WD-40 – Fishing’s Secret Sauce

I was first turned on to the use of WD-40 as a secret sauce when I was just a kid fishing for trout at Howard Prairie Lake. On a rather slow day of fishing, one older gentlman was catching fish after fish, while the rest of us couldn’t buy a bite. Before he left he let me know his secret…dipping his PowerBait in a jar of WD-40. He let me have the rest of that jar, and it was instant fish on for us the rest of the day. To say I was convinced of it’s effectiveness after that is an understatement.

If you’re a regular of the site, you’ve probably seen the unmistakable blue and yellow can in the background of a few of our videos. It also made it’s own own appearance in Drag Peeling Springers because our guide Bruce Craviotto is a die hard believer in the stuff. Just about every salmon and steelhead guide I’ve fished with carries a can on their boat, and it’s not just to keep the oar lock from squeaking.

So why is it that WD-40 is used so widely as a scent for fishing?

The old story that is spread around most often is that WD-40 is made out of fish oil. Well I’m here to tell you that it’s just not true. According to the MSDS and WD-40’s own Fact’s & Myths page, fish oil is not an ingredient in the secret sauce. Instead it’s made with a petroleum based oil.

If it’s not fish oil then what makes it attract fish?

There’s a few theories out there about why it seems to work so well to help get fish to bite. It could be any one of them, a combination, or it simply just boosts the confidence of fishermen. We’ll probably never understand for sure, but lets take a look at them anyways.

  • Fish oil or not, it’s still an oil based product, and fish are attracted to oils. – Although this is plausible, it seems as though a petroleum based oil is going to smell/taste much different than fish oil. It may not make a difference though.
  • The main ingredient is a solvent which removes human and other fish deterrent scents. – Another very plausible theory. Plenty of people today believe in wearing gloves for the same reason, but what about those guys that smoke, eat, and do whatever else while baiting up and still catch more than their fair share of fish.
  • It’s an ingredient that falls under fragrance. – Vanilla and anise are known fish attractors, and some believe that one of these may be an ingredient in WD-40 and fall under the fragrance category.
  • It give’s the lures or bait a glossy sheen. With it being a solvent, WD-40 will definitely take off any dirt or grime from a lure, and the oil will give it a glossy look. The extra flash could possibly help to induce a strike from any fish.

What ever it really is, we may never truly know. One thing is for certain though…it definitely doesn’t hurt the bite. If using WD-40 makes you more confident about your presentation, then it’s already boosting your chances of catching a fish. I know we’ve caught our fair share of fish with lures that received a spray of it…

Tight Lines….

XFactor Tackle

7 thoughts on “WD-40 – Fishing’s Secret Sauce

  1. When in Yakutat Alaska and not on the river or a boat we fish off the Ankou Bridge.The salt water goes inland during high tide and out as the area gets shallow. Everyone uses
    herring and a sinker except me. I take Hot-N-Tots or Erie Dearies (lead head spinner jigs for walleye) and replace the long weak hooks with salmon hooks. The hold the scent I use
    chartreuse dear hair longer than the hook. As the fish are passing under the bridge I pull the lure from the bottle of salmon oil and toss it in front of them. The oil creates a slick
    and once they pass it they compete for who gets the lure and oil.
    Only thing is you need a stout rod to keep the Coho from tangling in the pylons of the bridge. More fun than bait fishing!

  2. We were crabbing near Newport a few years ago. While we couldn’t pay a crab to get in our ring, an old crusty guy just keep hauling em in. We keep watch on his baiting techniques and finally saw the can of WD-40, I know the stuff works.

  3. Using petroleum based oils like wd-40 as fish attractant in our waterways is adding pollution to them. So that makes this a horrible idea.

  4. I left you a voicemail the other day. I can’t send you any emails. They are all bouncing back.

    I see Don Grieve has been bagging fish, including summers.

  5. Steven-This is totally new to me, never heard of this, but I do believe, because I trust you and will definitely have a can close by from now on, again thank you for a new “Tip”. May the “Bite Be On” for you and yours. Robert

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