Lew’s finally entered into the finesse baitcaster chat with their new Lew’s Custom Lite Shallow Spool Baitcaster that was just announced at the Bassmaster Classic. I’ve had the reel for a few weeks and figured I’d give you my early impressions to help folks on the fence about trying this reel. I’ll really dive into where I feel this reel’s sweet spot falls among finesse baitcasters and bait finesse system reels.
Finesse Baitcaster or BFS Reel
Yes and no would be my short answer to the question on if this is a true BFS reel. The reason I refer to the Lew’s Custom Lite Shallow Spool baitcaster as a finesse baitcaster and not a Bait Finesse System reel is because it’s a hybrid in my mind. They took their custom lite baitcaster, upgraded a few things, added a shallow spool but it shares most of the same components as a conventional baitcaster with a shallow 30mm spool. But it has most of a true BFS reel performance.
It doesn’t have the clicker drag most BFS reels are known for. It’s the same carbon drag in their conventional Custom Lite reel. But this reel is a lot smoother and lighter than many of the BFS reels on the market. It’s not quite Daiwa Air Stream or Shimano Aldebaran BFS casting smoothness and startup inertia on the bottom of the lure weight spectrum, but it’s lighter than both those reels.
But the startup inertia on the Custom Lite SS is a lot less than a conventional baitcaster, so it handles most light bass lures for sure.
Spinning vs finesse baitcaster
The other question we get a lot is why a baitcaster instead of a spinning reel for finesse applications. Spinning reels have limitations when it comes to super light lures. You have to keep going down in line size and get lighter and lighter in rods to throw smaller lighter lures. When you start getting to that 1 gram weight (1/28th ounce), it gets pretty tough to throw a lure on bass gear rods of any kind. You have to get into that ultralight on a spinning setup with like 2-4 pound lines.
With BFS you can still use 4-8 pound lines or braids and there is no spool friction like with a spinning reel. So you can get a 1/32 and 1/64-ounce jig out there with the right BFS reel and a little lighter rod.
While spinning rods are great and can be very sensitive. Spinning reels inherently are not terribly sensitive compared to baitcasters. You can gain a lot more feel and sensitivity by palming a baitcaster as opposed to holding the stem of a spinning reel. Light bites and pickups are transmitted better.
I can get away with a bit heavier line and still be very sensitive with a baitcaster over a spinning reel. I don’t deal with line tangles. Yes you have to be careful with overruns but this reel is super easy to adjust for wind, lure weight and line type.
Versatile bass finesse reel
The thing with the Custom Lite Shallow Spool you can throw baits to about 1/8 ounce really well with medium light bait casting rods. Lighter than that you need a whippier rod and the reel struggles a bit with startup inertia. So I think the sweet spot on this reel is 3/32-ounce up to about 3/8 ounce.
I have been throwing 3-inch Senkos, OSP Dice Rubber weightless on small wacky hooks, 1/8 ounce underspins, 3/16 ounce micro jigs and smaller and small swimbaits and hair jigs. It can do almost any finesse application in bass fishing on a medium light to light rod. So it’s very versatile in regards to small bass lures.
Casting good but retrieve great
It feels great in your hand. It’s super light and sensitive. It casts 1/8 and 3/16 ounce baits exceptionally well. It’s a heck of a good skipping reel too. I mean like really good. I’ve been slinging around 3-inch Senkos with a 1/32-ounce nail weight and skipping them under dock walkways and up to shallow stumps and it’s silly how buttery smooth my skips are with this setup.
But this reel really shines in the retrieve. Smooth, light, airy. You have a ton of feel on the retrieve. I think if they had put hard paddles on the handle, it would be the perfect reel. I’m not a fan of foam paddles on a finesse baitcaster. A solid hard composite or even metal paddle adds another layer of sensitivity. Foam paddles dampen that. So I will probably upgrade my handle to a Gomexus BFS handle.
But don’t let that detract you from considering this reel. It’s solid if you’re looking for a finesse baitcaster for bass fishing in that sweet spot lure weight range I mentioned.
The Lew’s Custom Lite Shallow Spool for Finesse Bass Fishing
This reel is on the upper end of price for performance for a finesse baitcaster at $299. It’s basically a slightly retooled Custom Lite with a shallower spool so price point is the same as the original conventional model. But the Lew’s Custom Lite Shallow Spool is a sweet little finesse bait casting reel for that upper end of bait finesse and most finesse bass fishing tactics.
You can find the Lew’s Custom Lite Shallow Spool baitcaster at these online retailers: