One “Strike” For This Berkley Scent Ad

Science! Berkley researcher Dr. Keith Jones at work, 1987.

Science! Berkley researcher Dr. Keith Jones at work, 1987.

The scent revolution in bass fishing began, or at least really caught on, back in the early 80s with the release of Original Fish Formula and others, such as Dr. Juice. However, can you remember when Berkley released their first major scent product, what it was called, and the interesting ad that accompanied it?

Before there was Power Bait and Gulp – the two scented products from Berkley most anglers probably recognize – Berkley had another major scent product on the market, what they consider was their first breakthrough in this area, called “Strike.” Berkley Strike was released around 1985, though some reports have pegged it to 1987, and was a combined effort of well known Berkley researcher Dr. Keith Jones, along with chemist John Prochnow. Dr. Jones figured out what fish like to eat, and Prochnow’s job was to figure out how to make it and incorporate it into a lure or similar product.

Berkley Strike was actually a liquid formula that you applied to baits, and they made formulas for a multitude of species, including versions for bass, walleye, muskie/pike, panfish, trout/salmon, catfish and saltwater fish. Berkley even offered a money- back guarantee if your catches weren’t increased. They claimed that this product appealed to both a bass’s sense of scent and taste, and was water-soluble, not oil-based. But it was their early ads that caught my eye.

Can you smell what a bass smells?

Can you smell what a bass smells?

Another very popular cultural item of the late 70s and early 80s were scratch’n sniff decals. Some of the earliest Berkley Strike ads, such as the one shown in  this piece, featured a scratch and sniff patch so you could “smell” the formula, and no – it didn’t smell like garlic or anise, common scents in many of today’s products. Never mind a whole host of issues with this concept, such as whether any angler in his home could ever smell what a bass actually smelled in the water, or whether they’d recognize it as something a fish would like or not. Not certain how many anglers might have bought the product based upon that little gimmick, but harnessing a popular cultural phenomena probably seemed like a good marketing tool at the time.

Berkley continues to do research in this area, as a 2007 newspaper article stated, “The parent company, Pure Fishing, has four fish laboratories — two for biologists and two for chemists. They have a 12-member research team that works on fish attractants and includes two chemists, three biologists, three design engineers and four technicians.”

  • Ralph Manns

    In the ’80s I had no doubt about the effectiveness of PowerBaits, and even used ther liquid scent* for presentations involving limited lure movement. The liquid seemed to make “dead-sticked” Slug-gos and other plastics more effective.. The early Berkley reports from Dr. Jones satisfied my need for scientific research. I wish I was as confident the Pure Fishing’s MBAs were as dedicated to scientific accuracy.

    The dominance of sales pitches and glitz over actual product quantity and/or quality that permeates modern merchandising seems to have filtered into all of our major fishing products producer’s thinking, JMHO.

    * Hey– I even tried dumping entire bottles of the stuff in experiments to see if an area could be “salted/chummed” like the way catfish are attracted to key areas. It didn’t work for me!

  • Brian

    Ralph,

    Thanks for dropping by the sight and lending your insights. I know what you mean about everything being all glitz these days. That’s partly why I’m so intrigued with the period of fishing history around the late 60s and early 70s from here in the Midwest (FF, Buck Perry, the Lindners, IF, etc.). ALso very intersting experiment about dumping an entire bottle. I never would of thought about trying that – LOL. Hard to believe it didn’t work 😉

  • Scott Jarvis

    Poured some Pike/Musky scent down my tipup ice holes 🙁 Bought the little sponges to put on your hooks to make the scent last longer 🙁