Berkley has a long history of being one of the fishing world leaders and a big part of that is the science that they incorporate into their lures. The Berkley PowerBait lineup has become a staple among bass anglers and many other species of fish.
Their scientific research has been helping anglers of all sorts catch more bass and one person who has been part of much of it is Berkley chemist John Prochnow, who serves as the R&D Director.
The Back Story
It all started back in the 1980s when Berkley dipped their toes into the waters of fishing scents.
“Tom Bedell started it all by hiring Dr. Keith Jones to work at Berkley,” he says. “He was the fisheries biologist side and then they hired me as a chemist. Together we researched what fish liked and didn’t like from both scientific perspectives.”
Prochnow came to Berkley with a background in personal care products like lip balm, lotions, and sunscreens and was tasked with creating the fish attracting formulas and the actual use and application by anglers.
“Our first scent product was an attractant called Berkley Strike and while it worked well, we wanted more,” he says. “We thought ‘why should an angler have to keep reapplying it?’ and were challenged to create something that could be inside of a plastic worm. This would eliminate the mess and all anglers would have to do is attach it to a hook and fish it.”
The team figured it out and that was the birth of the first generation of Berkley PowerBait line of soft plastics and the many products that have spawned from that initial discovery.
The PowerBait lineup is a robust collection of many types of worms, creatures, and numerous sizes and colors. Besides bass fishing, there are plenty of products to fool trout, crappie, catfish, walleye, and more.
Over the years, the PowerBait formula has mostly remained the same, but Prochnow and the team have made some tweaks over time to tune in to certain species feeding patterns.
“Just like different nationalities have different tastes, whether it is salt, spice, or cumin, fish have different preferences,” he shares after learning this through extensive lab testing. “The scent with a 10” worm or big lizard will be more tailored to largemouth and smaller minnow baits used for drop-shotting are enhanced for smallmouth. While the ‘seasonings’ change, the basic meat and potatoes are the same.”
One of the things that make PowerBait so effective is that the scent and attractant are molded right into the worms and give the fish a taste when they bite. GULP! on the other hand, it is a water-based attractant.
“The water-based scent flows in and out of the bait like a sponge,” Prochnow shares. “It is also more powerful and disperses more scent, so a fish swimming by will be able to smell it.”
The power of the GULP! scent is a significant benefit, but it must also be recharged to maintain the same potency. That is why Berkley sells things like the Recharge Liquid.
“You can add the scent back to it by putting it in the bucket or package,” he says. “The rule of thumb is to charge it for about the same amount of time you fished that bait. It will get back to the same level of attractant.”
The PowerBait MaxScent line of baits has been around for a few years now, but it captured the fishing world in the summer of 2020. The Flat Worm, in particular, caught fire in the pro fishing world and was dominating the wins and top finishes on a variety of smallmouth fisheries.
The best classification of MaxScent is that it is a combination of both the PowerBait and GULP! lineup.
“It is a hybrid because it has the flexibility and durability of a PVC plastic like PowerBait but also diffuses scent like GULP! does,” Prochnow says. “It is the best of both worlds, but you do sacrifice a little because it is not possible to make it in the crystal clear colors that some prefer. That’s why the finishes are more matte, but most of our pros like that and believe it makes the baits look more natural and less flashy.”
Standing the Test of Time
Over the years, Prochnow has seen hundreds of soft lures hit the market and some have stood out to him as having staying power.
“The 7” PowerWorm has to be the number one for standing the test of time,” he says. “Lately, the hottest bait has been the MaxScent Flat Worm and the creature baits in that lineup have a nice following as well. The others in the PowerBait lineup that stand out are the PowerBait Dropshot Power Bass Minnow and entire Chigger Craw family.”
The science behind fishing lures is real and companies like Berkley emphasize that so that they can create lures that will help anglers catch more fish.