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Reel Review

Redefining a Classic, the Lew’s BB1 Baitcaster


Date: 9/4/13
Tackle type: Reel
Manufacturer: Lew's
Reviewer: Zander

Total Score: 8.31 - BEST VALUE AWARD!

Introduction: Lew’s is one of the fastest growing brands in the freshwater market and with good reason, their reels deliver plenty of features at very reasonable prices. The BB1 is the heart of the Lew’s baitcasting lineup and it was a tall order to redesign this legendary reel. The original BB1 was a pioneering reel that really changed the perception of what a low profile baitcaster could, and should be. Decades later this new BB1 seeks to channel that same forward thinking and infuse modern day design and technology into a classic.


Lew's BB1 Speed Spool Casting Reel Specifications

Line Capacity (lbs / yds) 12/145
Gear Ratio 5.2:1 (6.4:1, 7.1:1 also available)
Measured Weight 7.1 ounces
Measured Max. Drag 13.2 lbs measured max drag (14lbs. published spec)
Number of Bearings 10SS
Features Die cast aluminum frame, double shielded ball bearings, forged aluminum spool, six pin centrifugal braking system, bowed aluminum handle with soft touch knobs, oversized titanium line guide
Origin Korea
MSRP $159.99


Decades after the original the Lew's BB1 returns


Impressions: One of the things that I like best about Lew’s reels are the well designed compact form factor, but by the same token because just about every reel in the Lew’s lineup shares the same basic profile they are also harder to tell apart from one another. To compound this most of the reels have a dark black or grey finish, but the BB1 is among the most recognizable with a striking gold insert on the non-handle sideplate which pays homage to the original.  


The reel features a machined forged aluminum spool that houses the centrifugal cast control system


The original Lew’s Speed Spool model BB1 was truly a groundbreaking reel and was the first low profile reel with a narrow spool and fully disengaging levelwind. It was an ergonomic masterpiece at the time with no knobs on the palming side so that anglers could really grip the reel comfortably. The original was also known for reliability and excellent casting distance, two elements that Lew’s made sure to further emphasize in this modern redesign.


The BB1 comes with a 95mm aluminum handle that is bowed to reduce wobble


The new BB1 reels come in two flavors, a modern day instant anti-reverse and a zero anti-reverse for die-hard fans of the original. All models feature a one piece die cast aluminum frame and composite sideplates, a machined forged alumni double anodized spool, and aluminum drag star and spool tension knob. Overall the reel both looks and feels quite high quality and the piano black finish is easy to match up with just about any rod out there.


A look under the sideplate reveals the master gearing and drag system


Quality Ratings for BB1

Finish (1-5)
Frame & Side plate. Tolerance (1-5)
Handle Tolerance (1-5)
Knob Tolerance (1-5)
Rating (= Tot/Pos * 10)


On the zero anti-reverse models is a ratchet system behind the gearing that stops the handle


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