Ladson, SC – “Little jelly doughnuts,” remarks Z-Man pro and legendary inshore guide, Captain C.A. Richardson, alluding to his favorite attractant-laced ElaZtech morsels. “When the water’s a little cold or the bite’s off, or really for any slower presentation with soft plastics, the extra taste and scent of a supercharged attractant like Pro-Cure can pay big rewards. More bites. And more fish that eat, chew and hang on. Perfect recipe for an awesome day on the water.”
What Richardson and other anglers think of as scent and flavor incentives, scientists know as chemoreception—the coupling of gustatory and olfactory senses that stimulate predatory fish to feed. Taste and smell can be a final, decisive element determining fishing success. And yet, they’re far from the only aquatic enticements.
Before a fish ever strikes a potential food item, they’re first attracted via vision, detecting the natural underwater movements of live creatures. Body shape, silhouette and motion form positive, negative or neutral images in a predator’s mind. Sometimes, color kicks in, too. But once a big fish closes the escape gap, scent and ultimately, taste can rule their little sensory systems. The right combination of the aforementioned factors often decide whether or not you feel that tick! and set the hook.
Like fish, anglers evaluate an endless parade of available baits to find the one with all the right cues. Most soft plastic baits feature a single favorable feature—a lifelike shape, an enticing motion or a desirable scent and flavor. Very few baits deliver on all elements at once. But exceptions do exist—particularly beyond the world of traditional PVC soft plastics.
“Next generation ElaZtech baits exhibit what seem like impossible combinations of softness and durability, buoyancy and natural action,” notes veteran angler and Z-Man sales manager, Ryan Harder. “But what a lot of anglers are also discovering is the material’s remarkable, sponge-like ability to absorb and retain oil-based attractants. Just a few dabs of the right kind of scent sticks to the bait and continues exuding for multiple hours, and sometimes days, of fishing.
“I can pull a Scented Jerk ShadZ™ out of the package—which is pre-infused with Pro-Cure Super Gel— rig it up, and at the end of a day’s fishing, can still smell the attractant on the bait,” Harder observes. “The other thing you notice is the way bass and other fish eat and hold the bait in their jaws. Sometimes, you put the rod down for a minute and when you pick it back up, you feel the weight of a fish that’s grabbed hold and doesn’t want to drop.”
That’s the dream scenario, says Harder, something he suggests happens often with Z-Man’s series of pre Scented ElaZtech Baits— impregnated with 100-percent natural Pro-Cure Super Gel. Among endless bottles, tubs and tubes of funky, sparkly, goopy fish dope, Pro-Cure stands apart, compelling fish to bite and chew for some very specific reasons.
“We did a lot of testing with different scents and finally selected Pro-Cure because it’s super-compatible with our ElaZtech material as well as just being really fishy, authentic stuff made from actual ground-up fish,” notes Z-Man president Daniel Nussbaum. “Pro-Cure smells potent, but also like a pail of live bait. Fish seem to agree.”
“Super Gel is one-hundred percent real bait,” states Steve Lynch, VP of sales and marketing at Pro-Cure, a 37-year-old leading company in the attractant category. “We use actual crayfish, shiners, shad, gobies and other natural forage species and load them with bite stimulants, including a four amino acid solution known as ‘monster bite.’ Super Gels also contain UV brighteners for a visual kick. It’s one of the most concentrated, yet easy-to-use attractants available.”
Nussbaum concurs, calling out additional ElaZtech / Pro-Cure connections. “Super Gel works so well with ElaZtech because it’s a viscous substance that both coats the bait’s surface and penetrates deep into the material. Its strong, authentic aroma persists for hours and hours. So you can still smell it on the bait even after a day on the water. And its thick surface coating allows Pro-Cure to start dispersing in the water, forming a visual oil slick, right away. These things give you confidence the stuff’s down there working overtime for you.”
Beyond zapping ElaZtech baits with an extra shot of the good stuff, Harder and Richardson offer another attractant trick, akin to a cooking show.
“The night before hitting the water, I’ll grab a small handful of different baits—a few Trout Trick® Jerk ShrimpZ™, Jerk ShadZ, DarterZ™ and GOATs™,” says Richardson. “Drop ‘em into a ziplock bag and then add like 3 or 4 drops of Pro-Cure. Squish the baits around in the bag to distribute the scent. Or, I’ll do multiple bags and label them by bait species—one with shrimp baits and Pro-Cure Krill, another with paddletail swimbaits and Inshore Saltwater formula. Next day, open your bags of marinated baits and throw ‘em right into the fire.”
Harder, a bass man from way back, favors Bang Aerosol, another intoxicating, oil-based attractant that clings to ElaZtech almost like rubber cement. “I’ll take a bag of ZinkerZ™—my favorite bass bait—and spray Bang garlic formula into the open pouch for about two seconds; just long enough so a small puddle forms in the bag. Squeeze the baits around in the scent and it won’t take long for the porous ElaZtech material to soak up the solution.
“If you let the bag sit overnight, you’ll notice that almost all the oil will disappear, absorbed into the baits automatically. And it works equally well with your dropshot and Ned rig baits or jig trailers like the Billy GOAT™.
“I fished one particular ZinkerZ bait for three trips and even after a bunch of bass, I could still smell the garlic attractant on the bait,” recalls Harder. “What’s really cool is that as the salt in baits like the ZinkerZ or Finesse TRD dissolve, it causes them to become sticky and spongy. The dissolved salt leaves behind these micro swiss-cheese holes in the material, perfect for absorbing and holding oil based scents for a long, long time.”
Pro-Cure’s Lynch suggests that oil-based attractants adhere to and soak into warmer baits better than cool ones. “I like to place bags of baits on a warm dashboard for a few minutes or quickly heat them up, say for 5 to 10 seconds, in a microwave before adding drops of Pro-Cure to the bag. Just don’t’ overheat them. You want the baits to feel warm to the touch for the ultimate ElaZtech / Pro-Cure cocktail.”
Richardson culminates the attractant-adhesion conversation. “See those hook slots on the undersides of baits like the DarterZ and DieZel MinnowZ™? Perfect nooks and crannies for applying extra dabs of Pro-Cure. Similar deal with the EZ ShrimpZ™. It’s got a small hook pocket in the chin that can be filled with scent that lasts forever. Or take a TRD TubeZ™ and inject its hollow body with goo. Fish grab these baits and get a snoot-full of juicy goodness. Would you hand over your jelly doughnut? Me, either.”