I’ve become a staunch believer in high-performance bass fishing reels over the years. I used to be fairly indiscriminate about my purchases, but after a bunch of lost fish, stripped gears and locked-up bearings, I started to get a little more serious about my reel selection.
For the last several months, I had been hearing some really good stuff about the Lew’s Tournament MB Speed Spool Casting Reel. You name it; long casts, killer drag, easy line managementâI’ve heard it all about this particular reel. So of course, I felt compelled to get my hands on one to see what all of the fuss was about.
After using this reel for the better part of three months, I’ve learned a lot about its various performance aspects. There are several things you should know about it.
- Effortless casting
- Great drag system
- Oversized handle knobs
Ridiculous casting distance
Casting distance is a huge part of your bass fishing success. Whether you’re simply trying to stay far away from shallow bass or trying to maximize the running depth of your favorite deep-diving crankbait, the ability to make long casts is imperative.
Perhaps the most popular praise I’ve heard about the Lew’s Tournament MB Speed Spool is its ability to cast even lightweight lures a country mile. As a result, I made a concerted effort to see for myself.
I’ve thrown small, balsa crankbaits, finesse casting jigs, shaky heads and lightweight Carolina rigs with this reel and plainly stated, I’ve been very impressed by its castability. Wind speed and direction hasn’t seemed to play a big role, either. This dude will flat-out launch a bait.
To be honest, I caught a ton of trees when I first started using this reel. I initially put some braided line on the 8.3:1 ratio Tournament MB because I thought it would make a pretty sweet froggin’ reel. I was trying to cast my hollow-bellied frog into the back of a pocket filled with flooded bushes and for the first 10 or so casts, I was overshooting my target by a conservative 20 yards. My two buddies were laughing at me, but then I let ’em try the reel and they understood my “troubles”, if that’s what you want to call them.
I’ve really enjoyed the fact that, while I can bomb casts with lightweight lures, I don’t have to loosen the reel enough to cause irritating backlashes. I guess most reels will cast a long way if you disengage the brakes and dial down the tension, but you’ll be picking at your line more than you’ll be fishing. That’s not the story with this reelâwhether you’re new to baitcasters or an expert, I doubt you’ll have a problem enjoying the same casting distance as I have.
The line management of this reel is certainly worth noting as well. It has a dual cast control system, which basically means that it has both an external click-dial for adjusting the magnetic brake and 4 individual, disk-mounted brake shoes inside that work by way of centrifugal force. I’ve been able to make very small, pinpoint adjustments to both the external brakes and the tension knob without constant backlashes. Even when I let amateur guide clients use this reel, they pick up on it very quickly.
Strong drag means solid hooksets
Whenever I’m fishing with a baitcaster, my drag is always cinched down as tight as it will go. A lot of anglers disagree with this practice, but it has worked quite nicely for me. When a bass bites, I want to drive that hook into the roof of their mouth as quickly as I possibly can. So as you can probably guess, I’m a stickler for a solid drag system. I don’t want a single centimeter of line to leave the spook when I set the hook.
The drag system of the Lew’s Tournament MB Speed Spool is made of carbon composite and has a maximum drag of 14 pounds. I’ve set the hook on frog fish with braided line, jig fish with heavy fluorocarbon and even pulled a few accidentally snagged brush piles halfway to the boat without any line slippage to speak of.
I also like that you can actually hear both the drag and aluminum tension adjustment knob “click” whenever you tinker with the settings. It lets you keep track of your tweaks and return to your earlier settings if you so desire.
Comfortable to use for an entire day
It has always amazed me how uncomfortable some fishing reels can become after extended use. Both ergonomics and weightlessness matters if you’re considering a high-end reel purchase, but you also don’t want some wimpy reel either. It’s a delicate balance and these reels can be tough to find.
While this reel isn’t the lightest one I own, it only weighs 6.7 ouncesâyou can’t possibly complain about that. Its one-piece, die-cast aluminum frame fits very nicely in your hand and seems to give your rod and reel the feel of a single, cohesive unit.
You’ll also notice the oversized handle knobs of the Tournament MB Speed Spool. Personally speaking, I’m a giant fan of this knob style. They’re more paddle-shaped than most other reels I’ve used which gives me a nice, wide surface to grab ahold of when I get an unexpected bite. When you’re pitching and flipping heavy cover, things can get pretty darn hectic when you get a big bite, but these knobs allow me to “find” my grip quickly when my reel-hand is off of the reel.
I’ve been impressed by how well the handle knobs maintain their grip when my hands are covered with water and fish slime. I can unhook the bass, release it and get right back to casting without rinsing my hands or wiping them on a towel.
This reel is incredibly smooth due to its 10 double-shielded ball bearings, it can wrench big bass out of the thick stuff, it’s comfortable and the casting distance is simply outstandingâI’ll be adding more of these to my collection. If you’re looking for a solid reel in the $140 price range, this one’s a great choice.