The Bettencourt Real Fish series was released in Januray 2005. The Real Fish Bluegill comes in two weights, a floater that weighs 1 and 1/4oz and a sinking version that weighs 1 and 3/4oz. Both models measure approximately 5” in length and have a squared diving bill that angles outward at the tip of the lip. Like several other baits in the Bettencourt Bait’s lineup, the Bluegill features fur fins and comes standard .072 Stainless Eye screws, 2x stainless 100lb split rings and VMC's 3x Big Game hooks.
This series of baits made by Nathan Bettencourt are one of the first, if not the very first, commercially produced baits to incorporate what people call the ‘photo finish’ technique. Instead of a painted finish, a photograph of a real bluegill is modified to fit on top of the lure and then sealed in with epoxy. The result of course is an extremely natural coloration. I like the finish on the bluegill a great deal, and it is really amazing that these baits only go for $39.95 considering the amount of custom work required to make each lure.
The action on the Real Fish Bluegill is a crankbait like action. It has a steady tug tug tug rhythm on the retrieve that feels like a big crankbait such as a Fat Free Shad or a Manns 1-. The lure disturbs a good amount of water and should be able to draw fish in from a distance, even in off color water. The lure I tested was the sinking version and it has a very slow graceful fall, staying level or slightly nose down on the sink. On the retrieve it naturally tends to run in the 3 to 8 foot range. My bait ran true out of the box and I found it to be a very fishable bait for cast and retrieve fishing. It has good casting distance due to the compact size and heavy weight, and it runs right back to you straight as an arrow. There’s certainly something to be said for baits that are low maintenance and easy to fish and the Real Fish Bluegill is one of them.
During the Spring I tested the Bluegill as a bed fishing bait and was quite pleased with the results. When the bait settles on the bottom, it rests lightly on the hooks and doesn’t lie on its side. Male bass responded well to the bait and I hooked and lost one 7lb female on it. I don’t believe that the bait is intended as a bed fishing bait, but the sinking model is definitely worth a try. The fact that the bait has two hanging trebles on the bottom is not ideal for bed fishing but as an irritator lure it really performs well. You could see the bass really perk up and get interested, even when inspecting the lure at close range. The photo finish detail on the bait makes it hard for them to tell if it’s real or not!
There were a few minor nuisances with the Real Fish Bluegill worth mentioning. The tail of the bait is made from a styrofoam like substance with a decal affixed over it. My tackle boxes sit in the sun a lot because I’m fishing from a jon boat and I found that the tail started to lighten up in color after a few hot days in the sun. The main finish on the body was rock solid, but the tail could use some improvement.
Like a lot of baits, the stock hooks are decent but should be sharpened or swapped out before fishing. I have mixed feelings about the fur, which gives some additional movement in the water, but also requires some maintenance. You want to make sure to dry the lure after fishing, and if you use an oily scent like Megastrike, try to avoid getting it on the fur as it’s a bit hard to remove afterwards.
One last comment, not so much as a con but just an expectation setter… Because of the strong throbbing action and jointed body, I felt like for cast and retrieve fishing the Real Fish Bluegill is going to be stronger in 2 to 6 foot visibility range vs. super clean water. I can see it working better at the Delta and Clear lake vs a Don Pedro or Casitas for example.