Walk down the condiment isle in any supermarket and you’ll see mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup, hot sauce, salsa, steak sauce and more. These are all products that enhance the flavor of a main course. Mustard on a hot dog, mayonnaise on a ham sandwich or ketchup on fries is the normal usage of a condiment. Just like salt and pepper, it’s something we add to bring out the flavor in a main course. But how many times have you poured yourself a big bowl of mustard or ketchup, grabbed a big spoon and dug in. Probably never. Hopefully never. Condiments compliment the flavor favorite food. A little on the right food can really make a difference. Try a burger on a dry bun with nothing else and you’ll quickly see what I mean. Condiments often make the difference between a great meal and not so great meal.
Well condiments exist in the fishing world also. Not Ketchup or mayo or mustard as we know them, but amino acids. Scientists tell us that amino acids are the building blocks of all life, whether we are fish, birds, animals or humans. There are many, many amino acids out there, and they all seem to serve different functions or purposes. In the world of fish certain amino acids are required to sustain a fish through its life growth cycles. They are necessary to keep it healthy and alive. Fish absorb the nutrients from what they eat, and therefore absorb the amino acids they need to stay healthy from what they feed on.
There is another group of amino acids that improve the flavor of what fish eat. They don’t appear naturally, but scientists who develop fish food have thoroughly researched what amino acids improve flavors to a fish’s taste and olfactory receptors. It’s just like putting hot sauce on a chicken wing. The right condiments make whatever your eating taste better.
And lastly there are amino acids that researchers have discovered trigger an impulse in a fish’s brain that requires it to feed. It tells a fish “I need to eat-right now!” Under the right conditions this ‘need to eat’ message can be incredibly effective in getting a non-feeding fish to bite, but there are some exceptions. If conditions are bad enough, even this feeding impulse may be ignored. Think about eating your favorite slice of pizza in a room that has all the windows shut, and the temperature is up to 130 degrees. You’d be so miserable and uncomfortable that the last thing you would want is a meal of your favorite food. Fish are the same way, if conditions change, they become so uncomfortable that nothing food wise appeals to them. At this point the amino acids that trigger a feeding response are pretty much ineffective. Fortunately, this climate caused doldrum only occur about ten to fifteen percent of the times we fish the proper amino acids will trigger a feeding response from a non-feeding or lethargic fish.
I mention fish, because these traits are common to almost all fish, including bass. Bass need certain amino acids to grow up healthy, and bass respond to certain amino acids as flavor enhancers, and bass also can be influenced into a feeding mood with the right combination of amino acids.
Now if you are a bait scent manufacturer here’s where certain philosophical differences arrive. Several large companies have impregnated a wide range of amino acids and artificial flavors into plastic baits, with varying degrees of success. Almost all these companies use artificial bait flavors as their base ingredient, but the bulk of their effectiveness is generated using complex combinations of amino acids. Basically, your offering your bass a straight shot of ketchup or mustard. It is effective, but not nearly as effective as making a real crayfish, real threadfin shad or real rainbow trout taste incredibly good by combining scent enhancing amino acids with it. At PRO-CURE we make all our bait scents from real whole bait. From Leaches to night crawlers to shad and crawfish, all our bait scents are real.
Obviously if you are using real whole bait the issue of spoilage comes in. What smells great on day one might be the nastiest stinkiest goo in just a few days. So, it’s critical to develop a preservative base that keeps bait from spoiling without repelling fish. I think therefore so many larger scent companies use artificial scent concentrates. Artificial flavors are much cheaper to use than fresh bait, and present much less of a logistical problem in keeping them from turning rancid. With fresh bait it has to be legally harvested, kept refrigerated or frozen, shipped refrigerated or frozen, and stored in freezers. There is a lot of shipping and handling costs in processing fresh bait. It must be legally harvested, kept refrigerated or frozen, shipped refrigerated or frozen and stored in freezers. There is a lot of shipping and handling costs in processing fresh bait. It is just that much easier for large companies to rely on chemically formulated scents. But think about this for a moment. A bass’s olfactory receptors, their sense of smell, is 1.5 million times more acute than a human, so how tough do you think it might be to get them to respond to an artificial scent versus a real one, especially on a tough day?
Pro-Cure’s approach to making bait scents has always been simple. We know bass eat crayfish, shad, minnows, leeches, aquatic shrimp and more, so why not make all our scents out of exactly what they eat. Why not add the right amino acids to these real bait scents so Mr. Bass says “wow- that’s the best smelling crawfish I’ve ever tasted-I want it!” Then add in the last combination of amino acids that trigger a feeding response and you might just have something special at turning on bigger, more suspicious, more stubborn bass. Another positive is that at Pro-Cure we realize as the seasons change big bass target different forage feed, we also realize that in different geographical areas bass feed on different baits. Threadfin Shad might be a hot bait in California, but only marginally effective in Michigan. That is why Pro-Cure offers over 20 different formulas specifically for bass. When you think about how many different styles of baits, colors of baits and various presentations you use to fish with. It’s nuts to have only one or two scent flavors at your disposal. With over 20 different real bait options to find that one missing piece of the puzzle can turn a good day of fishing into a great day of catching.
Even with real scents and the best smelling and tasting baits you still need a carrier, a means of getting this effective scent in front of fish. Hence the Super Gel it is the ultimate carrier for real bait scents. Super Gel is a super sticky, super strong gel that sticks great to all lures, spoons, spinner baits, plastic, rubber and vinyl skirts, soft plastics, pork rind and more. It stays on for dozens of casts and is extremely effective, especially on tough days. With Super Gel you will get more bites, harder takes and your baits will be held onto longer. It’s just like putting ketchup on fries…….only wetter!
Phil Pirone President Pro-Cure Bait Scents