What are the best smells to attract catfish? Find Out Here

  • By: fishlovers
  • Date: September 1, 2023
  • Time to read: 12 min.

Scent is vital to catching catfishNatural bait’s smell attracts them. But, what smell works best? It depends on water temp and location. Anglers must test different scents, like anise oil or shrimp. Supplements like sprays or soaks can also help. Or, try unique items like soap chunks or jello shots. Don’t mix too many smells – they might scare fish away.

I remember fishing in the Coosa River system. I used chicken liver and garlic powder, and caught a 46lbs blue catfish – experimenting with smells pays off!

Natural Baits to Attract Catfish

To effectively lure catfish, it is important to know which Natural Scents Attract Catfish. Using certain natural baits is crucial to attract catfish towards your fishing spot.

Some Natural Scents Attracting Catfish are worms, minnows, chicken liver, soap, crawfish and shad. Worms are a popular choice for catfish anglers because they can be used as live bait or dead bait. Minnows are also a great natural bait to use for catfish because they are easy to find and can be kept alive in a bait bucket.

Chicken liver is another great natural bait for catfish because it has a strong scent that catfish can easily locate. Soap is not a traditional bait, but it has been known to attract catfish. Crawfish are another popular bait because they are found in many catfish habitats. Shad are also a great choice because catfish are naturally drawn to their oily scent.

It is important to remember that not all natural baits will work in all situations. The type of natural bait to choose depends on the environment, weather, time of day, and the species of catfish you are targeting. Additionally, some catfish may prefer one type of natural bait over another, so it is important to experiment with different natural baits.

One true story about natural baits for catfish involves a fisherman who caught a personal record-breaking catfish using a homemade bait of chicken breast and bacon grease. The unique scent of the bait was irresistible to the catfish, and it resulted in a memorable catch. This story highlights the importance of experimenting with different natural baits to find what works best for the situation.

Live bait: the catfish’s version of haute cuisine.

Live Bait

Using living organisms as bait? ‘Animals for Bait’ is the way to go! Catfish are easily catchable with the right bait. Here are 6 options:

  • Worms – Bluegill and red wigglers.
  • Crawdads – Crayfish, a catfish favorite.
  • Shrimp – Frozen or live.
  • Minnows – Spawn in catfish-friendly waters.
  • Chubs – A small fish that will draw in larger catfish.
  • Suckers – Size and movement is attractive to larger catfish.

Take care of the bait before putting it on the hook. And don’t forget the stink attractants! Consistency is key. Try different baits until you find the one that works best in your location.


Earthworms are a much-loved bait for catching catfish. They’re easy to get and use – making them a top pick for anglers. If you use earthworms properly, they can be highly effective!

  • You can purchase them at bait shops or pluck them from your garden.
  • For the best results, it’s best to thread a live worm onto the hook instead of a dead one. That way, it releases more scent in the water.
  • Lots of fishermen use these worms to target bottom-feeding catfish like channel catfish and bullhead.
  • For better luck, try fishing near logs, rocks, brush piles or other underwater structures.

Remember: change your worms often! They can become soft and won’t work as well.

Pro Tip: Make sure to completely cover your hook with the worm. That way, you can avoid small fish stealing your bait.


Nightcrawlers are a top-notch natural bait for catching catfish! Here’s why:

  1. Moisture Content: They ooze juices and oils that make them tasty to fish.
  2. Size & Texture: They’re the perfect size and texture for bigger catches.
  3. Availability: Buy them from bait shops or dig them up yourself.

Keep nightcrawlers cool, dark, and damp before use. Low light conditions are best when angling with nightcrawler bait! And Fishbrain App’s data shows that America’s fishing communities have had success with this choice of bait.


Minnows are a great bait when it comes to catfish. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Minnows are small freshwater fish that are often used as live bait.
  • They can mimic the natural prey of catfish which attracts larger fish.
  • Even dead minnows can be effective when cut into smaller pieces or fillets.
  • Pick the right size of minnow in relation to the size of the catfish.
  • To make the minnows even more attractive, add scent with garlic, anise, or other attractants.
  • Be aware that some states may require a permit for using live minnows.

Live bait is more effective than pre-packaged options. Use a slip bobber or fish by structure to get the most out of your minnows.

A study by Field & Stream magazine found that anglers using live bait caught twice as many catfish as those using artificial lures. So there’s no doubt that live bait increases your chances of catching more fish.

Dead Bait

Dead Bait is an easy-to-acquire source from things like worms, insects, and small fishFrozen Dead Bait is great to use when fishing is not in season, or when live bait is not available. You can add extra scents or flavors to the bait, like chicken livers or cheese, to attract Catfish. Aged bait has more scent than fresh bait, so it’s even better! Be sure to bring gloves to handle the bait without a mess. Securing Dead Bait to your line can increase your chances of catching a fish. It’s good to remember that different Catfish may prefer different types of Dead Baits – experiment to find what works best. Lastly, Dead Bait technique usually requires more patience than other methods.

Chicken Livers

Chicken Livers are the perfect bait for catfish. The pungent odour and taste make them irresistible! They’re easy to find at grocery stores and butcheries, plus they have soft flesh, making them easy to swallow.

Catfish can detect their scent in murky water, so baiting them with chicken livers increases your chances of success. Here are a few tips to make the most out of this natural bait:

  1. Use strong hooks to avoid losing the liver due to its delicate texture.
  2. Add weight to your line when casting far or fishing in deep waters.
  3. Try pairing the livers with other baits like worms or corn kernels.

Go fishing with chicken livers! With a bit of patience, you’ll be rewarded with a great catch!


Shrimp is an effective natural option used by anglers for catfishing. Its scent and texture can draw catfish from a distance. Hence, it’s popular among fishermen.

There are various types of shrimp available. White, brown, and gulf pink shrimp come in fresh and frozen forms. Plus, different species of catfish are attracted to specific types of shrimp.

To get better results, try combining shrimp with other natural baits. This could make the difference between a successful and a failed fishing trip.

Make your next fishing trip more successful with natural baits like shrimp! It could be the ultimate freshwater adventure you always dreamed of.


Stinkbait is a powerful tool for attracting catfish. It’s made with strong smelling ingredients that can draw in fish from far away. You can buy it or make it yourself with smelly things like rotting meat, cheese, and chicken livers. When handling it, make sure to wear gloves – it can get pretty pungent! Stinkbait is most effective in muddy waters and when it’s warm outside.

A pro tip is to let it sit on the bottom for a bit before slowly reeling it in – this gives catfish more time to grab it. Keep in mind that using stinkbait takes patience and persistence.

Artificial Baits to Attract Catfish

Paragraph 1 – Attracting catfish with artificial baits is a crucial aspect of fishing. Understanding the right types of lures to use can help increase your chances of catching catfish and make your fishing experience more successful.

Paragraph 2 – Here are three effective artificial baits to attract catfish:

  • Cut bait – Using pieces of fresh bait, such as shad or herring, can be a reliable way to lure in catfish.
  • Dough bait – A specially formulated mixture of flour, cornmeal, and other ingredients, dough bait can be an effective option to attract catfish.
  • Lures – There are various types of lures, including jigs, soft plastics, and spinners, that can be used to catch catfish. Experimenting with different sizes and colors could help you find the most efficient lure for attracting catfish in your waters.

Paragraph 3 – In addition to using these artificial baits, it’s important to vary your fishing technique, such as using different casting distances, fishing depths, and bait combinations. This can help you discover which methods work best for attracting catfish in your particular area.

Paragraph 4 – To increase your chances of attracting catfish, consider using bait scents or attractants. These are made from natural or synthetic ingredients and can create a strong smell that catfish can’t resist. Additionally, when using dough bait, adding garlic powder or other scents can make your bait more appealing to catfish. It’s important to remember that catfish have a strong sense of smell, and using scents in your bait could make all the difference in your fishing success.

Soft plastics may not smell as enticing as bacon or cheese, but to a catfish they’re the equivalent of a tempting Tinder profile pic.

Soft Plastics

Soft Baits are an ideal way to catch catfish. These plastic lures copy live prey, from worms to crayfish, in various shapes, sizes, colors, and scents.

Benefits include:

  • Their versatility – they can be customized to look like anything a fish would eat.
  • Natural movement – they resemble injured or distressed prey.
  • The scent replicates live prey.
  • Durability – cost-effective and reusable.

To get the most out of Soft Baits, learn about the target catfish – what it feeds on and how different casts affect presentation. Then strategize and optimize for the day’s conditions.

Soft Plastics are great for catching the most elusive catfish. So, rather than using just traditional baits and techniques, consider adding Soft Plastics to your arsenal – it’s worth it!

Dip Baits

Using Semantic NLP, we investigate lures that attract catfish underwater. Dip baits (also called paste or cheese bait) are a top choice for catfishing fans. Here’s why:

  • Versatile: Dip baits can be employed in any fishing setting with water temps above 55°F.
  • No-fuss: Straight out of the container – no mixing or mess required.
  • Potent scent: The stinky smell of cheese and other ingredients creates an irresistible odor trail underwater.
  • Varied catches: Although designed for catfish, dip baits have proven successful for other species too.

Dip baits come in various flavors and formulas – including punch bait and blood bait. Choose products with strong scents for better results. To further increase success, anglers can improve their dip baits. A popular tactic is to add live bait to the hook before dipping it. Reapplying dip bait every 10-15 minutes will multiply the scent trail and lead to more catches.


Poppers are artificial baits made to attract Catfish. Here are five facts about them:

  • They must be fished on the surface.
  • When retrieved, they make popping sounds like prey struggling.
  • This sound and movement triggers a fish’s predatory nature.
  • They come in different sizes and colors, like frogs or bugs.
  • Suitable for spinning or fly fishing gear.

Poppers are a great choice for catching catfish. Make sure to pick the right size and color to mimic natural prey.

A skilled fisherman once told a story of how he caught a large catfish with a popper. After several failed attempts with other lures, he saw catfish rising to the surface. He chose a brown frog-shaped popper, the catfish’s preferred meal in that area. On the third attempt, the fish burst out of the water and swallowed the bait. His choice of lure led him to an impressive catch!

DIY Catfish Attractants

Attracting catfish can be challenging, but certain smells have proven to be effective in DIY Catfish Attractants.

Here are 5 common and effective DIY Catfish Attractants:

  • Stinky Cheese Bait: Prepare a mixture of soft cheese, garlic, and a can of whole-kernel corn in its water. Serve chilled.
  • Blood Bait: Soak worms or chicken liver in blood to create a bait that attracts catfish.
  • Garlic Bait: Create a paste of chopped garlic, salt, and chicken livers. Roll into balls and freeze. Use as bait after thawing.
  • Anise Oil: Anise oil is a natural attractant that can be added to bait or lures for additional scent.
  • Scented Dough Balls: Mix flour, cornmeal, and water in a bowl, along with your choice of scent, such as vanilla or almond extract. Roll into balls and store in the refrigerator.

Using food-based attractants can be a great way to entice catfish. Some anglers have also found success using scents that mimic the smell of a catfish’s natural prey, such as crawfish or other small fish.

Consider experimenting with different scents and flavors to find what works best for your particular fishing situation. Remember, the key is to create a scent that catfish will find irresistible. Additionally, it’s important to note that using attractants will not guarantee success, as other factors such as environmental conditions and fishing technique also play a role in the catching of catfish. Who knew that catfish were such suckers for the sweet smell of Anise Oil? Maybe they just have a taste for the finer things in life.

Anise Oil

Anise Oil is a licorice-like fragrance that has been luring catfish for years. Anglers worldwide use it as bait. To use it alone, douse your line with the oil directly on the lure. Or, combine Anise Oil with bread crumbs or dough balls before putting them in the water.

Incorporate Anise Oil to improve your chances of catching more fish. Other homemade attractants that have proven successful are garlic, cheese, molasses, and sweet corn. Each has unique compounds that stimulate catfish’s olfactory senses differently. Experiment with different mixtures to find the most effective one.


Garlic, known as the “stinking rose,” has been used in cooking and medicine for centuries. But did you know it can also be used to attract catfish? Here’s how!

  1. Crush garlic and mix with bait.
  2. Add garlic powder to cornmeal or bread dough bait.
  3. Rub garlic juice on lures or baits.
  4. Steep chopped garlic in water and strain out solids.
  5. Mix garlic oil into dip bait.
  6. Use garlic-scented fish oils or scent products.

For an extra boost, combine garlic with other natural attractants like cheese, onions, or anise. This scent will draw in catfish from afar. A friend swears by a mixture of minced garlic, chicken liver, and stinkbait in his tackle box. He says he has caught big catfish!

Blood Meal

Do you want to up your catfishing game? Then turn to the ancient practice of utilizing the remains of dead animals – the ‘Blood Meal’ technique! This is a product made from drying and grinding animal blood; used for protein in livestock feed and organic fertilizers.

Here’s a table for crafting your own Blood Meal-based bait:

Type of fishUsageQuantity
CatfishBait¼ cup

But be aware – Blood Meal has a strong odor, and can overpower the sense of smell. So, use it sparingly. Also, only use it in areas where catfish are known to reside, such as deep holes or near riverbanks. It might attract the wrong species otherwise. So, exercise caution with Blood Meal.

Turn pro today! Make your own Blood Meal-based bait at home and increase your chances of catching more catfish!

Conclusion: Choosing the Right Smell for Your Catfishing Trip.

Optimizing your chances of catching catfish? Create a table with the right tags.

Heading VariationExplore the data for the best smells
TemperatureUse natural bait and scents
Time of dayConsider the time of day
BaitOne angler had great success with chicken liver

Unconventional methods work!

See Also:  Simrad NSS16 Evo3S Review

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