Covid-19 Announcement

Some shipments are still delayed, both domestic and international. If you are planning a trip, please order well in advance.

Lousy Day In Paradise

by JJ
(Upstate SC)

Elusive brookie

Elusive brookie

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 be much better. A mild late winter rather gently transitioned into spring. The nearly constant rainfall that we’ve had since last September has normalized, and trout are very active.

I have been maintaining my weekly trips, sometimes squeezing in two. Some of those trips have been mostly hiking, and scouting for future fishing, but others are all about the fish. I’ll do a separate post covering a previous trip that presents a “spring creek like” challenge for me.

Today’s fishing was in one of my favorite creeks that’s closer to home. It’s a pleasant and beautiful drive, that I take at a slower pace, just to soak it all in. Turkey sightings are all but guaranteed, and the spring blooms, and various shades of green that change with the elevation, are enough to make fishing feel almost secondary. ALMOST! I continue to enjoy success with fishing only minnow lures (plugs). In fact, the brookie in the photo was finally landed on a jointed Daiwa plug that I got from Chris last year. I say finally because this fish lives in a small creek,under a small bridge on a small gravel road that is the headwaters of the creek that I come to fish. It has become my parting tradition to pull over on my way off the mountain, after a full day of fishing/hiking, to tempt this one brookie. It’s a tiny flow of water at this point, with only one approach. I will cast no more than 6 times, and then I leave him be. A rule I impose on myself. Over the last year and a half, I have presented; spoons, homemade spinners, commercial spinners, and even small trout magnets. I have hooked him twice. Briefly! I have spooked him on the approach, and not seen him at all. Today, I caught him on the first plug that I showed him. I was worried that the splash from a plug, or the size, would spook him. Wrong! He approached with murder on his mind. I’m still amazed every time I see a fish no bigger than the plug, giving it hell.

Speaking of size, the rainbow in the other picture is one of the largest I’ve taken on any tackle. I don’t carry a net because of the hiking, and bushwhacking usually involved, so that was the best photo I could manage. He fought me the whole way, and I couldn’t hold him with one hand. The best reference I can manage are my feet in the photo. I wear a size 12 to 12 1/2 shoe. Last year I caught three similar sized rainbows out of the same waterfall pool, not ten minuets after a dog had been swimming and retrieving sticks in it. Other times, you wouldn’t think a single live fish was in it. Go figure.

I am thoroughly enjoying my JDM journey. The lures, line, short multi section rods, all come together to make a great pack-in trout fishing kit. While I have become quite accurate, and proficient at spin casting, I can’t help but notice an increase in short BFS rod offerings. I didn’t think I would be tempted to go to the darker side, but with the availability of multi section rods, Chris’s brookie post, and Les rebuilding his fathers reel, it may be too much to resist. My own late father was a bait caster. He took to it, and never looked back. Maybe it’s spring fever, maybe the pollen has clouded my thinking. Regardless of the equipment,to be on a trout stream in the spring is damn near paradise.


Comments for Lousy Day In Paradise

Click here to add your own comments

Apr 25, 2019
Bait Casting!
by: Les Albjerg

JJ - My Dad was a baitcaster too. After countless backlashes with my first rod and reel (a bait caster), I decided that the lawn mowing money was best invested in a Michelle 300 reel and rod spinning outfit! I still have the reel. It has been rebuilt 4 times!

I'm confused. It sounds like you had a great day in Paradise! Don't look at the header of the blog too much, that is one sweet outfit Chris is fishing with! I am finding that with plugs, I am way more accurate with the bait caster than with the spinning outfit. I can also get under things much easier. At my skill level, distance is another matter all together. However, more and more I am realizing accuracy is more important than distance.

Also in my research for my rebuild, I have learned more than I want to know about BFS baitcasters. Several of the best reviews I saw rated the Daiwa Alphas Air Stream the best stock reel for the lighter (3-5 gram) plugs. Now if you are chasing a BFS 1 gram lure, you are looking at spending some serious bucks. See Chris' last fishing report! Right now I am practicing with 2.5 gram spoons because that is the lower limit of what I am going for with my BFS outfit. Come on over to "the darkside." It is a lot of fun!

JJ, I laughed about your Brookie. I have a similar hole that always seems to have a fish. I've only hooked him once, but it sure was fun. Someday>>> I'll post a picture.

Apr 26, 2019
Great Day
by: JJ


It was a great day. In fact, any day that involves some stream time is great, regardless of the results. The article title was just a nod to a book by John Gierach "Another Lousy Day In Paradise ".

I can’t recall exactly why I never took a shine to bait casting while growing up. I guess it was the birds nest hassles, and the fact that I enjoyed spin casting. By the time I hit my early twenties it was all fly fishing, except for the occasional inshore trip, where spin was still king. I’m definitely intrigued enough to consider it. The casting control and accuracy are the obvious draws for me. I’m quite happy with what I can do with a spinning rig, but any opportunity to improve is worth a look.

Thanks for mentioning the reviews on the Daiwa Alphas Air Stream. I’m just beginning to look, but that’s the one that has caught my eye. Small size, and light weight will be important to me for backpacking into the streams.


Apr 29, 2019
by: Kelly Peterson

Well the snow is finally gone so I’ve been able to get outside and try my BFS setup for some practice casting. You see I've been extreme ultralight spin fishing for over 50 years so nothing about casting very lightweight lures(1 gram or less) is foreign to me. But using a baitcasting reel of any kind is.

I loaded my Shimano Aldebaran with 2#(.006 dia) mono, added a very small barrel swivel and the smallest bell sinker in own(3.7 grams) ,headed out onto my street to practice some casting. To say I was disappointed is an understatement. Between 3 rats nest, two of which required line removal to clear up, I could not even keep my casts on the street let alone pinpoint them to a 10 foot area.

Tried adjusting the brake at all of the upper settings but still no help. Casts always went to the left when using sidearm cast from my right side. They went to the right when using the sidearm cast fro my left side. Guess that means too much break so kept loosening break until I got the first huge rats nest that I had to cut off. Never did get a straight away cast completed.

Very frustrating because most of my streams are 10-25 feet wide and my street is 50 feet wide. Distance was never a problem but I need to pinpoint these casts because of overhead and bank side cover from alders. I can do these casts with spining reels and have been doing it for all these years but find controlling distance is difficult with spining so that is why I wanted to try BFS baitcasting.

Of course I made this decision over the Winter when the snow was 4 feet deep and every water was froze solid so no place to even try it. Then got consumed with all the videos on the subject and got carried away with buying rods/reels to have ready when weather got better.

Well opening of Trout fishing is this coming Saturday and I will be using my spinning gear. Won’t even attempt a BFS setup for a long time. At least lots my practice casting is needed after I figured out how to make the reels work.

Apr 29, 2019
Hang in there!
by: JJ


I’m sorry to hear about your frustrations with bait casting. I hope that as the weather improves in your area, you are able to get some satisfying trips in, to make up for your lengthy winter. Sounds like cabin fever is taking a toll. All I can offer is encouragement, and say that anytime I start to get frustrated at something, I find that if I put it down and go do something familiar, and comfortable for a while, before returning to it, my results will improve.

I, myself haven’t touched a bait caster in probably thirty years, but I am enjoying casting lures for trout so much, that I really want to explore every possibility. It’s not that spinning isn’t enjoyable enough, or that it is somehow lacking in effectiveness. For me, the main attraction is that BFS for trout is actually possible now. It may or may not be the ideal fishing method for someone, but at least now, it’s another option.

One more perspective, if you continue to struggle with bait casting and find that it’s not for you, recouping the bulk of your investment should be possible, since this is a new market trying to find its center.


Apr 29, 2019
Help with BFS
by: Kelly Peterson (northern Wisconsin)

JJ or anyone else I need some help with these BFS reels since I know nothing about them. Is the .006 diameter Trilene xl mono too fine a diameter to put on these reels? A couple times the line actually got behind the spool and around the shaft of spool. What am I doing wrong.

So there are basically two adjustments on these things beside the drag. Small know on left adjusts tension on spool eliminating sideways play. Brake on right adjusts the spool spin rate while casting-the higher the number the more brake applied to spool spin rate. Am I understanding these two adjustments correctly?

Ok, how do I prevent the backlash then? Is one supposed to apply thumb pressure to spool during cast? Really 3.77 grams is not that small of a weight or is it? I have cranks smaller than that and spinners/spoons, too. Is there a limit of how light one can go with these BFS reels?

I'm very happy with the BFS rods I got, they load up real well making most of the casts with just wrist action. Yes, you are correct that cabin fever has been terrible. Haven't been able to fish since last October. Today its 34 degrees with wind, rain/snow mix, just miserable.

Apr 29, 2019
Start slow Kelly
by: Les Albjerg


There are several good videos on the internet on BFS casting. Second, I would pick one weight lure to begin with. I have been using a 2.5 gram spoon to practice with. A side arm cast with a smooth release pointing the rod tip at the target helps. Don't try to kill it! In my opinion, Bait casting is about accuracy, not distance. Put a paper plate out at about 10 yards as your target. The adjustments are a dance between the spool tension and the braking action of the reel. Use a bright lure or bright line or both so you can see where the cast is going. Work on the basics! It is amazing how fast you can get a feel for this kind of casting by sticking to the basics. The overhand cast causes major backlash if anything goes amiss. Release an overhand cast too soon and momentum is lost and backlash or an explosion of line in the spoon is a reality. Release an overhand cast too late, and you bury the lure into the water stopping the lure and the same end result. With the side cast, you either go right or left. I would also suggest keeping a fairly stiff wrist. I'm still learning too, but don't hesitate to abort a cast by simply putting the thumb down on the spool and stopping it short. In my last practice session, I had no backlashes and no line blow-ups on the spool, but I did abort about 6 casts, and was back at it in a few seconds instead of having to go through the frustration of cleaning up my mess. There is no shame in a short aborted cast in my opinion.

Oh, and don't forget, Angler Saito has a professional photographer doing his videos, and I would bet they are heavily edited, not showing his mistakes. That said, I have seen a few lousy casts that got by the edit!

Apr 30, 2019
by: Kelly Peterson (northern Wisconsin)

Hi Les, that is all I used in practice was the side arm casts. The streams I fish for trout do not allow overhand or even 3/4 casts. Just too many Alders overhead. Imagine fishing in a narrow tunnel where the overhead clearance is 1/4th as much as the bank to bank width, which is 10-20 feet.

Wish I could post some pictures but most times when I'm wading upstream I have to duck under lots of these Alders. One of my standard pieces of equipment whenever trout fishing is a folding hand saw to clear a walkway for my next fishing trip. It would be heaven to fish in streams like Angler Saito has and even that you have and others who have posted on here. Even Frank Nale's streams would be a pleasure. My streams flow thru lowlands, not highlands.

Yes seen a bunch of casting videos on YouTube but with very little description or in a foreign language and even far less what to do about it when it doesn't hit the target. I realize that Angler Saito has a professional videographer but he is still one of the very few that has slow motion of the pinpoint accuracy of his casts. I need to be able to duplicate that.

A pie plate would be great but when I can't even keep the casts to one side of my 50 foot wide street. I'm an archer and have been for nearly 60 years and I use the Instinctive method of aiming so I am quite capable of picking out a target and going thru the motions to hit it, but first I need to get my casts to go straight and not off to one side. There are no pie plates floating in the streams I fish.

In talking with Chris via email yesterday I may have found my problem. In one of those YouTube videos the author said to adjust the spool tension knob until there was no side to side play in the spool. The only thing I know about baitcasting reels previously is adjusting that knob so that when your lure slowly drops and hits the ground that the spool doesn't continue to spin. Chris said that is the correct way. So the advice from the YT video of eliminating side to side play of the spool that I used in setup made for too much tension on the spool causing my casts to be pulled to the right or left depending upon which side I was using for the casting motion indicating way too stiff tension.

I'm not about to put expensive colored line and use a spoon for practice casting. If I had done that two days ago would have ruined 50 Meters of expensive line and the spoon by dragging it back on the blacktop surface. I am going to bite the bullet and put on some colored line tho just so I can see the cast. May even find an old junk spoon even if it is too heavy and spray paint it to use instead of lead weight. Just need to get somewhat successful and accurate casts before progressing smaller in weight and with more pinpoint accuracy.

Furthermore am not using my arm to cast with. Rather the limber rod and my wrist do all the work just like when I use my ultralight spinning gear, which frequently is used for 1/64 and lighter jigs.

Hopefully the rain stays away long enough today so I can try some more even tho it is only 35 degrees outside. Being cooped up for the past 5+ months is taking its toll on me. Thanks all!

May 01, 2019
Some more help for Kelly
by: Les Albjerg

We can't put YouTube links here, but I have found the Finesse guy from Singapore to be very informative. I tried his advice in his "Fishing 101 series on "How to setup and learn a baitcaster" to be very helpful for this mainly flyfisherman and spin fisherman! Kelly you should check him out. His YouTube channel is BCSG Fishing. Check out his video "How to setup and learn a baitcaster." His casting advise was way different than what I have heard before, and it worked well for me last night as I continue to learn. I do believe what he has to say will be an encouragement to you as well. It sounds like you have made a significant investment into bait casting. You may as well learn how to enjoy it!

Us old dogs can learn new tricks!

May 02, 2019
by: Kelly Peterson

Thanks Les, will check him out. Yes, old dogs can always learn.

Now if I can only get the weather to cooperate, woke up to fresh snow two mornings ago and rain ever since. If the sun ever shines to warm up the temperature above 40 degrees maybe I get a chance to practice some more.

May 03, 2019
BFS Advice
by: Greg D

Hey Kelly,
I believe the biggest hurdle in baitcasting that needs to be learned almost before learning to cast is properly adjusting initial setup.

First, and this only applies to the Aldebaran, add the extra magnet. You should have in your parts bag more magnets and there should be an extra spot on the brake. I was struggling with mine a bit and found that piece of advice in a japan blog. It helped big time.

Personally I recommend going up to a mono line of 0.007". This size won't slip under the spool. For a good cheap practice line good old Stren Crappie Mono 4lb does the trick. and it's bright yellow for you to see. Visual is very important while learning.

Next, find a practice plug that matches the top end of your rod rating. Ideally about 5gr. It's much easier to start high and work your way down as you learn.

Next, set spool tension. Personally for me to set like explained earlier so that the spool stops turning when lure hits ground is too tight and it will make your cast go far left or right. I find that just enough tension to slightly slow the descent is about right.

Lastly, start with mag brake set high so as to control backlash. While this will inhibit distance it will hopefully stop the birds nesting and allow you to start feeling the cast and learning use of thumb. Gradually back off mag brake and you should notice distance increasing. Continue backing off until you find that point of just starting to spool overrun. Now increase one number and you should be good.

I heard some talk about wrist casting, not sure I follow but I will include this advice since I think you said you know fly casting, just like fly casting, in BFS you don't want any jerky moves on your cast stroke. It should be a smooth acceleration to a strong stop. Any jerky moves will translate directly to the spool causing a bad end result. No amount of brake or spool tension can stop that result.
Hope this helps
Best, Greg

May 03, 2019
Conflicting suggestions
by: Kelly Peterson (northern Wisconsin)

Hi Greg, just looked in my Aldebaran box and there are no "extra parts", just some bottles of lube.

Would have to take the reel apart to see if there is a spot for more magnets. Pretty sure the one I got is a 2019 model, but could be wrong.

Now regarding the spool tension knob/setting. So far I have two experts telling me I should adjust it so there is no side to side play of the spool. Yourself and Chris say that adjustment should be set based upon drop rate of weight of lure you are using. These two types of settings are not the same when done to the reel.

Greg, have very little experience fly fishing although it is more than I have baitcasting. What I said is that I have over 50 years of ultra light spinning experience.

I am going to respool with Crappie mono, .008 diameter later this morning because the sun is finally shining here "North of the Wall" :)

Thanks again!

May 04, 2019
Much Better!
by: Kelly Peterson (northern Wisconsin)

Finally, some progress made with my practice sessions thanks to all of you who provided information on how to get started. We, myself and the BFS rod/reel, had a very good session. Definitely can see what the hype is all about. After about 100 or so casts things were looking up. No backlash at all today, probably did 150 casts or more over an hour plus. Oh yeah and the weather improved as well. Sunshine and 60+ degrees for only the second time this year.

The spool tension adjustment that seems to work the best for me is setting so the lure slowly drops, then spool stops turning when lure hits ground. Oh, was using a slightly heavy lure(spoon with no hooks painted bright pink for visibility that weighed 76 grains, so just a tad under 5 grams.

Really looking forward to more of the same and improving with every new cast. Might even try some fishing with it next week.

Thank you everyone!

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Your Stories.


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