Bait Finesse System

Bait Finesse System (BFS) was developed in Japan. That much is agreed upon.

I have read that it was developed to catch largemouth bass. Because of intense fishing pressure, bass became harder to catch with traditional lures. Smaller lures and lighter lines were still effective, and could be used in open water. With very light lures, though, existing rods and reels lacked the accuracy necessary for pitching around heavy cover. Manufacturers responded with reels and rods designed specifically to pitch lighter lures.

Although the Bait Finesse System was developed to catch bass, and purists would contend that it is strictly a bass fishing method, anglers in Japan started using BFS reels to fish for trout. Seeing a potential new market, rod manufacturers developed rods specifically designed for the light lines and light lures that BFS reels made possible. Different rods were designed for stocked trout in "areas" (managed pay-to-fish ponds) and wild trout in streams.

However, I have also read that it was developed to catch trout in streams because anglers who loved their baitcasters needed reels that would cast trout-sized lures and bass anglers later adopted it to finesse fishing for bass.

How we got here may not be as important as the fact that we did get here. There are very nice reels that can cast very light lures. That's what matters.

Bait Finesse System for Trout

Lure fishing for trout is quite popular in Japan (probably more so than tenkara but less so than keiyru bait fishing). Until fairly recently, it was a game limited to spinning rods and reels. However, the availability of Bait Finesse System reels that can cast lures weighing only 2 grams (1/16 oz) and rods designed for lures as light as 1 gram and lines as light as 1 lb has opened a new genre of fishing: BFS for trout, also called Mountain Stream Bait Finesse.

Tenryu Rayz RZ53UL-BC and Shimano Aldebaran BFS XGTenryu Rayz RZ53UL-BC and Shimano Aldebaran BFS XG

Several years ago, a guy submitted a question on the question and answer column of a major outdoors magazine. He wanted to know why trout fishermen don't use bait casting reels. Most of the guys who answered tried to be helpful but their answers were pretty predictable, along the lines of "most bait casting reels are designed for heavier line and lures." That was then. This is now. There are now bait casting reels designed for light line and light lures!

So why don't trout fishermen use them? Probably because most trout fishermen don't know they exist. Until fairly recently, BFS was known only to bass anglers. Even in Japan, the use of BFS for trout is pretty recent. It has gotten almost no coverage at all in the US. That's what is here for: to bring to the US market some wonderful JDM gear, including BFS reels and baitcasting rods designed for trout, whether in alpine lakes or in mountain streams. BFS for trout is in its infancy in the US. We aim to change that!

One could ask, and indeed many have, why you would want to use baitcasting gear when spinning gear works so well already, especially for casting light lures. I guess there are three very good reasons to use a baitcaster on a mountain stream to catch trout: 1) in skilled hands it is more accurate, 2) In skilled hands it is easier to cast with a low trajectory - under overhanging branches - and also to have the lure land more softly (with more finesse), and 3) some people just love baitcasters and find them to be more fun and more satisfying to use than spinning reels.

Tenryu Rayz RZ53UL-BC and Shimano Calcutta Conquest BFS HGTenryu Rayz RZ53UL-BC and Shimano Calcutta Conquest BFS HG

There is no question that on a small mountain stream, with rocks and eddies and overhanging tree branches, casting accuracy is of paramount importance. Generally, a trout is going to hit your lure on the first cast or not at all. However, if your cast is a bit too far away, he'll just follow the lure without hitting it. If it's too close he'll just run for cover. In either case, a second cast is probably a waste of time. Dropping a lure into a small target, and doing so softly, is absolutely critical. There is no point having pinpoint accuracy if your lure lands with a big splash and scares the fish you were trying to catch. Thumbing a BFS reel to stop a cast is far more precise than feathering a spinning reel.

For some guys, though, the third reason may be the most important. There's just something about baitcasters that doesn't translate over to spinning reels.

There are thousands of bass fishermen in the US who love their baitcasters. If you love your baitcaster, now you don't have to switch to a spinning rod and reel when you fish for trout or panfish. And even if you're not a bass fisherman with a baitcaster, if you are not happy with the accuracy of your casting on a small mountain stream, consider a BFS reel on a light or ultralight baitcaster designed specifically for trout fishing in streams.

Daiwa Wise Stream 45ULB-3 and Daiwa SS Air 8.1LDaiwa Wise Stream 45ULB-3 and Daiwa SS Air 8.1L

I have to tell you, I was never a fan of baitcasters until I tried a BFS reel on an ultralight rod. Holy mackerel! I feel like I've seen the light - or perhaps, as my friend Mark L says - I've seen the dark side. I catch more fish with a tenkara rod than with a fly rod. I catch more fish with a spinning rod than with a tenkara rod. I catch just as many fish and have more fun with a baitcaster. I am absolutely sure that with more practice I will catch more fish - probably many more fish. (And have even more fun doing it!)  It is the sort of thing that you just have to try to see for yourself - then you'll ask yourself why you haven't fished this way all along.

So, why don't trout fishermen use baitcasters? The answer to that question is easy - up until now, no one has been talking or writing about fishing ultralight baitcasters for trout. However, now that you've read this far, that excuse is no longer valid. Give it a try. You will be amazed. And Mark will be happy to say "Welcome to the Dark Side."

Shop BFS reels
Shop Baitcasters for trout

Bait Finesse System
  Trout Baitcasting Rods
    Tenryu Rayz Baitcasters
    Daiwa Wise Stream 45ULB-3
  Baitcast Reels for Trout
  Single Hook Lures
  Daiwa Crusader Spoons
  Daiwa Dr. Minnow Plugs
  Daiwa Presso Step Dart 40S
  Replacement Barbless Hooks

These little rods are sinfully wonderful.

Mark L, Maryland

Just wanted to drop you a quick line to tell you something you already know…. this rod and reel combo is amazing!!!! [Daiwa Presso AGS 60L-B and Daiwa SS Air 8.1L]

I immediately strung it up with some 4lb mono and snipped the hook off a 1/64 jig so I could toss it around in front of my house… I can throw this stupid little jig 30 yards with no backlash at all, amazing!!

Matt N, Colorado

I’ve been having ridiculous success with the Daiwa SS Air and the Presso rod.

Matt N, Colorado


The hooks are sharp.
The coffee's hot.
The fish are slippery when wet.