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How To Use Fish Oil For Fishing Bait

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You’ve probably heard of fish oil. You can get it in vitamin capsules in the vitamin and supplement section of your pharmacy. Deep down, haven’t you always wondered if you could use fish oil for fishing bait?… No? Well surprisingly a lot of people do, so I looked into it and here are the interesting results I found!

  • Fish oil is actually an ingredient that stocked trout are raised on, so it can be a familiar smell to them.
  • Many commercially sold fishing bait scents contain fish oil as an ingredient.
  • Fish oil isn’t the best scent to use for all fish. (More on that below)
  • There are a few YouTube videos of anglers trying to catch fish with a fish oil vitamin pill stuck on their hook, but they don’t have any luck. It’s probably because the capsules dissolve too quickly and the oil disperses.
  • You are better off buying a fish oil scent designed for fishing bait. It’s probably cheaper, less time consuming, and designed to stay on the bait or lure better.
  • If you really want to use pure fish oil, then I recommend buying a bottle of it from a feed store and using it as an ingredient for your fishing bait recipes. Or you can pour it in a jar and dip your bait and lures into it.

If you want to learn more about fishing scents and how to best utilize them, then keep reading!

Fish Noses

fish oil scents

Unlike humans, fish do not breath through their noses. In fact the nostrils don’t connect at all with the gills.

Each of a fish’s nostrils have two holes. The water goes in one and out the other.

They serve one purpose and that is to detect different chemicals in the water.

These nostrils help them to navigate, find food, and detect threats.

A fish’s sense of smell is incredibly strong. Salmon and steelhead even rely on their noses to find the stream where they were hatched.

And fish that live in murky water rely more on smell than sight for finding food. This is why scented baits work so well on catfish, but are less important for trout which usually live in clear water.

Why Do Fish Like Fish Oil?

Fish oil doesn’t work on all fish, but when it does work, it works incredibly well.

Fish oil scents work best added to fishing bait targeting predators.

Predators like bass, catfish, crappie, trout etc… eat smaller fish as a big part of their diet.

Adding fish oil to your fishing bait, makes it more appetizing to these predator fish. And if there is any reason for the fish to question whether your bait is food or not, the strong fish scent will help to convince them.

Scents are often added to lures, but can work just as well on all sorts of baits.

Scents Containing Fish Oil

There are a couple things to know when choosing a scent product.

The most important thing is that you want to make sure the scent mimics what the fish eats.

Another thing to think about is how the scent product disperses in the water. Many scents are oily and don’t mix well with the water. It’s good to find a scent that says it’s water soluble.

Here are some products you can look up that actually contain fish oil scents.

Pro-Cure Water Soluble Fish Oil Scent

Rippin Lips Scent Trail Catfish Attractant

Magic Bait Real Deal Fish Oil

Does Scent Catch More Fish?

The answer is yes, but it will help more in certain situations than others. You also want to make sure you are using the right scent for the right fish.

The main question you have to ask when choosing what scent to use is: What does my target fish eat? Then find a scent that closely mimics that.

I’m going to go through just a few of the most popular fish, what they eat, and some scents that will help you out.


All catfish depend quite a bit on their sense of smell to find food. Channel catfish and bullheads seem to be extra attracted to smells.

Catfish are predators and eat mainly smaller fish like shad and bluegill. This should tell you that adding fish oil to your fishing bait will work great!

Channel Catfish

community ponds catfish

Most of the popular baits for channel catfish are based around scent. If you have heard about dip bait or punch bait… they are just incredibly smelly pastes that you mash onto your hook.

Stink baits work great for smaller channel catfish and bullheads. They usually come in flavors such as chicken liver, cheese, or blood. Why not throw in some fish oil?

Blue and Flathead Catfish

Bigger catfish and especially blue and flathead cats prefer to eat live bait fish. These are already naturally scented, but adding fish oil scent could take your fishing bait up a notch.

For more catfish baits and tips, check out this article! Fish oil scents can be used in combination with most of these baits.


Carp aren’t so much predators, and fish oil wouldn’t be the best choice of scent.

Although carp will occasionally eat a small minnow, they are much more interested in mussels, vegetation, crawdads, and fruits that fall into the water.

Many of the scents advertised for carp are fruity flavors like strawberry, grape, or corn.

Some carp bait recipes call for flavored powders like jello or Kool-Aid, and some call for actual berries to be mashed up within.

If you are interested in some recipes, check out this article on carp bait!


Trout are most definitely predators. They eat bugs as well as smaller fish. That’s why lure fishing and fly fishing works so well on trout.

Fish oil scent is great when using artificial lures, but when it comes to fishing bait, It may not be as important.

Trout rely mainly on sight when searching for food. That’s why the trout fishing section in your tackle shop is so colorful.

Wild Trout

Fishing wild trout on worms is very effective. Wild trout are pretty smart and may know something is up if the worm smells like a fish… Some companies do make worm flavored scents that may work better than fish oil.

Wild trout also like to eat fish eggs. This could be their own eggs, or eggs from other fish like suckers, or salmon. You can fish with salmon eggs, and even get salmon egg flavored scents to add to them.

Stocked Trout

catching trout with fish oil

These fish were raised on fish pellets which are made up of many ingredients. One of which is fish oil!

If you are fishing with Power Bait for stocked trout, these are already flavored, but you can always add some more!

If you want to get more into trout fishing, check out this article!


Like trout, bass are predators that rely more on sight than smell. That’s why most bass anglers use lures and soft plastics to target them.

However, adding scent to these scentless lures can have a pretty good result.

Bass are ambush predators. They find a nice spot to hide, usually near rocks or weeds, and they wait for their pray to swim by. Because of this, bass generally aren’t sniffing out and following scent trails.

Where a scent does help is in the moments before and during the attack. If a bass sees something swimming by that not only looks like a crawfish, but also smells like one and tastes like one, then they are likely to hit it even harder, and hold on longer. This gives you a better chance of a good hookset.

If you are using a lure or soft plastic that mimics a fish, then fish oil scent can be a great choice. But if your bait resembles a crawdad then a crawdad scent may be better.

How To Use Scents

Using scents is pretty easy, but there are a few different types.

Most scents come in a squeeze bottle. Simply squeeze some out onto your bait or lure so that it is well covered.

Some scents will come in a jar that you can dip your bait or lure in. This method is easier and quicker to apply. Just be careful not to trip over it and spill it everywhere.

Another type is made by Pro-Cure and looks like a deodorant stick. This is designed to be applied to hard lures. It’s more waxy and will stay on the metal or plastic surfaces of lures better. This wouldn’t work well on live bait or dough baits.

You can also get scents that come in a spray bottle. This is easy to apply, but you may have to deal with overspray getting on stuff if your aren’t carful.

A Few More Tips

  • Scents can be messy. I like to keep mine in a zip-lock bag when I’m not using them. Sometimes atmospheric pressure changes as well as temperature changes can cause them to leak.
  • Don’t use oily scents on feathers. This will cause them to clump up and look bad.
  • You can marinate your fishing bait in fish oil or other scents.
  • You can add scents like fish oil to your fishing bait recipes.
  • Use gloves if you really don’t want the scent on your hands.
  • Yarn on your hook will help hold scent for longer.

By John

Hi I'm John. I'm the author of I have been obsessed with fishing since my dad took me to catch bluegill in the creek as a little kid, over 20 years ago. I love learning and perfecting all kinds of fishing techniques. I have spent time living in different countries learning their unique traditional fishing methods, and then combining the best of all worlds to catch as many fish as possible. My hope is that this website can help you, or someone you are teaching, to have a better fishing experience early on so that you too can be hooked into this wonderful sport.