60 years of Bait Casting!
by Les Albjerg
It was 60 years ago this month that I was given my first rod and reel. It is a Pflueger 1893 and an unknown steel rod of about 5 feet in length with 4 very heavy guides. Yes, I still own my first rod and reel. I remember the day well when I got the rod. I was 7 years old. I was fishing on Turtle Lake in Minnesota with my grandfather, and we were hauling in the crappies and sunfish. At the end of the day, grandpa told me that he was giving me the rod and reel as a present! I was one happy and proud kid!
I fished the rod in lakes, rivers, ponds, and creeks. Many carp, bullheads, bass, and pan-fish were caught out of the Crow River near our house with that rod. It was out on the boat or pontoon often when fishing with family. It's downfall was bird's nests. Oh the spinning rod and reels looked so much better. So at the age of 11, all of my snow shoveling and lawn mowing money went to buying a Mitchell spinning reel and a Fenwick rod!
This morning the old outfit was resurrected and fished for the first time since I was 11! It is not a BFS set-up, but I did catch one small bass and three sunfish.
I was never going to get back into bait casting, but then I watched some of Angler Saito's videos. I listen to Chris, and read all the virtues on this website. It was Angler Saito using the 2500c that pushed me over. He was fishing with an Abu-Garcia Ambassadeur 2500c. That was my Dad's favorite reel and he had it paired with nice Fenwick rod. After he died, I inherited the reel. Turning the 2500c into a BFS reel has been an education as well as a money pit! Once you get started, it is hard to stop.
A light weight spool is the key to BFS. However, once you get that the bearings needed an upgrade then the brakes, etc.! The Shimano Calcutta Conquest BFS HG would have been cheaper, and it is I'm sure a much better reel.
I'm glad I did it as a tribute to my Dad! I have it mounted to a custom made rod designed for fishing in streams. Again, I have more in my custom rod, excluding my labor, than if I had bought a Tenyru! A quality blank and quality components are not cheap.
I worked part time for a high end fly rod builder for 7 years, so I know how to build rods. This set-up fishes OK, but I knew there was more, so I decided that as a tribute to my first bait-caster, I would finally just get a balanced system from Finesse Fishing and see if I could really get this kind of fishing dialed in.
So, I have gone all in. A Shimano Adlebaran BFS XG has been paired with a Shimano Cardiff AX B62SUL-RG rod. I hate to say it, but my first session with my new outfit was a disaster! It wasn't the equipment's fault! It was the guy behind it! A big lesson learned about the modern BFS reels is that spool tension is the key to a great cast! I watched several good videos on YouTube that got me on the right path.
So, I now have a nice stream BFS system with my 2500c and a nice BFS system for quieter waters and ponds with the Shimano Adlebaran and Cardiff rod.This morning I caught fish with all three. It was fun fishing with my first rod again! I doubt I'll fish it much in the future! Once in a while for memories, maybe. The Abu-Garcia Ambassadeur 2500c will be fished on streams this summer. It does well, but I wouldn't be surprised if somehow the Shimano Adlebaran reel ends up on that rod when stream fishing!
It is hard to beat the excellence of the JDM equipment. Yesterday practicing my casting with the Shimano rod and reel, I was hitting a 4 inch target at 20 yards. I hit the target 10 out of 10 times. I stopped at 10, why spoil a good thing? This morning, I found that casting with the Shimano set-up was the smoothest and most pleasurable. Hopefully, I am over my hang-ups with bait casting and am going to really enjoy it this year! I am totally enjoying the amazing accuracy and I don't know why, but I enjoy the battle of bring in the fish more with a bait casting reel than a spinning reel.
My other big lesson learned is getting a totally set-up system from Chris is much cheaper than building your own BFS reel and rod. I have a Daiwa Tatula that I have sunk way too much money in making it a BFS reel. My last picture is of the Roro ultralight spool at an amazing 5.49 grams. Ulta-light spools are expensive!
My plan is to use my above set-ups for lures from 2.5 grams and up. If I go lighter, I will use a spinning outfit. I looked up the cost of the Avail ultralight spool for the Adlebaran. You are looking at $110.00 to gain (actually, lose) maybe a gram or two. One guy tricked his out and was casting a one gram trout magnet. Oh, then do you do bearings, brakes, cosmetics?
I have a spinning outfit that is casting the Rodio-craft .5g Blinde Flanker spoons accurately 20 yards! A different story for a different time. The right tools for the right job! My goal is by the end of the summer to be able to fish the 2.5 gram to 3 gram spoons without having to work hard at it. I'm making progress and having fun too. So, if you have had bad experiences with bait casting, this new equipment is amazing and can open new horizons.