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Reel Review


Is ICAST's Best Freshwater Reel of 2016 Still Relevant? (continued)

Retrieve: The Custom Pro SLP is offered in three different retrieve ratios though I find it very disappointing only one of those ratios is offered in left hand retrieve. The reel's aluminum main gear on the 6.8:1 retrieve reel measured 39.5 millimeters in diameter and spins within the aluminum frame and carbon sideplates relatively smoothly but the reel does make a very slight rattling sound when you spin the handle. There's a very, very slight amount of play in the handle that's causing this noise so the reel doesn't feel quite as refined as it otherwise might.

Each knob features two bearings of support

Power: The reel is equipped with a generous 95 millimeter handle that gives you a good amount of leverage to turn that 39.5 millimeter main gear. The reel is perfectly suited for general purpose type applications including medium depth moving baits, but it wouldn't be my first choice in a dedicated, deep cranking reel. The 6.8:1 variant of this reel can handle those duties in a pinch, but it's not something I'd want for all day cranking.

The main gear measures 39.5mm in diameter and is made from an aluminum alloy

Drag: Rated with a maximum drag pressure of twenty pounds (20lbs), the Custom Pro SLP delivers very smooth and consistent performance in this area. This is no doubt thanks to the mix of carbon and metal drag washers. It's a proven system they use in several of their other reels and I've yet to experience any difficulties with this drag design.

A look at the Custom Pro SLP's drag stack

Design & Ergonomics: The Custom Pro SLP is made with an aluminum frame and carbon sideplates. Lew's is able to keep the weight of this reel down below six ounces by using an aluminum alloy for the reel's main gear. This gear weighs only 8 grams. The company's Speed Spool LFS comes with a brass gear of the same size that weighs 19 grams, so if the Custom Pro SLP had this same gear, it'd likely weigh about 6.1 ounces.

There's a dial built into the face of the spool tension knob you can use to set a reminder as to what line you have on the reel

The company's SLP profile results in a reel that is very comfortable to palm and together with that long handle is a very easy reel to fish all day long.

My only complaint ergonomically is the reel's knobs. I'm not a fan of the cone shape because it makes the reel feel bulkier than it is. The benefit to the shape is, if you grasp the knobs on the inner side close to the handle, your fingers won't slide off the ends. Additionally, the Winn grip material is very comfortable, but the diameter of the knobs at that outer edge is just excessive.

There's also a flip out bait keeper on the inside face of the reel

Price & Applications: Lew's offers the Custom Pro SLP at $259.99 and given the reel's three available retrieve options, it can be used for a variety of different techniques. It is an excellent choice if you enjoy using the same reel on all your fishing rods, but only if you use right hand retrieve reels. The only available retrieve ratio for those of us who enjoy left handed reels is 7.5:1. That's a good, multi-purpose retrieve ratio in today's bass fishing world, but not equitable when there are two other retrieves for righties.

Lew's offers the Custom Pro SLP at $259.99


Lew's Custom Pro SLP Casting Reel Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality A nice, light, clean build with just a teeny tiny amount of play in the handle 8.5
Performance Excellent casting performance, relatively smooth retrieve, and a nice, smooth and consistent drag 8
Price Entering into a premium price point 7
Features 4-point externally adjustable centrifugal brakes, 2 bearings per knob and at the levelwind, Duralumin spool, 95mm carbon handle, integrated hook keeper, line weight reminder 8
Design (Ergonomics) Light and easy to palm but only one option in left hand retrieve 7
Application Good option for a host of different applications 8

Total Score


Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = unbelievable!
For More Details of the updated rating system visit our explanation here


Pluses and Minuses:



+ Casting brakes allow for a very free flying spool

- Only one retrieve ratio available in left hand retrieve

+ Very comfortable profile

- Not a fan of the knobs

+ Long stock handle



Conclusion: Lew's has themselves already surpassed this reel with the introduction of their HyperMag SLP and Pro-Ti SLP, but the Custom Pro SLP is still relevant - as long as you're not someone who prefers left handed reels. At this price point, there are options from other manufacturers offering a wide range of retrieve ratio options in both left and right hand retrieve. We've heard the reasoning behind this strategy from other manufactures in the past that the left hand reels don't move as well, so from a business perspective, it does not justify the cost for the machinery to cut the gears both ways.


If you use right hand retrieve reels, and enjoy using the same reel on all your fishing rods, Lew's Custom Pro SLP is an excellent choice.


It's kind of a chicken and egg thing though, isn't it? Consumers cannot purchase what is not offered, and by offering one set of options to one set of consumers, but not the others, you're automatically losing a percentage of consumers by ignoring their needs and pointing them in the direction of your competition. That's a shame, because the Custom Pro SLP is a nice little reel with the potential to win some anglers away from the other, big name reel manufacturers - just like it has already no doubt accomplished with those who prefer right handed reels.


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