Scent attractor in fly fishing?

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Leave a bad taste in your mouth? Photo by Louis Cahill

Leave a bad taste in your mouth? Photo by Louis Cahill

I recently did a photo-shoot for Attraxx, a company whose name may be familiar to some of you.

Attraxx makes soft plastic baits for gear fishing in both fresh and saltwater. These aren’t your grandfather’s rubber worms. The plastics are infused with five patented attractors that stimulate fish into striking. It’s apparently far more complex than just scent or taste and frankly I don’t totally understand all of the details. These guys have a handful of PhDs to my none, but I spent a few days watching these high tech baits in action and I can tell you they work insanely well.

I’m not a gear fisherman. I don’t say that because I feel like I’m above it. Gear fishing takes a lot of skill and knowledge, it’s just not my thing. I don’t do it so I’m not good at it and I don’t understand it. Doug Long, the man behind Attraxx, does understand it. I’ve known Doug for years as a skilled fly fisherman and we’ve wetted our boots together on plenty of occasions so I was surprised to hear that he was now running a plastic bait company.

I was even more surprised to hear that Attraxx is considering new products for fly fishermen. Imagine that, flies tied with materials that release neural stimulators into the water, whipping fish into a feeding frenzy. A couple of years ago I’d have said, “no way! Nobody will buy it,” but these days, I’m not so sure. Let’s look at the trend.

People raised a fuss when fly tyers started using foam in their flies. There are still a few fly fishing competitions that do not allow foam but I wager that everyone reading this has a foam pattern or two in their box. I know I do. For that matter fly tyers have embraced all manner of synthetics in their patterns and with good reason. They work! What’s the difference between foam and rubber legs? This trend has played out so far that my tying materials now include condoms. It was a tough sell for my wife the first time I packed condoms for a fishing trip but now even she thinks it’s OK.

Streamer fisherman (and I count myself) are among the greatest innovators or worst offenders, depending on how you look at it. I’ve had friends laugh out loud at my streamer patterns, only to ask for a closer look after the third or fourth fish. They are all articulated, some have rattling beads or move like a rapala and most have as much flash as a Kiss concert.

Saltwater tyers are not new to this game either. The first fly I ever saw with a rattle was a permit fly. This trickery doesn’t end there. Montana Fly Company’s new “Crabby Patty”, a fly I love, features lifelike cast rubber crab claws and legs and an actual photo of a crab shell on it’s back. That’s right, a photo! I mean, damn!

One of the coolest new fly fishing products for 2013 is West Water’s Spectrum Response. A spray that makes flies glow under UV light. Under the right conditions it works and I’ve used it and recommended it and I don’t have any ethical issue with it.

So why am I recoiling at the idea of scent attractors?

What’s the difference between what works and what works too well? Where is the line? Is there a line? I’ve embraced synthetics and flash and rattles and articulation and photocopies and glow-in-the-dark hair spray. Why does scent feel wrong?

I’m not going to pretend to have the answer. What I want is to know is what you think. I’m sure there will be a great outcry against this idea and I want to hear it, but what I’m really curious about is who can sell me on the idea. If you’re thinking, “where can I get me some of that Attraxx stuff?” please! Tell me what you think.

I’m listening…and so are they.

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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76 thoughts on “Scent attractor in fly fishing?

  1. Drawing a “right and wrong line” is always difficult on that ole slippery slope. Your narrative holds the answer… We have been on the road to perdition ever since we replaced horsehair with mono and mono with flouro and on it goes. I think folks who tied flies in the olden days would likely have used anything available that worked. There is no constitution for fly fishing. And the more hard lines that folks attempt to draw, the sillier it looks to the rest of the world. However, I defend the right those who want to be purists to fish any way they want to fish. Many of them catch more fish than me on my best day using synthetics, foam, and the wiggliest legs a scientist can create. Just don’t impose your preferences on the rest of the world who will cast all fly fishers as snobs. I guess this is a long way of saying: Attrax should go for it, and most sane folks will decide whether it is something they might do based on performance and any side effects (odor, impact on skin, clothing, materials and equipment; and ease of application). Some folks will never use it on principle, and that is OK too. I just think it is a smaller percentage in that category as time goes by and the lines continue to blur.

  2. Seems that I recall that recently we all had a similar line of discussion regarding the use of strike indicators. Some were radically opposed, some said “What the heck, if it works” – – – Now we have another topic that evokes our “purist” emotions. Well, regarding the scent thing. If you are opposed, don’t use it. But don’t automatically condemn those with the curiosity and the courage to try something different. Even at the risk of cries of outrage from their “purist” brethren. 🙂

  3. Being a diehard streamer guy I am constantly toeing ‘the line’ of the acceptable. As stated above, I have found is that line varies wildly and it all boils down to personal preference that will be shaped and changed over time. At first blush I would think a majority of fly folk would not use scent infused material, at least not while others were looking, as they are out to trick the fish with their imitation…but then isn’t scent just another tool used to fool a predator? I am sure that many others would be eager to use it if it works as advertised.

    Personally I use rubber, flash, rattles, synthetic hair, foam and 3D laser printed graphic material without a second thought but for some reason still get a bit squeamish at the thought of ‘powerbait’ materials. That said, momma always said don’t knock it until you’ve tried it so I would be interested to check it out so I can speak intelligenly one way or the other from first hand experience. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go pull a custom mulberry order from it’s anise bath so my customer can go fool some carp 😉

  4. I live in upstate NY and frequently fish the fabled yet cursed waters of the Salmon River. There are guys that I know who use scent on egg patterns. Some folks will do whatever it takes to land a fish and in a way that is fine if one is ok with that. For me it raises several questions. 1) How many fish does one need to catch? To what lengths will one go to catch a fish on a given outing? There is a skill to fly fishing that comes with time and experience. Short-cutting that process will not necessarily make one a better angler via scented flies. More focus on skill improvement than on scents will make more people more successful but scents are a quick and easy addition that will likely improve many peoples time on the water. A well presented fly will either move a fish or not, but will scenting lessen the skill of presentation or just get more fish to move to ones fly?
    2) To me and this is only my thoughts; I thought the difference between fly fishing and bait fishing was just that I was using artificial materials both natural and synthetic to create a realistic or attractor patterns to catch fish. I fish both fresh and salt using a variety of materials ,but bait fishing to me is different as one uses live or dead bait to catch fish Tying a live eel on a fly rod doesn’t make it fly fishing, its bait fishing with a fly rod. I am a fly fisherman I don’t want to bait fish and I don’t begrudge those that do. That being said I think using scented materials on fly patterns crosses the line for me to bait fishing. My guess is that people will succumb to this as they do the center pinning when they catch more fish than swinging flies or nymphing.

  5. It’s too much like bait fishing. I don’t have a problem with synthetics, foam, articulated flies, or anything else that effects how a fly “looks” to a fish. To me that’s fly fishing- fooling a fish ONLY by manipulating how a fly looks.

    Might seem like an arbitrary distinction to some, but once you use scented flies- you’re crossed the line.

  6. i don’t think fly tyers back in the day were any different than us experimenting with every sort of synthetic we can find. there are so many traditional fly patterns that no one seems to question the crazy material used. i often wonder how someone saw that feather or fur from an unusual animal and thought it would be perfect for their new fly idea!

  7. To each his own. No sense in trying to push one’s beliefs of what fly fishing mean on anyone. If you want to wear tweed in the river, wave a handmade bamboo rod with silk line, and fish only dries then do it.
    Would I use the scented stuff? I use it when I’m not fly fishing so yeah I probably would use it with one condition…I wouldn’t use it unless I was planning in keeping the fish I am trying to catch. Too often I’ve seen a fish swallow a hook to the point of death when a soft plastic just tastes too good. I’m okay with it of you plan on keeping fish that are wounded to the point of death. Then fire up the grill!

  8. Scents and digestible substances are illegal in most fly-only waters, which lets you know where most fly anglers stand on scented flies. Nothing wrong with scents on flies on general regulation waters if you choose too but call it what it is…bait fishing. Lest we get too radical in our distinctions however, keep in mind that almost all materials we tie flies with have some scent or taste to the sensitive palate of gamefish. Luckily, our prey often uses it’s sense of sight or feel (lateral line system) more than smell/taste to identify foods so our sport is safe. I’d advise that we watch what scents go on a fly. For example: don’t eat Doritos just before you tie on a fly or you have cheese scented flies and don’t handle flies with lotions or deet on your hands because you’ll repel fish. If you’re worried about scent on a fly such as that stinky road kill you tied nymphs with or the above situations, smash it in the mud to disguise the scent. Washing your hands in river silt will also effectively camo any scents you may have acquired. Spitting on a fly for luck may be bait fishing also because studies show the enzymes in saliva is a fish attractant!

  9. well what exactly does a caddis, stonefly, or mayfly nymph smell like? i could only see this being applied to streamers or eggs maybe

  10. this makes for good debate>>
    ….in all reality, the short window a fly comes into view, and the fish has a deci-second to decide whether it is a viable food option~ I doubt scent plays a huge role. Unless you are fishing carp flies/crayfish patterns and letting them rest on the bottom, or a streamer that is scented and you hope a predatory fish will follow a ‘scent trail’ similar to a shark would find food in a chum line….
    Tight Lines,

    • You bring up an interesting point, Koz. A lot of fly fishing technique and culture has evolved around the idea of a limited window of opportunity. Movement of the “agent of attraction” is what makes fly fishing and bait fishing so different (your nightcrawler doesn’t need to do much besides sit there to be effective). So I find myself wondering how the addition of scent to an angler’s arsenal would change an angler’s actual technique. If you didn’t NEED to produce a drag free drift to induce a strike, or strip your streamer just-so to turn a cold fish into a player, would there be any incentive to do so? There are fly tying implications, too. Would we stop innovating? I guess my overall concern would be that it might affect the incentive to be creative, which is one of the things that’s so cool about fly fishing. People dream up some crazy stuff to make fish eat. I want more of that crazy, not less!

  11. Personal opinion or not, scented lures/flies are considered bait in many jurisdictions.
    In most of Alberta’s trout rivers, bait is banned or limited to the use of maggots late in the summer.
    No matter what your ethical issues may be, it is legislatively defined as Bait Fishing.

    Bait (including attractor scents) can induce a harder deeper strike, and studies show, it’s use results in much higher fish moralities. With the fly taken deeper, it would result in increased handling time to remove the fly if you are letting the fish go. That is the main reason it is banned in many of the flowing waters with naturally reproducing trout populations.

    Personally, I have used scent when trying to catch sturgeon on the fly during a fisheries population study.

    I would not scent my fly to recreationally fish. For the same reason I pinch my barbs, I think scented lures are too damaging to fish. If I was starving or at least fishing to maximize my take, I would use any means possible to catch fish, but as a recreational activity, I prefer the challenge of tricking fish with visual and auditory triggers.

    • I am in total agreement on the fish mortality issue. Unfortunately, it think scent attractor is most attractive to novice anglers who may have a slower hook set, compounding the problem.

      Interestingly, a few years ago North Carolina ruled that power bait was legal in artificial only streams. There was an uproar and I think the regs were changed. I should look into that further.


  12. I think the adoption of scent attractors speaks to folks who tend to focus on the ‘kill’ versus the ‘hunt.’ Personally speaking, my enjoyment of fly fishing is based solely on the latter, which includes experimenting with new patterns, materials and techniques to convince a fish to bite. Landing (and releasing) that fish is a bonus, for sure. But it’s not required for me to consider any particular trip a success. It’s called fishing, not catching. So I don’t plan on using scent/chemical attractors anytime soon.

  13. What’s traditional? 18th century, when the only flies where what you could tie yourself out of natural material, or the ’40s and ’50s, when not only where flies used on the long rod, but so where miniature plugs and spoons and spinnerbaits, the likes of which you can still find in old tackle boxes? Try panfish plastics on the fly, it’s killer.

    Who defines what’s allowed to be used on rod? Izaak Walton and Ernest Hemingway, possibly two of the most famous anglers out there, both used live bait on the fly rod. No one called them liars, cheats, or wrong.

    Personally, if it catches fish, I’ll use it. Fly angling, to me, isn’t about using natural flies only. I love the fight on the rod, the challenge of the presentation. I’ve been known to use scents on flies when catching bait fish for conventional fishing excursions down the road (b/c the fly rod is better for catching bait than conventional tackle), and I have just as many synthetics in my boxes as natural flies. I’ve once used bait on a fly rod just because we ran out of flies.

    All that being said, I don’t like buying flies if I can help it. I’d rather tie them up. So instead of offering, or just offering, scented flies pre-tied, maybe offer scented legs, foam, sprays, or other parts that tiers can use for a little extra “oomph” while keeping the natural look that natural materials give us? My first thought in this area is streamers, 2nd is topwater terrestrials and poppers and saltwater options.

    I say all this, but I’m an all-tackle angler, so I don’t have a “Fly only” mentality. So take that as you will. I’m interested in seeing what comes out of this.

    • Well said Dan. In the end, it remains to be seen how effective these materials might be. My guess is that there would not be a huge difference. Fly fishing relies on a different set of stimulus. I’m sure it will not be long before we find out.

  14. I don’t like scent in flies. I think there are really two defining differences between “gear” and fly fishing lures. The differences are scent (taste) and feel (is it a hard body fly or a soft plastic?). Scent makes a huge difference in how long a fish will hold a fly in its mouth. Knowing when to strike is among the most difficult skills in fly fishing. Scent removes the challenge to a very large extent.

    That said, to each his own. If you are all about catching fish then why not? Of course, why not switch to conventional tackle for streamer fishing? It is more efficient. That cannot be said for nymphing or dry fly fishing where one simply picks up the line and lays it back down vs. reeling in each time with conventional tackle.

  15. I have mulled this over in my head for many years. Mild or macho. I am sure the fish prefer the scent of my expensive cigars over Swishers. So to me the question of scent is not crossing the line. A nicer smelling cigar will always catch you more fish.

  16. Not sure that I would use it regularly, but in and of itself, I would not rule it out or consider it “profane” to the art, skill and science that is fly tying and fishing.

    I have been using UV materials, primarily Hareline’s various chenilles and dubbing blends, for some time. I also carry Spectrum Response in my sling pack. UV enhancers have thier place. But they are not the answer to everything. I have some streamers tied with these materials, but most are not. I use these materials under a specific set of conditions, and have had pretty good results. Under some conditions, however, they do not have any impact – and frequently under-perform in comparison to traditional, non-enhanced materials.

    I am sure that the scented materials may also have their place. The real question is when will they have the most impact and how can they be correctly used. Scents, both impregnated and spray/paste have been around for years.

    Of these, some have specifically been targeted at fly fisherman. A few companies, including Cortland and High Horse, have a floatant spray that is scented. The purpose is to disguise human send on fly, and add something “buggy”. Additionally, WD-40 has been touted as a great attractant spray for flies and lures.

    These new materials could be incorporated by some and ignored by others. Just because it is available does not mean you have to use it in your fishing. In the gear world, there are some great scented baits for Bass fishing. They can be used in tournaments. Ultimately, the fisherman in the tournaments use them under certain conditions, but not all the time.

    I guess for me, I would probably give them a test run to see how they could or could not help me. Not really much different than many other things in fishing. I am not a dry fly purist, fishing upstream (only) to rising fish (only). I know some people who are. I am also willing to use bamboo, fiberglass, graphite, graphite blends and carbon fiber fly rods. I have some friends who will only use bamboo, or fiberglass or graphite. I fly fish for anything that will take a fly (I have not found fish that will not – as of yet). I know some people who will only fish for wild trout and they look down on bass, carp, walleye, pike, etc. At least when chased with a fly rod.

    My real focus, is what impact will these new materials have on the definition of a fly. Powerbait (and related materials) are considered bait – and not lures – under most fishing regulations. This means that these “baits” cannot be used in special regulation zones, where the restriction allows fishing with artificial lures and flies only.

    Would the fly still be a fly? I know that at one point in time many fly fisherman began fishing for migratory (Salmon, Trout) fish with a pegged bead and hook. This method was pretty effective. On the Salmon River (NY), where I fish regularly there are two fly fishing only areas. Both at the top of the river near the dam. Several years ago, there were fly fisherman using pegged beads in those special regulation zones. Fly fishing and flies were defined loosely enough that the pegged bead was ok. It took a short time, relatively speaking, for the DEC to tighten up its definitions so that pegged beads were clearly not flies.

    I am sure that if these new materials had that much impact, the use of them would be controlled. I also think that those of us that are truly dedicated to fly fishing (and possibly even considered a bit crazy with respect to the sport) are not so focused on catching a fish that we would use a trick that always works.

    • Agree that a big part of fly fishing can be in getting skunked! It’s the challenge of figuring it all out. The solution is not digging your way out by throwing scent at it – there’s no fun in that!

    • This is a great point.

      It’s bugs me that some anglers get down on fishing beads. Because of the trailing hook, beads reduce fish mortality. That’s a good thing any way you slice it. Anyone who has a problem with it is likely motivated by jealousy.

      What’s good for the fish is good for the angler! End of story. Get over the beads.

      My issue with scent is the idea that it will increase fish mortality. That’s a problem.

  17. I will admit on the occasional very slow day, I’ve put a drop of powerbait scent on a nymph and turned my day around. It’s funny — there’s a purist side of me that feels like I’m cheating, and I’ve always kept it a close secret to avoid the ridicule of my fly fishing buddies. It is very rare that I will resort to it anyway, but I pretty much always keep a little dropper bottle of it in my vest, just in case…

  18. As someone who does competitive fly fishing, I’m both intrigued with if they’d make a spray, and also hoping nobody would use it to enhance their chances. Most states (and the competitive rules) define a fly as completely artificial with no scent. Therefore this would not be legal on a fly only water or competition. But my sneaky sides wonders what could be done with a spray….

  19. I use a fly rod because I prefer the presentation and retrieve method. I fish to catch fish, not to impress other fishermen.

    Prior to this article I had been mulling Power Bait and Gulp as tying materials. After seeing all the pre-cut tying materials (foam, blades, plastics) at fly shops the line began to blur for me. What really sold me on throwing the line out altogether was a conversation I had with the owner of my local fly shop about catching sharks on baited flys and chumming in salt water.

    I’m not about to start putting meat on my hooks because I love tying. But, I welcome any new materials that will give me an edge over my quarry.

  20. Live and let live. Scent attractors are going too far for me personally, but if you want to use them, go for it. Photos on flies? also too far for me.

  21. Do trout even use scent to find food? UV products came on to the market bc trout can see UV very very well. Synthetics came on to the market because they are more applicable and sometimes just more awesome. But what about scent? For trout specific, do trout key in on a bug by scent? Do they smell the nymphs floating by them and that helps them pick out a nymph? Does a brown hammer a streamer because it smells pretty good? Now eggs are probably a different, but we could probably test that pretty quickly.

    Doesn’t seem to be that way everything for trout always seems to be a visual game, not as much scent. Drift, presentation, etc.

    Now for warm water species (not familiar enough with salt to say anything) it would probably be very applicable. Carp, bass, musky, heck even 70lb flathead cats would be game!

    It’s irrelevant to discuss if we will use it or not, sooner or later it will happen even if it flops now. That’s just the progression of this addiction!

  22. What a topic! We here in Colorado will largely be exempt from as regulations consider bait to be “those devices to which scents or smell attractants have been added or externally applied (regardless if the scent is added in the manufacturing process or applied afterward)”. This will eliminate its use from many of the more famous waters in the state.

    If the same benefits of this technology hold true to fly fishing as they do to say soft-plastic lures used for warm-water species – and I believe they would – this could be a particularly effective tool in nymph fishing. If you consider how trout feed sub-surface in a river, constantly “sampling” objects as they drift downstream and spitting things out so very quickly, anything you can do to get a fish to not eject the offering from its mouth (or at least hold onto it longer) is going to be incredibly beneficial. Right or wrong however, one of the claims against scented baits/lures originally made by the Department of Wildlife officials in Colorado regarding use of these baits is that they could potentially increase the number of fish that are hooked deep, lethally hooked, etc and increases mortality on catch-and-release waters. For some, perhaps this alone is reason enough to be against this.

    I would definitely try it out of curiosity to see just how effective it is or is not. Would I stick with it? Probably not because for me it’s another unnecessary expense in an increasingly costly endeavor.

  23. Well this is a fun topic. I like Dan’s response above: What’s traditional? Its a good question. What IS considered traditional anymore? We’ve incorporated so many different things into fly fishing over the past several decades that some things that once weren’t considered traditional, are now mainstays in fly angling. For example, foam, articulated patterns, spinner blades, cartoon eyes, fly lips, duct tape, saran wrap, etc, etc, etc, etc. I’ve experimented with scent on flies in the past to see if it makes a marked difference in catch ratio (didn’t make damn bit of difference for me). Why shouldn’t we at least experiment with it? Experimenting is how we come up with new and great ideas. I doubt scented flies will become common practice. I personally found that a box of flies with scent sprayed all over them isn’t very appealing when you open that fly box the next day. But overall I don’t think it hurts to try it out. Yes, there is debate on whether you be able to call this “flies” or just “bait” and that it would take away from the sport. But I bet if you went back to the year 1900 and showed a fly angler an articulated sex dungeon, or a fat albert, they’d gawk at it and call you crazy too.

  24. Great debat! I would probably shy away from adding scent attraction to my flies. I, and presumably most others, started my life in fishing with a cheap spin-cast in hand. At first limited to bait, then gradually becoming nearly exclusively fly for no other reason than I like the act fly fishing, which leads me to my point. Maybe I’m a little out there but my love of fly fishing is not driven by the catching of fish as it was when I used bait and other hardware. The whole performance, from sitting at the vice with a idea to, smoothly delivering the cast, manipulating (or not manipulating) the fly to trigger a response is what’s so great about the sport. The fish, while still the ultimate goal, is really just a small piece of the experience. I believe that smell is most relied on by fish and by fly fishing you have intentionally removed that element and thereby making all the other parts e.g. tying the fly properly and making the right presentation that much more important.
    If I just wanted to catch a fish, then I will pick up or catch some live bait – which I still do and love doing to this day. But if I want more from the experience, then I grab the fly rod. Each method is fun and satisfying for different reasons and I see no reason to blur the lines by adding scent to flies.

  25. It may be illegal in my state, however legality aside, I don’t see what the point would be – I might as well use live bait! Others can do as they like however – it’s just not something that appeals to me at all.

  26. Ever smell a box of flies that have been recently tied? When you open the box it smells like a solvent factory and that can’t be good, especially for bonefish, permit, and steelhead flies. I don’t put head cement on my own flies for this reason, but you can look at these scents as masking human scent and head cement vapors. I probably would not use a scent on a regular basis but I sure would resort to them on days I get pissed at the fish.

  27. I’ve been a gear fisherman my entire life and have recently (3 years ago) become a fly fisherman because that’s what my friends did and it seemed to be the best way to fish the waters that I am now surrounded by. It’s been quite some time since I last picked up a spinning rod. I miss some aspects of it but overall it’s been a breath of fresh air to no longer be bombarded by all the gimmickry and marketing associated with lure selection. I enjoy the simplicity of and find comfort in knowing that whatever pattern I may be having success with was designed/tied and perfected by another angler like myself–not some guys in a DuPont chem lab.

  28. Last night I remembered a short article on page 41 in Volume 3, Issue 3 of The Flyfish Journal which gave me pause. It discusses the deadly effect sodium sulfite (used in egg cures) has on trout.

    Does anyone know if this chemical is an ingredient in scented soft baits? Does Attrax or Berkley use this chemical?

        • Thanks for the question! We’re still in R&D at the moment. Our challenge is to make a scent product that is water soluble that doesn’t disappear too fast when it is in the water. Most scents/attractants are oil based and can stick to a lure or fly. but we all know oil and water don’t mix. Hence we are exploring water based gels to make sure our stimulants get into the water column. This and the Hard water in our neck of the woods are presenting some challenges. Our goal is to have something by mid-summer.

    • It appears that I may have not correctly answered redux’s initial question. I can not speak for Berkley but we do not use sodium sulfite in our stimulants. Our stimulants are all nature based and have been scientifically proven to appeal to fish.

  29. Thanks Louis for the mention and stirring the pot. And many thanks for all the replies, input and opinions!

    Sci-X is actually our scent product that we infuse into plastic baits at this time. The ingredients in Sci-X are all naturally based and there are multiple formulas for a variety of species. Currently we are working on a gel or liquid that could be added/applied to any lure (fly) if one desired too…

    That said, I’ll be on the Roaring Fork this weekend. Many fly boxes – but no Sci-X!

  30. Pingback: Scent of Attraction - Skiff Life - Flats and Back Bay Fishing

  31. I have tried using scent on a fly. The trout just couldn’t be bothered with the fly with scent on it. Same day same location I same fly pattern but this time I scented I caught 3 rainbows. From that one experience I wouldn’t bother with scent again.
    Cheers andrew

    • If you add scents and pheromones to flies, then you are bait fishing, not fly fishing. A friend used to soak his glow bugs in Pautzkes Nector (fish egg juice), which worked well but it is bait fishing. Anyone knows that. Yes, you can do it if you chose to do so where the law allows but it will never be legal in fly fishing only or artificial only waters. Therefore, if you use it, you are bait fishing, regardless of the tackle involved.

  32. Very stimulating dialogue on a subject sure to become more prevalent in the future. I have fished one method or another for some 55 years and have seen many trends come and go. My first rod was split bamboo and I had a metal fly rod too that was made when bamboo was not available because of the embargo against China. I have fished fiberglass and graphite and remember discussions as each was introduced and did it give the angler an “unfair” advantage over the fish. Lines have changed and leaders too and as they did they were eventually accepted by most.
    The use of scent is no different in my opinion then using “squirmy wormy” to tie a San Juan worm. the traditional Chenille material is synthetic as is the plastic so is there truly a distinction? One must ask the question “what is fly fishing?” and everyone here probably has a different spin on the subject and my guess is they are all correct.
    To me it is to present an artificial tied to resemble a natural food of my quarry at the end of a fly line and leader in such a way as to induce a strike. That said…would tricking a fish by applying scent be any different than tricking it by applying floatant?
    Would adding scent to a fly that is cast into breaking waves for the elusive Corbina where there is only a split second for the fish to decide before the water recedes be unfair?
    I think not.
    Fly fishing is a package. You strip…you false cast….you double haul and you release! The line shoots toward your quarry…. unfurling it’s tight loop and the fly at the end of your tapered leader… lands softly in front of the fish! You strip it back in short quick strips and……That is fly fishing!
    Fool the fish….land the fish…release the fish…and do it with style. My two cents worth 🙂

  33. Now you will be able to tie a smelly rock on your hook and call it “fly fishing’. Once you add scent to a fly, it is just bait …. what would be the point then?

    • Why would I want to tie a rock on my hook? Perhaps because I don’t practice “your” fly fishing dogma?
      You know you really shouldn’t drink and post things online at the same time.

    • I never said anyone uses rocks …. I merely said that “now you can”. I don’t think at this point (based on your objections) that you even have a clue about what flyfishing is. Apparently, many State fishery folks would not agree with you based on the fact that we have separation of fishing areas based on the method and the terminal tackle. YMMV.

  34. For those of you who think your fly isn’t bait…
    Try tying a plain hook on your leader, see how many fish you catch.
    Fish hit a fly because they think it’s food. Food = Bait in human terms.

  35. I don’t think at this point (based on your objections) that you even have a clue about what flyfishing is.
    “fly fishing”

    How ignorant does one person have to be to insult another persons knowledge and experience about fly fishing. Everyone is allowed to make their own choices.
    Pompous self righteous people like yourself should never teach anyone how to fly fish.
    Besides I am a saltwater fly fisherman. There is no fishery law that says you can’t apply sent to your fly in saltwater. Ever hear of chumming?
    Also, I probably have caught more fresh water trout in one season than you probably even dream about for a single season. And I used no scent.
    I enjoy following my own path, I see no need to be like everyone else. How boring would life be if we all did everything the same?

  36. Oh, but it’s okay when you do it … read your own comment that I was responding to. Most of what you say is immaterial and is you trying to justify your own behavior. I repeat what I said originally. and that is “that now you can just put some scent on a rock and call it flyfishing”. Your objections are bogus. You have an artificial fly, and then you have something that was an artificial fly, and now you douse it with scent. You don’t even need a fly at that point …. you can just use a rock. Get it yet? Is English your 1st language?

  37. Pingback: Opinion: Scented Flies May Show Up | MidCurrent

  38. When I was introduced to fly fishing by my father at around 12 years old, I could not catch a fish on a fly. So my ingenious self put a worm on a hook at the end of my fly line. I caught fish. I was happy.
    Fast forward to now, I am 49, and I fly fish exclusively when I fly fish. It is a challenge, but I have honed my skills to the point where I catch fish consistently. I am Happy.
    Life is full of difficulty, surprises and uncertainty.
    Fishing is for me about being Happy and Satisfied with my time.
    Life is short, do what you need to do to be happy.
    If you need to use smelly bait to do that, go ahead.
    Be Happy!

  39. Not going to happen in our area. Years ago one of our TU guys got DNR to add a line to the fly fishing regulation that says scent cannot be used on flies.

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