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Lure Review

The Bettencourt Assassin slays unsuspecting fish with distinctive tail swimming action

Date: 12/09/04
Tackle type: Lures
Manufacturer: Bettencourt Baits
Reviewer: Zander

Total Score: 8.75

Bettencourt Baits continues to build a reputation for quality handmade lures, and introduces their interpretation of the traditional trout plug. The Assassin is a unique plug that delivers a new strike triggering action when retrieved below the surface or trolled. This multi-jointed plug can be fished a variety of different ways, and is effective for a surprisingly wide assortment of species.

Bettencourt Baits Assassin Specifications

Type Plug
Material Wood, plastic tail
Colors/Patterns 17+ available (Rainbow Shad and Tennessee Shad Tested)
Sizes Available 12", 9", 7.5", 6"
Weights Available 3 1/4oz.,  2oz.,  1 3/8oz.,  1oz.
Hook VMC 3x Hooks
(Sizes Vary from 1/0-4/0)
MSRP $11.95-$21.95

Impressions: Back in April we introduced readers to what had to be among the most interesting if not terrifyingly realistic lures...the Bettencourt Rodent. The rodent opened our eyes to just how detailed Bettencourt's handmade lures are. While many of Bettencourt's lures merge both fly tying and lure building techniques the Assassin is a more traditional implementation. This large plug sports an angled face comparable to that of a Luhr Jenson AC Plug, but the similarities end there. While the majority of all plugs on the market are 2 piece lures every Assassin regardless of size is a 3 piece design.


The Bettencourt Assassin is yet another custom made lure designed, carved, and painted by Nathan Bettencourt himself

The Assassin comes capped at the end with a plastic single tail grub pinned and glued at the rear of the last joint. Each lure uses large VMC hooks which hang from the center segments. From the initial inspection we were immediately impressed with the quality construction and detailed paintwork. Each and every Assassin is hand made by Nathan Bettencourt himself, and as a finishing touch each lure is individually dated and initialed.

The Assassin makes use of quality components and each and every angle screams "custom" detail and design

Field Tests: We wanted to test the Assassin in a variety of applications, targeting at least two different fish. Our testing ultimately involved a series of cast and retrieve tests from shore, topwater bass fishing in local reservoirs from the carpeted deck of our bass boat, and deep water trolling aided by Scotty downriggers from the back of our Boston Whaler.

Complete Rig for testing the Assassin

Rod (Casting) GLoomis MBR784C
Rod (Trolling) Talora TLA-70M
Reel (Casting) Shimano Chronarch 100A
Reel (Trolling) Shimano Tekota 500LC
Line 12-25 lb. Trilene Big Game

Casting: The larger Assassin's weigh plenty, and should be paired with both heavy test line and a rod with plenty of backbone. Our GLoomis MBR784C was decent when casting, but during retrieves even this stick felt somewhat "under-rodded." We recommend fishing with a minimum of 12lb line and actually prefer much thicker so you can fling the Assassin without fear of your line snapping. Nothing is worse than standing on shore and making a beautiful cast when a damaged line suddenly decides to snap as you helplessly watch your 20+ dollar lure sail off into the center of the lake. Luckily for us this didn't happen during our tests, but such thoughts are what caused us to switch out to 20lb test and double check our knots. Overall the Assassin is a easy lure to cast far when tossed with a medium-heavy rod, one with a somewhat fast action.

The Assassin doesn't rely on a big tail to displace water like some other plugs, instead the double jointed body does all the work as it follows the head


Retrieving: Most single jointed plugs seem to slap back and forth when retrieved, but because each Assassin has two joints and three segments it cruises through the water with much less resistance. The lure doesn't quite smack the water like other plugs, and instead seems to "swim" with a graceful side to side tail motion, one which is almost snake like. This subtle motion was very surprising considering the design and dimensions of the lure, somehow all of us expected the lure to click and clack through the water. The lure can be fished on the surface with short slow retrieves, but it really doesn't take much to get it to dive. During our bass fishing tests we did plenty of topwater fishing and found the Assassin creates less commotion on the surface than plugs like the AC Plug and MS Slammer, which feature a single joint and larger swimbait type tails. Where the Bettencourt Assassin excels is actually when retrieved at medium to fast speeds where the lure dives to 1 to 2 feet depths. At these speeds the single tail grub at the end of the lure flutters and the lure calls to fish with the unique tail wagging action. As an added trigger Nathan has included a rattle in the head of each lure.

During months of testing we hooked bass of varying sizes, but to our surprise smaller bass would also strike the lure as it cruised over and around structure. Because of the shallow diving action of this lure we were often able to visually observe a number of what appeared to be reaction strikes. While we have no doubt the Assassin can catch big fish, what did surprise us were the number of smaller 1 to 2lb fish that seemed to take interest in this lure. Overall the lure performed decent in when targeting bass, with a higher percentage of effectiveness with the rainbow trout pattern in lakes with regular stocking programs.


While we would consider the Assassin to be a big fish lure we were surprised how many smaller 1-2lb bass actually took interest, leading us to believe that the lure certainly is capable of inspiring reaction strikes


Trolling: While the lure performance was respectable when targeting bass it proved to be excellent when we switched our attention to stripers. While the vast majority of our stripers are caught by ripping jerkbaits, retrieving traps, or dipping swimbaits, we decided to target potentially larger fish in deeper water with the Assassin and a little help from our Scotty downriggers. Earlier in the day we had already built up confidence with the Assassin as we caught schoolie stripers on the surface retrieving the Tennessee Shad pattern parallel to shoals and a rocky dam, and now it was time to go deep. We switched to our Shimano Talora/Tekota trolling system rig and clipped the Assassin 15 feet back and lowered the lure to a depth of 50 to 80 feet. At 2-3mph the lure's action truly came to life and within minutes we hooked up on a striper. During the course of the day we caught an assortment of stripers via trolling, ranging in size from 3lbs to just over 10lb's in weight. Because the Assassin doesn't have a protruding lip like many other plugs, it swims at a consistent predictable depth, this coupled with its distinctive action make it a truly deadly lure for trolling.


JIP lowers the Assassin down into trolling depth

 Here is where the Bettencourt Assassin picks up some extra points. Unlike other plugs we have fished with a single angled joint the Assassin takes little to no damage at the junctions. This is because the movement of the lure is not as violent, and the Assassin has one of the thickest clear coatings I have ever seen on a lure of this size. Even the 3D eye rests underneath a coating that effectively resists scratches from the hooks, and abuse from hard hitting fish. The VMC hooks are thick and resist bending, yet remained razor sharp after going through a handful of bass and 30+ stripers. The one area that is more prone to damage is the glued on grub tail, which did eventually start to tear. Luckily a broken tail is no big deal on this lure as it is easy enough to pin and glue on a new grub right on the end of the lure, actually allowing anglers the flexibility of changing the color or style of tail. When changing a tail make sure to use one with more rubber content and less impregnated salt, they tend to stay attached for a much longer period.


Stripers couldn't resist the Assassin's distinctive action


Applications: While we tested the Assassin for Bass and Stripers the lure can and should be used for pike and musky, and is worth trying on just about any big fish that you can troll for. This Assassin is best employed on fish that will react to the lure's unique action. While the paint finishes are excellent and can mimic a variety of fish, we believe that most fish are drawn to the lure due to its curious tail whipping motion. Nathan builds a wide assortment of colors and patterns and many of the brighter ones are sure to appeal to Pike, though we aren't exactly sure what species to employ the "cow" pattern for.


The Assassin Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality This handmade lure is exceptionally detailed in design. Both the wooden segments and the detailed paint job are top notch 9
Performance The Assassin is a well designed lure that is actually best fished right below the surface or trolled. The lure doesn't make as much commotion on the surface but can be fished on the surface for aggressive species 8.5
Price As far as general lure's go the Assassin is priced in the medium range, but when considering this is a hand made lure the Assassin is among the cheapest on the market. This detailed lure is easily worth the 12-20 dollar price tag when you consider the lure's effectiveness and handmade design. Each and every lure feels unique, and the date and initialing exemplifies the fact that these are custom made 8.5
Features The Assassin boasts a nice set of features including a multi segmented body, VMC hooks, and rattle. The only area where the lure could possibly be improved is with a more durable tail 8
Design (Ergonomics) Overall the Assassin is an excellent lure and once you get used to tossing such a big plug it is actually easy to cast. Retrieving the Assassin is actually easier than most plugs, due to the reduced water resistance 9
Application The lure is good for targeting bass, excellent for stripers, and should be lethal for pike and muskie. The ability to troll this lure effectively is a big plus 9.5

Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Exclusive handmade quality L The tail can be damaged
J Distinctive action  
J Excellent durability  
J Can be trolled effectively  

Conclusion: Bettencourt Baits has another winner, and the Assassin proved to be an effective lure for multiple species and an assortment of different techniques. When paired with the right rod and line the lure can be cast and retrieved with confidence. While the lure can be successful like other plugs on the surface it really shines when operating beneath the water line. When retrieved with just moderate speed it dives and holds at a nice predictable depth, and the subtle tail swimming action really brings the lure to life. The Assassin inspires strikes as fish react to the lure's intriguing action, and the ability to troll the lure effectively at just about any depth only adds to the lure's effective fishing range. This is one custom bait that does not disappoint, and for under 22 dollars for the largest (12 inch) size and much less for the smaller models, it really isn't cost prohibitive to tie one on and give this handmade double jointed plug a toss.

Until next time....Tight Lines.









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