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Brad's cut plugs

6/16/14 @ 7:22 PM
User since 3/29/12
I just bought a couple and I'm wondering what you guys think of them. How to you set them up? Behind a flasher or just straight? If so leader lengths. They seem like curious little things

7/24/16 @ 8:43 PM
User since 4/27/15

So first year I tried Brad's. First time out caught four big kings on them using tuna in oil. Awesome Brad's are going to be killer's. Reading on this forum that tuna with garlic is what you need. So couldn't find any so I make my own. Garlic powder and some olive oil. Have not had a hit on them since. Going to switch back to just tuna in oil to see if that is reason. 

7/20/16 @ 9:14 AM
User since 5/19/04

Good read.  Thanks for sharing.

I know the out west guys are extremely anal about human scent and touching baits.  One of my buddies while on vacation got chewed out for touching a spoon with his bare hands while just setting up.  He had to call me right after to vent.  lol  I guess the guide was pretty darn serious.

Well, I'm off to pre-fish for a salmon/trout Derby on the Bay this weekend.  We'll see if we can't put a few fish in the box and hopefully a couple on the board with tuna.  I plan on using oil garlic tuna and just plain tuna in water again.  We'll see if there is a game changer between the two.


7/19/16 @ 6:15 AM
Grey Beard
User since 1/27/02

re speed; I agree at fast speeds no bites. One time in a tournament went deep to chase rainbows. I always crank my speed to 2.6-3.2 for bows and primarily use spoons. However that day I had on 6 Brad's and 3 spoons. Our only bites came on the spoons. Others have commented that slow seems to be better than fast with Brad's cut plugs. Same for those who run cut bait.

My typical speeds are the same as preferred by the flasher fly guys 2-2.5mph SOG

7/19/16 @ 6:09 AM
Grey Beard
User since 1/27/02

Ditto: yup your messenger on but I wasn't logged on at the time so couldn't see that.

My wife would love it if I didn’t pack the garlic tuna in our kitchen and clean it out at the end of the trip. Frankly so would I.


There is ample scientific evidence that salmon have a tremendous sense of smell as compared to humans. Whether garlic or anise works may be controversial and maybe they just cover up our bad smells(see L-serine in Hasler experiments). Right or wrong the west coast fisherman are more scent conscious than Lake MI anglers. On a number of shows I see the guides scrubbing their hands with toothpaste and wearing rubber gloves to handle lures.


If you have watched underwater video of salmon they are notorious lure followers and no surprise quite often turn away. Then there are the ones that take multiple swipes at a lure before getting hooked. I don’t think garlic will attract fish from any distance however when they get their noses within inches I wonder what scent does to interest them. I’ve caught a lot of salmon with garlic tuna but did it help? Not positive but apparently didn’t hurt. Same for Kickin Walleye applied and ringworm never got to the bottom before being inhaled. Did it help? Apparently didn’t hurt. And days that I out fished companions that didn’t apply scent but of course other factors at play.


I did a talk on Brad’s a few yrs ago and read a bunch of stuff re scent and fish and will cut and paste part of my notes you can read on a rainy day. If you google Dr. Hasler, a UW professor who did lots of experiments with salmon scent you will come to appreciate the salmon’s ability to smell. Another interesting read was by Steve Quinn in the May 2011 In-Fisherman reviewing the history of scents in the lure making industry.




Introduction to scent and salmon (sight, smell and sound are used to attract)  

1.   salmon are designed to swim into current and  back out of natal stream. Nature designed with nose that has water in one side and out the other to assist smell

2.   Return home: magnetic field vs scent: probably both

a.   Kings swim an avg of 2000mi before return home up to 5000mi

b. able to distinguish 1 drop vermouth in 500,000 barrels of gin

c. some dog breeds ability to smell up to 1 million times better than humans and salmon are better than dogs.


3.   Haskin PhD WI 1951 experiment

a.   L-Serine in humans, cats, bears 

b.   Varies with race, sex and age. Adult white males the worst

c.   1 part human skin in 8 billion parts water: stop salmon migration. Wash your hands!

d.   Sharks: 1/3 brain devoted to smell they can detect the smell of ten drops of tuna odor in a swimming pool full of water

e. Studies have been conducted in fish ladders of dams & have shown that people who give off very little L-serine can stand in the passageway with their shoes off and fish will continue to move through, whereas people who give off lots of the chemical will stop all upstream movement through these passageways.



4.   1971-73 Oak Creek Port Washington:  morpholine imprinted fish at the  smolt stage

                   During the fall run

a.   Morpholine dripped 100 meters from shore and fin clipped  imprinted fish stopped others didn’t

b.   Morpholine response until many fish spawning then sex pheromes coming out of river more attractant




5.   Smolt stage: scent marking stage associated with length of day.

a.   Transport to new water and will imprint and return to that stream

b.   Photoperiodic cues release gonadotropin and other hormonal changes for fresh to salt water habitat and migration out.



Fishing and Scent:


1980s Dr. Bill Carr U of FL fish feeding stimulant: isolated chemicals from injured shrimp that attracted fish.

(In-Fisherman May 2011: Steve Quinn “Laboratory Largemouth”)  

Stimulant vs attractant: Mann’s Bait additive to jelly worm.

        Stimulant needed to get reflex to swallow: amino acids for bass and for salmon lipids and fatty acids (herring oil, tuna oil)

        Berkley now leads the charge with soft baits: problem is to attract the fisherman . Using proper chemicals you can get fish to eat glass, marbles etc. 2-3 seconds vs 30 seconds with scent. Need it not to be messy, cumbersome and good shelf life. Salting some baits assists release of stimulants. Continue to work on various chemicals for various fish species. Trigger X: Prof.  Halfan experiment and fish hang on to a lure longer if scented.



Oil based fish attractants are said to be on the low end of the scale for effectiveness in attracting steelhead or salmon. They will however, cause a fish to take a longer look at your offering or keep it in their mouth for a greater period of time before they spit it out. Oil based attractants will MASK human scent and most other offending odors. Products such as Smelly Jelly; Edge Products Hot Sauce; Fish Formula; Mike’s Shrimp Oil, Riverside Lures Real Craw; and Cossacks Bait Products shrimp, Herring, and Salmon egg oils are considered to be primarily oil based scents.



7/18/16 @ 11:03 AM
User since 12/6/10

Pretty sure my messenger is on.  Garlic is another scent that really doesn't do anything when it's actually put to a scientific test and not just anecdotal "I caught more fish after I sprayed it with garlic" evidence.  And why would garlic be attractive to fish?  It's not natural and it's not something they would associate with food.  Lots of good marketing!

alwive and hearing are very oily but that doesn't necessarily mean that's why salmon eat them.  

Salmon and trout are not high on using taste for feeding either.  Now catfish use it as their main sense to find food, salmon use sight and their lateral line as the main senses and taste/smell as secondary senses. Pike and musky hardly use taste/scent at all.

as for brads cut plugs I've had good results with them with tuna in, plain and with a whole alwive smashed in between the sides.  I didn't really find any better luck with them being plain or with "bait" in them though.  When I mentioned this to Brad when I fished with him on the Columbia River he wasn't surprised.

7/18/16 @ 9:36 AM
User since 5/19/04

Interesting......  one would think that oil would hang and make a bigger scent trail.  Much like fresh herring or smelt.....  no?

I've only fished these once last year during a tourney during a tough bite.  We used just plain old tuna in water for scent/bait.  Worked well.  Got us first place infact.  Started out with 2, and ended up the day with 10 plugs in the water.  We had one fish come unbuttoned on a J early and landed a jack on a dipsey/spoon at the end.  Every other hit/fish came on the Brad's tuna rig, fished clean on copper/lead.  I did notice however, after about an hour or so the tuna lost scent and the bites were less frequent.  Fresh bait seemed to make a big difference.  I'm not a big scent guy.  I've tried tons and tons of different scents throughout the years.  Jelly's, sticks, pastes and sprays you name it....  never found anything to work very well, if at all.   We still got bit some, but so did the clean baits.  Idk.  Fresh cutbait on the other hand is a whole different story.  There aren't many lake trout that can pass up fresh cut smelt on a jig....

At what speed do you guys prefer to run them?  I noticed they didnt seem to be very speed tolerant.  Seemed if we got above 2.8 at the ball, we couldn't buy a bite.  2 -2.2 seemed about right.  Have you guys noticed the same?  Or was it just that day?  

Thanks for the feedback.

7/18/16 @ 5:46 AM
Grey Beard
User since 1/27/02


Turn on your messenger.

Very interesting comments on sense smell and I would appreciate a reference so I can read about it.

Maybe that's why the garlic helps as it disperses more readily in water. Garlic and anise are popular in bass and walleye scents and I use Kickin Walleye on my plastics. What I read about salmon and can't remember where is garlic draws them in and the tuna in oil provides the stimulant to bite. Considering oily forage such as alewife and herring are preferred in their diet they must be able to smell them.

I have had a few personal messages saying that they have caught fish on Brad's cut plugs without scent. That is no surprise considering not many of us put scent on our spoons or JPlugs. The great colors and rolling action and flash will catch fish and scent is just a bonus for a couple of extra fish. That's why I think they are not any better during the first light bite but do shine when the bite slows.

 re size of Brad's Cut Plugs: I primarily use the regular 4" size but have caught some big kings on 3" Mini's. You make a good point re size of bait as it seems they are primarily eating last years hatch of alewife.

7/17/16 @ 7:35 PM
User since 12/6/10

GreyBeard, just remember that while a fish's sense of smell may be better than ours it is much different also.  Generally they can't smell things that are oil based because the "caves" that trap the scent molocules are so small the larger oil molicules don't fit in them so they don't "smell" them.  Their sense of smell is actually the same as their taste sense.  It's the same as why some people are much more suseptable to spicy foods and other's have no problems with it - it's all because of taste bud size.

7/17/16 @ 11:21 AM
User since 5/19/04

Have you guys had much luck this year with the cut plug's?  I ran these late last year (mid-late August) and had great success with them.  I'm going to order a few dozen more and wondering what size has been working best.  Seems that most of the alewives are running small this year.  Thinking maybe the mini's might work better?  Any color better this year than in the past?  

What are your thoughts?  

6/28/16 @ 7:41 AM
Grey Beard
User since 1/27/02

I add about a tsp of olive oil to the can of Roasted Garlic Tuna in oil and break up into a fine particle with a fork figuring that will leak out a little better. I think the smell lasts at least a couple of hours. When I bring one back into the boat I or one of my boat mates will smell the lure. If we can still smell it I'm sure the fish can considering they can smell about a capful of vermoth in 10K gallons of gin.

Grey Beard

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