Exploring Bait Finesse System Fishing with Paul Gaskell: A Day to Remember

On a crisp morning that hinted at the arrival of spring, with its sunny intervals piercing through an overnight chill, we were thrilled to host an enlightening day dedicated to Bait Finesse System (BFS) fishing. Our guest, Paul Gaskell, travelled from the so-called ‘Dark Side of Yorkshire’ to our Samlesbury Stretch on the Darwen.

Paul, a lifelong angler, writer, angling coach with a Ph.D in Freshwater Ecology whose presentation at Ribble Fisheries Consultative Assoc (RFCA) last AGM had already sparked keen interest, brought with him a deep knowledge of BFS – a technique with roots in Japan and one that many consider an art form in the realm of fishing. BFS is admired for its versatility, mobility, and accessibility, making it ideal for a wide range of water types and target species, fitting various budgets.

The day kicked off early as attendees gathered, eager to dive into the world of BFS. Paul started with a warm welcome, setting a friendly tone with tea and biscuits. This informal start was not just about sustenance but about building rapport and setting the stage for a day of shared learning and enjoyment.

A Deep Dive into BFS Techniques

Paul’s comprehensive tutorial covered the BFS setups from start to finish. He walked us through the adaptability of the gear, from budget-friendly options to more sophisticated setups, and even demonstrated leader construction. For many of us, including myself, watching him effortlessly put together these setups was both inspiring and a bit daunting – a reminder that simplicity can often be deceiving.

Before lunch, attendees had the opportunity to try out various combos and practice casting. Paul’s expert guidance helped them understand the art of loading the rod – essential for accurate casting and avoiding the dreaded ‘bird’s nest’ of tangled lines. His one-to-one coaching ensured that everyone managed to get their line out ready for afternoon of practical guidance.

Lunch and Learn

Lunch was another highlight, where stories and experiences were exchanged over good food and warm drinks. These moments are special; they resonate deeply with us anglers, creating bonds and shared memories that enrich our fishing lives.

In the afternoon, Paul took to the river for practical demonstrations. His clear, detailed explanations were a masterclass in technique and fish welfare – a topic of paramount importance to us at the RFCA. Paul stressed the use of single barbless hooks and the right kind of nets to prevent damage to the fish.

Challenges and Insights

Interestingly, the fish were less cooperative, likely preferring more traditional invertebrates over our offerings. This challenge was a practical lesson in the unpredictability of fishing and a counterpoint to the misconception that BFS is an overly simplistic or unsporting method. It underscored the need for continuous learning and adaptation in fishing techniques.

As the day wound down, attendees had the chance to fish in the water, resulting in a few successful catches. Paul’s commitment to going beyond the scheduled end time to ensure a fulfilling experience for all was evident and greatly appreciated.

Bait Finesse System Fishing with Paul Gaskell

Reflections and Looking Forward

The day concluded with a debrief back at base camp, where many expressed their satisfaction and personal achievements. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, highlighting the value of such hands-on, expert-led sessions in enhancing our angling skills.

For those interested in further exploring BFS or other fishing techniques, I highly recommend connecting with Paul Gaskell. His expertise is vast, and his approach to teaching is both accessible and deeply informative. Visit his website at Fishing Discoveries for more information or reach out to me directly for future events

I’m sure we will be hosting more days like this, whether in BFS or another specialism, we remain committed to enriching the angling community’s skills and experiences.
To all attendees, I wish you the best of luck. Your angling journey is sure to be enriched by the knowledge and experiences gained in the coming months and years.

Testimonial Martin Dutton

Really enjoyed the BFS day hosted by Paul Gaskell in association with Ribble Fisheries Consultative Association , Sunday the 21st April on the River Darwen.

We were lucky to have some fabulous weather and arriving at the river valley, meeting and chatting with the other attendees, it was a cordial and friendly informal start.

The day was well paced as Paul greeted and talked us into setting up, tips and advice a plenty before we all could have a chance of practising our casting, all equipment supplied with advice and tuition from Paul as we learned to gain confidence casting, away from the water.

After a leisurely and enjoyable lunch we watched Paul demonstrate, talking us through water craft , before we all enjoyed trying our hands on the river with the method.

Being completely new to any form of lure fishing and even river wading, the method proved instantly enjoyable and surprisingly easy to get to grips with, a couple of relaxed and enjoyable hours went by and a nice fish was hooked , but sadly lost, but the hook was planted in me, so to speak.

What a fabulous method and to be coached by Paul as an introduction, felt a real privilege.

I’m looking forward to spending many hours with the approach and it opens up a newly acquired way to enjoy being by the bank.

An excellent experience and a day to be remembered.

Testimonial – Tim Barrett (Secretary Settle Anglers)

The Art of BFS Fishing – with Dr Paul Gaskell – Samlesbury

The event commenced on time at 9:30 am with six very enthusiastic attendees.

The morning session comprised of looking at and discussing rods and reels, from budget, mid-range through to top of the range, with Paul giving in depth unbiased advice and opinion. BFS reel set up, with start to finish tutorial including loading a reel with a recommended braid. Leader construction for braid lines, attaching a fluorocarbon leader to braid (correct knot) and the use of split rings and snaps for attaching lures to the leader. The morning session concluded with a BFS casting clinic, forehand and backhand casting using rod/reel combo’s and one to one tuition from Paul.

After lunch we got down to the serious business of discussing lures particularly the flat sided minnow with barbless single hooks to aid catch and release and the general welfare of the fish. Paul then demonstrated casting including retrieve and presentation tactics. Paul also provided tips on photography for catch and release. We then fished the river in pairs honing the new skills learned in the earlier sessions again with one to one tuition from Paul. We were supposed to finish around 4:30pm but Paul was still answering questions at 5:45 pm.


In conclusion the course/event was worth every penny I paid, as I achieved everything I wanted to from the event. I left with complete confidence and knowledge, that as secretary of Settle Anglers Association Ltd our club has made the right decision in allowing this form of angling on some of our waters and that other clubs should embrace this form of angling. Everything I heard and saw emphasised the welfare of the fish.


I would also like to thank Nigel and Neil from the RFCA for the superb venue and the food and hospitality throughout the day.


Kind regards


Tim Barrett,
Secretary of Settle Anglers Association Ltd