Angling legend Adam Royter pulls out the history books to explain the science, history and evolution of Gulp!

Gulp! is the single most significant advancement in soft bait technology since it’s modern inception in 1967 – and it wasn’t a penny-drop moment. It was concerned anglers with a vision for a cleaner future and a more healthy environment – and in 2002, Gulp! was born!

The Gulp story so far
The Gulp story so far


Fish eat foods based on availability, environmental pressures and dietary needs. We’ll concentrate on carnivores because as lure anglers, this is the target fish group we hunt.

Isolating one fish type and working towards finding what it likes for dinner is relatively easy, basing your scent programme across hundreds, if not thousands of fish species is a little more challenging! But not impossible.

Thankfully for us, carnivorous fish are all looking for the same outcome in their foods – protein! So with time, science, a little secret wand-waving and a lot of people, doing a lot of testing, in the field and in the lab, the ‘secret sauce’ that is Berkeley proprietary fish feeding stimulant was born.

That was back in 1988, and since then, the secret sauce has continued to evolve and broaden its fish species horizons to include the majority of the world’s sportfish from both fresh and saltwater.

From testing trout in a fishtank to catching million dollar bass, Berkley Gulp! products are clear winners due to the creation and successful implementation of scent into soft baits!

Team Scent

Fish biologist Dr Keith Jones and chemical engineer John Prochnow were leading hands in the development of Gulp!. Both having wildly different angles to come at the same conclusion, Prochnow from the body material and bio-science side and Jones from the fish feeding stimulant side. They were able to meet in the middle at the perfect rate and trajectory to create Gulp!.

Although working right next door to each other, there were still some surprises to the invention. Team Jones’s fish feeding stimulant was water-based, so the scent molecules could easily be transferred from scent partial to fish chemoreceptors. At the same time, Team Prochnow had created a water-based body material that was digestible for animals and degradable.

Putting these two elements together was a perfect match and gave way to the secrets of the ‘scent trail dispersion rate’.

Dr Keith Jones - The Gulp story so far
The Gulp Scent The Gulp story so far

The base carrier of Jones’ fish feeding stimulant, in its molecular volume, is small/thinner than that of water – enabling it to ‘creep forward’ into the water column and spread faster than the water would typically allow.

Prochnow’s formula for the body material, being water-based was the perfect conduit for this scent path, given that the entire Gulp! soft bait is created from the same material (not an additive placed on the surface of the bait).

Fortifying these two elements within the entire material base of every lure was a massive breakthrough. This gave way to an incredible amount of scent being on-hand to directly deliver into the water column throughout the soft baits time in the water without much loss in potency.

Still to this day, no other company has come close to a scent release profile, 400 times greater than a plastic soft bait. Making Berkley Gulp! the clear standout for scent dispersion and therefore fish attraction.

Fish Thinking

So, what do the fish think of all of this hocus-pocus?!

I have some thoughts on this. And being that I’ve spent the last 30 plus years searching for fish I can see before I catch them, (sight fishing) I think I’m probably qualified to drop an opinion or two!!

One of the most outstanding attributes of Gulp! is how many repeated bites you get from the same fish. Sure you can get that with every lure, but I’m talking about the consistency in which this happens. I’ve got 16 years of ‘fish attacking my Gulp!’ memories to cut through here (yeah I’m as amazed as you that my brain still functions well enough to recall that far).

But if I place myself next to other anglers and or myself when not using Gulp!, the difference is quite dramatic. To the point where I wish I had a bag of Gulp!.

One the busiest guiding operations in Australia is Weipa Sports Fishing. They have customers coming from interstate and around the globe to sample the light/medium tackle sportfishing that this fantastic place has to offer.

Owner-operator Lee Hodgetts will tell you this “you can bring whatever soft baits you like, but if you want to catch fish, just bring Gulp!”. This guy is ruthless with tackle companies and doesn’t have any allegiance to any of them so he’s a blank canvas when it comes to saying what he wants about gear! It’s people like this that make you think that if catching fish is the single most important thing in his business – he’s going to fish with what gets the results!

As far as I know, he’s been using Gulp! in his operation for ten years and is yet to find anything that puts more fish on his client’s rods.

From my perspective, I think fish find the taste and smell (yes I said the taste – fish have that as a sense as well) of Gulp! irresistibly tantalizing. I’ve seen trout follow the path of where a Gulp has travelled, only to end up right at my feet – long after the lure has left the water.

Also watching a multitude of estuary species swim around above the lifeless Gulp! that’s laying in the sediment on the bottom (out of view) and eventually work their way down to the lure, pick it up off the bottom, swallow it and swim off. Like it was a free cheeseburger!

The simple fact the Gulp! pushes so much scent into the water column and that scent is something that the fish instantly recognize as edible, is such a powerful tool for anglers.

Our lives are ever-changing and also evolving. For a fish, this is not the case. Fish will be fish, and they’ll continue to make the same mistake again and again.

As we evolve, so do the toys we like and the gear we chose. Gulp! is one of those evolutionary products that has continued to change in the background. Without fan fair and flashy new packaging, Gulp! an has been keeping up with the Joneses in regards to scent profiles and slight material tweaks.

Has Berkley hit the wall? Not by a long shot! There’s always something cooking in the lab, and the fish really should learn a little faster if they want to stay off the end of our hooks.

See you on the water.

By Adam Royter

Adam has done a lot of fishing in his 40 odd years and has been a long-standing member of the Berkley Pro Team since Gulp!’s first introduction to Australia. A passionate ambassador for recreational angling, Adam is also one of the most recognizable characters in the Australian fishing industry.

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