February 2021 Tackle Techniques

Making Sense of Crappie Scents, by Ed Mashburn

Most anglers agree that crappie are primarily sight feeders but there are situations when some added smell will make the difference between a bad day and a good day. Baitmate and Crappie Magnet Slab Bites are just two of the choice’s crappie anglers have to add a little extra smell to their crappie lures.

 

Making Sense of Crappie Scents

by Ed Mashburn

Sometimes adding scents makes sense

 

All gamefish use a variety of senses to locate food but many people believe crappie are primarily sight feeders. That may be true some, or even most of the time. However, adding the right “smell” to what they see will often put more fish in the boat.

But just how much difference does scent make for anglers who want to catch crappie? Do crappie really bite better on scented bait rather than unscented lures?

What the Experts Say

Jennifer Wojczak is a Digital Marketing Specialist for Baitmate Fish Attractant and a crappie angler herself.

She says, “The crappie diet is primarily small fish. Our formula is composed of the fish oils of two baitfish species plus a pheromone to trigger sensory responses and a couple of additives to mask any human scent resulting from baiting the hook. Together the product leaves a scent trail behind the bait designed to convince the crappie that the bait is real and deserving of a strike.”

Most predatory fish combine “sight” and “scent” to feed when the water is cloudy.

Wojczak added, “[Baitmate] scents are designed to ‘come off’ in the water leaving both a visible and scent trail for the fish to follow.  They are particularly effective in darker/turbid water.”

Brad Whitehead is a crappie specialist who guides on the Tennessee River chain of lakes. He says that adding scent can make a real difference in success on those days when the crappie are just not aggressively feeding.

“I use Crappie Magnet Slab Bites in the fall while vertical jigging or one-poling for crappie. I do think scent added to lures works, but only when you’re in a fixed position. That means the lure has to stay stationary. The fish needs to smell and maybe even see the scented lure.”

A Little Experiment

I decided to see for myself. On a tough fishing trip in early spring, it was a sunny day after a strong cold front squall line blew through the night before. I took a pair of matched ultra-light spinning rigs with the same generic four-pound monofilament line and the exact same lures -1/24-ounce chartreuse jigs with mini-grubs out of the same package. I put a tiny green bobber about three feet above the jigs, and I went fishing.

Crappie guide Brad Whitehead says he believes crappie scents work best when you are vertical fishing and holding your lures fairly stationary over brush or treetops. (Photo: Ed Mashburn)

The only difference between the two rigs was that one was fished plain and the other received a spray of commercially-prepared crappie scent. I alternated left/right positions of the lures on alternate casts.

I cast both rigs out and let the breeze move the bobbers and jigs and apply motion to the lures.

I got bites on both rigs but the crappie were not aggressive at all. And I did catch about five crappie on the scented jigs while I did not catch a fish on the unscented. It appeared that the crappie bit the scented lures, but more importantly, they held on to the bite long enough to get hooked.

Granted, it was a very limited trial but in that situation the scent added to a crappie jig really did seem to make a difference to me.

When crappie are setting up for bedding and eating everything in sight, I personally don’t think added scent will make much difference. But when the crappie are being picky, I believe that adding scent can make a big difference between coming home skunked and actually catching enough crappie for a fish fry.

 

ADDITIONAL CONTACT INFORMATION

Baitmate Fish Attractant
262-677-7136

Crappie Magnet Slab Bites
501-268-0754

Eye Hole Jig 

Brad Whitehead
256-483-0834
bradwhiteheadfishing@yahoo.com

(Ed Mashburn is a retired public school teacher, outdoor writer and photographer. He lives in southern Alabama, but he fishes for anything – carp and trout in Arizona, smallmouth bass and crappie in Wisconsin to snook and snapper in the Florida Keys.)

 

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