Trout baitcasting rods are an outgrowth of the Bait Finesse System (BFS), which allowed bass anglers to cast light lures accurately with baitcasters. It did not take long for Japanese anglers to adopt BFS reels for trout fishing, and rod manufacturers were not far behind that. There are now a number of excellent trout baitcasting rods that can handle light lines and light lures.
To reiterate a point made on the BFS page, purists consider BFS to be specifically a bass fishing method. BFS reels, for example the Shimano Calcutta Conquest BFS, can be used quite effectively for trout. BFS rods, though, - rods that have BFS written on the rod - are bass rods and will be too stiff for trout fishing. The Japanese companies who make baitcasters for trout fishing call them "trout" rods, not BFS rods. (Trout rods are broken down into spinning and bait, or S and BC.) Thus, while you can refer to all the baitcasting reels on this site as BFS reels, to be precise, the rods on this site are trout baitcasting rods, not BFS rods.
As with spinning rods, JDM baitcasting rods for trout can be divided into rods for stocked trout in Areas (managed pay-to-fish ponds) and wild (native) trout in mountain streams. In a sense, the two different rod classes illustrate the two different sides of the finesse coin - micro lures and ultra light lines in the Areas, and extremely accurate casting in the mountain streams.
For any of the rods sold on Finesse-Fishing.com, when you put the sections together there will be a gap. It is supposed to be like that. Please don't force it.
Wild trout rods offer a wide range of rod lengths, from rods under 5' designed for smaller mountain streams up to rods over 8' long for big fish in wide rivers. At least for now, Finesse-Fishing.com will concentrate on the shorter models for smaller streams.
Daiwa and Shimano offer baitcasting rods for trout but I have to admit I am drawn to the Tenryu Rayz models. Tenryu is a name not well known in the US, at least not yet, but their rods are well known in Europe, and of course, in Japan. I started importing their tenkara rods a few years ago and have been very impressed with the quality. Not only are the blanks and actions excellent, the fit and finish are absolutely unsurpassed.
The Rayz RZ4102B-UL and RZ542B-L, newly introduced in 2020, are upgrades to the Rayz models pictured below. The new rods are a little firmer, a little faster, and few inches shorter than the previous models. I loved my RZ53UL-BC but I can tell the new RZ4102B-UL is a lot nicer.
Tenryu is a small company and they
have only one production run per year for their trout rods. I try to
forecast demand for the entire year, but if (when) I run out of stock it
may be months before I can get more. Each year I've had the Tenryu baitcasters, I've run out before the end of the year. This year, I've ordered more than ever before, including their new, top-of-the-line Rayz Spectra RZS51LL-BC. The Tenryu LL designation is between L and UL.
Tenryu's trout baitcasting rods are rated for a wide range of lure weights, 1 - 6 g (1/32 - 1/5
oz) for the RZ4102B-UL, 2 - 8 g (1/16 - 1/4 oz) for the RZ542B-L and 1 - 8 g for the RZS51LL-BC.
That is both as light and as heavy as you are likely going to want to
use for either trout or panfish.Their light and ultralight baitcasters are probably the nicest you will find anywhere.
And although they are trout rods, even the UL rods can handle modest bass. Their 7'1" MLM (medium light medium and 7'5" M rods, designed for Japanese sea-run trout and salmon, would be ideal for our steelhead and lake run browns.
Click here for more information about the Tenryu Baitcasters.
Shimano makes Cardiff Native Series rods for wild trout. For anglers who love to fish the little blue lines, the Cardiff baitcasters come in 4'2" and 4'7" lengths. Even better, they are 3-piece rods so they will fit in or on a backpack rather than towering over your head as you hike in and out.
Before Shimano released the 3-piece Cardiff Native Series rods, my "go to" backpacking baitcaster was the Daiwa Wise Stream ULB-3. The Cardiff rods are a bit softer, making them a better choice for fishing smaller lures.
Either of the Cardiff trout baitcasting rods will do very nicely when matched with one of the Shimano BFS reels.
Shimano's CI4+ "fighting grip" is a proprietary carbon reinforced resin that is lighter and stronger than conventional resin.
Cardiff NS B42UL-3
2 - 6 lb
1 - 7g (1/32 - 1/4 oz)
Cardiff NS B47UL-3
2 - 6 lb
1 - 7g (1/32 - 1/4 oz)
Daiwa's Wise Stream 45ULB-3 is another 3-piece ultralight baitcaster that packs down easily. The Wise Stream rods are a bit stiffer than the Cardiff rods, so if the streams you hike in to hold 20 inch browns, it may be the rod you want. If you want a longer rod for wider streams and slightly heavier lures, consider the Wise Stream 62LB-3
2 - 6 lb
Made in Vietnam
2 - 6 lb
2-10g (1/16 - 3/8oz)
Made in Vietnam
Daiwa has described the move to Bait Finesse System reels, small lures and light lines as "area bait finesse." It is definitely a niche market, though. Daiwa has discontinued the Area Bum rods described below. They announced a baitcaster in the new Presso ST series last August, but it has not yet been produced.
The two trout baitcasting rods in the Area Bum series were the 60L-B and a 62ML-B. The 60L-B is softer and has more of a mid flex bend profile, while the 62ML-B is definitely a bit firmer and is more of a tip flex rod. Both are rated for lines up to 5 lb. The lower end for the 62ML-B is 2 lb line. For the 60L-B, the lower end of the recommended lines is 1.5 lb!
Did you ever even consider that a baitcaster would be designed for lines down to 1.5 lb? This is not your father's baitcaster!
I have to admit that I have never used 1.5 lb test line, even on a spinning rod, let alone a baitcaster. However, I can say that the Varivas Bait Finess Nylon 2.5 lb line works very well and is plenty strong enough for nice fish if you don't have to battle fast current as well as the fish.
Either of Daiwa's Area Bum trout baitcasting rods would be an
excellent choice for fishing lakes. And even though the main thrust of Finesse-Fishing.com is on trout, the
rods are sensitive enough that you can feel the gentle tap of a sunfish - and
have fun bringing it to hand.
I recently received a question from a guy who was looking for a baitcaster that would be suitable for trout, panfish and smallmouth bass. Either of the Daiwa Area Bum rods would work. The 60L-B would be the better choice if his primary catch will be panfish and smaller trout, while the 62ML-B would be the better choice if his primary catch will be smallmouth bass or larger trout.
And if any largemouth anglers out there question using a 5 lb line (max) for bass, I have fished Maine for smallmouth bass almost every year for decades now, and have rarely used anything other than 4 lb mono. If you are not dragging bass out of weeds, you don't need to fish with heavy line! Fishing for smallies in open water over rocks? Four pound line is perfectly adequate. And for trout fishing in lakes? Unless the fish are huge, you won't even need 4 lb line.
Shimano has one baitcaster for Area trout, the Cardiff B62SUL-RG which is a soft, full flex rod that is 74% glass. I used to stock them but they didn't sell very well so I dropped them. If you are interested in a 6'2" soft glass baitcaster, though I would be happy to give you the specs or order one for you.
The only other baitcaster for Area trout that I know of is one made by Rodio-craft, which is a company whose entire focus is on Area trout. They have a series of spinning rods, including some very high end ones, and a wide selection of micro spoons and plugs designed for Areas. They offer just one baitcaster, and I would have ordered one already had it not had a bright yellow blank. Here in the US, the dirt-cheap Eagle Claw glass rods have bright yellow blanks. I can't imagine US anglers would pay $300+ for a rod that looks almost exactly like a $20 rod sold in Walmart.
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The hooks are sharp.
The coffee's hot.
The fish are slippery when wet.