Adding Scent To Plugs For Salmon

By John Albrich | 05/08/2014

Spring Chinook have invaded the Pacific Northwest and while there’s an endless number of ways to catch them, one of the most popular and effective is wrapping a Yakima Bait Mag Lip 5.0 or Kwikfish. It’s no secret that one of the most popular baits to wrap it with is a sardine because of their high oil content. They flat out stink, but that’s a good stink to salmon. Salmon are scent junkies.

One of my favorites ways to cure a sardine is by filleting out a few fresh sardines, laying them in a Tupperware container and covering the meat side with Pautzke’s Nectar. I prefer Yellow Nectar, when you can get it.

Sure, Fire Brine is the most popular, but let’s remember that there’s no scent in the brine, but there is in Nectar. The reason is like to use yellow is it almost gives a green hue to the meat and salmon like anything green and silver.

I soak the fillets overnight, drain the juice off them and coat them thoroughly with Fire Power (pure krill powder). At this time the meat is fairly soft, so I salt them with pure sea salt to firm the baits back up. The key is to always keep things cold. I cut my baits the night before and keep them in the fridge to ensure they are cold. Once on the boat I keep them on ice to make sure they stay firm. If you put the fillets in the sun they’ll turn to mush and lose their value.

Once on the river I’ll cut bait size pieces. I prefer a two-inch square piece of the meat, sliced three-quarters of the way up so I can slide it over the eye lid of the hook. Then I take Magic Thread and thoroughly wrap in on the plug tight. The reason I’ve been using more Yakima Bait Mag Lips is because there’s slots on the side of the plug that help me wrap the plug and they run true out of the box. You don’t have to tune them.

Any time you are adding additional scents to a natural bait, like Nectar and krill it’s that much more for a salmon to smell. It’s something different that induces strikes. With spring flows the rivers tend to run higher and faster than in the fall, which is why it’s important to change your wrap often because it gets torn up by the current. I like to change my baits every 15 minutes to ensure a fresh scent trail.

Editor’s Note: Veteran guide John Albrich guides for salmon and steelhead in Idaho. He also fishes Alaska each summer, which he’ll do with Team Pautzke again this August.