Lucky Craft - Real California Swimbait
Author: Rob Belloni
The Lucky Craft Real California was released in the fall of 2004. This little hardbait measures 5” in length and weighs approximately 1oz. There are ten colors available, all of which are metallic based. The Real California comes with two interchangeable tails, a soft gel tail and a metallic spoon shaped tail. The soft tail is held in place with toothpicks and the metal tail is attached using a split ring. These guys retail for right around $30.
When I think about the Lucky Craft brand the first thing that comes to mind is quality. Like all of the Lucky Craft hardbaits, the Real California has a killer finish and comes in some most excellent color choices. I especially like the Gill, Large Mouth Bass, and Ayu patterns. The hardware and joint system is solid and the hooks are decent, not razor sharp but quality. I would recommend checking each hookpoint before you fish the bait. If they’re sharp, go for it but if not, use the file or replace with Owners or Gamakatsu. I’ve always found some inconsistencies with the black hooks that Lucky Craft uses, so better to be safe than sorry.
I like the concept of having two different tail options, and I liked the blade tail more than I thought I would. The blade is held loosely to the top of the tail and gives off a nice flash, creates some additional clinking sounds, and from the perspective of the bass (underneath) I imagine that it looks pretty enticing. The gel tail is much more subtle, and really changes the demeanor of the lure, quieting down the noise and the flash. The tail is very thin and transparent, so if you take it off be sure to put it somewhere you can find it again in your tackle box! The toothpick system for attaching the gel tail is kind of hokey but the tail is so small that this method works fine. You might have a fish tear your tail, but the tail doesn’t offer a lot of real estate for the bass to grab on to, so I’d expect the gel tail to last quite a while.
When you toss the Real California out to check the action, you’ll see that it’s basically a wake bait. You can crank the bait down hard but naturally it wants to run on top or just barely subsurface. The joint in the bait generates a considerably amount of noise for the size of the lure and I was surprised by how much wake the lure generated for its diminutive size. I haven’t spent a lot of time fishing this bait but it has the look of a bait that should catch a lot of small “tournament sized” bass.
A nice thing about the Real California is that, like all of the Lucky Craft baits, you can put a lot of fish on this lure before retiring it. Catching 50 bass on this lure should not be a big deal. You might get a little chew on it and some rubbing from the hooks but it should put a lot of fish in your boat per dollar.
I have to confess that when I first heard that Lucky Craft was going to make a swimbait I was pretty excited because of their reputation for quality and great paint jobs. When I saw the Real California though, my initial reaction was disappointment. I wasn’t disappointed because the lure didn’t look good, but because it was so small. I realize they are trying to market this bait as a swimbait by naming it as such and putting “California” in the name, but I feel like the word swimbait is really a stretch with this bait. To me, it’s much more like a jointed jerkbait with a tail than a swimbait. This bait will catch lots of bass I am sure, but you should not go to the lake with a 5” bait and suddenly expect to catch big bass, it just doesn’t work that way.
Along those same lines, I have to question the price of the bait. You can buy a 5” Pointer 128 which is nearly the same lure minus the joint for $15.99 and yet the Real California costs almost double. I can understand some increased cost for the joint system but it seems like the bait is just being marked up because it has “swimbait” in the name. Overall the Real California is a nice little bait with a nice waking action, some interesting tail options and some excellent color options. Just set your expectations with this bait correctly, that it’s a small fish lure, and a bit overpriced.