water based, they will release scent faster than PowerBait but shrink and harden when left exposed to the elements.  Gulp is a rechargeable bait so it can be revitalized during or after use.  Don’t throw perfectly good bait away.  Just return it to the original packaging and store for another day.  Finally, just for your information; other artificial baits including PowerBait will not retain Gulp scent.

More choices

The benefits of using scented baits goes well beyond smell.  Now anglers can shop for multi-specie fish catching baits in all descriptions, colours, shapes, sizes and not have to worry about maintenance.  This is coming from someone who used to carry and fish ten pounds of live leeches and a thousand hand picked crawlers a year.

I have ended this with a picture of my “bait bag” from my boat and a few replacements.  I buy these products so don’t think I get them for free.  It just tells you how a live bait angler has accepted the fish catching ability of PowerBait and Gulp products.  I never have to worry about water changes, worm bedding, heat, cold, oxygenators and so on.  Just grab the bag and go fishing!