When most people think of baitcasting rods and reels, they think about heavy gear, heavy baits, and heavy fish. After all, the baitcast reel is designed with a spool that responds best to heavy baits. In the US, people use baitcasting gear for fish the size of bass and bigger, such as catfish. However, in Asia, people use baitcasting rods and reels for a different application; fishing ultralight.
Above: Fishing for trout on baitcasting gear. Picture from Chris at finesse-fishing.com
In Japan and other countries, access to fishing waters is heavy limited as a result of urbanization and transportation access. They are forced to compete fiercely to fish in the few public waters available. The fish in those lakes are very wary, easily spooked, and frightened by big, awkward, or unnatural baits. As we discussed in earlier articles, this kind of environment ensures that innovations are made in finesse fishing. The Japanese, being perfectionists, have perfected their finesse baits and equipment to such an extent that Japanese fishing tackle, otherwise known as "JDM" (Japanese domestic market), is heavily coveted in America. Shimano, Daiwa, Okuma are well known rod and reel brands founded in Japan. Jackal, Lucky Craft, Megabass are some popular and high end baits that originate in Japan.
Baitcasting gear has several advantages over spinning tackle, such as increased accuracy. However, the limitations of using baitcasting gear ensure that smaller baits, such as inline spinners and weightless worms, can't be used.
Above: The Kuying Teton is a finesse baitcasting reel commonly offered in Asia. It is usually used for small snakeheads, which are found in city creeks and tiny ditches. Note that the spool is heavily milled, with many holes to reduce weight, allowing for tiny baits to be casted. Note: I do not own this picture.
The Japanese found that by optimizing the number of bearings and gears in the baitcast reel, and creating ultralight spools, they could cast some very small baits. They could cast 1/8th oz baits, and even 1/16oz baits, a feat previously unheard of in the fishing world. They combined the accuracy and efficiency of the bait caster with the ability to cast light weights.
Above: Finesse is often needed for wary river smallmouth. Picture from Chris at finesse-fishing.com
Some Japanese anglers wanted to use baitcasters for trout. In a small trout stream, there are many overhanding trees (which is why you see so much fly fishing line on branches over a creek). These finesse baitcasters had the accuracy to cast into tight spots, unlike spinning reels. They paired up ultralight baitcasters with ultralight action casting rods and used inline spinners, small jigs, and spoons.
Hi. I am Ian, an extremely avid bass fisherman living in Howard County, MD. I like to bank fish and fish at local ponds and small creeks. I will explore budget friendly options for people to use in this blog. I hope I can teach you something.