The new rods from ICAST started hitting retail shelves in September, and we got our hands on the new Lew’s Custom Speed Sticks the last two months to test and review. We enjoying seeing what manufacturers do with blanks and construction advancements to improve their products from year to year.
While we saw a lot of white and black colored rods at ICAST 2014, Lew’s can lay claim to the white and black blanks as they were making rods with those color styles back in the 1970s. But these rods are a lot more than appearance. Today’s Lew’s Custom Speed Sticks are born from years of trial and error finally coming to market for 2015.
Here’s what I thought was interesting and good about these new rods:
- Lots of actions
- Light but balanced
- Favorable blends
- Good price point
Building on history
Lew’s brought a lot of innovation to rods in the 1970s by introducing things like pistol grips, Fuji guides and rod components and actions just for bass techniques. Since 2009, Lynn Reeves focused on making their reels some of the best in the industry. Now with the hire of longtime rod designer Bob Brown, they put that same focus into the rods. They feel the new Custom Speed Sticks will be the rod line that really puts them in the conversation on rods like they always are on reels.
Lew’s designers listened to their extensive prostaff on what actions they needed in the first release of the rods. The created several technique specific variations as well several general purpose rods for multiple techniques. The lengths range from 6-feet, 8-inches to 7-feet, 11-inches. The powers range from medium-light to heavy.
Sensitive and comfortable
These Custom Speed Sticks balance well which makes them very sensitive and very comfortable to fish with all day. I fished that 7-foot, 11-inch rod for a day ripping that giant flutter spoon. Jerking that spoon reminds me more of trying to pull-start my old push mower for 8 hours. But I was happy a rod that big not only handled the torque of the spoon, but it also didn’t killed my back and shoulders.
Usually lightness in a rod blank translates into more sensitivity. Lightness can be achieved by the way the blanks are made. But you don’t want to go so light that you sacrifice durability. The new Custom Speed Sticks include multiple layers of graphite in multiple directions. And the rods aren’t painted all the way up, so the blank doesn’t have added weight.
They use stainless steel guides and titanium inserts and a custom exclusive skeletal real seat with EVA grips that include a Duracork reinforcement. So the handles, rod blanks and the components on the rods are light.
Good blend on the rods
I’ve tested about 10 of the rods in the line now and have enjoyed all of them. But some of my favorites include the 7-foot, 6-inch Magnum Heavy Cover stick, the 6-foot, 9-inch Inshore Topwater rod, the 7-foot, 3-inch Magnum Hammer rod and the 7-foot, 6-inch Magnum Crankbait 2 Rod.
With these rods, the right action marries to the right power to make a great technique specific rod with a new technology they are calling Power Core. It lets them make a strong rod while being able to reduce weight without sacrificing durability.
I’ve fished several trips as well as a tournament with them, and so far, I have had no issues. The forenut locks down tightly on the reel to keep it snuggly in place. The handles remain easy to grip even when they are wet. I’ve had no issues with the guides or the unique keeper on the trigger.
While the keeper on the trigger is awesome for the rods on the deck, it can cause treble hook lures to grab other rods in a rod locker. So I usually just wrap my lures on my rod with a Rod Glove wrap in the locker, and then when the rods are on deck, I hook my lures on the keeper.
Price is right
These rods retail for $129 to $149 depending on the length and power of the rod. So you get a lot of quality features in a good looking rod in that midrange price point. So far they seem like they are built to last, and they should be a good investment for anglers looking for a new rod to fill out a lineup.
Lew’s offers 17 casting, 8 spinning as well as 6 inshore models from which to choose. We’ve already heard they are working on some other Custom Speed Sticks as well.
If you’re a fan of Lew’s reels or looking for a new rod, you might want to take a look at the new Custom Speed Sticks. Local retailers are already carrying them and you can find them online now at tacklewarehouse.com and other retailers as well.