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Lure Review

The A.C. "Real Trout," the latest in a line of modified plugs from Allan Cole

Date: 3/10/05
Tackle type: Lures
Manufacturer: A.C. Plugs
Reviewer: Zander

Total Score: 8.75

Introduction: Seems like a few years ago there were just a handful of trout plugs, most famous of which was the original AC Plug. Today there are tons of plug choices, many of which sport unique new profiles and make use of new materials. How does Allan Cole, the pioneer of trout plugs, respond to all this competition? The answer, the new AC Real Trout, which blends Allan's famous hand made details with contemporary features.


A.C. Real Trout Specifications

Type Sub surface plug
Material Wood body, soft plastic tail
Colors/Patterns 13+ available
Sizes 5, 7, 9 inches
MSRP $29.99 - $41.99


Say hello to the newest Allan Cole creation, the A.C. Real Trout

The original A.C. Plug imitates large baitfish with a deadly swimming action that comes from its hand-crafted design. This patented plug started the "swimbait" revolution back in the '80s and continues to produce world class stripers, lake trout, and largemouth bass. (click here to find out more) This lure was used to capture over 15 world records, and still delivers fish big enough for the record books. Its no wonder why there are so many imitations, and with the California swimbait craze the demand for big plugs is greater than ever. A.C. Plugs could have produced a completely new lure, but they stayed true to their winning design and tweaked the original to create the Real Trout. The Real Trout looks and feels like a handmade lure, and it really is.  Every single A.C. Plug, including the new Real Trout is hand made by Allan Cole himself! When I first examined the rainbow pattern Real Trout I was impressed with the artful design of the lure. The lure is hand carved and the hand painted exterior is quite artful, but the eyes seem a bit unnaturally large. While the lure doesn't look stunningly real, it certainly does look like a collectors piece. It is however the most detailed of the A.C. Plugs, and has a more lifelike body shape and features juvenile parr marks and striations just like those found on actual trout.


Complete Rig for A.C. Real Trout Tests

Rod GLoomis Muskie MUR844C
Reel Shimano Calcutta 250
Line 30 lb. Big Game

Real World Tests: We tested the
Real Trout on two species, largemouth bass and striped bass. We fished both a 7 inch golden rainbow and 9 inch traditional rainbow pattern in relatively clear water. Because the 9" A.C. Real Trout is such a big lure we opted to use a full-bodied GLoomis Muskie rod as our catapult.


The Real Trout features a more robust body and a more detailed paint job than most of the other A.C. Plugs


Design: The Real Trout looks like an adaptation of the A.C. Minnow, and while they both have a plastic bill to aid in swimming the Real Trout features a much more realistic profile. The lure is jointed in the center and a plastic tail is securely pinned to the back of the lure. The best way I can describe the finish is "distinctive." Each and every lure is hand painted by Allan Cole, and each is unique. While they may not look ultra realistic compared to the photo finishes on some of the swimbaits available, the A.C. plug's colors do look quite realistic. With over 5 layers of paint the lures take on a unique multi-layered sheen, one that looks even more convincing when the lure is wet. Each lure comes armed with high quality Owner hooks, no sharpening required here.


The Real Trout has a breathtaking action once retrieved, and swings side to side with a lifelike tail whipping action


Casting: Get yourself a nice strong rod, the longer the better. Casting the 9" A.C. Plug gets tiring real quick if you don't use a rod with enough backbone. If you are a saltwater angler you may even want to try some of your fiberglass rods for this application. If you are fishing from a boat a shorter 7 foot rod will suffice, but from shore an 8 foot rod will help you put some distance between you and each cast. Also make sure to use at least 20lb line for these lures, the last thing you want is to lose your lure to that possible fish of a lifetime. If you are a bass angler and don't have a beef stick of any kind your biggest flipping stick will suffice. Casting the Real Trout was easy with a strong rod, and the sky's the limit in terms of distance.


We also tested a golden trout variation, notice the detail of the multi-layered paint job


Retrieving: During our tests we fished the Real Trout deep and on the surface, and we were able to do both with success. Left alone the lure will float on the surface, and you can twitch your rod tip forward and cause the Real Trout to splash about like a wounded fish. This works well late in the evening  or even at night. But what I liked best was to retrieve the Real Trout at a slow rate, when doing this the lure truly comes to life. The seductive snakelike motion of the original A.C. plug has translated nicely to the Real Trout. The lure slinks back and forth in a tight swimming pattern that displaces water back and forth from the head all the way back to the tail. A faster retrieve can cause the lure to dive deeper, but the motion remains exceptional. The lure is capable of going a bit deeper than most surface plugs, offering some versatility over pure surface plugs. In very clear water we sometimes observed bass rise up and charge the lure, sometimes they would strike the tail, but in most cases they would slam the lure's main body with complete commitment. I can't describe how exciting it is to see even small bass rise up and slam this behemoth of a lure. While the Real Trout is designed to be a big fish lure, medium sized bass that are accustomed to taking on stocker trout will not hesitate to assail the Real Trout as well.


When left to rest the lure will float, and can be twitched on the surface


Trolling: During our striper tests the wind started getting real nasty and we had trouble holding the boat while fishing. Rather than call it a day we opted to make use of the downriggers on our Boston Whaler. The Real Trout trolls very well, and I think that it actually trolls better than the original A.C. Plug because of the bill which allows the lure to deliver more realistic action at all speeds. I believe that the Real Trout is aptly named, not because it looks extremely lifelike, but because it does deliver an undeniably lively action. Trolling was most effective for stripers, but I imagine that this technique can be employed for bass as well, with or without use of a downrigger.

Fish of all sizes will attack the A.C. Real Trout, especially if the fish are used to taking on stocked bows

 I have had experience with a number of trout plugs that seem to last only a few trips before the paint starts to flake off. The
Real Trout features a multi-layer treatment which is actually quite durable. The only area that is prone to wear and tear is the joint which does scratch up. The scratches on the Real Trout are not nearly as noticeable as the damage on other jointed trout plugs I have tested, the reason being that the angles are so aggressively cut that the areas that come in contact during the retrieve are actually on the inside of the lure. The hooks are quality Owners, and stayed sharp even through all the stripers. I usually have to change out the hooks on my big fish lures, but these withstood the punishment of our tests. The only area that I can foresee potential problems down the road is the swimbait tail, which didn't take any damage in our tests, but I envision it will be somewhat challenging to change should it ever break.


A.C. Real Trout Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality This handmade lure continues to defy time with a quality design. Overall lure quality is very good but the finish is not the most realistic. We believe the real trout is named not for a realistic finish but for an ultra realistic action 8.5
Performance Performance was excellent and the lure worked well on both stripers and largemouth bass of all sizes. Fish this lure long enough and you will surely catch a big fish...just be patient and keep casting. The lure's action is second to none 9
Price At a MSRP between $29.99-49.99 the AC Real Trout is right in the middle in terms of price. There are many new lures like the Monster Jack and Optimum that cost much more 8
Features The best feature is that this lure is handmade by the master himself, Allan Cole. Each and every lure is unique and a collectors item in itself 8.5
Design (Ergonomics) The Real Trout is a pleasure to toss and quite exciting when you can fish the lure in clear water. Just make sure to use a buff enough rod and some decent pound test line 9
Application This lure can be used on multiple species including stripers, bass, muskie, and even lake trout 9.5

Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Incredible action L Realism of finish
J Handmade by Allan Cole himself  
J Effective for multiple species  
J Many patterns available  
J Stays true to the original A.C. Plug design methodology  

Conclusion: While the A.C. Real Trout looks more realistic than the other A.C. Plugs it still isn't ultra realistic looking in appearance. Yet it earns the right to be called the "Real Trout" the second that it touches the water. The lifelike retrieve of this lure is exceptional, and a more robust shape and a plastic bill allow the lure to displace serious amounts of water as it moves side to side. This incredible swimming action calls to fish, and both bass and stripers in our test couldn't resist striking the lure whether we splashed it on the surface, retrieved it a foot below the water line, or trolled it over 40 feet down. What I find most appealing about the Real Trout is that each and every lure is still made by Allan Cole himself. This is the man that single handedly created the lure that started it all. The Real Trout makes use of some serious quality components, features a new more lifelike design, and manages to stay true to the winning design methodology that made the previous generation A.C. Plugs winning designs. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Real Trout earns a spot among its siblings as the next record setting trout plug.


The best place to get an AC Plug is direct from the source...
AC Plugs.com. You can even put in special requests for unique paint jobs and patterns to target fish on your favorite lake.









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