Scent Trails

Posted on January 24th, 2013


Hunters have been using various scents or covering agents to fool game for years. There are basically

two different kinds of agents; masking agents mask or cover your own natural smells like body odor or

other foreign odors such as camp smoke. These odors can be a dead giveaway to an approaching deer

that is perpetually checking the air for something out of the ordinary. Masking agents are available in

both clothing detergents and body soaps and depending on how serious you are, you may choose to

use both. The second type of scent is atractors and as the name implies, these agents are engineered

to attract a big buck by mimicking the natural estrogen odor found in doe urine. Serious hunters tend

to lean more towards the masking agents than atractors as the later may have the tendency to disrupt

the natural movement of deer during the rut and limit which animals come around to you stand but the

point to all of this that anglers can take a page from this book and apply it to everyday fly fishing without

really changing much of their routine.


Negative scent tracks such as L-Serine (a naturally occurring, non-essential amino acid found in body

oils), nicotine, sun screen, insect repellent, hand lotion and gasoline would all be examples of negative

scent tracks that may give a trout pause when he moves to examine your offering.


Positives cent tracks might be fish slime (careful though because pike slime could be a negative scent

when fishing for Smallmouth bass due to the pike’s predatory tendencies.) or fish guts and there is some

suggestion that substances like dairy product such as milk or cheese can also have a positive influence.

The obvious ones like artificial fish attractants, chum or bait juices tend not to be overly popular among

the fly fishing fraternity but I’ve seen them used and there is no way that I can dispute the effectiveness.

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Once while fishing red fish in Florida, I was having a good old fashion but kicking by my friend who was

using live shrimp. That was until I started marinating my Gerkins in the shrimp bucket. (I had to shower

afterwards but still felt horribly dirty… but man did I hook a lot of reds!)


We don’t need to go to extremes to positively affect our flies for better success.



Rob Heal

Wilson’s Fly Shop




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