The first Castaic Soft Bait Trout came out in September of 1996. Since then there have been four versions of the baits produced, all of which are very similar in size and action.
The first generation bait is pictured at the top left above. These generation one baits had a foam head and the tails were a three part pour that was given a pink stripe with dippin dye. The front fins were glued on by hand, and the eyes of the baits were doll eyes. These baits came in a plastic baggie with a cardboard hanger.
The second generation bait (middle top) was the bait that came in a green box. These baits were manufactured in California and the head was re-molded to include the fins as part of the foam. There were two colors available in this version of the bait. Note that the first and second generation baits are no longer in production, so your best bet finding one would be on eBay.
The third generation bait (top left and bottom row) was the first version of the bait to be painted. These baits were produced in Mexico and the number of available colors was expanded. All three of the original versions of the bait had a floating head.
The current version of the Castaic Softbait trout started production in November 2003. These baits include a snap-on tail so that you don't have to glue on a replacement. They come in a floating and a slow sinking (SS) modell and they come stock with a single Eagle Claw Lazer Sharp treble hook attached below the plastic head.
The best thing the Castaic Trout has going for it is the realism factor. The lure looks and swims very much like a trout. The bill gives the bait a wide wobbling action that does a good job of mimicking the natural motion of a trout. The lure also has a natural trout profile looking upward at the bait from the bass’ point of view, and judging by the number of huge bass that have been caught on this bait over the years, they do think it’s real quite often.
The Castaic Trout is also very durable as far as rubber baits go. The tail section is made out of a heavy duty plastic and you really can catch quite a few fish on it without it tearing up. I’ve always been impressed by the durability of the fins on these lures. The rubber fins don’t tear off like on other baits which is nice, because the fins really add to the realism on this lure.
This is a moderately versatile bait. The floating model's natural tendency is to dive to the 3 to 8 foot zone. With the slow sinking model, you can let the bait sink out as deep as you have the patience for. The old foam head Castaics could be worked very slowly right below the surface but the newer style baits are more neutrally bouyant and you'll have to really go at a snails pace to get them to run close to the surface.
The castaics in all sizes are very good trolling lures, and you can also modify your bait by removing the bill and adding weight along the belly to turn it into a dead stick bait. This is an especially popular mod for the 12” version.
Well I always say that with realism comes a price. And the price you pay on Castaic Trout is the hooking and landing percentage. I do believe that the hook is positioned correctly on this lure, as big fish tend to bite trout around the head or throat. However, the single hook setup combined with the heavy weight of the lure, allows bass to throw the lure very easily. When a 10 pound + fish does a headshake out of the water, the weight of the lure can go one way while the hook is still pointing the other way, and the result is often that gut wrenching sight of your bait flying back at you. You need nerves of steel to throw the Castaic and you have to be willing to dump a few big fish to get a few big fish.
Now, can you rig a stinger hook on Castaic Trout? Absolutely. A short piece of braid or wire going back to a 1/0 or 2/0 premium hook can really help your landing percentage and I highly recommend adding an additional hook in the back. Even with the stinger hook you should still expect to lose some jumbos on this lure.
The other difficulty with the Castaic Trout is getting it tuned correctly. If you are fortunate, you will get a bait that runs perfect right out of the box. If you are unlucky, the bait will run to the side. The latest Castaics have a hard plastic head and you can usually tune them with no problems. With the old style foam heads you have to be very careful not to crack the head when you tune the lure.