Do artificial baits really work?

When Berkley Powerbait first came out in the late ’80s, it created a revolution within the fishing industry.
I’m not sure if it was the first product that included scent to attract fish or not, but it was the big one that really got the ball rolling on scented plastics.
So do these products really work? In most cases, yes, absolutely.
These products have come a long way over the years and now include shapes, colours, and scents that are incredibly realistic and life-like. Powerbait and Gulp are quality products that have been innovators in these category.
I also use a lot of Northland Slurpies plastics, which are scented and salted to attract fish.
Rapala, meanwhile, has released a new brand and line of baits this year that are just hitting the shelves as we speak. Called “Trigger-X,” it is a water-based product similar to Gulp.
Being water-based is what makes Trigger-X and Gulp different from traditional plastic baits. First of all, these products are biodegradable, which is significant to the environment.
The products also are far more effective at releasing scent in the water and, in fact, actually will release a scent trail to trigger fish to bite. With regular plastic baits, fish actually have to touch the bait to gets the effects of the scent.
The downside to these water-based baits is that they actually will dry out, just like live bait, if left out of the water for significant periods of time.
So when do you choose plastic over the new water-based products? I’ll use bass and walleyes for discussion here, and you can apply this information to whichever fish species you prefer.
A big distinction between bass and walleye is that bass are very opportunistic, meaning that if something moves close to them when they are thinking about eating, then they make quick moves to eat without much investigation to what they are eating.
Walleye, on the other hand, usually “eye-ball” your bait and think about eating a little bit more.
These are just general rules, though. There are plenty of times when walleyes are aggressive and attack everything in sight, and times when bass are nearly dormant and you need to soak your lure right in front of their nose.
I spend a lot of time fishing walleye on Lake of the Woods and very seldom use live bait anymore. Instead, I like to rig a Trigger-X leech or crawler on a spinner rig or fish a Jerkshad on a jig. The shapes and colours available are awesome, and the scent absolutely triggers fish to bite.
Plastic has a time and place, as well, especially if you are changing baits often or travelling and need to pack light.
With bass, plastic sometimes is better because we do change baits a little more often. I’ll use Trigger-X for bass, too, but mostly when I have the bite really dialed in and am going to fish with a specific bait all day.
This was the case at a bass tournament in Sioux Narrows last year. My partner and I used flipping jigs all day and tipped them with Trigger-X Chunks, which were working really well.
In some cases, plastic is a little bit softer and produces better action. At another tournament on the Rainy River, we did well fishing white Slurpies Grubs for smallmouths. The plastic grubs kicked out a little bit more tail action, and they are quite a bit cheaper.
We would snag up on logs and rocks quite often and if we lost a few baits, it was not as big of a hit to the wallet.
Artificial baits do work. Try some plastic and some of the new water-based products this summer, and see which works best for you.

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