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Baitcasters for Brookies?

Baitcasters for Brookies? You can't be serious.

I'm serious! The Shimano Cardiff NS B42UL-3 and Cardiff NS B47UL-3 baitcasters are rated for lures as light as 1 gram and line as light as 2 pound test.

If those aren't little wild brookie numbers, I don't know what is.

Casting a one gram lure with a baitcaster was unthinkable before the advent of Bait Finesse System (BFS) reels. Even with the best BFS reels, aftermarket spools are necessary for the average angler to be able to cast 1 gram lures.

BFS BUM sticker

I may be a BFS Bum, but I'm certainly no pro. I have a Shimano Aldebaran BFS XG, for which I bought the Avail 16ALD15R replacement spool. With that spool the Aldebaran BFS XG is said to cast lighter lures than any other baitcaster. I took it out yesterday for the first time since installing the Avail spool. It was indeed an eye-opener.

No brookies were caught in the making of this report.

That is only a matter of time (and going to a stream that actually has brookies). I went to a stream where I knew I would not be bothered by large trout. It isn't actually a headwaters stream, but with a flow of only 9 cfs and a population of 5-7" wild trout it might as well be.

I spooled the Aldebaran with 9X tippet, which has a stated breaking strength of 1.6 lb. I did try a 1g lure briefly - the Cultiva JH-85 .7g jighead and 1.3" Cultiva pinworm, which together weigh exactly 1 g. Although I've caught trout with that lure I generally do better with micro spoons, so I didn't fish it any longer than it took to realize I could indeed cast it. I then tried a .9g Forest Marshal Tournament spoon, with which I got a hit on my second cast. I missed the fish, but it proved that I could cast a .9g micro spoon with a baitcaster, and far enough to catch fish!

I switched to the 1.2g Lupin spoon because even though I could cast the .9g Marshal Tournament spoon far enough, I didn't have acceptable accuracy. I was fishing a fairly large pool, so while it would have been nice, pinpoint accuracy was not actually required. For the rest of that stream, though, errant casts would have meant lost opportunities at best and lost spoons at worst.

First fish on 1.2 g, 1.6 lb, Aldebaran combo.First fish on 1.2 g, 1.6 lb, Aldebaran combo.

The stream I was fishing flows into a reservoir that has a good population of largemouth bass. Although I hadn't caught a bass in the stream before, it was only a little surprising that the first fish I caught with the 1.2g, 1.6lb, Aldebaran combo was a little largemouth bass. A least it was brookie sized.

Little brown trout (at least it was brookie sized)Little brown trout (at least it was brookie sized)

Fishing was slow, but I did manage to catch a little brown trout, which shot out from under a log to grab the silver Lupin spoon. If you can catch a 6-7" wild brown trout from under a log in a 9 cfs stream, I'm going to take that as confirmation that "baitasters for brookies" is a reasonable approach.

You don't need 1.2 g lures and 1.6 lb line.You don't need 1.2 g lures and 1.6 lb line.

Backing off a bit from this article's opening paragraphs, you don't actually need to cast 1 gram lures, and you don't actually need to fish with 2 lb test line.  The above shot was taken in June of 2017. The reel was straight out of the box, with no aftermarket parts. The line was 3 lb Sunline Troutist Wild rather than 1.6 lb 9X tippet. The lure was a standard Mepps size 0 spinner, which weighs 2.5g. How many brookies have been caught with a size 0 Mepps over the years? Has to be in the thousands. Many thousands.

And I was a rank beginner with a baitcaster. It was the second time I'd fished with a BFS reel and just a few weeks earlier was probably the first time in over 20 years that I had fished with a baitcaster at all.

That shot was taken before I stopped fishing treble hooks - actually that fish is largely WHY I stopped fishing treble hooks. I wouldn't fish a Mepps spinner again, and I prefer spoons to spinners in any event (less line twist), but the point is that a straight-out-of-the-box Aldebaran and a Tenryu Rayz RZ53UL-BC or Shimano Trout One NS B50UL will cast a 2.5g lure (which is small enough to catch 5-7" trout), and will cast it plenty far enough to catch fish in the tiny streams where little wild brookies live.

Baitcasters for brookies is not an outrageous thought. With an ultralight rod and a BFS reel, you can fish small streams with small lures.

For my own fishing, though, I'm going to make at least one change. No more 9X for me. On this trip I really, really missed having a hi-vis line. With thin, clear tippet material for my line and with such a small lure, it was often impossible to see the lure in flight. On many casts, the only way I knew where it landed was seeing the splash. In a pool, that's not a problem. In riffles, even gentle riffles, seeing the splash of a small lure might be impossible.

Even more important than that is seeing where the lure is going before it gets there. When casting to small targets near shore or near logs, you need to be able to stop the flight to prevent losing lures to snags. For almost any cast in a small stream, though, you have to get the distance just right to make sure the combination of the current and your retrieve will allow the lure to follow path you intend.

A baitcaster (and an experienced thumb) gives you excellent control over casting distance, but for that control to be of any value you have to see the lure in flight. With smaller lures, that pretty much means hi-vis line. I think I'll spool up with the Varivas Bait Finesse PE. It has the best trade-off of high visibility and low diameter.

Once I get that done I need to get to some brookie streams.

Baitcasters for brookies just might become a recurring theme.

Baitcaster Bookie - Jason D photoBaitcaster Bookie - Jason D photo

Baitcasters for Brookies Update 7-28-19

After trying a few different PE lines, I concluded that the Sunline Small Game PE-HG was the easiest for me to see against a background of green foliage - which is a given on any eastern brookie stream. I then went in search of brookies.

Luckily, a friend who was curious about a particular rod asked me to come fish with him. It turns out he lives near a stream that has brookies. What is even better, he promised to take me to his secret spot.

His secret spot has brookies!

Actually, his secret spot has very nice brookies! (And his secret is safe with me!)

The brookies were a pushover for the Shimano Slim Swimmer spoons. Although I was able to cast the 1.5g Slim Swimmer, and I caught fish with it, I found that I could cast the 2.5g and 3.5g spoons a lot more accurately. Of the two, I did a little better with the 2.5g spoons. The 3.5g spoon was not too large for even the 5 and 6 inch brookies, but they were able to wriggle off the barbless hook more easily with the heavier spoon.

Baitcasters for brookies. But of course!

Baitcasters for Brookies Update 8-4-19

I couldn't help it. I had to go back.

My goal for the day was to try different weights of the Shimano Slim Swimmer spoons. The day was pretty much a replay of the 7-28-19 trip. I caught brookies on the 1.5, 2.5 and 3.5 gram spoons. All the fish I hooked with the 3.5g spoon appeared to be in the 5-7 inch range. That pretty much proves, at least to my satisfaction, that you don't have to fish tiny little lures even if the trout you expect to catch are pretty small.

I am increasingly of the opinion that the desire to cast the lightest possible lures with BFS reels is a lot more about the casting than the fishing. Casting the lightest possible lure is a challenge - whether or not it results in more fish. In my experience, at least for wild trout in streams, it does not result in more fish.

2.5g Shimano Slim Swimmer - just as effective and easier to cast accurately


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