March 15, 2020

BFS is no BS


As I ponder the title of my personal blog I can't help wonder if I should have named it "The Alternative Angler." My blog started as The Tormented Angler Chronicles which soon shortened to Tormented Angler. Today it has evolved into Dirty Angler.

Why Dirty Angler...

Well it just seems no matter what is the usual way of a particular fishing normality, I just can't assimilate with the typical crowd. I must be actively involved in some far different angling technique. I'm always looking for the alternative way of angling. Maybe the blog should be called the Atypical Angler.

For example take trout fishing, It's generally regarded as a fly fishing sport. If not fly fishing for trout then another crowd is fishing some form of "bait" generally for the "stockers." Oh, a few guys are playing ultra-lite but even it's normally regarded as dirty fishing with those killing treble hooks.

The fly industry tries to ride the nobility of beautiful art of perfect dry fly cast meanwhile the hordes of drift boat guides that are happy to ask for your money want nothing more than for you to stack up unbelievable, bar bragging, catch numbers while lobbing bobber nymph rigs to the masses of tailwater fish. Sorry guides, but nothing noble about that! If fact it's my opinion that bobber guides have made fly fishing a dirty sport.

For several years I pursued the finer art of two hand spey swinging flies for trout and while the experience is quite worthy I find it extremely limiting to much of the available water found across the nation. Trout spey depends on moving water and favors certain types of flows. You can catch a glimpse of my experience in Trout Spey Why Do It.

So what can one do different? Atypical?

The short version of this story puts me in a stream swinging flies with two hand trout spey rods. I had recently came to some knowledge regarding the effectiveness of trout spoons and decided to take up my own personal experiment.

The outcome generated much knowledge and a few surprises interesting enough to create a desire to continue the pursuit. While researching ultra-lite angling and single hook barbless spoons I came across an almost unheard of niche technique called trout BFS or Bait Finesse System often referred to just as Bait Finesse.

Bass anglers in the know may have heard this term in their metal flake circles and many similarities do exist in this technique between bass and trout. BFS originates from Japan and it is often disputed which side of the sport, bass or trout, actually named the technique. I was actually performing light line bait finesse bass fishing long before I ever heard of BFS and now with a couple years of BFS trout under my belt I can attest there are some similarities and differences.

So What is Trout Bait Finesse

The very short answer it is simply ultra-light, baitcast style, level wind reels equipped to extreme ultra-lite rods, using very light line with single hook barbless lures, spinners or spoons.

The attraction is to rid myself of line twisting, cumbersome spin reels in exchange for accurate casting gear meanwhile cleaning up the lure game by cutting off those "killing" treble hooks and attaching high quality barbless or microbarb (near barbless), single hook. Notice I said "hook" as in singular.

To break this down even further the Japanese trout anglers refer to trout techniques in one of two ways. It can be Mountain Stream or Area. Mountain Stream is pretty obvious meanwhile Area refers to basically what we would call Stillwater. BFS is mostly geared to Mountain Stream but Area BFS rods do exist. The rods for the two forms are quite different. More on equipment in another article.

Pennsylvania spring creek feels like mountain stream

So why would one do this? A great question that I can try to answer.

Having first hand experience with trout spey and it's water type limitations as well as the many rigging, casting and technique hurdles all only to come together as a limited success technique just became too restricting for me. I still do it to some capacity but not as an end all technique. Maybe someday I'll come out of the closet about my micro spoonin' technique but that is way too dirty for most ears to hear.

I love those sports car commercials depicting one driving fast down curvy country roads with no other car in sight. Fly fishing tends to portray this also. It's a wonderful idea of being in a stream all alone one with nature, peace with God and the beautiful art of fly fishing. While this outcome is not impossible to find it's not the usual local fishing hole within our days reach.

On my local tailwater I find what I refer to as angler lock. Either anglers are unwilling to move or they can't move cause of other anglers locking them in from up and down river. For this very reason I've taken up floating tailwater streams from a Outcast Stealth Pro frameless inflatable. With this method I can just move along until I find water void of other anglers. While this approach opens up a ton of free water it doesn't always fit a fly very well, certainly not trout spey water.

A great day of fishing often looks like this

Enter BFS 

What the ultralight approach has given me is freedom to fish any and all water. No limitations! Riffle, run, bucket or "Area" water. And guess what I found? At times it all holds fish.

What else do I like about BFS

For starters just like trout spey or even European tight line nymphing, BFS works on a tight line method. When a fish strikes you feel the direct feedback. The tug is the drug as they say in fly fishing applies just the same in BFS.

Next, I like the super light gear. Rods and lines are so light. My main line is one line and can be anywhere from size 4x to 5x tippet size. My whole line is this size, not just the tippet end.
Now just because the gear is light don't assume for a minute it's not strong enough to handle above average trout. These rods are not your old noodle ultralight rods found in the box stores. Matter of fact I land fish far faster than an average fly angler with 5 weight nymph gear.

Also I like casting. Click the button, put my thumb on the spool and let it fly. With practice accuracy is amazing, distance is easy and connection to the hook end is undeniably sensitive.

The greatest part of all! Trout will attack these lures with reckless abandon. I bet nobody told you this is fly fishing school. You know why, cause they don't want you to know!

Of course there are times trout won't touch your offerings and you'd be much better off with a size 24 midge pattern fished under a bobber. But if that is all you do how would you ever know what you might be missing.

Why can't I just use an ultra-light spin rod?

Yeah, for sure fishing this technique can totally be performed with spin gear. Matter of fact if you are just getting into it and don't have prior experience with baitcasting equipment, I would strongly urge one to start out with spin. Learning a baitcaster is not an easy undertaking. Spending your day fixing backlashes is neither productive nor relaxing.

What is BFS Trout to me

I find BFS liberating. It's one rod, reel and line that can perform a range of techniques. It's not limited to water type. With learned skill it can cast unbelievably accurate. It removes all the bobber gear hassles and just lets me relax and fish.

I'm not saying I don't fly fish anymore but instead I've taken fly fishing back to the simple form it should be. Rod, Line, Leader and Fly. Preferably a dry fly.

I've decided if I have to lob a two fly nymph rig and bobber to catch fish than I'd rather take my chances with lures. I feel with lures fate is in my own hands. I constantly stay on the move, vary my retrieves and seek out trout that are in active mode.

If BFS interest you stay tuned for future articles covering topics of equipment, technique, lures and anything else that fits the topic.