In the last two columns we have talked about the two most-asked questions of fishing professionals at sports shows: what’s the single most-versatile lure and best color lure? The last area we’ll cover is one of the most complex—to use or not use scent on your lures.

The fishing industry has been working on different scents for more than 40 years, trying to find that magic aroma that will attract and make fish hold on to lures longer. The current list of available scents is amazing: salt, impregnated coffee and salt, anise, garlic, raspberry, pork fat and Gulp Alive. Combinations of all those scents are available too.

In addition, there are various sprays that can be applied to any bait: crayfish, minnow, night crawler, shiner, smelt and garlic. The big question is how important is the sense of smell to attract fish to a bait. We do know that sound is the primary sense a fish uses, through the lateral line on their bodies. Next is sight. Scent is the last element in the fish’s decision to strike and hold on to a bait.

Does the question now become which scent works best? I am not sure there is one correct answer to that question. The primary job of most scents is to mask the fisherman’s scent on the lures, and they all do a good job of that. I am reasonably certain it will come down to what an individual thinks works best.

I use scented baits and sprays. I am not certain they actually make a difference. But just in case they do, I’ll spray my baits when I fish. I checked with a number of my fishing buddies, and they all said about the same thing: they weren’t sure it worked, but why take a chance.

As the winter begins its slow departure, it’s time to begin thinking about that first fishing trip and getting gear ready. We’ll talk about that next time.

Until then…keep a tight line.