A big part of the tackle market consists of scents and attractants. Over the years, there has been a lot of research put in to determine what smells fish like and how anglers can use those to their advantage. Furthermore, bait companies incorporate scents into their products and even develop their own signature scents, as well. While knowing what smells fish are attracted to is a good way to stay one step ahead on the water, it’s also helpful to know what smells can repel them. Today we’ll take a look at a few of the biggest offensive odors to fish, which also happen to be very common on the water.

Insect repellent is perhaps one of the most commonly used outdoor products, and with good reason. However, spraying yourself too much, or getting it on your hands—and your bait, subsequently—is a sure-fire way to ensure you don’t catch fish. This is because of the chemical in repellent known as Deet, which is a major turn off for fish. If you absolutely need to use bug spray, do so before you get near the water and be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before handling lures.

Another product commonly used on the water is sunscreen. However, there are several chemicals in sunscreen that send fish running. As with bug spray, if you need to use sunscreen, apply it before heading out and be sure to wash your hands thoroughly.

When you do wash your hands, it’s smart to use natural soap, if possible. The reason being that many soaps we buy at the supermarket are scented, which often comes from synthetic chemicals. The scent is a combination of artificial chemicals, which don’t exist naturally in the wild, and the foreign scent will scare fish.

Nicotine from cigarettes or tobacco can be a huge fish turn-off. I’ve seen some anglers put a little tobacco spit on their lures, but the truth is, cigarette smoke or spit from tobacco does nothing but drive fish away, no matter what anyone says.

There are other common substances that can drive fish away, as well, including the following: hand sanitizer, preservatives found in foods or candy, or moist towelettes. Also, if you bring hand towels with you to dry your hands after rinsing them in the lake water, be sure to keep an eye on the detergent used to clean them.

The scents outlined above won’t always be powerful enough to deter a fish’s natural instinct to strike, but they can be enough to keep them from holding onto bait. Take measures to keep your hands clean by washing them in the lake, rather than using hand sanitizer or waterless solutions, and you’ll have a good start.