Smallmouth Bait Finesse

Why I Fish with Bait Finesse Fishing Gear

I grew up on the Ohio River and fishing was just part of who I was; who I became. I started with a cane pole, “moved up” to a Zebco 33 spincast, and eventually started using spinning reels around the age of eight or nine as I recall. And that was pretty much how my fishing tackle looked for the next 40 years… I had never heard of Bait Finesse fishing gear until I retired.

I did buy one baitcaster around 2007 when i was living in Western New York. But honestly I rarely used it. It became a catfish rod on days when I was fishing 3 rods. Oh yeah – I hardly ever used artificial bait either until a few years ago. It was nightcrawlers, minnows, and chicken liver. And the occasional hot dog. That was how I fished.

So how in the world did I end up completely switching to bait finesse fishing gear?  I honestly don’t know the complete path, but I can piece it together.  Seeds were planted that looking back I didn;t even know were taking root, and then all of a sudden “BANG!” a new passion shot out from those seeds.  Compared to the nearly 50 years of fishing I had done previously, it was a fast journey!

My Journey to Using Bait Finesse Fishing Gear

After I retired, I started looking for ways to catch the bass in my local lake in the late winter / early spring.  I learned about ned rigs, and decided I needed to dust off my ultralight spinning rod to use them – only to discover the foam grip had really deteriorated.  So i jumped on FB marketplace to find a new ultralight rod, and I found 2 along with some ned rig jigs a guy was selling.  When we met up to do the deal, he mentioned he was selling his spinning gear to buy these expensive finesse baitcasters from Japan.  I thought it was crazy, but was happy to get a good deal.

I happily fished my ned rigs and Nikko hellgrammites in 2021.  As I was enjoying the holidays at the end of the year, I was surfing the web about fishing techniques and “finesse” presentations for winter bass and somehow found Paul Gaskell’s Fishing Discoveries.  There I started reading about the “bait finesse” technique I had heard of earlier in the year.  I also discovered there were budget options – much less the $500 reels the other guy had talked about.  I became intrigued.

I tend to get a little obsessive when a new idea first enters my mind.  Sometimes I learn a little and the curiosity is satisfied – but not this time.  The more I read the more this sounded like my kind of fishing.  Plus it seemed to be amazing on trout as well as bass and panfish.  And Pike!  Just about everything I would want to fish for was being targeted using bait finesse gear. So I decided to give it a try.

I absolutely loved it even though I only caught one fish my first time out.  The previous year I had experimented with fly fishing.  I caught seven trout on my first fly fishing trip, but it didn’t hook me like Bait Finesse. Bait FInesse (or BFS) is very efficient compared to spinning or fly fishing.  The casting is one motion, one handed.  No bail to open like on spinning rods.  It’s just pick a target and flick the rod back and then towards the target, almost in one smooth motion.

It’s low effort.  The gear is lightweight.  And by switching to left handed reels, I can start reeling immediately – absolutely critical for fishing moving baits in fast flowing streams.  

But what it really happed was bait finesse brought back joy to my trips.  Just the pure joy of fishing.  It’s probably what some guys feel with fly fishing. On ultralight gear even small fish are fun. And fighting big fish creates an adrenaline rush like I haven’t felt in years.

I don’t know why exactly I enjoy BFS more than the other techniques.  Maybe it’s because deep down I’m impatient, and the switch from bank fishing with live baits to wading streams and creeks while constantly casting, trying for pinpoint accuracy, having to strategically battle even moderate fish to safely land them, maybe all of that combines to make the entire experience memorable.  

This year I’ve been fishing more than any single year since I was in high school.  Probably more than the previous 10 years combined – and it’s only September!  The fall bite hasn’t even started yet! But i can’t wait to get back out on the water – any water.  I plan my weeks around  my fishing.

So i fish with Bait Finesse gear because it makes fishing just that much more fun.  The fact that I’ve also been able to land a couple handfuls of personal bests this year just makes it a little sweeter.  But that’s a whole series of stories that I’ll be sharing soon! 

Similar Posts


  1. BFS is pretty addictive isn’t it? I’ll be checking in periodically to see what you post. I live in Deland Fl. with the hurricane only about a day away so will probably be without power for few days but I’ll be back.

  2. Time to try some BFS in and around Missoula Montana. Took the kids out over father’s day and realised I’ve forgot so much about fishing. Time to try again! 🙂
    Great blog for an intro to BFS.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *