The Bettencourt Baits Real Fish Trout first became available around March of 2005. This 7” trout imitator is currently available in two sink rates, a floating model that weighs 1.75oz and a sinking model that weighs 3oz. The Real Fish Trout features .072 stainless steel screw eyes, 2x stainless 110lb split rings, and VMC's 3x Big Game hooks (2/0 in front and 1/0 in back). This bait retails for approximately $40.
The first thing that will jump out at you when you pick up a Real Fish Trout is the killer finish. Bettencourt Baits uses a concept often referred to as “photo finish” to apply a printed decal to the surface of the lure. This means that the finish of the lure is actually a photograph of a real trout that has been modified to fit on the bait. Bettencourt baits has really perfected this process and the custom decals they are using look terrific! I believe that really big bass feed primarily by sight and this bait looks dead on as far as the finish goes.
Over the decal, several layers of heavy epoxy are painted on to protect the finish. Bettencourt Baits has this process down pat as well, and the Real Fish Trout has one of the most durable finishes you will find in the big trout plug market. This is the type of finish that should stand up to all the abuse you or the fish can dish out. I’d expect 50+ fish per bait no problem.
Construction wise, the Real Fish Trout is solid. A mentioned in the overview, the bait uses high quality, high strength components. It’s nice to get a bait where you don’t have to swap out the split rings first thing. The hooks look kind of cheap but they are actually not bad. I checked all of the hookpoints on my sample baits and while they are not razor sharp like an Owner stinger they are pretty decent. With a few strokes of a file you can get them quite sharp because the tips are long and slender. After thinking on it some, I decided to leave the stock hooks on the bait because I felt like the tin color matched up well with the color of the belly of the lure.
I haven’t had a chance to test the sinking model but the floating Real Fish Trout runs on the surface at a slow pace and dives to 3-4 feet on a long cast with a faster retrieve. I’ve fished quite a few Bettencourt Baits over the years and like all of the ones I’ve tested in the past, the Real Fish Trout swam perfectly straight out of the package. This would seem like a given on any high dollar bait but it’s amazing how many big swimbaits you get that don’t swim straight out of the package. Kudos to Bettencourt Baits for sending out a product that doesn’t require any tuning.
The fins on the Real Fish Trout deserve some discussion, and I know that personally I've see-sawed over whether I like them or not. Out of the water the fins look like little fuzz balls attached the lure and I think this detracts from the lure's appeal on the shelf, but in the water the fins become much more subtle. The problem is that it's difficult to see the fins from the same perspective that the fish sees them, so it's hard to formulate an opinion on them. After quite a bit of thought about this I've decided that I don't think the fins are in any way detrimental to the bait. I don't know for sure if they accurately represent what real fins look like under water, but a little action around the fin areas of the fish can't be a bad thing.
The tail on the Bettencourt Real Fish series baits still has me a little skeptical. I like how the tail looks from the standpoint that it has a natural decal on it but I don’t like the fact that the tail is rigid and made out of some type of foam board. I have a habit of packing my swimbait boxes a little too full sometimes and I noticed that that on one occasion my tail got bent when I shut the lid on the box and now has a crease in it. The tails seem to be pretty resilient to this type of damage but I feel like the tail overall could be better executed to be more durable and give more action to the bait.
This brings me to my second point about the Real Fish Trout which is in regards to the action. There is something about the action on this bait that just seems jerky and kind of un-natural to me. The first prototypes I got were very exaggerated in this regard, they were very buoyant and the tail was just going crazy on the retrieve. The production model I got is more subdued but it still just looks kind of odd to me in the water. I’ll temper this comment by noting that when the Huddleston Deluxe first came out, I thought it had a poor action… and we all know what happened there. So I’m not going to give up on the Real Fish Trout but I’m curious to hear what kind of reports come in on this bait. It looks phenomenal as far as the finish goes so it’ll be up to the fish to decide.