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Lew’s Custom Lite SLP Baitcaster Review

The Lew’s Custom Lite SLP is the lightest reel ever made by Lew’s, and it gives bass fishing anglers an uber-compact baitcasting fishing reel with a lot of high end components for optimal performance. Full disclosure: I’m not an angler that geeks out over having the lightest stuff in fishing. I tend to lean the other direction. I would rather feel a solid, rigid frame reel in my hand. So I don’t generally get excited about light reels.

But I will say the Lew’s Hyper Mag changed my mind last year. It was a 5.4 ounce reel and at the time, the lightest Lew’s had ever made. Enter the Custom Lite SLP a half ounce lighter than the Hyper Mag at 4.9 ounces. A sub 5 ounce reel with 10 ball bearings is a pretty impressive engineering feat in reel design. But I’m always a skeptic because I’ve seen reels made by others that were light because they took all the guts out of them and the reels felt cheap, were noisy, were not smooth and just not very enjoyable to fish.

But that wasn’t the case for me with the Custom Lite SLP. It’s light, but it has a good drag system, good cast control system, solid handle, nice line management and a good feel while fishing. It’s smooth casting and smooth on the retrieve and has handled fighting and horsing 3-pounders to the boat with no problems.

Great components

The Lew’s Custom Lite SLP is built around a Tanso Tech frame. While it’s not uncommon for names to be created for the materials used in fishing reel technology, Tanso Tech is actually a fairly sophisticated process for machining metal and graphite properties into carbon materials. It was actually developed for nuclear energy to create parts that need durability and strength but can’t have the weight.

So you get an extremely light but solid frame. The duralumin spool further reduces the weight. And a carbon fiber drag system and EVA pads on the carbon fiber handle keeps the total weight low on the reel. But the reel also has 11 bearings, aluminum alloy gearing, aluminum drag control, and a zirconia line guide. 

So the result is a high-end reel, built on a strong frame with weight reduced without reducing the performance of the reel.

Smoother operating system

I always look to see how smooth is the reel retrieve with exceptionally light reels like the Lew’s Custom Lite SLP. Usually your first day or two of fishing the reel you can tell if they cut corners to reduce weight because the reel will make raspy noises on the cast and retrieve. 

That was not the case for me fishing with the Custom Lite SLP. This was where I really came back to liking light reels with the predecessor Hyper Mag reel. They are smooth, fluid and quiet while also being light. Light was a function of better materials. Not corner cutting.

Great cast control

The QuietCast Adjustable Centrifugal Braking (ACB) controls the overrun potential on the Lew’s Custom Lite SLP very well. Set it to 4 or 5, adjust your tension knob to the weight of the lure and let it rip. I’ve had to fish in very windy conditions so far this year and have been very happy with how this reel has performed. 

I’ve mainly fished jerkbaits and small jigs with the Custom Lite SLP thus far and it handles the varying weights and castability of these lures in windy conditions well. 

Quiet and compact

It feels a lot smaller in my hand than the Hyper Mag but equally as quiet and smooth at a lighter weight. So it’s a very nice reel to fish with. I have pretty bad trigger fingers in my hands, so gripping a big reel all day can make it pretty hard on me later. The Custom Lite SLP has been very comfortable for me to fish with this year.

Most palmable reel in the line-up

I would call the Custom Lite SLP the most palmable reel in the Lew’s lineup. It has such a small form factor. My hand swallows up the reel, so palming it and even feeding the line through my fingers is comfortable for anglers that like to have a finger on the line when they fish contact baits. 

A lot of reel that feels like air in your hand

The Lew’s Custom Lite SLP offers a high-end reel, machined to be extremely light to fish on long fishing trips with ease and comfort. The Custom Lite SLP comes in one offering at 7.5:1 gear ratio in both right and left hand options. It holds 90 yards of 12-pound line, so it will be for fishing your lighter line lures like jerkbaits, topwaters, small crankbaits, that you fish on lighter 10 and 12-pound fluorocarbon lines or small braids.

You can find the Lew’s Custom Lite SLP online at