It's been an exciting year for once-dormant or sagging brands. Gene Larew is riding a wave of success fueled by pro-staffer Tommy Biffle. Bagley is under new ownership that shows promise. And the Lew's brand is back in production under new owner Lynn Reeves and a heavy-hitting executive staff that includes Gary Remensnyder and Richard LaBauve.
The original Lew's brand was known for innovation, and its Speed Spool reels are the stuff of legend. But after founder Lew Childre died tragically in a plane crash in the late-'70s, the brand floundered under licensing agreements with companies that failed to continue the innovation.
But Lew's is back, and the minute I held the Tournament Pro Speed Spool in my hand, I knew it.
Where it Fits
The Tournament Pro Speed Spool is one of four Speed Spool baitcast models currently available. It's second-to-the-top in the line and retails for a competitive $179.99. Thus it doesn't have a few of the features the Team Lew's model offers at the $279.99 price point, but it has every feature I'd expect to see in a reel at this price point.
A few highlights include:
> One-piece diecast aluminum frame
> 11 double-shielded premium stainless-steel bearings
> Aircraft-grade machine-forged Duralumin drilled and anodized spool and gear system
> External-adjust Multi-Setting Brake (MSB) dual magnetic/centrifugal cast control
> ZeroReverse one-way clutch bearing
> Easily removable palming sideplate
> Rugged carbon-composite drag system with audible-click star drag
> Lightweight graphite side plates
Many of the features are weight-based. Lew Childre originally built his brand on two words – lighter and faster – and the lightweight carbon and aluminum components put this reel at just 6.7 ounces. It's fast too, with 6.4:1 and 7.1:1 gear options (6.4 is only available for the left-hand model).
I fished this reel heavily through the spring and it's a beauty. It's extremely compact and it seems like it would fit a junior angler's hand perfectly. That's important because the super-low profile eases awkward wrist angles.
The tolerances are incredibly tight, the industrial design of the reel is unique and attractive, and the guts are absolutely top-end. The reel casts a mile, seems as light as a feather, can be tweaked down by minute amounts (a big help in casting light baits) and I'm confident it'll fulfill the original Lew's reputation for durability.
BassFans who fished Lew's years ago, or who are looking to support a new American reel company, should give Lew's a good, hard look. The Tournament Pro Speed Spool I'm fishing with is as good as a reel can get, and there are different Speed Spool models to match different budgets.
> For more about the entire lew's lineup, visit Lews.com.
> The BassFan Store stocks the full line of Lew's reels, and there's currently a Lew's promo through which buyers can receive free stuff like shirts and gear bags. Click here to browse the selection.