Using Spice as Fishing Bait

Spicy Adventures

If you’ve clicked on this article, chances are you’re into fishing. Or perhaps you’re just curious. Can using spices in fishing bait really make a difference. Aren’t they just…fish? Surely they don’t care for a bit of spice?

The reality is that they love it. All around the world in many different cultures and communities, spices and herbs have been used in homemade fishing bait for centuries, if not millenia. There’s certainly something to it.

Why do fish love spice so much?

Why is this? Well, without getting too scientific and technical, fish actually taste and smell quite similarly to us. They have a complex taste system, using an array of taste buds that are located on the lips, the roof of the mouth, gill arches and barbels. These microscopic sensors are tiny bumps that, very much like ours, are sensitive to sweet, sour, salt and bitter chemicals. Additionally, it’s believed that a carp’s sense of smell is 1000x stronger than a dog’s.

Suddenly, using spice makes a lot of sense. It’s no secret in the fishing world that fish go crazy for different spices. This is for the exact same reason humans also love spices – because they bring real flavour and taste, adding something special to the dish. Of course, they often smell particularly strong too. So if a fish can smell something and then when they come to investigate it tastes amazing, you’re really maximising your chances of a catch!

Fishing bait

What types of spice can I use?

So, what types of spice can be used with your fishing bait? We’re going to assume that you already have your ‘base’ bait. This is either a pre-made ready mix purchased from a shop, or something you’ve made yourself. Usually, it’ll be utilising something quite carbs-based such as cornmeal, cornbread or cereal. Something full of wheat and starch.

This has the potential to be a little boring for the fish and that’s exactly why you’re here. It’s time to spice things up. So let’s take a look at some of the best.


Working best when ground into a powder and mixed in with other ground bait, Ginger is a great addition. Its very distinct aromatic properties are what make it so useful here. The unique fragrance is guaranteed to entice and attract fish to come and take a closer look. When they have a taste, they’ll experience a hot and pungent flavour with lemony notes.

Nutmeg and Mace

Coming from the same plant, nutmeg and mace have a long historical use throughout both cuisines and medicine. Tellingly, about 60-80% of ground nutmeg seed’s chemical properties are camphene (a high explosive property) which is used in the manufacture of fragrances and flavouring of foods. Naturally then, it’s used primarily as an aromatic lure.


It’s not too hard to imagine why cinnamon is on this list is it? Not only is it one of the most globally used and versatile spices around, it’s one of the most used spices in fishing baits all around the world because it ticks both of the essential boxes of taste and smell. The pungent hot and sweet aroma is guaranteed to lure in fish before the sweet, warm flavour with notes of citrus and cloves seals the deal. Definitely one to try out.

Star Anise

Star Anise is a well respected and highly recommended spice for bait in fishing circles. It’s strong, warm liquorice flavour with sweet notes really seems to go down well with the fish. Not only does it taste good, it has a very distinctive fragrance which, as you’re probably gathering by now, is essential for this.

Furthermore, it’s a great source of energy, fatty acids, iron, magnesium, potassium, calcium, dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals. Little wonder the fish love it.

Fenugreek Seeds

Dating back to at least 5000BC, we’re no strangers to using fenugreek seeds in our cooking. That use also extends to fish bait. Indeed, many bait production companies already use fenugreek seeds in some of their award winning baits. Whilst not the most powerful aromatically speaking, some have compared the odour to something similar that’s already represented in carp diets. It has also been noted that certain types of fish appear to go wild for the crunching sensation of the seeds (yes, really).

Smoked Garlic Powder

Smokey and pungent in both smell and flavour, it’s hard to look past smoked garlic powder. You’ll notice when you open our sachet up just how strong it is. It’s something that’s guaranteed to capture the attention of any passing fish and once they’ve had a bite, the kick of flavour will keep them floating around.


Intensely aromatic with a smoky, citrus flavour, Cardamom is one of the most commonly used spices in the world. Not only is it beneficial from an aromatic point of view, but it also makes for a great feeding stimulant that the fish can’t get enough of. That’s because it’s a taste enhancer with lots of beneficial properties. For example, it’s packed full of vitamin A, vitamin C and plenty of protein, as well as lots of minerals such as calcium, copper, zinc, iron, magnesium, manganese and phosphorus. A true natural food attractant for fish.

Summing up

So, to sum things up and wind this line in, as you’ve just read, there are plenty of options for you when it comes to utilising spices and herbs in your fishing bait.

Don’t be afraid to get creative with it – sometimes the extra touch can make all the difference. If you’ve ever been out on a fishing trip and find that for some strange reason, all the fish are going for your mate’s bait rather than yours, you’ll know what we mean. Slight changes in ingredients can make all the difference.

If you respect the fish and understand their surprisingly picky taste, you’ll take the time to create something that’s genuinely delicious (in the underwater world). It’s part of the fun and reward of fishing! You could also try using Shrimp Paste (Belacan Belachan) as a fishing bait too! Browse our whole range of spices here:

If you fish for trout you might also be interested in the following:

How to Cook Trout

Spices used when Cooking or Smoking Trout

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