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Why can you catch fish with Coke?

Catching fish with Coke is an unusual but effective fishing technique. The carbonated soft drink contains ingredients that attract fish when poured into water. While controversial, fishing with Coke has proven successful for many anglers. This article explores the science behind using Coke to catch fish and provides tips for applying this unorthodox bait.

How Does Fishing with Coke Work?

Pouring Coke into water creates an irresistible scent trail and flavor profile that draws fish from a wide area. The ingredients in Coke include:

  • Carbonated water – Bubbles diffuse through water, releasing CO2 that fish detect through their lateral lines.
  • High fructose corn syrup – A sweetener that stimulates fish’s taste receptors.
  • Phosphoric acid – Adds tangy flavor and acidity to water that fish can taste.
  • Natural flavors – Proprietary blends of extracts appeal to fish’s sense of smell.
  • Caffeine – Stimulant that can excite nearby fish.
  • Caramel color – Tints water and attracts fish visually.

The combined effect creates a flavor explosion underwater that gets fish feeding. The bike, curious fish will follow the scent and taste trail right to your hook. It’s an easy meal they can’t pass up.

Does the Caffeine Cause a Reaction?

While caffeine does stimulate fish, it is not the main factor drawing them to Coke. The urban legend says the caffeine rush makes fish go crazy and bite anything in a frenzy. Scientific research disproves this myth.

Controlled studies found no difference between the excitation levels of fish exposed to caffeinated and decaffeinated Coke. The minuscule levels of caffeine that diffuse in water are unlikely to have a major impact on fish behavior.

Rather, ingredients like sugar and carbonation are far more important for attracting fish through scent and taste mechanisms. This means you’ll have equal success with regular or caffeine-free cola drinks.

What Types of Fish does Coke Catch?

Cola soft drinks work for catching a wide variety of freshwater and saltwater fish species. Documented successes include:

  • Largemouth bass
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Tilapia
  • Carp
  • Crappie
  • Walleye
  • Trout
  • Salmon
  • Cod
  • Flounder

Pretty much any fish that eats insects, smaller fish, or other prey will readily take bait doused in Coke. The sweet, intriguing scent crosses species boundaries.

How to Catch Fish with Coke

Fishing with cola drinks requires some specific techniques to be effective. Here are tips to use Coke to catch more fish:

Use Small Amounts

You don’t need much Coke to get fish sniffing around your bait – just a few ounces is enough. Pouring in too much will overload the water with scent and can repel fish. Start with just a splash of cola in the water.

Match Your Bait to Fish Diet

While Coke brings in fish from a distance, you still want bait that matches what they are eating. Use worms for panfish, cut bait for catfish, and lures that mimic shad and minnows for bass and pike. The Coke works best as an attractant rather than main bait.

Watch Your Pour

When adding Coke to water, avoid pouring directly on your bait. Let it diffuse outward from the splash. You want fish to follow the scent trail back to the bait, not have it covered up. Tilt the bottle upwards and let Coke run down the side when splashing it onto the water’s surface.

Use Intermittently

For best results, don’t just pour Coke in constantly. Doing so overwhelms fish and diffuses the scent trail. Instead, add a splash every 5-10 minutes to create a renewed scent burst that keeps fish interested.

Try Different Styles

You’re not limited just to regular cola. Try out Coke Zero, Cherry Coke, Vanilla Coke, and other varieties. Different flavor mixes will attract fish in different ways, giving you more options on any fishing trip.

Does Coke Harm Fish?

Some anglers avoid fishing with Coke because they believe it is not healthy for fish populations. Coke does have potential downsides:

However, research shows introduced Coke becomes extremely diluted. Significant impacts are unlikely from the small amounts used for fishing. With modest use, Coke is not a major threat to ecosystems.

Is Fishing with Coke Considered Cheating?

Some traditional anglers frown on using artificial attractants like cola drinks while fishing. They consider it a form of cheating rather than pure sportfishing. Others argue that techniques like chumming, berleying, and scent sprays are accepted attractants, so Coke should not be singled out.

Most fisheries regulators allow the use of food additives and attractants for recreational fishing. While controversial, fishing with Coke does not violate most local laws and regulations.

However, some tournament organizers ban Coke and other liquid attractants for competition fishing. Anglers should verify competition rules before trying it during a tournament.


Fishing with Coke relies on chemical attractants rather than mimicking natural food sources. While controversial, it undoubtedly catches fish when done correctly. For anglers focused on hauling in keeper-sized fish for eating, cola drinks can provide a reliable boost. However, those seeking an ecological, sustainable approach may want to avoid using Coke.

Overall, Coke fishing is a proven tactic for certain situations. Understanding how to apply Coca-Cola as a bait additive takes some finesse, but pays off in increased catches. With the right techniques and conditions, the carbonated soft drink truly seems to bring fish bubbling to the bait.