Rons Tackle Tips — Bait and Hooks: Some Thoughts

Ken Jones

Staff member
Bait and Hooks: Some Thoughts

By Ron Crandall of Ron's Reel Repair (December 1998)

It's really important to match the size and type of bait to the hook that you have chosen. What you are looking for is to have the hook just covered with the point barely showing. If a fish bites, the hope is to have it get enough of the hook in its mouth so it's hooked. If the bait is overly large or has all sorts of loose parts hanging from it you will be getting a lot of bites and very few hookups.

For example: if you are chasing surfperch and receive a lot of bites and keep missing them, most likely the fish are biting off portions of the bait and not getting the hook into their mouths at all. Try down sizing the bait and make it as cleanly cut and neat and your hookup rate might go up.

Another point that affects your bait is what scents are on your hands while handling the bait. Scents to consider are cigarette/cigar smoke, oils, gasoline, scented soaps, etc. All of these and more can have an affect on your hookup rate. Remember most of the fish in the world can smell about a million times better than you can (that is how salmon find their home stream).

Thread, fine wire, or cheesecloth are aides that help keep the softer baits attached to the hooks. In mussels, the lip area is firmer and will stay on a hook, but the softer central area usually is a better fish attractant because it will slowly dissolve in the water and act like a minerature chum slick.

Lastly, be sure to have a very sharp knife when cutting bait. You want to cut bait, not tear it.


On the scent aspect - Is there anything commercially available that would keep,say cig smoke smell, off the bait and such?
Wash your hands good with dawn dish soap, rinse them REALLY well, rub a packet or tacobell hot sauce into your fingers, then as you bait up add taco sauce to your curly-tail grub, it may sound strange but you won't be able to keep the perch off of your hook, trust me.

Ken Jones

Staff member
Date: March 2, 2001
To: PFIC Message Board
From: Jimbojack
Subject: What's the cure for smelly hands?

For some reason my wife doesn't appreciate "Eau De Mackeral" or "Essence of Anchovie." How do you get rid of the smell from your hands? I've heard of lemon juice, laundry detergent, mouthwash, hand cleaners, Ajax, etc.. These only seem to slightly lessen or cover up the smell. Someone must know the answer. Please save my marriage!

Posted by baitfish

Orange pumice hand soap followed by lemon juice.

Posted by jimbojack

Any certain brand? I use Fast Orange pumice hand cleaner for work and after fishing, but it doesn't seem to do much for the smell.

Posted by baitfish

I use the brand made by GUNK.

Posted by Songslinger

Nature's Family shower and bath gel, available from Target, and cheap. Soak your hands in this stuff and then scrub with a brush and it will do the trick. Makes a decent bubble bath too. The scent is pleasant but not overwhelming and not feminine. I give it two fins up.

Posted by stinkyfingers

Why cure? “It's good to have "

Posted by stinkyfingers

Honest answer...Ok, really: This is what I do and you don't even need that much soap or anything fancy. A lot of times the smell is PERMANENTLY implanted into your skin. Surprised? Oh yeah, it's true. It NEVER comes off. In reality what happens is you take off the first couple of layers of your skin. That's the way to go, too. Ever remember getting glue on your hand in elementary school, when you peel it off your hand is clean as new? Well, same concept here. Here's what I do: HOT WATER. You almost don't need anything else. I mean HOT too. I turn it on all the way hot. I put some generic dish soap on my hands (Safeway brand), and start scrubbing under the water as it's heating up. I'll scrub ferociously until it gets intolerably hot, and then I scrub some more. Then you start darting them in and out of the lava-water quickly, keeping them wet with heat but not having to go to the hospital. I continue to do this until my hands look like boiled lobsters. I pull them out of the water, dry them off, and watch the steam come off of them. Pink as hell, and almost swollen, the first five layers of skin are gone - and about 80-90% of the smell right along with 'em. Try it, it works. It's also really good to do after you've eaten greasy food before you play the video games. I HATE greasy controllers or remotes or my phone or my lighters - Argh!


Posted by aafrench

Geez I think I'll keep my stinky hands before I try that! I thought Stinkyfinger meant something else? oh well Andrew

Posted by baitfish

Well you could always go the survivor route. I would think if you were mike on survivor, you wouldn't have that problem. OUCH! Sounds like Stinky's method is just one step below that:) Seriously though, the key to any of these is scrubbing with either a scrub brush, or I like to use a washcloth. Wait let me rephrase that... A designated fishing washcloth. baitfish

Posted by stinkyfingers

You will notice though, that in all are removing the smell by removing layers of skin. That's why people keep recommending "scrub brushes" and "harsh" chemicals, etc. Don't forget - lemon juice is acidic, and also does the trick... But really folks! You should see my hands, they're actually quite nice for a fishin', tree-hoppin', fence-jumpin', knife-fightin', hand boiling guy. Very soft and tender, I'm sure the girls appreciate that at times. ;) wink, wink...

Posted by harukan

"Stinkyfingers"? Sounds more like

or "Poached Pinkies"
or "Hardboiled Hands"
or "Debrided Digits"
or maybe "Parboiled Paws"

I agree with Frenchy; I think I'd rather have some stench than cooked hands. If anybody else doesn't like a bit of the old Eau de Mer, tell 'em to stuff some cotton up their honker.

Posted by Kyle

Greasy controllers are the worst! *nmsg*

Posted by Hungs

What about Mountain Dew soda? I learn this from the cooking board, people soak/rinse catfish in Mountain Dew soda to get rid of the smell and all the slime.

Posted by R

Boraxo hand soap. It is a clean-all for about everything. From getting your whitewalls white again to cleaning your hands. Works well.

Posted by Kyle

What about when you’re still out in the field? Every time I un-hook a mackerel with my bare hands, I get all that slime on them. I use a towel to wipe some of it off, but that towel could only go so far... And know I continue to fish with slimed hands. This causes my pole and reel handle to become slimed for life. What do you do? (When there's no bathroom). Do you just leave your hands as they are? And drive home slimed?

Posted by Songslinger

Wet wipes will take care of that. Just make sure you discard them properly.

Posted by Mike. C

How about preventive measures. Is it to far fetched to try gloves. I used to use them all the time. You can get 12 pairs for a dollar at the dollar store. The skin tight latex ones...or you can swipe them next time your at the Dr.'s office. I have a lot of friends and relatives that are nurses so I get them from them. They can get a little warm in the summer months and they will get rips and tears. You definitely will go through a few pairs in a full day, but it does solve the problem of the smell. I don't really use them if I 'm using grass shrimp,.. that comes off easy. Pile worms and Anchovies are the worst though. All that oil gets in the pores and is real tough to get out. However is you really want to burn your skin off there is a much quicker and easier way. A little bit...I mean just a little bit...of laundry bleach or Ajax cleaner with bleach will do the same thing without all the painful scrubbing and swelling. The slimy feeling you get when you get bleach on your hands is your skin...just make sure you use some kind of moisturizing lotion afterwards.

Posted by Big Sky Dave

A few suggestions: 1 - use a hand lotion before you start fishing to plug your pores before the slime gets in 2 -- don't touch the fish, lift ‘em on the line, and unhook with pliers, if you're going to keep them, smack them on the head before unhooking, if you're going to release them dangle them over the water, grip the hook and shake 3 — try cleaning your hands with Baby Wipes - they're designed for fighting odor (also good for long camping trips away from a shower - old Montana outfitters trick)

Posted by fishsniffer

Go with anti bacterial soap and a stuffed animal. You heard right. I have one of my sister's old stuffed animals with thick long hair. It is small, so it fits in my hand. I get that wet, pour rubbing alcohol into it, and rub my hands with it. The thick long hairs seek out whatever it is that is causing the smell, and get it off my hands. tight lines and clean hands. sniffer