Smelly baits, we all have that one friend who lets his chicken liver rot for eternity and tells you how they catch ‘em non-stop. A fish uses its sense of smell for several purposes — not just eating.  Because of this, it is important to consider the purpose and the function of the sense of smell in fish.  For example, some fish emit scents into the water when scared or wounded.  This will tell other fish to stay away. Food sources, however, contain amino acids that when processed, indicate to the fish it’s time to eat.  Weiser Outdoors’ Quick Catch Pro has a special formula of amino acids, fatty acids, proteins and more, that turns fish on.


  1. How does a fish smell?
    • The way a fish smells is different from that of mammals. A fish has nostrils, or nares, located beneath the eyes.  The fish draws water in, where the water will enter the fish’s olfactory system.  There, the fish can “smell” the chemical makeup of the water it is in. Think of it almost as tasting and not so much as smelling.
  2. Does a stinkier bait work faster?
    • Have you ever had rotten meat in your kitchen?  How it overpowers every scent in the house?  This isn’t exactly how it works for fish.  The stinkiness can be more effective when the scent arrives at the fish’s nares (depending on the chemical makeup of the scent), but the scent must travel through the water just the same.  So the next time you hear that a shark will smell blood from a mile away, those blood scent molecules must travel that mile prior to the shark being able to smell it.
  3. Can fish smell hooks?
    • Separate a fish’s sense of smell and taste in your head.  These are two different functions.  So the short answer to this question is: no, they cannot smell the hooks, but they can taste them.  The inside of the mouth is lined with taste buds.  The function of the taste buds is more of confirmation.  Fish react to sour or sweet the way that mammals do.  The sense of smell, however, already has the fish’s interest piqued by the time it has the hook in its mouth.
  4. Granular vs. oil-based attractants?
    • Many oil based attractants are touted as using certain fish oils from the baitfish that bass feed on.  However, as science tells us, oil is less dense than water.  Therefore, oil sits on the surface and is of little use.  Weiser Outdoors’ Quick Catch Pro is available for both saltwater and freshwater. Their granular form allows the fisherman to concentrate on one area as it dissolves.  As we can learn from Berkley Fishing, while oils may be good for masking unwanted scents on your baits, they are “poor flavor carriers.”(1)  As we discussed earlier, Quick Catch Pro is formulated to turn on the fish based on the way a fish is biologically able to smell.
  5. Top smellers by species
    • Using this chart(2), the sense of smell in common fish species is categorized on a scale of 1-10 — 10 being the most perceptive sense of smell.  There are obvious deductions and adjustments to be made dependent on your targeted species.  For example, a bass’ sense of smell is not their strongest sense. Therefore as your targeted species, you’ll focus more on other presentations.  But for catfish, they are a very perceptive fish as it relates to their sense of smell.  A scent-based presentation is a powerful method considering the clarity of the water in a catfish’s prefered location.










Weiser Outdoors offers deer and fish scents with proven results for both.  Learn more at  Have any questions or comments, you can reach the writer at toddw at