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Lure Review

As lifelike as plugs get, the Bettencourt "Real Fish" Bluegill (continued)

The sinking model is fished more like a large crankbait. If you want to get deep down and right into bass beds this is the configuration for you. The lure sinks slowly but combined with the diving lip anglers can get it into operating depth relatively quickly. Bass will defend their territory when Bluegill approach, and with the diving model it is easy to get right smack in front of largemouth. On the down side the sinking model will operate in areas where it can easily get snagged or hung up one of it’s two oversized treble hooks. It is in these areas that I still would prefer to toss in a much more weedless soft bluegill swimbait that only has one hook on top. It is also a lot easier to stomach the loss of a 10 dollar swimbait to underwater structure than a 40 dollar RFB.


The 3D eyes look extremely realistic

Both lures swim extremely convincingly, and the entire tail section flips back and forth in a very natural manner. The hair moves backwards as the lure is being retrieved closing the gap between the body and tail, creating a much more genuine silhouette. This lure catches fish, and what surprised us most was how many small fish actually tried to engulf the entire lure. We had previously thought that only bass in the 3lb+ class would be interested in a bluegill of this size, but time after time diminutive 1lb bass would charge right out of structure and hammer the lure, many of which were just too small to get their mouths around the bait. It just goes to show how aggressive juvenile bass can be. Interestingly bass in lakes with almost no bluegill would strike the RFB almost as much as those residing in lakes loaded with the species. As expected, it was times when we saw a lot of bluegill in the surrounding area the RFB really drew the most strikes.


When retrieved the hair looks like a moving fin and completes the profile of the bait while the tail moves back and forth smoothly creating a wake

So which version do we like better? Because of the cost of ownership most anglers will probably buy just one of these lures, and if we had to pick which one was more effective it would have to be the floating model. Even though anglers can work the sinking model throughout the entire column the floating RFB is easier to fish, and harder to lose. With the floating model it is much easier to target submerged trees, shallow beds, and accurately mimic an injured baitfish.

A 3lbr hammers the RFB as we twitched it just under the surface mimicking a injured sunfish

Durability: As with most of the Bettencourt baits the RFB falls right in between the spectrum in terms of overall durability, this is mainly due to the multi-material construction that goes into each lure. When compared with other lures the RFB is certainly more durable than a soft swimbait, and should last through many more fish before showing any signs of wear and tear. On the other end of the spectrum because the RFB makes use of hair on the dorsal and anal fins these manes can be ruined by the elements if not properly cared for. If you rinse and pat dry them off after each use they should remain in good shape for a few seasons.  

What surprised us were how many 1-2lb bass actually tried to take on this bait, the Real Fish works on bass of all sizes


Price & Applications: There are three Real Fish versions available and our two preferred patterns are the Trout and Bluegill pattern over the shad. If I had to pick my favorite it would have to be the Bluegill version. There are a lot of trout plugs out there, but how many bluegill ones are available? The Bettencourt RFB is a work of art, but unfortunately the cost of owning one of these functional masterpieces isn’t insignificant. At 39.95 per copy the Real Fish Bluegill is a serious investment for most anglers. So who should buy this lure? Any angler that is experienced fishing swimbaits and plugs will get a real kick out of the RFB. This lure fishes as easy as an oversized crankbait, and can be used to target mid to lunker sized bass effectively at multiple depths. The RFB definitely has some collector’s value as well, this handmade lure is so alluring I was hesitant to even get it wet, but after seeing the realistic swimming action it was well worth the risk.


The Bettencourt Baits "Real Fish" Bluegill Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality This handmade lure is exceptionally detailed in design. Both the wooden segments and the detailed paint job are top notch. The use of hair for the fins is genius 9
Performance We were surprised that bass of all sizes took such a interest in this lure. The lure worked even in lakes with few or no bluegill population. We drew the most strikes in shallow water or twitching the bait near the surface like a injured baitfish  9
Price This is the most expensive Bettencourt bait yet, but we can understand why after looking at the detail in design. This is a custom bait that really delivers when it comes to attention to detail. At this price it isn't for everyone, but if you like fishing plugs this innovative bluegill is for you 7.5
Features The RFB has plenty of features from the amazing finish to the realistic tail and hair fins 9
Design (Ergonomics) Overall we like the floating model of this lure the best, but it is nice that Bettencourt can custom make the lure to sink. This lure is easier to fish than most swimbaits 9
Application Anglers can fish this lure like an oversized crankbait. If you are familiar fishing plugs this lure can be fished the same way. Its thrilling watching bass follow the lure or strike it near the surface. Can be a good tool for annoying bass into striking during the spawn 9

Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Exclusive handmade quality... this is  a work of art L The hair can be damaged if not properly cared for
J As real as a plug can get L Not a cheap lure
J Excellent lifelike swimming action  
J More durable than a soft bluegill swimbait  
J Can be fished multiple ways  

The Bettencourt Real Fish is a big step for Bettencourt Baits, and as far as a bluegill hardbait the RFB is the one to beat. It has the actual size, shape, and action of a “real fish.” This is a terrific alternative to all the bluegill swimbaits out there, and is just as easy to fish as any oversized crankbait. The fur on the lure helps create a more convincing profile when retrieved, and adds an extra element to the bait which other lures simply cannot duplicate. The only area that will turn anglers off is the high cost per lure. This is a awkward area to evaluate on this particular lure because there really isn’t any comparable product to the RFB, and putting a value on a handmade custom lure is tricky. Anglers that appreciate custom lures will love the fine details Nathan incorporates into the Real Fish series, and fisherman that routinely throw plugs will adore this offering. If you are willing to make the 40 dollar investment this exclusive lure will repay you with lifelike action and plenty of strikes from aggressive bass. One thing is for certain Bettencourt Baits isn’t done tinkering, with lure’s as convincing as the “Real Fish” what will Nathan think of next?











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