What’s multicolored, smelly, floats in the water and surprisingly effective at catching fish? The answer is of course Powerbait. Since its launch, Powerbait has quickly become a firm favorite of Anglers all over the world and can be found in nearly every tackle box. Berkley, the producers of Powerbait, have spent years perfecting their recipes to entice fish to bite, but I’ve always wondered what is Powerbait made of, and is it non-toxic and safe to use?

At first glance, Powerbait closely resembles play-doh, it has a similar consistency, feel and comes in a range of colorful hues, so does it have a similar recipe? The purpose of this article is to answer all of these questions and to turn you into a manmade bait aficionado. One thing is certain, it has taken years of research, teams of scientists, and endless trials and experimentation to get the recipe perfected, and even now new versions are released promising even more effective baits and better odds of catching fish.

Within the industry, Powerbait is known as a dough bait, which is easy to understand why, as it closely resembles dough. Powerbait is made from a combination of an oil-based resin and PVC, in addition to the two main ingredients, a range of scents and smells are added to give the bait its signature stench.

PVC is a synthetic manmade plastic which begins its life as an odorless white powder. In order to create the dough like consistency, the lab produced PVC is mixed with an oil-based resin, this mixture is then heat treated until the mixture becomes dough-like, additional oil or PVC can be added to increase or decrease the viscosity of the resultant dough.

The oil used in the production process actually helps keep the Powerbait smell contained within the dough, essentially creating a barrier which stops it from escaping. Once you begin to mold the bait to your hook, the scents will begin to be released and will help to attract the fish. In addition to the scents, Powerbait is often brightly colored or flecked with shiny particles, these flourishes help the bait become more appealing to fish. As Powerbait is oil based, it doesn’t easily dry out, however, given enough time or if not stored correctly, it will become brittle and flaky. If you have dry Powerbait, there are a few tricks you can do to help soften up which we’ll cover later on in this article.

Does Powerbait Work?

Gulp and Powerbait are extremely popular baits, and for good reason, they work! We’ve put together a small list of reasons as to why Powerbait is so effective:

It Doesn’t Sink: One of the biggest selling points of Powerbait is that it floats, which is a big advantage if you’re fishing in an area with a weedy bottom. With a little bit of trial and error, you can create a rig that will ensure your bait floats just above the weeds, which is where most of the bigger fish will be cruising.

It’s Easy to Use and Clean: If you’ve ever used any live baits before, you know how messy and fiddly they can be. The big advantage with Powerbait has over live baits is that it comes in an easy to store jar of dough, the dough itself is easy to manipulate and form and doesn’t stick to things. Perhaps the only drawback is the smell used as an attractant, but this can be easily washed off.

It Lasts a Long Time: Powerbait comes is very handy small jars which are incredibly easy to just pop into your pocket or backpack. One tiny jar can be used over the course of several fishing trips, a little bit goes a long way.

It’s Effective: Powerbait is a very effective bait, it simply works. I’ve been personally having success with Powerbait for several years, it’s especially useful when fishing for trout, and they go crazy for this bait. Its worth noting that depending on the species of fish, time of day or what the weathers doing, you might need to try a few different colors of Powerbait before you have any success. It’s worthwhile investing in a few different colors.

It Doesn’t Cost A Lot: Powerbait is probably the cheapest bait you can buy, a $3.50 jar can be expected to last you a significant amount of time or fishing trips, it’s definitely good value for money. In comparison, a jar of Salmon eggs will cost upwards of $5.50, however, prices, of course, vary from location to location.

There are plenty of good reasons to use Powerbait, as we’ve highlighted above, and maybe you have your own personal reasons. Perhaps it’s just what you were taught to use by whoever showed you how to fish, or perhaps you just like the color of it, there is no right or wrong reason. Feel free to comment below to let us know why you love Powerbait or why you hate it. If you’re looking to buy some Powerbait, Amazon usually has a pretty good deal on it here.

What Makes Powerbait Float?

As with anything else that doesn’t sink, Powerbait floats because it’s less dense than water, the amount of water the Powerbait displaces weighs more than the Powerbait. It’s worth bearing in mind that the weight of the line can in some circumstances cause the bait to sink, but this is normally only an issue with heavier lines. If you’re using something around the 6lb mark you should be fine. If you want your line to sink, then adding a small amount of split shot or a very small sinker should cause the bait to sink. This is a great tactic if you want to position the bait above the weed line in a lake or pond, or if you know the fish are swimming at a certain depth, you can use this to your advantage.

Smells and Attractants

I’ve used attractants and various scented sprays for a number of years now, but I’m not wholly convinced that they do much or that they’re worth the money.  Most attractant sprays work in a similar fashion, they contain a fragrance that’s supposed to be attractive to fish, and this fragrance is combined with an oil which is what’s sprayed on the bait. The biggest issue with attractant sprays is that oil doesn’t disperse well in water, it’ll either float to the top or remain stuck to whatever it was sprayed on. You’ll often see a small amount of oil sitting on the top of the water wherever your bait lands. Additionally, attractant sprays can be quite messy to apply, you need to make sure you spray it away from your clothes and other tackle and be aware of which way the wind is blowing. Powerbait works slightly differently as the smells aren’t directly combined with the oil, instead, the oil prevents the bait from drying up as well as ensuring the smell isn’t released until the dough is shaped or bitten into.

How to Rehydrate Powerbait?

If you forget or secure the lid on your Powerbait jar correctly, or if the bait is really old, you might find that the dough has become dry, flaky and unusable. If this has happened to use, you might be able to revive your bait with this quick tip. Take your old dried up Powerbait and empty it into a clear plastic ziplock bag, add some attractant oil and work and massage the oil into the Powerbait, adding more oil as required. With a few minutes of working the dough, you should find it begins to soften up and become malleable and less flaky. Continue to do this until the bait has returned to its normal consistency.

If the Powerbait is irrecoverable, it’s probably best to give it up as a lost cause and spend a few dollars to buy a fresh jar. I’ve read about other types of oil working, but truth be told I’ve never tried them. If you have a protip to save dried up Powerbait, please let us know and we’d be happy to share your tips with everyone.

If you’d like to keep your Powerbait fresh, the best way to do this is to make sure you seal the jar properly after every use. Doing this will make sure it’s usable for years to come.

Is Powerbait Toxic?

Powerbait is made from nontoxic ingredients, so it shouldn’t cause any harm to the trout. The oil used is very similar to that used in hatch fisheries all over the world. This fact may go some way to explaining why Powerbait works so well on lakes stocked with farmed fish, as the smell is very similar to what they’ve experienced through much of their life. Even though Powerbait will not cause any harm to trout or other species of fish, it can be digested and pass through their system, it doesn’t provide any nutritional benefit either.

Fish can’t survive on a Powerbait diet, they would eventually starve to death. So, if you keep any fish at home, don’t feed them Powerbait. The bait itself shouldn’t cause any harm to humans, just make sure you gut the fish as you would normally and there should be no traces of Powerbait left. I wouldn’t recommend eating it yourself either, it tastes pretty horrid, but it’s also unlikely to cause any harm in humans either.

How to Make Your Own Powerbait

Even though Powerbait is pretty inexpensive and is readily available in many tackle shops or online, you can also make your own if the urge takes you. It doesn’t cost much to do and like many things that you do yourself, it can provide a certain amount of satisfaction when you land that monster fish.

DIY Powerbait requires three main ingredients:

Scent Ingredients: these will attract the fish to the bait by providing an appetizing scent. You’ll want to make sure you use something with a strong odor, for example, cod liver oil, fish eggs, tinned fish, fish guts, worms, bugs or fish attractant. The smellier it is the better.

Visual Appeal: You’re going to want something that looks appealing to fish. You can use a range of food coloring to create striking colors or add some glitter to provide something that catches the light.
Binding Agent: This is what’s going to bind all the ingredients together, which for this recipe will be a simple dough consisting of flour, water, and eggs.

Instructions

Grind two or more of the scent ingredients together to make a fine paste. This paste will make up around a third of the volume of the final dough, so use that to judge how much paste you should be making.
Start with around half an egg and some water and mix it with the scent paste. Once combined add some food coloring and glitter to the mixture, mix until well combined.

Finally, add around a tablespoon of flour to the mixture and keep on mixing, keep adding flour until a dough consistency has been produced that is capable of staying on a hook.

Use your judgment to decide whether the mixture needs more scent, glitter or coloring.

Feel free to experiment with a range of scents, colors and additives until you create the ultimate bait. I’ve managed to catch many trout with this recipe. Even though it’s not something I do often, in can be a fun experiment.

Final Thoughts

Powerbait is understandably one of the bestselling dough baits available on the market, the key to its success is its effectiveness. If you ever go out trout fishing with your waders, then your tackle box is incomplete without a few jars of the stuff. I’ve had great success with the bait over the years, especially in stocked lakes and bodies of water, it’s proven to be even more effective than other traditional baits such as salmon eggs. Given that it’s non-toxic to both humans and fish, you can safely eat any fish caught with Powerbait, just make sure you thoroughly clean and gut the fish as you would with any other catch. A jar of Powerbait will cost between three and four dollars and can last for years, depending on how often you go fishing. As the bait is so cheap, there’s no real reason not to give it a go and see what you think yourself. If you’re a big fan of Powerbait, or you hate the stuff, let us know in the comments below why that is.

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