Established in the 1940s, Lew’s is a name synonymous with sportfishing and boasts a stellar reputation for quality fishing gear amongst anglers in the US.
So whether you fancy yourself a tournament pro or you’re a newbie angler just getting your feet wet, there’s Lew’s reel for you. To help you out, we’ve curated our reviews of some of the best Lew’s spinning reels and baitcasting reels currently on the market.
Ready to get the low down on Lew’s fishing reels? Then read on!
About Lew’s Reels
Founder Lew Childre grew up along the Gulf coast of Alabama and developed a passion for fishing. He sold shrimp bait to fishermen with his wife Vivian, which grew into a small tackle business. It was here that Lew became inspired to create the best quality fishing products using all of his experience and love of the sport.
The Childre family business grew, and their innovations and reputation for quality have made Lew’s a stalwart of the sport. In 2010, Lynn Reeves, a friend of the Childre family, relaunched Lew’s brand. promising to rebuild Lew’s name within the industry following the ethos of its founder.
Today, Lew’s brand continues to provide customers with fishing equipment and accessories that deliver innovation, performance, and value.
How Does Lews Compare to the Competition?
Innovation and Features
Believing that “fishermen will pay more for a better product,” Lew traveled to Japan in search of better quality bamboo to use in his fishing poles. He teamed up with Fuji and brought Japanese expertise to the US.
Lew continued to learn about new techniques and materials and went on to expand the product line. In 1973, Lew developed the game-changing, teardrop-shaped Speed Spool baitcasting reel, and Lew’s name was officially set for greatness.
The Lew’s spirit and commitment to the sport today is carried on through their community work: an annual scholarship and proceeds from their American Hero series of rods and reels go towards programs that help and encourage veterans to take up fishing.
Lew’s developed further innovative products, including the Speed Stick graphite casting rods, working with Fuji to develop a ‘pistol grip’ rod handle which quickly became a favorite amongst anglers of the day.
Lew approached tournament pros and challenged them to find a better rod than his. They couldn’t, and he quickly made a name for himself. These days, it’s difficult to find an angler who doesn’t own at least one Lew’s product as part of their kit.
What’s a Baitcasting Reel?
A baitcasting reel has a rotating spool that rotates by turning the reel handle. When casting with a baitcasting reel, the spool releases line by rotating at high speed on a ball-bearing system.
What’s a Spinning Reel?
A spinning reel features a non-rotating spool that is typically attached to the bottom of a fishing rod. Instead of a rotating spool, spinning reels have a bail arm that rotates around the spool and draws the line onto it.
Review of the Best Lew’s Reels: Top 3 Picks
Small but perfectly formed, Lew’s Wally Marshall Spin Reel combines performance and precision in a product that doesn't break the bank.
A favorite of anglers at every level, the Mach Crush Baitcast Reel 2nd Gen offers easy casting and a smooth retrieve for comfortable all-day fishing.
Lew’s Fishing Reels: Full Reviews
A lightweight aluminum frame suits this all-purpose spinning reel with a skeletal C40 carbon rotor and anti-reverse system. Featuring a smooth stainless steel 10-ball bearing system with a 6.2:1 gear ratio, the Mach II Spin Reel is a high-speed reel appropriate for a wide range of fishing applications.
- Stainless steel double-shielded 10-ball bearing system
- Carbon skeletal rotor with DuraMax™ drag system
- Hamai precision-cut solid brass Speed Gears®
Straight from the mind of Wally Marshall, the legendary Crappie King himself, Lew’s Wally Marshall Spin Reel is a signature micro-spinning reel designed small but bursting with functionality. Its durable graphite frame means it can handle whatever comes at it with ease.
- SoftTouch knob folding handle
- Double anodized aluminum spool with a skeletal graphite rotor
- Stainless steel double-shielded 6-ball bearing system
Another reel that demonstrates Lew’s dedication to quality fishing reels is the Mach Crush Baitcast reel which features solid brass Speed Gears, a stainless steel 10-ball bearing system, and lightweight graphite side plates and frame. Also available with left or right-hand retrieves to suit your preference.
- Zero Reverse one-way clutch bearing
- Hamai precision-cut solid brass Speed Gears
- Anodized aluminum spool within a graphite frame and side plates
A compact reel with one of the lowest profiles in Lew's product range, the Hypermag Baitcast Reel employs an aircraft-grade Duralumin U-shaped spool that spins faster than larger reels and still packs extraordinary power. Glides smoothly with an impressive 11-ball bearing system in a magnesium frame and C45 carbon side plates to ensure long-lasting durability.
- SpeedCast® externally Adjustable Centrifugal Brake system
- Aircraft-grade double anodized Duralumin U-shape 32mm spool
- One-piece magnesium frame and C45 Carbon side plates
Built to endure heavy-duty fishing, the Superduty Wide Baitcast Reel can handle large lines, beefy crankbaits and swimbaits, and big umbrella rigs. Aluminum side plates ensure strong support on the handle side, and a SoftTouch finish adds additional comfort.
- One-piece aluminum frame and handle side plate with graphite palm side plate
- Externally adjustable Magnetic Control System
- Titanium-coated zirconia line guide and carbon fiber drag system
Designed for freshwater use, the Custom Pro Speed Spin reel features a smooth carbon fiber drag system, essential when fighting larger fish. The tough aluminum frame won't buckle under pressure, and an integrated flush and drain port on all reels in the Custom Pro range (except 1000) allows for easy cleaning.
- Hamai precision-cut high-strength Speed Gears®
- Screw-in aluminum handle with Winn® Dri-Tac knob
- Flush and drain port that allows you to flush out your reel with a water-dispersing spray if accidentally submerged
For an ultra-smooth performance, whether you’re retrieving or letting out drag, Lew’s Speed Spin Reel can’t be beaten. Boasting a double anodized aluminum spool and multi-disc drag on a 10-ball bearing system treated with Speed Lube, the Speed Spin ensures great performance in any weather. Also features a Combat Grip durable aluminum handle for extra security.
- Hamai precision-cut Speed Gears made using tough solid brass
- Double-shielded stainless steel 10-ball bearing system
- Graphite frame and side plate
With a 10% reduction in size compared to traditional speed reels, the Custom Baitcast 2nd Gen is an economized reel that doesn’t compromise on power. Specially engineered for style and performance, the trick to the Custom Baitcast’s mighty performance is the U-shaped fast-starting aluminum 32mm spool. Easily identify line type and weight with the patented Speed Dial® line indicator for fuss-free fishing.
- Zero Reverse® one-way clutch bearing
- Anodized aluminum fast-starting 32mm spool
- Patented Speed Dial® line indicator
Lew’s Reels Buyer’s Guide:
Freshwater or Saltwater
Lew’s stock a variety of reels for saltwater, freshwater, and brackish waters, so there are plenty of options for discerning anglers.
Saltwater can corrode low-quality reels quickly. Saltwater fish also tend to be heavier, so investing in specialist saltwater spinning reels is a must for these types of waters. The Mach II 2nd Gen and Custom Inshore reels offer superb performance even in saltwater.
Freshwater lakes and rivers offer a huge variety of fish of all sizes, from walleye to largemouth bass, catfish, sauger and bluegills, and more. You don’t have to worry about any corrosive saltwater damaging your reels, but you still need a reel that is tough and reliable enough to withstand the elements and land those mega catches.
Lew’s reels are known for being lightweight, making them easy to handle. Anglers often refer to having a “balanced tackle” which basically means you’ve got the right reel for the right rod. The resulting package is comfortable to use and helps achieve the necessary casting, retrieving, strike detecting, and hook setting functions.
If you find that your combination of rod and reel is heavier at the tip, you can add weight to the bottom of the rod. This will change the balance point and should help even out the weight.
Deciding how to balance your fishing rod with your chosen reel is ultimately a personal choice. Referring to the weight limits and line guides on rods and reels will help you make the initial match, but what works for some anglers might not work for others because of variations in hand strength and size, the way you fish, and more.
Compatibility With Your Rod
Matching the right reel to your rod is important not only for comfort but to ensure good casting every time you’re on the water. But how do you match a specific rod with a reel?
Look for the suggested weight and line capacities on your rod and reel. This information can usually be found just above the handle grips on the rod and the reel, but if you’re still unsure, a quick internet search should help you find what you’re looking for.
A well-balanced rod and reel should feel comfortable in hand. To check that both are properly balanced, you should be able to hold the rod with one finger at the balance point, so it stays level. Generally speaking, longer thinner rods are suitable for lighter lures, while shorter, thicker rods will be able for heavier tackle.
Conclusion: Final Thoughts on Lew’s Reels
Lew’s has a loyal customer base who swear by the quality of Lew’s products in their product reviews. If you are a fan of fishing, there is no doubt you’ve heard about Lew’s.
This is a company that grew from humble beginnings into a global brand and attracted great respect through its consistent production of quality products. Despite changing ownership several times over the years, it has managed to maintain its original design and ethos of the original Childre family.