Can you Trout Fish with a Baitcaster?

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Fishing is a sport of habit. You’re always going to go back to that trusty lure, or your favorite rod and reel because it’s what you know. When you get comfortable with a certain style of fishing, it can be hard to switch to a new style. So, for those primarily used to a baitcasting reel, a common question is can you trout fish with a baitcaster?

The answer to the question is yes. But the real question is, should you trout fish with a baitcaster? The answer to that question is a bit more complicated, so let’s get into it.

Baitcasters of old were big and bulky reels that are the opposite of what an angler would want for finesse fishing. Trout fishing is considered finesse fishing because of the size and behavior of the trout. While you can catch trout over 20”, it’s not as common as catching a trout in the 6 to 12-inch range. Modern technology has helped to reduce the size and weight of baitcasting reels, though, which makes trout fishing a viable option.

Catching Trout with a Baitcaster

Can you Trout Fish with a Baitcaster?

The key to catching trout with a baitcaster is to use the smallest, lightest baitcasting reel you have. If you own just one baitcaster, and it’s of the bigger, bulkier variety you will still be able to catch trout, but it’ll be more of a challenge. The reason for this is that a lighter reel is more effective when you need to use finesse techniques.

Benefits of Baitcasting

There are two main benefits to using baitcasting rigs: increased accuracy, and longer casts. With these benefits comes the disadvantage of heavier reels, and a larger learning curve. But the learning curve can be mastered, and new technology has provided us with reels just as light as spinning gear.

Control and accuracy are critical factors to consider when you have limited time to fish and want to be as efficient as possible. It’s a well-known fact that baitcasting rigs are more accurate than other forms of trout fishing. If you’re fishing on a stream, accuracy is even more essential to a successful day.

The reason baitcasting rigs provide longer casts is due to both reel technology, as well as positioning. A baitcasting spool sits on the reel with the line coming straight from the spool out to the guides. This setup creates less friction on the line and allows for further casts. Meaning you can cover more water and fish more efficiently.

Pay Attention to the Brake

Make sure to loosen up your drag as much as you can feel comfortable with.

One advantage that a baitcasting rod and reel setup has over spinning reels will be quickly covering water by casting faster. But you can only do this if you have a reel that has its own built-in braking system that prevents backlashes. With a digital braking system,

A problem you’ll run into with a baitcasting rig is consistently casting lightweight bait. And for trout, almost every bait option is of the lighter variety.

Gear Recommendations

To be honest, I would not recommend fishing for trout with a baitcasting setup if you have the choice. The fact of the matter is that baitcasting rods and reels are designed for heavier lines and heavier lures targeting bigger fish. Trout fishing is all about smaller lures, and lighter lines. So, using a baitcasting setup for trout fishing is like trying to put a square peg into a round hole. It just doesn’t fit right.

Fly fishing is the best way to attack trout, and even spinning gear should give you a better opportunity to consistently catch trout. At the same time, can you trout fish with a baitcaster? Yes, you can catch many trout even if you only have a baitcaster to work with.

Read our article on how to cast a baitcaster with a light lure to get the full story on the best techniques to use when you’re in this situation.

The key to casting light lures with a baitcaster is to let the rod power your cast. Keep your arm movements small. Drop a little over two feet of line out before casting. The weight of the line, lure, and split shot, along with the rod tip action should help to power your cast. Imagine the hands of an analog clock and start your cast at 1 o’clock and bring it forward to 11 o’clock before letting go. If you’re adept at sideways casts, this technique can also be effective. Keep your arm actions short and simple and remember to let the rod do the work.

At the end of the day, if you feel most comfortable with a baitcaster, then you’re going to catch the most fish with a baitcaster. And that includes trout. Fishing all comes down to personal preference. We always go back to our old favorites for a reason: they feel good and that leads to catching more fish. So, sure, go buck convention and surprise the other guys by trout fishing with a baitcaster. You’ll be giving yourself a challenge, and you may end up having a lot of fun in the process.

Here are tips to remember when fishing for trout with a baitcaster:

  • Use the lightest gear possible.
  • Modern low-profile baitcasting reels have a night and day difference when compared to baitcasters of old. If you’re in the market for a new reel or have more than one baitcaster to choose from, select one with the lightest weight if you want to use it for trout fishing.
  • Use a rod 10 ounces and under.
  • A 4-pound test line will work just fine.
  • Use a reel under 6 ounces.

Bait Finesse Systems

Japan has been ahead of the game in designing baitcasters specially manufactured to be finesse fishing options. There is an entire category of reels now based on this idea, and they are called Bait Finesse System reels, or BFS. The problem for those outsides of Japan is that these reels are not readily available on the market.

Some examples of high-quality BFS reels:

  • Shimano Aldebaran BFS
  • Shimano Calcutta Conquest BFS
  • Shimano Scorpion BFS
  • Daiwa SS Air

If you can’t find a BFS reel, here are recommendations for widely available high-quality baitcasting reels:

Best Baitcasting Reel for Trout Under $100

Daiwa Fuego CT

The Daiwa Fuego CT may be the best baitcasting reel for under $100. That’s because it’s really a Tatula CT reel that’s missing one bearing and the T-wing system. Everything else is almost exactly the same. This includes the carbon drag, an aluminum frame, and the most important part, the Magforce Z braking system.

The Magforce Z braking system is what will allow you to cast lightweight bait far distances without having to worry about thumbing the spool. The spool will start spinning quicker and will spin longer. But as it reaches max speed, the magnetic braking system kicks in to prevent the bird’s nest.

Daiwa 0001-4482 Fgct100Hs Fuego High Speed,Black/Red
  • Ultimate Tournament Carbon Drag UTD with 13.2 lbs....
  • Magforce-Z cast control
  • Large, 90mm swept power handle with cutouts for...

Best Baitcasting Reels for Trout Over $100

Daiwa Tatula SV TW

The main benefit of the Tatula SV TW is the spool technology. The SV spool is made from Super Duralumin, which reduces weight while maintaining strength. The SV concept also allows for the greatest casting distance. Also, the T-Wing system is another benefit of going with the Tatula over the Fuego. The T-Wing minimizes line friction, which is another way this reel provides longer casting capabilities.

*Tatula Baitcasting Fishing Reel
  • Ultimate Tournament Drag

Shimano Curado DC

The main concept to focus on with Shimano baitcasting reels is the DC designation. DC stands for the Digital Control braking system which uses a microcomputer. The microcomputer monitors spool speed 1,000 times per second, allowing it to apply the ideal amount of brake. This prevents backlashes while maintaining the greatest casting distance.


Shimano Scorpion DC

The Scorpion is a slight step up from the Curado and costs about $25 more. For the increase in price, you get more braking options, an extra ball bearing, and a smaller size. If you have $280 to spend on a baitcasting reel, you can’t go wrong with the Scorpion DC.

SHIMANO (Shimano) Reel 17 Scorpion DC 100HG Right Handle
  • Gear ratio: 7.2 Maximum drag force (kg): 5.5
  • Nylon thread wound amount (lb - m): 12 - 120, 14 -...
  • Handle length (mm): 42

Shimano Aldebaran MGL

The Aldebaran MGL is the lightest baitcasting reel that Shimano makes, coming in at just 4.8 ounces.

It comes with 9 ball bearings plus 1 roller bearing and retrieves 26 to 29 inches of line per crank.

The MGL stands for Magnumlite spool. This spool is constructed out of magnesium and by lowering the moment of inertia, it can increase casting distance up to 20 percent.

As you’d expect, all this modern technology doesn’t come cheap.

Shimano Fishing Aldebaran Mgl 50 Low Profile Reels...
  • Hagane Body (Magnesium)
  • S3D Spool
  • Super Free Spool

Best Baitcasting Reel Money Can Buy

Shimano offers many high-quality options for finesse baitcasting. But Daiwa steels the show with their newest model. If you’re really serious about using the best finesse baitcasting equipment for trout, you have to check out the Daiwa Steez CT.

Daiwa Steez CT

Featuring 12 ball bearings, the Daiwa Steez CT is among the smoothest, if not the smoothest baitcasting reel on the market.

At 5.3 ounces, this compact 70-size reel is comfortable and palpable.

The SV spool is created from an ultralight G1 aluminum alloy.

The frame and side cover are made from magnesium.

Advanced Air Brake system employs both centrifugal and magnetic forces.

Available in 6.3:1 and 8.1:1 gear ratios.

Daiwa Bait Reel 19 Steez CT SV TW 700XH (2019 Model)
  • Winding Length (per handle rotation): 76
  • Gear Ratio: 8.1
  • Weight (lb-m): 150

Best Baitcasting Rods for Trout

A rod under 10 ounces will be your best bet for catching trout with a baitcaster. This means getting a rod that has light to ultralight power and maxes out at six feet six inches in length. If you can find an even smaller rod, such as a five-foot, six-inch length, that may be your best option. The idea is to be as minimal as possible with your rod. The fact that you will be using a baitcasting reel will provide the power you need to cast and reel in trout.

A comfortable handle will be a must when casting lighter bait. It’s challenging for any angler to caster lightweight lures with a baitcaster. So, you’ll want to give your body every advantage possible, and that means making sure that you have a comfortable handle. Premium cork works well, but a quality EVA foam handle should also get the job done.

Pay attention to the guides on your rod. Thinner guides will keep less weight on the rod. But you don’t want to sacrifice the quality of your guides as they can wear down and can also wear down your line with repeated use.

It can be hard to find the perfect casting rod for trout because most manufacturers assume that anglers are using spinning gear. So, we have to get a little creative when searching for the best rod to pair with your lightweight baitcasting reel. Another challenge is finding a rod with slower action. A fast action rod bends closer to the tip, while a slower action rod bends closer to the reel. A slower action rod isn’t required, but it can help with providing a softer landing for your bait and can help with an overaggressive hookset.

The new Abu Garcia Veracity rods may be a good place to start your search. You can buy a 6’6” model with medium power which should work well for trout. The handle is made from a combination of cork and high-density EVA, providing what may end up being the most comfortable handle on the market. Guides are made from titanium alloy with ultra-light zirconium inserts. Finally, the blank is made from a new 3M Powerlux technology that provides the necessary strength and durability while decreasing weight.

Abu Garcia® Veracity® Casting Rod
  • 3M Powerlux delivers a 30% stronger rod while...
  • Custom Fuji soft touch reel seats for superior...
  • Titanium alloy guides with ultra-light zirconium...

An out-of-the-box option, if you’re looking for the lightest casting options on the market, is the new line of St. Croix Panfish Series rods.

St. Croix Rods Panfish Casting Rod , Gold Dust Metallic,...
  • PREMIUM-GRADE CORK HANDLE: Comfortable cork handle...
  • FEATURES: Sea Guide guides w/ stainless steelrings...

If you’re looking for more of a “do-it-all” baitcasting rod, the St. Croix Premier Series may be more of what you want.

St. Croix Rods Premier Casting Rod Medium/Fast , Classic...
  • PREMIUM-GRADE CORK HANDLE: Comfortable cork handle...
  • FEATURES: Kigan Master Hand 3D guides w/...

Best Line for Trout Fishing with a Baitcaster

As for the line, go with monofilament. The reason for this is that trout do not attack bait with the same vigor that bass and other fish do. A trout will take its time nibbling away before fully committing to the prize. And if you set the hook too early, you’ll never catch the trout. The Mono line has more stretch to it than the braided line, which means you get an extra split second of forgiveness before yanking the bait out of the trout’s mouth.

You’ll want to add weight to the line to make it easier to caster your lighter bait. As far as what weight to choose, a simple split shot a little way up from your lure will work just fine.

Fishing for Lake Trout with a Baitcaster

While most people think of rainbows trout and brown trout in a stream when they think of trout fishing, we can’t forget about lake trout. Lake trout are nothing like their trout brethren, as they can grow as large as any freshwater fish. If you’re fishing for lake trout, forget everything you’ve read above about light rods, moderate action, and light bait. For lake trout, you will need a heavy line, a powerful rod, and a heavy jig. This is a completely different game than fishing for stream-sized trout.

Fishing for Speckled Trout with a Baitcaster

Fishing for Speckled Trout is also a different game than normal trout fishing. Speckled Trout do not get as big as lake trout can, as the average Speckled Trout is 12 to 14 inches long. Some can get up to over 20 inches in length and over five pounds in weight. The biggest difference though is not size, it’s that Speckled Trout is a saltwater fish, and we’ve been focusing this article on freshwater trout fishing.

Bait to Try for Trout

  • Sparkle Beatle
  • Rooster Tails
  • Powerbait
  • Salmon Eggs
  • Corn
  • Mealworms
  • Worms

Bottom Line on Fishing for Trout with Baitcasters

There is no question that baitcasting for trout can be done successfully, the only question is a matter of how effective is it. For an experienced baitcaster, fishing for trout with your baitcasting rig can be an enjoyable challenge. And with the right gear, baitcasting for trout can be an effective way to catch large quantities in a short amount of time.

Baitcasting for trout gets the most efficient with the most expensive gear. There is no way around that. But, if you already own a high-quality, lightweight baitcasting reel you are doing yourself a disservice by not using it for trout fishing. With a high-quality baitcasting reel, you can cast further and cast quicker than with a spinning reel. This means you can cover more water, get more bait in the water, and that should lead to catching more trout.

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