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Reel Review

The Speed Spool returns – Lew’s Tournament Pro baitcaster (continued)


We decided to kick things off with the new “Tournament Pro Speed Spool” which is positioned second to the top in Lew’s baitcaster offering. We selected this reel because it was priced at the highly contested 200 dollar price point (MSRP $199). The Tournament Pro Speed Spool casting reel features a matte finish and a carbon fiber handle unlike its two more affordable siblings the “Tournament” and standard “Speed Spool” reels which make use of aluminum handles. At first glance the Speed Spool reminded me of a cross between a Daiwa Zillion and an Abu Revo, it exhibits both clean styling and a very compact design.


Let the real world tests begin


Real World Tests: For our tests we obtained two reels, the first of which came directly from the manufacturer. This is the reel JIP used in the Amazon targeting Peacock bass. JIP described his experience with the reel in his personal report and is currently completing his tests with a Lew’s rod. The second reel was purchased directly from Tackle Warehouse and have used it for targeting largemouth and smallmouth here in Northern California.


One of the nicest elements of this reel is the lightweight carbon fiber handle


Casting: The minute we spooled up the reel we had a feeling this reel was special. The Lew’s Tournament Pro makes use of an aircraft grade duralumin spool that is drilled and anodized. This spool starts up very quickly during the cast and I found that the Tournament Pro was an excellent caster of both ultra light rigs as well as heavy topwater plugs. Casts are controlled and predictable thanks to the MSB (multi setting brake) dual cast control system which is externally adjustable and utilizes both magnetic and centrifugal braking systems to apply just the right amount of pressure to the spool at both ends of the cast. During the field tests we found this reel to be excellent for casting lightweight finesse lures for smallmouth including shaky head and dropshot rigs.


The Tournament Pro casts both the light and heavy stuff equally well


Retrieving: The best word to describe the Lew’s Tournament Pro’s retrieve is “butter,” this reel is very smooth and comes loaded with 11 double shielded bearings supporting all key areas. The anti-reverse bearing one way clutch bearing is also among the best we have tested and there was absolutely no play in either of our test reels. This allowed us to really lock on the minute aggressive smallies hit our finesse lures.


Smooth as butter on the retrieve


Drag: Lew’s makes use of both carbon and steel washers within the Tournament Pro. This system delivered 14.6lbs. of pressure at full lockdown in our lab tests, that is .6lbs. more than the company’s own maximum specification. This is above the industry average for baitcasters which usually fall closer to 12lbs., so just how does Lew’s accomplish this? The answer is in sheer surface area, the Tournament Pro’s drag system’s carbon and steel washers alternate within the drag stack resulting in excellent heat dissipation and superior overall stopping power. 


The frame has highlights that are Zillion-esque


When I started fishing the Tournament Pro I noticed how easy it was to go from light to max drag pressure with just a few turns of the clicking drag star. This makes it possible for anglers to buckle down the drag on the fly should adjustments be necessary during the fight. While the drag delivers extreme stopping power we did notice that the drag was not the smoothest when doling out line during startup under extreme pressure.


Though it doesn't look like it form the outside even the handle-side sideplate is graphite

Next Section: A closer look at the drag system









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