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Lure Review

Shallow, Deep, or In-between? Versatility for All Occasions: Tru-Tungsten's Tru-Life Series of Baits (continued)


Rate of Descent: The differentiator with the Tru-Tungsten, Tru-Life swimbaits, of course, is their unique, adjustable weighting system. As their marketing slogan goes, these baits have balls, and the angler is free to fish these baits with none or up to four tungsten balls custom tailoring their baits' rate of descent as the situation dictates. It's a great idea, but out on the water, does it really work?


To accomplish this task, a pair of needlenose pliers are required to access the pin.


Well, we will say, that on our first trout bait, pulling that pin out was quite the chore. It took a good twenty minutes of fiddling with the bait using a quality pair of needle nose pliers to finally get that pin out. Tru-Tungsten must have been aware of this issue because a few months later, I purchased another trout along with the gill, and the pins in both these baits were a breeze to pull out.


Simply pull it out and place it down somewhere safe.


Once the pin is out, the rest is a breeze really. Just slide however many balls you want into or back out of the weight chamber (in the head of the gill, and in the mid-section of the trout), put the pieces back together, and slide the pin back in place. The only trepidation here is caused by the presence of the hooks while working on the bait - be careful!


Then, pull the bait apart to find the weight chamber located forward in the gill bait and mid-body on the trout.


Absent any weights, the trout floats, as expected. The gill that I received floated initially, but on the second cast, began to sink very slowly. This proved an non-issue with me as I came to discover I really liked the action of the gill with weights inside the bait. Fully loaded, both baits fall at the rate of about one foot per second with the trout, perhaps, being a bit slower than the gill to descend.


Each bait comes with four tungsten balls that you can use in any combination to achieve the desired rate of fall.


I should note, most of the weight adjustments I made were back at home while packing in advance of each trip. The balls, while a great idea, are just too small to risk switching out on an unstable boat. What's more, I did not like risking to pull the bait apart while on the boat and impaling myself with a hook while holding the bait and trying to survive a wake from a passing boat. On a calm day, in the clear of other boaters, this isn't an issue, but there were just too many variables and opportunities for dropped and lost components, hooked fingers and palms, and overall chaos for me to really bother making any of these changes regularly on the fly. It's easier for me just purchase another bait and have it pre-rigged on standby, but of course, that's me. For those where owning several baits is not an option, this feature in these baits remains a big positive. Do note, however, the balls for the trout and bluegill baits are different sizes with the weights for the trout being larger than those for the gill.

After half a day of dedicated use, our trout bait came back a bit beat up.


Components: The Tru-Life baits feature all stainless steel components and VMC hooks. Most big bait purists will choose to switch out these hooks with the requisite Owner replacements, but I did not run into any issues though I only tussled with a handful of fish and nothing I'd consider big or challenging.


Another shot at some missing paint on the side of our trout.


Durability: Where these baits, or the trout at least, loses points is in the durability of its finish. Through just a handful of fish, my original trout is already down an eye, and missing some good chunks of paint. I never expect my baits to hold up forever, but I do expect the finishes to last just a little longer and for the eyes to stay on more securely. Had I tossed the bait into any pilings or rocks or other pieces of structure, I'd understand, but these baits suffered no such trauma, yet showed signs of wear in only the first real trip out with them.


One last look at the finely detailed head of the Tru-Life Trout.


Availability: All the Tru-Life swimbaits are readily available. In fact, at the time of this writing, the eight inch trout had just been released (almost nine months after the nine incher) and fans of the Tru-Life series are eagerly awaiting the release of the new four inch shad baits, so finding one or more to purchase should not be an issue.


Ratings (We've re-calibrated our ratings standard for 2008 and have included a key at the bottom of the following matrix as a guide):

Tru-Tungsten Tru-Life Swimbaits Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Nicely crafted bait though the finish is a bit disappointing 7.5
Performance I wasn't fond of the trout's action at first, but that first fish sure changed my mind. The gill is excellent. 8.5
Price On the pricey side for a mass produced bait 6.5
Features With these baits, it's all about the balls and while maybe not as convenient to us as I'd like, I appreciate the flexibility this feature affords the angler. 8
Design (Ergonomics) Four piece design with really nice action 8
Application Top, middle or bottom these baits are designed to be versatile 9

Total Score

Ratings Key: Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = unbelievable!

Pluses and Minuses:


J Adjustable Weight System L Some will be disappointed with the stock hooks.
J Fish catching action L Our Gill did not float unweighted
J Easily procured L Paint and eyes did not hold up well
J The gill is really easy to throw L Trout only available in one pattern - for now anyway


Conclusion: Our journey with the Tru-Life swimbaits from Tru-Tungsten are case in point regarding the discussion of letting the fish tell you what they want. I had tossed the trout bait once or twice just to check out its action in the water and dismissed it each time because I didn't like the rolling action of the bait. Finally, on one trip, it was the only big bait I brought because I decided I needed to put it through a real test and the bait was not going to get that opportunity if I had others with me. As a result, I fished it more, began to appreciate its action, and finally, began to catch fish and get a ton of followers. Obviously the fish like this bait and in the end, they're the ones that count!


 Our gill bait might not float unweighted, but it sure catches plenty of fish!


So bottom line, where do I really stand with these baits? Afterall, it's been a bit of a rollercoaster ride starting high upon our introduction at ICAST 2007 and realizing the bait's potential; falling low after the difficulty I encountered trying to pull the pin out of that first bait; falling further after experimenting with that first trout in the water; slowly climbing back up after purchasing the second trout and first gill and discovering the pin was much easier to pull out; soaring high again after the dedicated trip with these baits in the boat; and falling again slightly with the durability issues encountered with the eyes and paint. I have mixed emotions for certain.


 A nice fish thanks to the Tru-Tungsten Tru-Life trout.


The easy availability of this bait really works in its favor and in the end, so does the adjustable weight system. One bait that on any given day can be fished on top, on the bottom, or anywhere in between. Certainly a unique offering in the big bait space, and a concept that sounds more than promising, but is it really practical? Maybe not if budget is not your concern, but for those anglers with tight tackle box strings, these baits not only have the potential to save them money on baits, but also the cost and hassle of toting around half a dozen or more rigged combos to cover an entire range of presentations that these baits can support alone. So powerful is this option in today's economic climate, and how well Tru-Tungsten has executed this feature that I'm awarding the Tru-Tungsten, Tru-Life series of baits TackleTour's Innovation Award.


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