BUDGET BFS FISHING - Bait Finesse System for beginners.
Updated: Mar 26
I’ve been thinking about writing this article for a while as a means of conveying some of the lessons I have learned the hard way and hopefully to save you having to do the same.
Fig 1 The Kuying Teton TTC 662l paired with the Tsurinoya Dark Wolf bending into a nice Chub!
I myself have only been BFS fishing since 2019. I guess like a lot of you I wanted to dip my toes into the sport without spending too much money. I wanted to see if it was for me and whether it was possible to effectively fish with Budget BFS gear. I hoped to be able to easily tame these small baitcasting reels. I did my research, joined the existing Facebook groups and gave it a go. My first outing was a disaster and I almost felt like quitting there and then. To be honest I felt a bit daft asking questions about budget gear in the groups I had joined. They were very welcoming but there appeared to be a need for a group based around budget tackle. Determined to succeed I set up my own group “BFS Budget Finesse Fishing”. Luckily there were others who felt the same. As i have my own YouTube channel I decided I would film my journey; highs and lows. To be honest I thought it would be easy! Well it is easily achievable but you need to consider certain things before you start.
Which reels work?
Your casting style?
Do you use Braid or Fluorocarbon?
Be realistic about the distances you are able to cast light lures.
Fig2 The Tsurinoya Spirit Fox a very dependable real and excellent for a beginner
There are some very good budget reels on the market, however there are those that are not at all user friendly, especially for beginners. I found this to be the case with the Lurestar C9 Air. Maybe a more experienced angler can tame them, but the last thing we as beginners want is to invest in gear that strips us of confidence and has us leaving the minute we've started. I was given a Tsurinoya SF50 and invested in a Fishband GH100 pro. Suddenly I was enjoying fishing. Check my Budget BFS Battle video out here: https://youtu.be/H-eRUtcctsg This taught me some valuable lessons.
First and foremost your reels must have a good magnetic braking system that can easily cast a range of lures between 2-10 grams. If you're looking to throw lures sub 2 grams or regularly close to 2grams and hope to achieve good control and distances then maybe they are not for you. I’m not saying they won't do it, but you tend to lose accuracy and will need to modify them to have any chance of doing so. Be realistic and ask yourself what lures you will be throwing. I am based in the UK and mainly throw anything from 3gr Crankbaits to 5gr Ned heads; add in the weight of the soft plastic lure and this becomes 8grams. I rarely throw sub 3gr lures.
Secondly they need a light shallow spool that doesn’t have a large gap between it and the frame of the reel. The tolerance between the frame and the spool is critical and ideally we do not want our line to be able to get in between the two. They will not be as good as a Shimano Aldebaran or Daiwa Alphas Air but if your braking system is good enough this will be less of a problem with some than others. We need a light shallow spool so as to generate enough inertia to cast light lures. This is why there is an obsession with light ported (with holes in) spools.
Thirdly they need good bearings so the spool will run smoothly. You don’t want to be switching out bearings straight away before you have decided whether BFS is for you or not.
Lastly they need to be in our price range. I would class a sub £100 pound reel as a budget reel but you do not need to spend this much.
The reels i recommend for a beginner are as follows:
Tsurinoya Spirit Fox SF50
Tsurinoya Dark Wolf DF50
Fishband PW100 Pro
Fig3 The Tsurinoya Dark Wolf, a nice looking and reliable reel for a beginner.
There are others but I can only recommend reels I have used and think will be easier for a beginner to control/enjoy fishing with. New reels and updated versions of the above are coming to market every day. Check out Needhams Specialist tackle here in the UK. https://www.needhamsst.com/
Fig4. KastKing Zephyr on the left a good reel but the Fishband PW100 pro on the right might be better suited to a beginner.
There are some fantastic rods out there to suit our pockets. In fact some are so good that experts still use them. For instance the original Kuying Teton range. You can spend a fortune but there really is no need.
Fig 5. The Kingdom Silver Needle Rod paired with the Fishband PW100 a great little combo.
First of all we need a rod with a soft enough tip to load the lure we are using and then release it smoothly so as not to produce a stuttering cast. It needs to have a reasonably fast action so as to throw our lures. The tip needs to have a good recovery time so as to not interfere with the trajectory of our lure. We do not want a rod that is a bit of a "noodle"; by that i mean something that waggles from top to bottom at the slightest movement on our part. The tip of the rod also needs to be sensitive enough to detect the size of the fish you are targeting. I won’t go into tubular and solid tips now but suffice to say they normally come with a suitable tip. Actions can vary depending on the fish you are targeting. We need a rod with a fast enough action to effectively cast the lure, not pull the hook and easily land the fish we are targeting. A trout rod will usually have a lower lure rating and be soft enough to absorb the violent lunges and head shaking of a Trout. We also need a rod length to suit our needs. If I am wading in a small stream I will need a shorter rod say 5.5ft, but if fishing open water and more distance is required a longer 6.5ft rod is better. If i mostly throw light trout lures, a rod with a lower lure rating is better, say 1-5gr. If I am throwing lures from 2-10gr then a rod with somewhere near this rating will be able to cast these lures without the tip folding over. I am not an expert on BFS rods but will recommend rods that I use or have been recommended by those I trust.
The Kuying Teton TTC 662L - great allround rod.
Kingdom Silver Needle KFCS-562UL - great rod for more restricted swims.
Tsurinoya ELF Trout C622UL - ultra light Perch and Trout lures.
Tsurinoya Proflex II or Proflex III UL - great allround rod.
Tsurinoya Dexterity 632UL - great allround rod.
Tsurinoya Trout Master UL - dedicated to casting ultralight lures for trout.
See the Kuying Teton in use here: https://youtu.be/jvmj5oS1gYs
And the Kingdom Silver Needle being tested here: https://youtu.be/SfIPGnaXg-k
Most of these rods can be sourced from Needhams Specialist Tackle here in the UK https://www.needhamsst.com/ , Ebay or AliExpress.
Now whichever style of cast you end up performing it needs to be smooth. I can't stress enough how important this is. Whatever you do, do not try to hit the horizon the first time out. I suggest you try a side cast and experiment with your drop. Find what's comfortable for you and the lure you are using. Here I am talking about casting distances over open water. Once you have mastered side casting with various weights of lure you can then try flipping, pitching or skipping your lures (something I am currently learning).
This a simple system that i use first time out with any new rod and reel, it will get you fishing and hopefully catching whilst developing your technique. This is for casting distances. when you get more experienced you can set the reel to have little or no side play and progress to flipping and pitching etc where you need the spool to spin more freely, but for now let's get you some confidence.
Set your magnets to zero (i recommend a magnetic braking system).
Next set your end tension so as your lure drops steadily to the ground without your line frapping up as it hits the deck.
Next turn your brakes to maximum.
Try a smooth cast, remembering to feather your line with your thumb and stop it before it hits the water. Don’t worry it probably won’t go far and more than likely will pull to the left if you are right handed or right if left handed. As you have probably already guessed/felt you are over braking.
Take your brakes down one major increment at a time (always remembering to feather the spool with your thumb and stop it before it hits the water) until you sense that you have control and the lure is casting straight.
Now it is a case of dialling the reel in. One small increment (click) at a time down until you feel the reel is on its limits. Don’t push it, remember you are looking to improve your casting technique. Don’t let your ego get the better of you so turn the magnets back a couple of small increments. This should enable you to confidently put some effort into the cast, whilst keeping it smooth and achieving a reasonable distance. Remember we are not looking to rinse the last inch of distance out of our equipment, but enjoy fishing with it. Don’t forget to feather the line with your thumb and stop the lure before it hits the water.
You will need to adjust your brakes each time you change the weight or profile of your lure but for now just enjoy being able to cast your chosen lure effectively and perfect your technique.
As you become more proficient you will be able to back the end tension off further and thus gain more distance; but to start of with concentrate on developing a smooth casting style.
For further information and to see this technique being used check out my YouTube videos on how to cast baitcasting reels here:
Flipping & Pitching
When it comes to flipping and pitching lures, thumb control becomes even more important as you will want to back your end tension of further to the point where there is very little side to side play. You will then need to carefully lower your magnets so as the lure releases smoothly but doesn't run away from you so much that your thumb cant control it. Once again a smooth casting style is of paramount importance and you will need to adjust the brakes for various lures/profiles of lure.
BRAID OR FLUOROCARBON:
Whatever line you choose make sure to not overfill the spool; 50 meters is about right and will help prevent over runs.
I personally prefer a braided mainline. Should i get a tangle i find it easier to unpick and do not find it kinks like fluorocarbon thus rendering it useless. I do however use a fluorocarbon leader lighter than the braided line I am using. You will therefore need to tie a leader knot. I personally use an FG Knot (passes through the line guides easier) but a Uni to Uni or Albright Knot both work fine if the knot is left outside the rod rings. Some styles of cast require the lure to literally sit just off the rod tip. If this is your preferred technique then fluorocarbon may be a better choice should you struggle with leader knots.Your knot needs to be as small as possible so as to not hinder its passage through the rod rings and possibly cause frap ups. The FG knot takes some learning but it really is time well spent. I do not tie a full FG knot. See here: https://youtu.be/50A7yGaUMgA .
As braided mainline diameters are finer in comparison to fluorocarbons of the same breaking strain, I can use it in higher breaking strains and not affect my casting distance. This is very useful where there is the possibility of larger fish such as Pike. I am currently using Hercules 10lb 0.8PE 8 strand but you can scale this down when after smaller fish with a more sensitive rod.. https://youtu.be/PqpAIznPmGk. 8 strand braid has a rounder profile and doesn’t cut into the braid beneath it as easily as 4 strand. I know plenty of people that happily use 4 strand though. Another good braid is Sunline Small Game. Buy to suit your pocket. You will get tangles so maybe a cheaper but effective braid will not hurt your pocket so much initially.
Fluorocarbon negates the need to tie leader knots, so it does have it’s advantages and as you become more proficient at casting you may well grow to prefer it. Should you get a frap up engage the spool and loosen the drag to peel line off under tension whilst you unpick the tangles. I find 6lb Sunline Basic Flourocarbon to be a good choice because it's cheap and user friendly. You could always use monofilament whilst you are learning.
The problem with using FC is bite detection. It isn’t as good as braid. Lay the line over your finger and watch where it enters the water for flicks as a fish bites. Bite detection is better on a semi slack line though as unlike braid it sinks. Although I don't use it much I do prefer it for flipping and pitching in close quarters.
BE REALISTIC ABOUT THE DISTANCES YOU WILL CAST LIGHT LURES:
If you watch some of my YouTube videos you could be forgiven for thinking I am casting light lures big distances. This is a bit of an illusion as the camera makes it look further. If you watch my latest BFS video https://youtu.be/WQCCvFv0HzM you will see I include an aerial distance shot at the start. See Fig 6. I have used Google Earth's measurement tool to give an idea of the width of the canal and therefore the distances achieved. You can quite easily do the same for your venue and make a comparison. Remember I am a relative newcomer to the sport myself and others can cast further. Focus more on your technique and distance will come.
Fig 6 Google earth aerial distance measuring image.
So thats about it for the minute.This article is only a reflection of the things I have learn’t and work for me; others do things differently. I hope this helps any of you struggling with BFS or considering taking it up. Practice the basics using the gear above and i am sure like me it will become an obsession. Thanks for reading this, enjoy your fishing but more importantly stay safe.
The Constant Angler