Do Berkley Gulp Baits Really Work? And What’s In That Gulp Juice?

By: Joseph Simonds on October 12, 2017
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berkley gulp recipe

Do you like Berkley Gulp baits?

I’ll be honest, I was really skeptical about GULP! for a long time.

With claims like the ones below, it’s no wonder many anglers like you and I are scratching our heads wondering if Berkley Gulp soft plastic lures catch more fish or just catch more fishermen…

  • “Outfishes All Other Bait!”
  • “400x More Scent Dispersion”
  • “Expands a fish’s strike zone by up to 400X”
  • “Gulp! Imitates the natural odor and flavor of live bait.”

Yep, pick up any pack of Berkley Gulp! lures and you’ll see the claims right on the front.

berkley gulp lures

You can see “Outfishes All Other Baits” and “Catch More Fish” right on the front of most of their soft plastic packs

Visit Berkley’s website and you will see them take these claims even farther.

There is even a whole article titled, “Why Berkley Gulp Out Fishes Live and Plastic Baits.” (you can see that article here)

Are these facts, or just a marketing scheme to sell you more baits?

More importantly, can Gulp really out fish live bait?

We’ll do our best to shed some light on these questions.

The History Of Berkley Gulp! Products

berkley fishing

To help answer those questions, let’s take a look at the history of Berkley Gulp! and other scented Berkley products.

The history of scented Berkley baits goes all the way back to 1985 when Berkley released its first scent product known as “Strike.”

This formula was actually a spray-on product that was applied to baits and was similar to pro-cure or other modern day scent products applicants.

Funny enough, Berkley actually ran an advertising campaign where they included a scratch-n-sniff to let anglers get a whiff of their new product.

In 1988, John Prochnow developed a formula known as “PowerBait” for Berkley.

This was a scent that was injected to normal soft plastic baits to help make them more attractive to fish.

Finally, in 2003 Berkley released a totally new type of bait known as Gulp!.

And shortly after Gulp Alive was released.

See more at the Berkley Fishing home page here.

So What Is Gulp!?

berkley gulp baits

Sometimes, to understand what something IS, it helps to understand what it is NOT…

Berkley Gulp is not your typical soft plastic.

Normal soft baits are made out of polyvinyl chloride.

Ring a bell?

Polyvinyl chloride is also known as PVC.

That’s right, PVC: the stuff the pipes in your house are made from.

The PVC is heated up, poured into a mold, injected with a scent, and then mixed with an oil-based resin.

Gulp! on the other hand, isn’t a plastic at all.

It is made from water-based resins (which also means that it’s mostly biodegradable).

The formulas that go into Gulp! Products were developed almost 20 years as John Prochnow analyzed the chemical makeup of a variety of creatures fish like to munch on, and then integrated it into the formula for his plastics.

You can hear the Berkley Gulp product engineers talk about their proprietary product here:

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As you heard in the video, years of lab and field testing also went into Gulp! products and various different formulas were put in front of lab fish to see how they would react.

Finally, if a formula passed the test in the lab, it would be sent to the field to be tested on wild fish. There is no doubt about it, Gulp has certainly been tested, re-tested, and tested again.

There is no doubt about it, Gulp has certainly been tested, re-tested, and tested again.

Difference Between Gulp And Gulp Alive!

gulp alive

While doing some research on Berkely Gulp products, we found a few questions from anglers wondering what is the difference between “Gulp” and “Gulp Alive?”

From everything we can tell, Gulp is simply the brand name of the bait and Gulp Alive is the special fish scent attractant juice that Berkley Gulps are soaked in.

As it says on the Gulp Alive containers, Alive is what you use to “reCHARGE Bait.”

You can buy packets of Gulp baits or Gulp Alive containers where the Gulp baits are literally soaking in the proprietary Berkley Gulp juice.

How Berkley Gulps “Breathe” In The Water

berkley gulp juice

Gulp! is made of water-based resins which means that it literally “breathes” in the water.

As soon as your bait hits the water it is releasing its scent formula. Standard soft plastics that are made from oil-based resins do not release their scent until the bait has been broken (oil and water DO NOT mix).

Standard soft plastics that are made from oil-based resins do not release their scent until the bait has been broken (oil and water DO NOT mix).

Think of the standard soft plastic lure as a sandwich wrapped in a plastic bag. You may see the sandwich but you can’t really smell it.

Gulp! however, is like a nice steak on a plate.

Before you even see it, you can smell it and tell that its something you want to sink your chompers into!

But let’s be honest, the Gulp juice smells horrible!

Gulp Juice = Stinky Sauce

berkley gulp juice recipe

Open up a pack of Gulp!, take a sniff, and prepare your nostrils for a boxing match.

That stuff stinks!

Don’t believe me?

Then try coming home after a long day of using Gulps out on the water and asking your wife or girlfriend if you smell bad… ask me how I know…

So why does Gulp! smell so potent?

The answer is all in the fish attractant formula they use.

John Prochnow and Dr. Keith Jones (the chemist) worked for decades on perfecting a scent that would naturally appeal to fish and apparently he realized that predator fish prefer it stinky and potent.

One Article, “Soft But Not ‘Plastic’ What Exactly Is Gulp!?” did a great job highlighting exactly how the scent works.

Essentially, there is a three-step approach to scenting Gulp! baits. First, all Gulp! has a standard formula that will universally stimulate all carnivorous fish. Second, the baits are “seasoned” with more specific formulas based on more specific diets of fish. Third, the final layer is forage-specific. This means that shrimp Gulp! will have traces of shrimp scent and baitfish-style Gulp! will have traces of baitfish in them.

One final word of advice on the scent of Gulp! is that it is hard to get out of clothes and other fabrics.

I would recommend being very careful when opening it in the house!

Don’t spill it!

What’s In The Secret Berkley Gulp Recipe?

berkley gulp alive recipe

Want to know what’s in the secret Berkley Gulp juice?

So does everyone else!

Even though the exact “Gulp Recipe” is a heavily guarded secret at Berkley, here is what we do know:

The Berkley Gulp recipe is a THREE-layer formula.

Here’s what was published from

Decades of research have shown Jones and Prochnow that fish are somewhat like people in what they eat: Just about anywhere in the world, people eat the staples of meat and potatoes. Fish, research shows, are the same way. Whether it’s a bass, redfish, pike, flounder – any species – they all consume the same staple diets, much like meat and potatoes. These staples are the base layer for all Gulp! products and contain a formula that Berkley scientists have found to appeal universally to fish.

The second layer of the Gulp! flavor formula is akin to local and regional differences in human diets. In some parts of the world, different spices are used – sometimes sauces. Following this analogy, the second layer would be considered the seasoning layer, with each bait “seasoned” to adhere to what flavors research has shown the fish to be attracted to.

Ultimately, the third layer is specific to the style of bait. From shrimp to baitfish, extra ingredients are included so that in the underwater environment of the fish, these baits smell like the bait they represent.

“When a redfish eats a Gulp! Shrimp, it’s actually tasting several different things,” Prochnow said. “He gets the shrimp layer, the seasoning layer and the meat and potatoes. That’s why fish never pass up a Gulp! meal when they can get it.”

What Are Anglers Saying About Gulp Baits?

mosquito lagoon redfish sightcasting

It is one thing to hear claims from Berkley about their products, but it is another to hear what anglers actually have to say about the Gulp! A quick google search

A quick Google search of “does Berkley Gulp! really work” will bring up pages of forums and message boards filled with the opinions of keyboard warriors across the country.

After doing some pretty extensive research and reading seemingly every message board discussing Gulp! on the internet, I will say the overwhelming majority of anglers claim they work.

The few people that are against Gulp! have the same few issues. It isn’t so much that they don’t work as much as they are either:

  1. Gulp baits are too costly
  2. Gulp baits fall apart too easily

Here are a few quotes from anglers on either side of the argument (finding negative ones were tough):

Angler’s who love Gulp baits:

  • “I use the saltwater series and they have become a go-to bait for me. I have seen them out fish bucktails, crankbaits, deep drop jigs and have even seen them out fish live bait on flounder. My first choice is a 1-ounce white bucktail tipped with a chartreuse 4-inch swimming mullet.” (GGMack, Field and Stream Message Boards )
  • “They are excellent baits. I usually use the GULP shrimp in new penny, and have caught reds, trout, and numerous other species including a small shark. They do dry out if left on the hook.” (naples34, The Hull Truth)
  • “I have tried gulp alive! swimming mullet, and hooked needlefish, caught yellowtail snapper and tarpon with them. It was dark when I got the tarpon so I know they have some scent qualities that fish like.” (Van Wildon, Stripers Online)
  • “Two words. Gulp works!” (Spigola, Stripers Online)

Anglers against Gulp baits:

  • “I’ve tried it but not to the extent that I can say if it really is better. What I can say is that it’s way more expensive… where I live it’s thirty or forty times more expensive by the pound than real bait…” (Despierto, Survivalist Boards)
  • “Gulp works well for bait stealers and hardheads. They luv to eat the tails off of the swimming mullet. Difficult to get the package to seal after opening and all the juice will leak out. I now have four pack’s with no juice, tail less and a stinking tackle box. Gulp hasn’t increased my catch but in muddy water under a cork might be the only choice to use.” (oldsalt, Texas Kayak Fisherman)

Gulp Controversy?

berkley gulp controversy

As was mentioned earlier, people are saying that Gulp! baits are known to fall apart quickly.

This can be a big problem when fishing flats with lots of puffer and pinfish.

Some people claim that they changed their formula a few years back and made the baits less durable.

I wasn’t able to find any hard proof that they did, but I do know from personal experience that Gulp! products do fall apart much more quickly than other soft plastics. has an entire thread full of anglers who claim that Gulp! lures aren’t near as strong as they once were and that they aren’t durable enough.

Here are a few quotes:

  • “Screwlock hook or not these new baits only hold up against one or two fish at best. It’s an “engineered failure” by the manufacturer to sell more baits…..” (Miles2Fish, 2coolfishing)
  • “I do not buy gulps anymore. The new formula is horrible and all of my friends and fellow fisherman agree… Buy a 100 pack of mister twister curl tails for $12 and some dead shrimp or mullet for $2 and tip the bait. One plastic on a screw-lock will last you several trips…” (STRIKEHOOK, 2coolfishing)

Joe Cermele of Field and Stream magazine had a great interview with John Prochnow where he had some responses to concerns that anglers had shown over the durability of the baits.

His solution to the lack of durability of baits was this, “Rig a bait and let it air-dry for 15 to 30 minutes. It’ll firm up, and although you might be sacrificing some action, you’ll have a very durable bait. Just be careful not to dry it too long” (Dr. Gulp’s Most Frequently-Asked Questions).

However, this plays into the other flaw with Gulp!.

Some people like such as Metal Man-Victory on claim that they don’t have enough action to begin with:

“The action on the Gulp curly and paddle tails are bad… Letting the baits dry out for a few minutes before fishing with them would take even more action away.”

Gulp Shrinkage…

berkley gulp shrinkage

An important thing to remember when fishing with Gulp! baits is that they will shrink up and turn into a rock if you leave them exposed to air for too long.

Don’t be like George Costanza and have an amazing day ruined due to shrinkage…

Not to mention, I have ruined countless hooks by leaving my Gulp! on jig heads.

We did a YouTube Video discussing how to maintain your Gulp! baits so they are always in prime condition to catch those lunkers.

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There are a lot of really good tips and tricks that Luke discusses in the video.

Alternatives To Berkley Gulp Products

berkley gulp fishing lures

So let’s say you don’t want to use Gulp! products.

There are certainly alternative brands that offer great products for catching inshore fish.

Here are a couple of our other favorites in the for inshore saltwater fishing.

DOA lures have been around forever and offer some really affordable, quality products that have been catching fish for years. My favorite DOA lure has to be their shrimp. The action they have is almost unparalleled. DOA is built out of PVC like older soft plastics, but that doesn’t mean they don’t work.

Z-man is another top-notch soft plastic company who also has a really unique plastic structure. They are on the opposite end of the spectrum from Gulp!. Whereas Gulp! gets chewed up by pinfish and puffer fish, Z-man plastics are built so strong that they will hold up to those “trash fish” that roam the flats.

Related Post: The Quick & Easy Way To Rig Z-man Jerkbaits (see it here now)

Do Berkley Gulp Baits Work?

joe simonds fishing

The author holding a pack of mostly used Gulp baits

Personally, I was very skeptical about Gulp baits for a long time.

They are expensive, they don’t last very long compared to more durable soft plastics, and the claims seemed pretty outrageous when they were first making a big scene in the fishing world.

But they do work.

In fact, they are one of the few soft plastics that actually catch loads of fish even while dead-sticking the bait (literally leaving it on the bottom for the fish to find via the scent).

And the Gulp baits certainly have their pros and cons as you saw above (just like any fishing lure on the market).

Overall, Gulp! seems to be the best scented soft plastic on the market, however, it is not the most durable (and it shrinks when left out of the water or it’s Gulp Alive juice), and it doesn’t have the best action when compared to other plastics.

Also, it’s a bit pricey considering it doesn’t last that long…

However, even after your bait has been “ruined” and won’t stay on the hook anymore, there are still more uses for it.

Note: to learn a great trick for using Gulp! baits after they’ve been fished, check out this blog post:

Ultimately though, as with any lure, a Gulp bait is only as good as the fisherman…

There does NOT exist a magic bait that can draw fish in from across the bay, lake, grass flat, etc.

No bait on the market will catch fish for you…

As an angler, you still have to do the work of finding the right spots.

However, if you can identify when and where the fish are feeding, I can almost guarantee they will hit a Berkley Gulp! bait if you make the right cast and retrieve.

Note: If you need help finding where the fish are feeding, you’ve got to see this free webinar on finding feeding zones in your area.

Hope you enjoyed the blog and I would definitely recommend giving Berkley Gulp! a shot on your next fishing outing (regardless if it’s saltwater fishing or freshwater fishing).

Related Post: How To Retrieve A Gulp Shrimp For More Bites (see it here now)

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Fish On.

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George Russert
George Russert
10 months ago

Has anyone tried Bio Bait? It’s a plant based water soluble soft plastic that is supposed to be legitimately bio degradable (broken down and consumed by micro organisms in water. They are infused with fish oil, but do not need to be stored in any kind of liquid. An alternative to Gulp without the Gulp “issues”. Just Google Bio Bait. Would love to hear some feedback on these new soft baits. Ordered some to try out; should be here in next day or two. Cheers!

1 year ago

I don’t have an issue with the cost, the smell, or how soft they are. I do have an issue with the packaging that always leaks out and how the gulp baits them selves self destruct by drying out so quickly (with no way to bring them back)! it’s spoiled acouple of fishing trips for me, so as a consequence I look for “other” baits. Better to have gone fishing and not catch any then go and end up with no “usable” bait and not fish at all.

Trout Hunter
Trout Hunter
1 year ago

The minnow baits are a joke. I use Xfactor teaser minnows instead, they actually look like a minnow and unlike Berkley they’re durable. I’ve caught 15 trout on one teaser minnow, it would take a whole pack of these gulp baits to do that, smh!

1 year ago

Been using Glup Earthworm for a while now, fish ever day. Haven’t caught a single thing on it, but with out fail everytime the real worm gets em, Glup in my opinion isn’t what’s its hyped up to be

1 year ago

My brother-in-law is a BIG ‘commercial synthetic bait’ kinda guy…wish I had a truck with the money he’s dumped into things like Gulp! I, on the other hand, love natural baits. EVERY TIME he and I go fishing together, he hawks the Gulp like it was a ‘gift from god’. Without fail, I always catch more, larger fish than he does. My secret? I take out-of-date liver, drain the ‘juice’ into a jar, puree the liver, add some too, dozen or so ‘overly ripe’ nightcrawlers, and a couple of ‘freshly dead’ crawfish (for good measure), store it all in the ‘outdoor’ refrigerator in the garage…give it 2-3 weeks, and then use fresh bait (depending on what we are going to fish for), and use the ‘thick juice’ I now have to dip my ‘fresh live bait’ into…which my guess is, this is EXACTLY how Gulp! Alive came into being…liver, worms and some form of crustacean (crawdads, shimp, etc.) to create a ‘puree’d’ juice to put ‘plastic jigs’ into. ‘Biodegradeable’? FYI…given enough time, even stainless steel ‘degrades’…and so does PVC…it’s just a matter of time. My guess is, this is some simple ethylene plastic and nothing more…soaked in ‘snot juice’ of a synthetic blend, based on natural ‘rot’. THERE’S YOUR SMELL, too.

Peter Paff
1 year ago

Gulp is mostly biodegradable, plastic is not, I always use gulp

Agustin Gonzalez
Agustin Gonzalez
1 year ago

I used the gulp alive crawfish sent and were slamming bull red left and right stuff really work

2 years ago

When gulp first came out I tried fishing a jar of gulp earthworms like actual worms (these were not the plastic worm like ones but the bait like ones). I never caught anything. Their claims it outperforms live bait is a lie.

Cam Allen
2 years ago

Gulp baits used to be great. They are flimsy garbage now. “Engineered failure” is right. In my opinion, Berkeley have made Gulp baits less durable to sell more of them. Didn’t work for me. I switched to Zoom and Z-Man as my go-to soft plastics.

2 years ago

What do you guys think of popping corks? They are used a lot in my area, but have not seen one on any of your videos. If you use them, what type and when. I love the Insiders club. Thanks

Gregory Turnage
2 years ago

can you soak the zman in gulp juice…does that help?

Steven Free
2 years ago

Not to change the subject but I already gave my comment about the gulps but I just wanted to ask you guys you recently told me that a new coarse was going to be coming out just for a few select when will that be? Or don’t you know yet either way just curious thanks

2 years ago

Put them in freezer. When they thaw, they are tougher, but with the same action as before freezing. Freezing also allows you to store them for years without the juice discoloring and discoloring the bait. I have several tubs of a discontinued 4″ white pogies that I ‘ve had in the freezer for 3 years . Take them out the night before, ready to go the next morning.

Gdoebley Doebley
2 years ago

I use a lot of different Gulp baits. I store them all together in a jar so the juice doesn’t leak out. I did not think that they were flavored so my 6″ grubs, 4″ swimming mullets and new penny shrimp are stored in the same jar of juice. Oops!

Frank Hollosi
2 years ago

I do believe they catch more fish by far than any other soft bait but they have really become softer in the last 2 years to the point that I am considering not buying then next season, it is just another example of the corporate greed in this country they have been making millions on Gulp but it wasn’t enough so they intentionally (just my opinion) made them softer so we go through them faster and have to buy more , towards the end of this summer I heard more and more guys complaining about it saying if Berkley doesn’t go back to at least the old formula they too are considering not buying Gulp anymore, anyways guys I caught tons of fish before Gulp and I am sure I will tons without it once again so happy fishing tight lines everyone

Mark Johnson
Mark Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  Frank Hollosi

Hardrock, there not as good and not worth the money,

2 years ago

I don’t use Gulp anymore because of all of the reasons stated. I had a guide turn me on to and now use them almost exclusively on the grass flats. They do not harden up if left on the jig head, so I store my gear, and come back and use the same bait. They claim “30 fish same bait” and I have experienced this. Great article. Affirmed much of what I was experiencing on the water with Gulp. Hope this is helpful.

2 years ago

I’ve tried gulps and never gotten a fish in the boat on them. Ive had bits but they were very light like fish were trying to figure out what it was.
I’ve had much more success with tsunami 4″ shads. With the tsunami I’ve limited out too many times to count.

Jim Leas
2 years ago

I am a big fan of a gulp products used them extensively and always catch fish but very disappointed in the new gulp shrimp in the white Packaging seems that this new gulp shrimp isn’t as adorable as the older green and clear bags the new white bag gulp shrimp seems to fall off the hook a lot easier in the past I was able to catch four five sometimes six fish on one gulp shrimp and now sometimes I’m lucky if I catch one fish on it without it falling off has anyone else had this problem?

James Otte
2 years ago

I was swimming! – George Costanza

Thanks for the laugh!!!!

2 years ago

Another great article. I’ve been wondering how effective the Gulp products are compared to the scented Z-man plastics with pro-cure. Your article suggests the Gulp scent may be most effective, but it’s also nice being able to catch numerous trout and redfish on a Z-man mullet without having the tails chewed off by pinfish. I think it may be a good idea to have 2 rigs – one with Gulp and one with Z-man, and then choose either depending on pinfish being present.

Tom Derringer
2 years ago
Reply to  Joseph Simonds

You will be pleased to know that Mr prochnow is changing the formula to make the Baits more durable again. They never intended to make them unusable or to persuade us to buy more baits. I believe that their field testing was the problem. When you are giving product away or at a reduced price to people and then ask them to test new product they are most likely to tell you they loved it so they will continue to get reduced pricing or free stuff. We all know that the new formula pretty much ruined the baits. You cannot catch multiple fish on them anymore. They will fall off the jig head after a few aggressive casts. None of us would want to buy a product like this. The good news is by the end of the year the better product should be on the market. I would ask anyone who does not like the new formula to let Berkeley know. Call them up or email them but let them know what you feel is wrong with the newer product. It took months of not giving up to make them understand it is a huge issue not just a couple disgruntled fans.

2 years ago
Reply to  Tom Derringer

ARe they going to to put notice on the package or do They expect us keep buying hoping that we eventually will get the more durable one?. Yea, no thanks to that.

Tom Derringer
2 years ago
Reply to  Cam

I know what you mean. They have a big hurdle in front of them right now if they expect to get back to the position they were in a couple years ago. I know of two local bait shops that discontinued using them due to complaints from their customers. I can tell you that John prochnow is a very sincere conscientious man and I think he was misled by the field testing. I know one thing for sure you could not beat these baits the way they used to be made. They were trying to make them even better but did not realize how brittle and easily they would tear once a fish got a hold of it. I would expect to see the improved product by the first of the year. But you have to understand there is a huge stockpile at some of the distributors. I let them know what I would have done. Recall all of those So-called new ones and get rid of them before too many people use them. I guess that’s not possible.

1 year ago
Reply to  Joseph Simonds

Hi there! My husband just purchased this Gulo bait and is wondering if it kills the fish? He is catching and releasing right now. Bait works great! Thank you!

2 years ago
Reply to  Packeryaker

I have used these baits for over 12 years and I have found a way to avoid losing the tails to pinfish when you feel a pin fish strike don’t pull the bait back Let It Drop then reel it in I have found very few times where a pinfish now bites off the tail of my jerkbait or even the shrimp.