The Bettencourt Baits Rodent came out in '03. Nathan Bettencourt hand makes each bait at his shop in Missouri, and you'll notice the handmade feel and attention to detail in each of his baits. The bait comes with 'bleeding' red Daichii hooks and is made with real fur. It naturally likes to run in the barely subsurface range and the action is very soft and subtle. The bait comes in three sizes, 3.5", 5" and 8" Magnum. The baits weigh 5/8, 7/8, and 2 and 1/4oz respectively.
You know, when you look at the pics above and even when you get it in your hand, the bait looks basically like a little furball. When you throw it in the water, it's like giving your cat a bath though, and when the hair slicks down against the body it's much more tapered and uniform in shape. The shaping under the fur is dead on rat.
The construction of the bait seems solid, and the lure is pretty light so the odds of busting it up casting are pretty low. I thought the hook placement was good and looked passably like little rodent feet. The red hooks do look good and are a more natural match to the bait vs. a silver hook. Black or bronze hooks would be fine on this bait also. the fur sort of mixes up with the hooks and hides them which is a plus.
The real fur is definitely interesting. It has a nice look to it in the water and it really does look like a furry little rodent. My bait swam true in the water and had a soft subtle action to it. This isn't a struggling frantic action, it's much more of a 'I'm just cruising along minding my own business' type deal. Will it get hit? I think it will. I think the smaller two baits have good potential as a tournament bait because the size isn't overbearing and a 2lb fish could eat them pretty easy. Give this bait a try in clear water or finesse topwater situations and see what happens.
The last thing to mention in the pro department is the price. $18 to $25 is pretty darn cheap for a handmade bait like this!
After throwing the rodent, I wondered how the fur would dry out so I left it out on the deck for a few hours then chucked it in my box when I was packing up. It was still wet the next day in my box. You absolutely have to leave this guy out to dry in the open air after fishing with it and rough up the fur to get it to dry out.
I liked the look of the red hooks, and they were sharp, but not sticky sharp. I'll probably leave them on but give them a few strokes with a hook file before fishing it. You could go a size up on the hooks too, although I haven't tested it to see how it would affect the action yet.
I mentioned that I think the bait will be good in clear water and for more finesse subtle applications. I don't think it's going to be a hot lure for muddy off color conditions. The fur I think deadens the action which keeps it from really throbbing at the end of your rod. Use it where you think the fish can see it, that's where it should get bit.