Sunday, June 12, 2011

Catfishing Bait - Should You Use Attractants?

Freshwater fishing is a major pastime in the United States and around the world. Many recreational anglers prefer to target a single species of fish. Bass, trout, panfish and catfish are favorites. While each of these types of fish has their preferred bait there are crossovers. Each species will eat worms for example. The question remains should you use homemade or commercially available attractants on catfishing bait since catfish are less picky about their diet?
Attractants have been around for many years. Some anglers swear about them and other anglers swear at them. Most attractants have an unusual smell. Get some on your clothes and your vehicle may need deodorized from the drive home. Your fishing buddies may want to strap you to the top of the vehicle on the way home. And you may have all the animals in your neighborhood become your new best friend until you change clothes.
Another issue with these products is that some of the liquid forms will stain. Stain your clothes, your favorite fishing hat, the carpet in your boat. Dipping your bait and casting will create a mist and it will be on everything. Some of the early products even blistered and pitted the gelcoat on fiberglass boats.
All the negative issues aside the fact is attractants do work. Sometimes even better than live bait. Companies that produce these products have spent countless amounts of time and money on research, development and testing. Marine biologists and anglers, professional and recreational, have been furnishing input on how the products performed or did not perform for years. "New and Improved" usually is even if the only change is that is sticks to the bait better.
One point that many anglers don't consider is the fact that attractants not only attract fish but they also mask human smell. Fish have been on earth for hundreds of million years longer than humans and have been programmed to avoid human contact. The oils in your hands are transferred to your bait, your line and terminal tackle, hooks, weights, swivels, etc. when rigging. Using a product oftentimes will aid in reducing the small and taste of these oils.
Use a cloth soaked in the attractant to wipe down your line. At least ten feet above the hook, weight or swivel. This will also remove anything leftover in the line manufacturing process. Many spools of line will have powder placed on them to keep the line from striking to itself or to the spool. Dust or small specks of plastic will attach to the new line as it is made. Placing leaders in a container of attractant for a short time may allow it to soak into the line. Placing your baits in the same or different containers will allow it to soak in to the baits and not all fly off during casting or as soon as it hits the water.
Making your own attractants can often outfish the commercial products on your home lakes. Once you come up with a good one you could catch loads of fish and maybe even sell some to your buddies or the local tackle stores.
A simple recipe is to start with some fish oil or anise oil. Anise oil smells like black licorice to us but has been proven to be a great fish attractant over the years. Experiment by adding other tastes and smells that fish like. Garlic powder is one idea and is used in many commercial products. Coffee is a new idea and tends to work pretty well at times. And not just in the morning when the fish are waking up. Just dip or soak your bait in your concoction and let it fly.
One simple, effective and inexpensive attractant for catfish is good old peanut butter. Take your catfishing bait and smear the smooth type of peanut butter on it. It sticks very well to the bait and will stay on for a long time. Peanuts contain a lot of oil. The oils will dissipate in the water and create a good smell and taste. It allows the catfish to easily locate your offering while masking the human scent.
Keith Abraham is a catfishing expert. For more great information on catfishing bait, visit

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