The AC Plug Real Trout series was added to the AC Plug line up in the summer of 2003. This wood hardbait comes in 5”, 7”, and 9” and is available in 14 hand painted colors. Each bait comes stock with black/chrome Owner cutting point 2x strong trebles, heavy duty screw eyes and split rings. The Real Trout series baits retail for $29.99 (5”), $34.99(7”), and $41.99(9”) and come with #4, 1/0, and 3/0 size hooks respectively.
When I unwrapped the package and peered in at the 9” Real Trout my first impression was that the bait looked like a tank ready for battle. With so much of the swimbait market geared toward largemouth bass fishing these days, most of the hardbaits on the market have gravitated toward smaller screw eyes, lighter hooks, etc. The AC Real Trout bucks this trend and when you look at the 2x Owner’s and the heavy hardware you’ll get the strong impression that thing is built with 50lb stripers in mind. This is not a bait that is going to suffer a component failure on a big fish.
In the water, the Real Trout is an extremely buoyant bait with a major wobble to it. Some surface baits get their waking action from the tail, but the Real Trout generates a surprising amount of wake from the body of the bait. You can fish the Real Trout slow or you can fish it fast but unless you hold your rod down and really crank quickly, the bait will stay on top. If you let off cranking the bait, it will immediately come to the top with no hesitation. The only way you are going to get this bait down is to troll it on leadcore or with a downrigger (which is not a bad idea with a high action bait like this).
When I think about times and places where you would want to use this bait I immediately think about wind, heavy chop, cloudy skies, and night fishing. This is the type of churning surface action bait that needs conditions to work effectively. This is a bait that in many ways fishes bigger than its size. For example, a 9” size bait is pretty standard for largemouth bass fishing, but with the Real Trout I actually might go down a size for ‘general’ swimbait fishing to the 7”. The bait puts out so much commotion and is so thick that the 9” becomes more of a big fish only type bait with the 7” more of an all around size.
My Real Trout swam well out of the package and required only very slight tuning to get it to run straight. The beauty of any wood bait with a large screw eye on the nose is that you can very easily tune it to swim perfectly straight and there’s no real risk of damaging the bait while tuning it. In general this is the type of bait that should put many many fish in the boat for you. 50+ fish per bait would not be at all unreasonable and that’s a good value for your money.
I always like to talk hookup ratio with any big bait, and the Real Trout is the type of big bait that should result in a lot of positive hookups and fish in the net. The stock hooks are razor sharp and do not need replacement and if you get both of those big black hooks into a fish, odds are it’s coming to the boat.
Like many big bait fisherman, my first big trout plug was an AC and I caught a lot of bass on both the original AC and the AC Minnow. My original baits looked like they were carved by hand with a knife and 10 years later the AC Real Trout still has that hand carved look to it. I don’t think fish can get a great look at bait with so much action to it, but when you look at these baits in the package they just look kind of clunky. With so many realistic looking trout baits on the market now, there are definitely some better options for situations where fish can look carefully at your lure.
The paint on the Real Trout also maintains the same hand painted look that the AC baits have had for many years. I like that there are several trout variations available but the colors are general imitators, not detailed patterns and I was disappointed with the paint on eye (yellow with a black dot in the middle). For 30+ dollars it would be nice to see a reflective eye on the bait. I also thought it would be nice if the bait came with a snap since its not a good idea to tie direct to such a large screw eye typically.
Overall, I view the AC Real Trout series as a niche bait for specific conditions such as clouds, wind, rain, or at night. For casting this is almost exclusively a surface bait, although it does have some options as a trolling bait using whatever method you need to use to get the bait down. Think big, aggressive, and nasty conditions with this bait and see what happens.