Many years ago, too many to count, a friend warned us to avoid eating garlic the day before a bass tournament.
He reasoned that the odor that escapes through our pores the morning after a garlicky meal would transfer to our fishing lures and repel the bass we were trying to catch.
He swore it was fact. Many of us believed him and for years avoided spaghetti dinners on the eve of fishing trips. And then along came commercial garlic scent we anglers bought to spray directly on our lures – on purpose!
Today, the shelves of your favorite fishing tackle store are stocked with all kinds of potions and dyes to customize your lures. Always on the alert for tricks that may turn the tables in our favor, anglers experiment in changing the ways their lures present compared with the hundreds of others a fish might see during the fishing season.
The two more obvious tricks are color and smell.
Anglers can tinker with their lures to make them stand apart. We add a splash of color to create an illusion that our target species perceives interesting or tasty or even menacing in a manner that provokes an attack.
The most popular lure dyes are chartreuse, orange and red.
When the mood strikes me, I’ll pull out a dye marker and dab a dot of color on a bait’s belly or slash a streak across its flank. On crawfish-imitating baits’ pinchers, I’ll pull the pen down the length to add a provocative flair.
The extra attention seems to pay dividends. I say “seems” because I have no hard numbers as proof that I get more bites when I doctor my lures, but I believe it helps.
Believing is one of the most important factors in fishing. If you believe you will fool a fish, you are more likely to succeed than if you cast with doubts. Belief builds confidence, and confidence helps us focus. When we are riveted in every aspect of our fishing, we cast more accurately, fish more intentionally and react with more assertiveness.
So a splash of color to differentiate a bait is worth it to me.
The same goes for adding scent. Fish hunt with all of their senses, and while some fish are more reliant on their sense of smell than others, all of them rely to some extent on sniffing out their prey.
It would seem wise then to douse our baits with the scent of shad or crawfish, two of the main food sources for game fish in this region. But what about garlic and other offbeat scents such as anise, blueberry and even WD-40, the penetrating oil found in just about every garage and workshop in America?
Some say the food-like smells – and the oddball scents, too – work to mask the human odor we add to lures as we handle them during our fishing trips. So if a largemouth bass is reluctant to investigate a bait that smells like people, would that fish throw caution to the wind when that same bait smells like a plate of Italian greens and beans?
That question may go forever unanswered. But the reason does not matter as much as the result.
Results are what we want. If we think it matters that our bait smells like a big crawfish with a splash of orange on its back and streaks of chartreuse on its pinchers, then that’s what we’ll throw.
I have a marker that does all of that. I can customize my baits’ colors and scents with that single tool with confidence.
When I’m confident, I fish better, and the results pile up naturally.