Bait Finesse System (BFS): Ultimate Guide for the Serious Anglers

BFS - Bait Finesse Fishing
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If you don’t know what exactly bait finesse fishing is, don’t worry, you are not the only one! This technique originates from Japan, but a lot of its history is unknown.

Due to its effectiveness, this technique became popular around the world. But what exactly is BFS Fishing?

It is a fishing technique that relies on specially made baitcasters that can handle very light lures. It enables anglers to be extremely precise and avoid usual problems that occur when you try to use too light lures on baitcasting reels.

BFS is suitable for catching numerous species, including bass, trout, pike and many other.

To practice this technique, you must choose proper equipment, and many manufactures have suitable rods, reels and lines in various price ranges.

Here I will tell you more about it and recommend the basic gear!



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What Does BFS Fishing Mean? [Bait Finesse Fishing]

BFS Fishing, or Bait Finesse fishing is a technique that relies on baitcastig reels with ultralight and shallow spools that can handle light lures (below 5 to 7 grams or 3/16 or ¼ oz). These reels are combined with light rods and lines.

BFS originates from Japan but how and when exactly it was developed has never been agreed on in the fishing community.

One theory says it was created for bass fishing, while others say that its development was actually related to trout fishing.

It doesn’t matter which theory is correct. What you need to know is that BFS spread around the world and anglers love the opportunities they have with it.

How Do You Fish in BFS?

All that I mentioned above may be interesting but that won’t help you catch a fish. Here I must tell you a bit about how is it done. The first thing is that you should be comfortable using baitcaster reels.

BFS can be explained as ultralight fishing with baitcasting reels and casting rods.

In BFS you are using very light lures, the ones you would otherwise be able to use only with ultralight spinning gear. Because baitcasters give you better control over your lure, you can use a variety of lures for different species.

When it comes to how to use BFS, it is the same as using larger casting equipment. I will assume that you are new to this, so here are some beginner tips:

Cast smoothly – try to master side casting with lures of various weights. When you start feeling comfortably with it, then proceed to more demanding techniques like flipping and pitching.

Setup your reel – if you have magnetic breaking, set it up for higher breaking. That will prevent birds nests in the beginning. Set the tension in a way that when the rod is held in front of you lures drops lowly and steadily.

Your reel should be set up whenever you change the lure. This will limit your casting distance, but it will help you learn the technique. As you are gaining experience, you can reduce breaking and adjust tension differently.

And that’s it, practice makes perfect!

BFS vs Ultralight Fishing [What is the Difference?]

Bait finesse system can look the same as ultralight fishing at first sight. But there are some crucial differences that distinguish the two.

Firstly, bait finesse uses baitcasting reels while ultralight is based on spinning reels. This also affects the rod choice. Spinning and casting rods are different and are not interchangeable due to position of their line guides and reel seats.

Some key differences are:

Casting distance – for extremely light lures, below let’s say 2 grams, ultralight spinning setup enables much larger casting distance.

Casting technique – BFS enables you to cast lures on a trajectory that is much lower than the trajectory with spinning reels. Lower angle under which the lure hits the water causes less disturbance and lowers the chance of spooking the fish.

Price – BFS equipment is more expensive.

Ease of use – not everyone is comfortable with using a baitcaster, and beginners may have some difficulties and birds nest problems during learning process.

What are the Advantages of BFS vs Spinning Equipment?

When it comes to differences, anglers have various opinions here.

Some people just prefer baitcasters because they are used to them. If you know how to use a baitcaster, it may give you a completely different ultralight experience.

In addition to that, baitcasters are a lot more precise. You can cast more accurately and work your lure with more precision. This is very important for those anglers who like to fish in streams and locations that have a lot of obstacles, vegetation, sunken logs, fish hideouts and many other characteristics that require high precision. This is the main advantage of BFS over ultralight spinning setup.

On the other hand, spinning reels, at least in the ultralight category, are a bit more versatile than baitcasters, so some anglers don’t want to switch to BFS.

Ultralight spinning reels can hold more line, and BFS shallow spools are a minus when it comes to line length. However, BFS reels can accommodate almost any type of line. Stiffer lines that may twist on a spinning reel can go very well with BFS.

When it comes to fighting a fish, BFS gives you more control over it.

There is no wrong or right way, it all comes down on what you prefer.

Bait Finesse System BFS Fishing - Spinning Gear

Popular Fish Targeted on BFS [Bait Finesse Fishing]

Although it originated from Japan and apparently it was firstly developed for bass, BFS is not limited to bass only.

I will recommend specific rods and reels a bit later, and here are some general guidelines for BFS and various species.

BFS [Bait Finesse System] for Trout

Trout are easily scared fish that can be caught on very light setup. BFS causes less disturbance when lure hits the water and that is beneficial in crystal clear waters. Until recently, anglers used only ultralight spinning gear for this, but as BFS reels came to the market, situation is changing.

BFS rods for trout are usually around 6 or 7 ft long with moderate action. They bend easily and enable you to slowly fish the fish and securely keep it on a line. You can cast very light lures, even those in 1/32 ounce category.

Bait Finesse System BFS Fishing - Small Trout

BFS [Bait Finesse System] for Bass

BFS rods for bass are designed for 1/8 to 1/16 ounce lures, and the whole setup is slightly heavier than the one for trout. When it comes to lures, you can choose anything from topwater to plastics. But keep an eye on lure weight here. If you are going too heavy, you are missing the whole point of BFS and you should switch to standard casting gear.

Light or medium light rods around 7ft long will do the job here.

You can also check what is the best size spinning reel for bass ...

Bait Finesse System BFS Fishing - Small Bass

BFS [Bait Finesse System] for Other Fish

Among other species, you can use BFS for pike, crappie, perch, and various panfish. Some BFS setups can throw lures that are incredibly light, even below 1/32 ounces. For crappie, you can use jigs in that weight range and light lines, like 8 lbs braid.

Such a light setup for crappie will enable you to catch a lot of smaller fish species.

What are the Best Lures for BFS [Bait Finesse Fishing]?

BFS Fishing focuses on light lures so here are some recommendations.

No matter which lure type you are searching, you can’t go wrong with Rapala. Their UL series are excellent for BFS. For shallower waters you can get UL minnows which are excellent for beginners.

Among other manufacturers you can choose JDM topwater or Jackall lures.

These manufacturers cover all lure types from topwater to spinners, or anything you may need.

For a beginner I would recommend using 1/8 oz lures and then switch to lighter if necessary. Those “heavier” lures will make your casting easier.

Bait Finesse System BFS Fishing - Hard Lures

What BFS Fishing Reels to Use and Buy?

Reels are the core of BFS technique. It is important to choose quality made product made by reputable manufacturer.

Some of the key features that reels should have are: quality materials, good braking system, smooth operation, and of course, affordability.

There is one excellent BFS reel that has everything you need and that is: KastKing Zephyr BFS Baitcasting Reel (#ad).

Even at first sight this reel looks excellent. And the more time you spend fishing with it, you will see that performance is even better.

Spool is ultra-light weight, and the frame is made from carbon fiber that makes the whole reel light. Its small size makes it palmable which is crucial for superior reel control. Magnetic braking works incredible, and six ball bearings ensure maximum smoothness.

Gear ratio of 7.2:1 makes versatile. Drag system is very powerful and overall, this reel offers a lot for a reasonable price.

Bait Finesse System BFS Fishing - Baitcast Reel

What BFS Fishing Rods to Use and Buy?

There is a variety of bfs fishing rods on the market so choosing the right one may take some time. To help you narrow down your selection, here are my favorites:

KastKing Zephyr BFS UL Rod

This rod, in its casting version, is available in two lengths: 5ft and 5.5ft. Ultra-light power makes it excellent for BFS.

This rod is a 2-piece rod with fast action and lure weight range 0.03 oz to 0.28 oz. Carbon fiber makes it light and responsive and the rod is very sensitive. Ceramic guides reduce friction and improve the rod performance. Cork handle is comfortable and offers excellent grip. Altogether, this is great rod.

Sougayilang BFS UL Rod

This 2-piece rod (#ad) is 6 ft long and that makes it very versatile. It is very popular among trout and crappie anglers.

Rod is very sensitive, and the material used in manufacturing is graphite composite which makes it very strong and durable too.

Stainless steel guides perform excellent and are well made, and the rod handle offers a lot of grip. If you are looking for an entry-level model, this one may be for you as the best budget BFS rod!

Okuma Celilo BFS UL Rod

And lastly there is Okuma Celilo rod (#ad). This ultralight rod is great for various species including small panfish.

Graphite composite blank is lightweight and durable. Aluminum oxide line guides inserts reduce friction. Handle is grippy and comfortable to use.

Celilo comes in various lengths, and it is also available as a spinning version. Lure weight range goes from 1/32 to ¼ oz which makes it excellent for BFS.

What BFS Fishing Lines to Use and Buy?

When it comes to lines, your options are almost unlimited. You can choose mono, braid, or even fluoro, as long as those lines are light and fit onto your reel according to manufacturer instructions. As already mentioned, line twists are rare on baitcasters, and those reels can handle stiffer lines if you need them.

If you are searching for the best BFS fishing line, here are my top choices:

Varivas Braid

This is the 4-strand braided line (#ad) which is on a stiffer side. Main use is trout fishing however you can use it for other species too. It is available in 9, 10 and 15lb strength and comes in green color. Water repellent coating along the line ensures line longevity.

Sufix Nanobraid

This is another braided line (#ad) that comes in various strengths. If you are looking for light line, 8lb version is for you.

This line has very low visibility for braided lines and excellent knot strength. It is very smooth and abrasion resistance is excellent for such a small line.

Are There Any BFS Rod and Reel Combos?

Anglers, especially beginners, like rod and reel combos because it reduces cost and eliminates the hassle around pairing the best rod and reel.

The BFS rod and reel combo are not easy to find on the market, however you can simply make your own combo with this recommendation.

I already mentioned the best reel and rods, so if you are still unsure what to get, I would advise you to get:

Kastking Zephyr BFS Combo

KastKing has great and affordable gear, and they also make equipment for BFS.

When you buy both rod and reel from the same manufacturer you will get the perfect fit. So go for Zephyr reel and rod Combo!

Are There Any Shimano BFS Rods or Reels?

Shimano is one of the most popular brands and they are a synonym for top quality. If you are brand loyal and want nothing but shimano, here are my recommendations:

Shimano Curado BFS Casting Rod

This high-end rod (#ad) is 7.2 ft long and has medium light power. Action is fast and the rod is super sensitive and responsive. Lure weight range goes from 3/16 to 3/8 oz. This makes it excellent for upper range of BFS weights.

Same as anything from Shimano, it has top of the line features such as Power X technology of carbon fiber wrapping, tangle free K guides, and improved reel seat.

Shimano Curado K and Curado BFS Reel

Both of these are an excellent choice. Curado BFS (#ad) is a newer version than Curado K (#ad) and it was developed for serious BFS fishing.

It has ultralight shallow spool that enables you to spool even thinner lines and cast the lightest lures possible. Dual braking system is impeccable, as well as all other premium bult in features. Gear ratio is on a faster side, 8.2:1

Curado K version is a standard low-profile reel that can be used for BFS. It has been around for many years, and it is one of the best. You can choose among various gear ratios, from 5.0:1 to 8.5:1.

If you are wondering why I didn’t include these into the list above, the answer is price. Considering that models from Shimano cost more, they may not be suitable as entry-level.


Fishing techniques and equipment are constantly evolving. If someone told me 20 years ago that anglers will use baitcasters for 1/32-ounce lures I wouldn’t believe. But here we are.

BFS allows anglers to use light setup, with light lines and lures with baitcasting reels specially made for this task. Such reels, unlike spinning ones, give you a lot more casting precision and lure control.

I would recommend you to try BFS Fishing, get some basic gear mentioned, and try it out yourself! I guarantee you will have a lot of fun!

About Me

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I am Siniša Pintar (friends call me Sina), the guy behind and eBook writer. This site is base camp for fishing enthusiasts from all over the world. I love fishing and want to share all my stories, knowledge and my experience with any and all potential anglers. Read more ...

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