Finesse-Fishing Blog

The Finesse-Fishing Blog will highlight new pages on the site and follow developments in ultralight spinfishing and ultralight baitcasting for trout.

Sep 20, 2019

Trip Report - 9-15-19

Following last year's trip to Japan I wrote an article on Sinking Minnow Lures, explaining that they are the most popular lure for stream fishing in Japan. On Sunday, I realized that you might want a few floating minnow lures as well.

I remember a comment from John Vetterli (a tenkara guide who spin fishes in his spare time) about fishing a floating minnow in a snag-filled stream. He said if there is a sunken log or branch just stop reeling and the lure will float to the surface and come right over it. I definitely could have used that on Sunday!

Daiwa Silver Creek Red GoldYamame

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Sep 08, 2019

Trip Report - 9-2-19

Not long ago, a customer sent me an email praising the Tenryu Rayz Alter RZA62UL-S as a sweet rod for brookies in the headwaters. That surprised me a little, as my idea of a headwaters rod was a lot closer to the Tenryu Rayz RZ39LL, which is only 3'9" long and is very easy to cast in very tight quarters. The 6'2" rod he praised just seemed too long.

Then I realized that the tenkara rods I recommend for fishing the headwaters are mostly 9' long or longer. On any stream where I can swing a 9' tenkara rod a 6' spinning rod should be no problem whatsoever.

I had to give it a try.

Tenryu Rayz Alter with small stream brown

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Sep 01, 2019

Trekking with the Tenryu Rayz 68LML

As anyone who has seen my trips knows, I’m a huge short rod guy. I’ve owned many rods from 3’8” to 5’1” and really enjoying the rods in the 4’5” length.

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Aug 18, 2019

Trip Report - 8-17-19

We don't have Aji in our harbors, but we do have snapper blues, which are probably just as good.

When I mention to people that the Tenryu Lunakia rods are ultralight saltwater rods I occasionally get blank looks, as if "ultralight" and "saltwater" are two words that do not belong in the same sentence. Those people must never have fished for snapper blues.

Snapper blues are young bluefish. From late July through September, they abound in bays and harbors all up and down the east coast.

Snapper Blue

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Aug 08, 2019

Trip Report - 8-4-19

The plan for the day was to fish different weights of the Shimano Slim Swimmer spoons. For some time now, I have had the 2.5g Slim Swimmer spoons but they also come in 1.5g, 3.5g and 5g weights.

I decided to try the different weights of the Shimano Slim Swimmers after my trip a few weeks ago when the Slim Swimmer was the only spoon to draw any strikes. The fish don't say, but I suspect at least part of the reason for the Slim Swimmer's effectiveness is that it is a lot closer than most spoons to the shape of a real minnow.

I started out with a Tenryu Rayz Spectra RZS51LL spinning rod. I could have stayed with the Spectra and the 1.5g Slim Swimmer and had a very nice day indeed, but I had other lures to fish.

Slim Swimmer Brookie

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Aug 05, 2019

Moving On Up!

I got interested in UL fishing years ago. I started out with Wally World specials as it fit my budget at the time. As time went on I gradually increased

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Jul 30, 2019

Trip Report - 7-28-19

The Secret Spot

Are there secret spots - I mean really secret?

Somebody knows. Probably lots of somebodies. Anyone who lives in the area, and fishes, knows. The locals always know.

On Sunday I fished with a guy I've known for a while but had never fished with. He was curious about a particular rod and offered to show me around the area where he lives if I would bring the rod so he could see if it really was as nice as I describe it on the website.

He also offered to show me his secret spot - on the condition that I wouldn't describe the spot or name the stream, and made sure any photos I took did not have distinguishing features or embedded GPS info. He's a local. I'm sure he knows all the good spots. I agreed without hesitation.

We met at the prearranged time and place, and I followed him to his secret spot.

When we got there...

Baitcaster Brookie 3

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Jul 16, 2019

The good new days!

I bought an Ajing rod for perch fishing up at Lake Cascade. I discovered that these rods are amazingly versatile. A few weeks ago I fished my longer

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Jul 10, 2019

Copy Cat!

If imitation is the best form of flattery, Chris needs to blush! I put my BFS Daiwa reel on my Tenyru Rayz RZ39LL and took it out for a spin this morning

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Jul 06, 2019

Trip Report 7-5-19

On Friday I played hooky. The weather forecast was for rain both Saturday and Sunday, so I decided to get out when the getting was good. It ended up being a very good day, the first "many" day I've had for a long, long time.

I spent most of the day fishing with a Tenryu Rayz RZ39LL. Wait! The photo clearly shows a BFS reel! A baitcaster? On a spinning rod? Heresy!

Regular readers of the TenkaraBum site know that I don't always play according to Hoyle. I would be very happy to fish a BFS reel on a Rayz 3'9" baitcaster if Tenryu made one but they don't.

There are a few things I've learned about fishing a BFS reel on an RZ39LL - or an RZI50UL-4, which I've done more frequently.

Tenryu RZ39LL, Daiwa Air Stream Custom

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Jul 03, 2019


I went up in the mountains yesterday to the waters where I met the Frank Nale challenge last year of over 100 trout in one day. I am appreciative of Frank

Continue reading "Ambushed!"

Jul 01, 2019

Cork Sealer

I want to treat my JDM rod handles with cork sealer. Has anyone treated their cork handles? I am going to us U40 cork sealer, from the reviews and youtube,

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Jun 21, 2019

Preparing to Fish New Waters

My good friend at work Megan who is an awesome fly fisherwoman hiked up to several of the lakes I was planning on fishing when I am off work in 10 days.

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Jun 20, 2019

Barbed or barbless? What I’ve found

In my experiences fishing both barbed and barbless hooks for multiple species in both fresh and salt water, I’ve found both have their place. To me, one

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Jun 16, 2019

Trip Report 6-15-19

Cultiva S-55M
A friend and I have been going to Maine for smallmouth bass fishing during the first week of June for over 30 years now. This year I spent virtually the entire week fishing with a baitcaster, using a variety of reels and a variety of lines.

The week in Maine was the most concentrated practice I have had with a baitcaster. And while I may never be in Angler Saito's league, by the end of the week I found I was able to place a lure between the rocks on the shoreline well enough and often enough to give me quite a bit of encouragement and to make me eager to try the same on a trout stream.

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Jun 14, 2019

Copper spoons

The last few years I've had great luck with copper spoons in the lakes around here. Only problem is the 1/12oz Phoebe is the lightest I can find. When

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Jun 12, 2019

One Lure Box

Getting a little quiet out here...Hope everybody is too busy fishing! Lure boxes!? Self confession here, I carry too much junk with me to go fishing.

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May 18, 2019

Building Your Own Custom BFS Rod

Spent some time this past winter playing around building custom bfs rods. I drew from some past experience of fly rod building and approached each one

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May 15, 2019

Finesse Fishing Reel Off - Part 1

Below are my thoughts on the following three reels that are available at Finesse Fishing, I need to thank Chris for allowing me to test these out and do

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May 15, 2019

Finesse Fishing Reel Off - Part 2

The Shimano Aldebaran is a premium reel that has many nice features, plenty of upgrade options and is just as smooth as silk. The reel I tested has an

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May 15, 2019

Finesse Fishing Reel Off - Part 3

Finally I will touch on the Shimano Conquest BFS, this is the best of new school technology with old school looks and feel. The heaviest reel I have held

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Apr 28, 2019

Living the WooDream...

After rain and snow with a freak low front pushing through I stayed close to home and made a trip to the urban trout stream. I’ve been playing with tuning

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Apr 25, 2019

Lousy Day In Paradise

I know some of you are just now shaking off winters icy grip, and others dealing with run-off, but here in the southern Appalachian mountains,things couldn’t

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Apr 23, 2019

The Abu Garcia Amassadeur 2500c is Done!

The project is done! I finally have the 2500c working well as a finesse reel. Well, maybe done is too strong of a word. There are still goodies I can

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Apr 14, 2019

Baitcasters for Brookies

Baitcasters for Brookies? You can't be serious.

I'm serious! The Tenryu Rayz RZ53UL-BC baitcaster is rated for lures as light as 1 gram and line as light as 1 pound test. The Shimano Trout One NS B50UL is rated for 1 gram lures and 2 pound test line.

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 logo

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.

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Apr 14, 2019

Fishing the WooDream is a Dream!

It was a crazy day yesterday. Fishing is what I enjoy the most. Hunting is a close second. Geoff and I went up to set up our Bear spot, but the snow

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Apr 08, 2019

Remembering Why JDM equipment is so much fun.

It was a cold blustery weekend. However, it was a rare 3 day weekend for me with no on-call at the hospital. Building a finesse casting system has been

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Apr 02, 2019

The Ambassadeur 2500c has been Hot Rodded!

This morning I was up early. The coffee was hot. The house was quiet. Time to take the plunge and upgrade the 2500c. It wasn't as hard as I thought

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Mar 25, 2019

Plug Fishing Update

I’ve managed a couple of trips to prime trout country, despite being a bit under the weather. I’m trying to get at least one trip to the mountains in each

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Mar 25, 2019

Decoding the Forest Marshall River (Kei) Spoon

Just a preface - I am not a pro, just enjoy trying to learn as much as I can and figure out where each spoon shape and design fits in my box. These are

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Mar 22, 2019

What makes a fishing session?

Horror of all horrors! Someone was fishing in my spot. Last week while driving home, crossing over Indian Creek, there was a vehicle parked and as I looked

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Mar 20, 2019

Smith D-S line Spoons

A short underwater video of a Smith D-S line spoon prompted me to do a page on the spoons.

The Smith D-S line spoons have a deep S-bend, which gives the spoon very good action with even a slow retrieve. Given that I think most people fish lures too fast, that short video, which clearly shows that the spoons have seductive action when fished slowly, was reason enough to write the page.

Watch the video. Slow your retrieve. The fish will curse you for it.

Smith D-S line spoon

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Mar 08, 2019

The Reel Deal

I have all the parts now for making the Abu Ambassadeur 2500c into a Micro Finesse reel! In the first picture you will see my nice clean reel that came

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Mar 01, 2019

One Lure Challenge

I know that this is something one associates more with Tenkara, and to a lesser extent western fly fishing, but this year I am going to apply it to lure

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Feb 10, 2019

What season is this?

For the past couple of years, the area that I live in (Southeast US) has been experiencing a springtime warm up in February. It doesn’t actually last

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Feb 09, 2019

The Mighty Mite

I have a friend, Jose, who fishes at Wilson Springs a lot with a short rod. I've been very curious about the Tenyru RZ39LL, a 3 foot 9 inch spinning rod.

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Feb 08, 2019

Venturing into Baitcasting!

Up until now, I have resisted the temptation to get into fishing with an ultralight baitcasting set-up for stream fishing. One of the things holding

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Feb 02, 2019

The wisdom of Takahashi-san

Over the course of 3 seasons, I had the privilege of fishing with Takahashi-san, an engineer on contract from Tokyo with Toyota South Africa. He is pro

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Jan 20, 2019


I have always been told that the best time to go fishing is, well....when you can. For most of us, a bevy of life’s undertakings dictate the time available

Continue reading "TIMING"

Jan 14, 2019

Urban Exploration

I am a thin blue line guy at heart. However, sometimes it’s just not practical, or possible to get to these little mountain streams. It’s about a 45

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Dec 16, 2018

It was a gram day...

Rod: TenRyu Rayz Spectra 5’1” Reel: ‘18 Daiwa Exist Finesse Custom LT1000S-P Line: Sunline Small Game PE .4 Took a road trip to a place I haven’t been

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Dec 06, 2018

Sunline Troutist 4lb Wild spinning line - no tippet

I was reading how Chris adds tippet to his hi-vis spinning line. I had a record day today fishing Sunline's Troutist 4lb Wild line tied directly to Crusader

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Nov 20, 2018

Spooning for Trout

I must admit, I have been lazy. Just tie the spoon on and fish! Over the last few weeks I have been comparing doing it the lazy way, or putting on a

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Oct 28, 2018

Over The Moon with the Lunakia

A saltwater rod, for freshwater finesse fishing? Only Chris Stewart would think of that application. I went out for an hour today with the Tenryu Lunakia

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Oct 21, 2018

My day with the TenRyu Rayz Spectra

I’ve been after a new ultralight for years, though to be honest I’ve been out of fishing the better part of the last 3 years. I finally decided it was

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Oct 17, 2018

What's Your Line?

I've been having fun with ultra-light spin finesse fishing for almost a year now. It has been a fun journey, but picking a line is frustrating. I have

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Oct 13, 2018

Custom Build Testing

Went ahead and picked up some 4# nanofil to use with this rod. Took a Shimano Sedona 2000 reel and loaded it with 65 yards of 6# mono then the 150 yards

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Oct 13, 2018

Custom Build Pics

Here are the pics of my rod.

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Oct 13, 2018

Ajing Rod

My family purchased a Shimano Soare BB Ajing rod for my brother. After a few months of fishing this rod, it is now his absolute favorite! He has

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