Here’s a few reasons why scented baits are such a good idea:
Freshwater fish like Pike, Bass, Walleye, and Carp have highly developed olfactory (smell) organs and are attracted to certain scents. That’s why so many freshwater bait manufacturers—especially of plastic baits—build the scent right in. Otherwise, scents are sold in containers as paste, fluids and gels. And no matter how you put it on the bait, they work!
For anglers, the most important thing about scenting bait is that it covers up the human scent. Any baits or rigs like today’s hair rig, that require a lot of handling to set up, put your hookup rate at risk if your scent is not masked. With their acute sense of smell, fish will also turn away from the slightest scent of gas or suntan lotion or any foreign chemical for that matter.
The other side of the coin, of course, is, if they like it, they’ll keep that bait in their mouth just that moment or two longer. That will jack up your hookup rate for sure! There are some anglers out there who won’t touch a bait until they’ve used that scent as hand cream. (This is probably not very popular at home, but fishing is a serious business after all.)