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Fishing Skills

What Is Bait Finesse Fishing?

by Tom Melton 20 May 2024

There is one definite and sure thing where bait finesse fishing comes into play, and that is that it originated in Japan. Beyond that, there are facts and numbers from every different aspect of who, what, where and when. The bottom line is bait finesse fishing was designed to enable anglers to throw smaller lures for big fish, and even sometimes smaller fish, but with baitcasting gear. Bait finesse allows anglers to utilize baitcasting gear for finesse fishing, which in turn allows more accuracy for the most part, and the control of a baitcasting rod and reel. The title can be a one line answer, but let’s dive into bait finesse fishing a bit further so if you decide to take on this adventure, you will be rewarded for your efforts and not disappointed that you tried.

Why Do I Need Bait Finesse Fishing?

Along with what is bait finesse fishing, there needs to be the question of why do I need bait finesse fishing? Finesse fishing is not for every angler. I know anglers that could not catch a fish on a finesse system unless the fish jumped into the boat or up onto the shore. Finesse fishing is exactly what it says – "finesse." Plain and simple you need to be soft. Soft means playing the fish and allowing your drag, which must be super smooth to tire the fish. Hooksets cannot be the "rip the lips off style" but rather a quick snap of the wrist with sharp hooks.

On the positive side, nothing is more rewarding than fooling a wary bass with a small 1/8-ounce jig or super tiny swimbait then finesse fishing. The secret lies in landing the fish. This is why I said I know anglers that could never catch a fish while finesses fishing. Bait finesse fishing requires a softer hook set and for the most part open water. If you think landing a 5-pound bass is tough, try landing one on 4-pound test line… there better not be any obstructions or the fight will be over pretty quick.

But again…What is Bait Finesse Fishing?

Okay, back to the main title, "What is Bait Finesse Fishing?" Do you remember when you were a kid and just starting out fishing? I do, and I also remember not being able to cast very far, so what did I do, added weight! By adding weight I could cast a lot farther, but then whatever lure I was using definitely was not working correctly. In fact, I can also remember not catching many fish back in those earlier days.

Fast forward to today’s style. With bait finesse fishing I can now toss micro lures, jigs, worms and the likes for bass, and cast pretty far at that. Listen, when I say cast pretty far I am not talking 50 yards or more, we are talking feet here. Small lures by their nature are not going to cast a country mile, and even less if the wind is blowing towards you. A good cast with a smaller lure is 40 to 60 feet, and that’s if you are good, which with practice is easy to achieve. 

Bait finesse fishing will allow anglers to use lighter lures to target wary bass and a lot of other species with baitcasting gear.

The entire advent of bait finesses fishing in Japan many years ago was so anglers could target lure and line shy bass that changed over time and were becoming more and more difficult to catch. These bass were probably feeding small, and I am sure the stocks were not exactly flying off the charts. Hence, Japanese anglers starting using finesse tactics to target these bass, and it caught on like a wild fire.

Bait finesse can reward you with hot action, especially largemouth bass feeding on smaller fry or insects where small lures are needed to imitate the bait.

These same anglers, or other anglers found out quickly that they could now target other species – like smaller trout and panfish – using this finesse style. Small spoons, spinners and grub style lures were all in play while bait finesse fishing.

There are many attributes regarding bait finesse fishing. How to properly cast a smaller, ultra-light weight lure. How to fight a fish to the net or shore for proper landing. What size line do I need to do this? Can I use braid, monofilament and fluorocarbon lines? Is the fishing rod made specifically for bait finesse fishing or can I use any rod I have on hand? What other gear do I need while finesses fishing?

This was just a simple "What is Bait Finesse Fishing" primer. In my next article - How to: Bait Finesse Casting…the "Right" Way, I will talk about casting, mating the reel to the rod, line sizes, lure sizes and most of all, how to cast a finesse lure accurately and then land that big fish!

Bait finesse fishing has taken anglers by storm. Most are a little shy of trying it, but I can bet my bottom dollar once you try it, you might not go back to traditional angling – nah, as anglers we will always keep all our options open where catching fish is concerned. Until next time, tight lines and screaming drags is all we need to stay happy.

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