Baitcast Reels for Trout

The best baitcast reels for trout are the Bait Finesse System reels originally developed for bass fishing. Lure fishing for trout, whether in streams or lakes, calls for light lines and light lures. Most guys don't even think of using a baitcast reels for trout, but you should, particularly if you are fishing in streams.

Bait casting reels are capable of greater accuracy than spinning reels, and accurate casting is probably the third most important factor in having a banner day when fishing a stream (the first two factors are being the first person to fish that section of stream that day and not scaring the fish).

BFS reels are designed to cast light lures accurately. That is why they were developed in the first place - to pitch light lures tight to cover. Other than being in a river rather than on a boat, and casting to wary trout rather than wary bass, a trout angler has essentially the same requirements: pinpoint accuracy and a soft entry.

It really is no surprise that Japanese anglers fishing for wild trout adopted BFS reels for trout fishing in streams. The "trout finesse game" is gaining a foothold in Japan, and I have to think that as more American anglers learn of the existence of effective baitcast reels for trout and the advantages they present, it will gain a foothold in the US as well.

The design feature that makes BFS reels the best choice for stream fishing is the extremely low spool weight. The lighter spool has less inertia so less of the energy of your cast is expended just getting the spool to start turning. More of the energy is thus transmitted to the lure, allowing it to fly further. Light lures, which have less energy to begin with, are thus much easier to cast.

If you are pitching, and neither need nor want the distance, your pitch can be less forceful and far more controlled, yielding much greater accuracy and a softer entry. Less inertia also allows the spool to be stopped more easily at the end of your cast, preventing overruns with less braking.

When fishing for trout in small streams, where your lures are small and light, and your casting accuracy is absolutely critical, BFS reels are the only baitcast reels for trout that can give you the performance you need.

I've chosen a few BFS reels that are ideally suited to trout fishing: the Shimano Calcutta Conquest BFS HG, Shimano Aldebaran BFS XG and the Daiwa SS Air are the top reels. 
The Shimano Scorpion BFS XG is an excellent reel at a more modest price, as is the Daiwa Alphas Air Stream Custom. Any one of them would serve you nicely.

The Daiwa Alphas Air Stream Custom was designed specifically for the shorter casts required for fishing small streams. It's new but has already developed some dedicated fans.

Top Baitcast Reels for Trout

Shimano Calcutta Conquest BFS HG

Shimano begins their description of the new Shimano Calcutta Conquest BFS HG by saying "A long-awaited bait finesse model is born in Calcutta Conquest." Long awaited is correct! I ordered the reels in December and didn't receive them until April. They were worth the wait. (When I ran out of stock, it was another long wait to get more.)

Shimano Calcutta Conquest BFS HGShimano Calcutta Conquest BFS HG

I'd seen all the photos on the Shimano website and the dozens of photos on Google Images, but I was still a bit surprised when I opened the box. The reel is smaller than I had expected, it fits the hand better than I'd expected and the thumb bar is better positioned than I had expected. To say I'm happier than expected would be an understatement.

Shimano Calcutta Conquest BFS HGShimano Calcutta Conquest BFS HG

And I have to say, it just looks great on a Tenryu baitcaster!

Shimano Calcutta Conquest BFS HGShimano Calcutta Conquest BFS HG
Shimano Calcutta Conquest BFS HG LeftShimano Calcutta Conquest BFS HG Left
Shimano Calcutta Conquest BFS HG LeftShimano Calcutta Conquest BFS HG Left

It is a little heavier than I had expected, but boy, does it feel solid! (And smooth!)

Shimano also says the reel supports the "recently popular mountain stream bait finesse," which is exactly why I have them!

The Shimano Calcutta Conquest BFS HG utilizes the same revolutionary spool and braking system as the Aldebaran, but it breaks new ground in other areas.

Micro Module GearMicro Module Gear

The micro module gear reduces the size of the teeth as much as possible. The smooth meshing of the fine teeth produces smoother power transmission without reducing strength. Gear noise has been reduced, and the sensitivity has improved dramatically. Such precise gears are possible only because of the extreme rigidity of the one piece metal body and frame.

X-Ship gear systemX-Ship gear system

The gear system efficiently transmits the input power and enables more powerful cranking. Enlarging the gear, reviewing the optimum placement, improving tooth surface accuracy has allowed smoother and easier reeling.

Finesse Tune Brake systemFinesse Tune Brake system

To increase the pitching performance of lightweight lures, weight reduction of the spool is critical. Traditionally, manufacturers have tried to reduce weight by using perforated spools. The brake unit limited the weight savings.

Shimano's newly developed Finesse Tune Brake (FTB) succeeded in developing the lightest spool in the history of Shimano bait finesse reels by eliminating the brake unit from the spool. FTB applies the braking to the spool, which is unprecedented.

S3D spool (logo)S3D spool

Shimano's S3D spool improves weight balance and dimensional accuracy, which suppresses vibration during casting. Vibration noise has been reduced by half compared to conventional (Shimano) products. Even with a high speed cast, spool rattling and uneven rotation are extremely minor, producing stable casting performance. Casting distance and the accuracy have been improved dramatically.

Exciting Drag Sound

Face it, anglers love to hear their drag scream.

Shimano Adlebaran BFS XG

Shimano Aldebaran BFS XG LeftShimano Aldebaran BFS XG Left
Shimano Aldebaran BFS XG spoolShimano Aldebaran BFS XG spool
More magnets can be added if desired.More magnets can be added if desired.

The Shimano Aldebaran BFS XG has the lightest spool in Shimano's history at just 7.2 grams (excluding bearings). The proprietary Finesse Tune Brake system (FTB) combines the best features of magnetic and centrifugal brakes. 

When the spool spins fast, the magnets provide more braking.When the spool spins fast, the magnets provide more braking.
When the spool spins slowly, the magnets provide less braking.When the spool spins slowly, the magnets provide less braking.

 When the spool spins fast (at the start of a hard overhand cast) centrifugal force pulls the magnets closer to the spool, providing more braking force. When the spool rotates more slowly, either for a pitch or as your lure slows towards the end of your cast, the spring pushes the magnets further away from the spool, reducing the braking force. The FTB braking system thus adjusts the amount of braking depending on the speed of the spool.

The braking force is adjusted by the external dial, which slides the brake unit further in or out of the spool. The braking force is minutely adjustable, and is not limited to to discrete steps.

The Shimano Aldebaran BFX XG is one of the best BFS reels available, and one of the best baitcast reels for trout fishing. At only 130 grams (4.6 ounces) it is one of the lightest as well.

Shimano Aldebaran BFS XG LeftShimano Aldebaran BFS XG Left
Shimano Aldebaran BFS XG LeftShimano Aldebaran BFS XG Left

The fish aren't always monsters, but with the high quality gear, the fishing is always enjoyable.

Shimano Scorpion BFS HG

Shimano Scorpion BFS XG LeftShimano Scorpion BFS XG Left

The The Shimano Scorpion BFS XG has the same Finesse Tune Brake system as the Calcutta Conquest BFS XG and the Aldebaran BFS XG reels. By removing the brake system from the spool itself, Shimano engineers have achieved extremely light spools. The Scorpion spool weight is 8.9 grams, not counting the bearings. That is a 1.7 grams heavier than the spool weights for the Calcutta Conquest or the Aldebaran, but the Aldebaran costs $100 more. Which would you rather save, the 1.7 grams or the $100?

The Scorpion BFS XG also has the same Xship gears (for cranking power) and 3D spool system (for reduced vibration) that are found on the Calcutta Conquest and Aldebaran.

The Scorpion BFS XG reel is approved for salt water.

Daiwa SS Air

Daiwa SS Air 8.1LDaiwa SS Air 8.1L
Daiwa SS Air 8.1L (Right Side)Daiwa SS Air 8.1L (Right Side)
Daiwa SS Air 8.1L (Top View)Daiwa SS Air 8.1L (Top View)
Daiwa SS Air 8.1L (Left Side)Daiwa SS Air 8.1L (Left Side)

The Daiwa SS Air combines the great feel of the Steez and the advanced technology of the T3 Air.

Air Brake System increases the breaking force when the spool spins faster.Air Brake System increases the breaking force when the spool spins faster.

The SS Air's Air Brake System increases the braking force when the spool spins faster and reduces it when the spool spins more slowly. You can make overhand casts and underhand pitches with the same mag setting and with very few backlashes.

By allowing the spool to spin more freely when it is spinning more slowly, the Air Brake System allows you to pitch with less force, greatly improving accuracy. It also controls the rotation at the end of your cast, preventing overruns.

SS Air G1 Duralimin SpoolSS Air G1 Duralimin Spool

The spool is the same G1 duralumin spool found in the T3 Air, which weighs only 6.9 grams (excluding bearings). Because it is extremely light construction, Daiwa recommends only nylon or fluorocarbon lines, not braid. Lines from 6 to 14 lb are recommended, with no more than 50 meters on the spool.

SS Air Mag DialSS Air Mag Dial

The dial for adjusting the magnetic braking has 20 positions (21 counting "Off"). The discrete numbered steps allow you to change the setting when you change lures or in response to wind, and then easily change back to an exact setting.

Ultmate Tournament DragUltmate Tournament Drag

The Ultimate Tournament Drag starts smooth and stays smooth. You won't need it for the 8 inchers, but for an 18 incher (or a 28 incher)? They're out there, and if (when) you hook one, you'll be glad you've got it.

ZAION Star DragZAION Star Drag

The star drag is ZAION (a very strong, very light, carbon/resin composite) with long, 30mm arms that are closer to the reel body for ease of use.


The handle knobs are also ZAION, saving weight. The open design allows your finger to touch the handle knob shaft, which results in greater sensitivity.

Daiwa SS Air LeftDaiwa SS Air Left
Daiwa SS Air LeftDaiwa SS Air Left

The Daiwa SS Air has an extremely low spool weight, the very effective Air Brake System, a smooth drag and easily adjustable mag control. It is one of the best baitcast reels for trout.

Daiwa Alphas Air Stream Custom

The Daiwa Alphas Air Stream Custom was designed specifically for "Mountain Stream Bait Finesse" - fishing for trout with baitcasters. The biggest difference between the Alphas Air Stream Custom  (ASC) and the SS Air (which is no slouch itself for stream fishing) is that the ASC has a fixed inductor braking system.

The braking system for most BFS reels adjusts the breaking force based the speed of the spool revolutions: the faster the spool spins, the greater the braking force. While that makes a lot of sense for longer casts, it is not ideal for the short casts that are more typical of fishing a smaller mountain stream. The fixed inductor design totallty eliminates the time lag between when the spool starts to spin and when a traditional inductor rotor starts to apply braking force. For short casts to small targets, even that slight time lag before the braking kicks in can matter a lot. With the fixed inductor applying braking force from the instant the spool starts to spin, the Alphas Air Stream Custom delivers more accuracy and fewer overruns.

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