I always get a little apprehensive when popular reel companies design rods and vice versa. I’ve seen it work at times, but that’s certainly not always the case. I use a lot of Lew’s reels, but have limited experience with their rods. I’ve heard a lot of chatter lately about their TP-1 Speed Stick IM8 rods so of course, I had to try ‘em out.
As it turns out, Lew’s has done a fine job with these rods. They’re priced at the popular $99 price point and have performed quite well in my testing.
Here’s what I liked most about them.
The grips are awesome
The first thing you’ll notice about this rod is the handle. It looks pretty cool, but there’s a lot more than meets the eye.
The Lew’s TP-1 Speed Stick IM8 comes with a Winn Grip Dri-Tec handle that provides a noticeable increase in grip throughout a day of fishing. Whether I was pitching a jig, unhooking fish or grinding through a summer rainstorm, they did a remarkable job of staying sticky. I felt totally in control of both the fish and my casts, even with wet and slimy hands.
The butt section is also covered in the Dri-Tec material for sure-handed casting. I also liked the fact that it doesn’t stain your light-colored shirts when fishing or setting the hook. Cork handles have a tendency to mark up your clothes over time, so this was an added bonus in my opinion.
The grips can be cool looking and the price point can be right, but none of it matters if you can’t feel bites. I’ve struggled with a lot of rods in this $99 range because many of them are very dull and don’t transmit vibration or weight changes very well.
This particular rod has pleasantly surprised me in terms of sensitivity. I’ve been testing the 7-foot, medium heavy model and have been able to feel very slight bottom composition changes when dragging Texas rigs, jigs and heavier shaky heads. The bass have been keying on scattered rock lately and this rod has allowed me to basically call my shot. I can feel the moment my bait gets near “the juice” and I’ve gotten a bite nearly every time.
It’s important to note that this medium-heavy action is a bit heavier than most in my collection. This can be thought of as both a positive and a negative.
On the positive side, it handles jigs up to 1/2-ounce very easily which makes this model ideal for nearly every bottom-contact presentation you can think of. If you’re looking for a squarebill or shallow cranking rod it will work, but it may be a bit stiff for your liking.
The TP-1 Speed Stick IM8 is what I call a “whomping stick”—you can lay the wood to big bass without any worries. I set the hook pretty darn hard and this stick is up to the task. I’ve wrenched bass from docks, thick weeds and gnarly laydowns quickly and easily. The sensitive tip transfers quickly to a powerful backbone that controls the fish from the start of the fight until you get it in the boat.
Rods at this price point can be pretty wimpy. I’ve probably broken more $99 rods than any other price point.
The Microwave guides have held their own after several accidents on the water. I’ve hit ‘em on my trolling motor, stepped on them and bounced them around in the bed of my truck without any breakage issues. I unintentionally bent one, but was able to return it to its original position quickly.
It’s tough to put into words, but it simply feels solid when under a load. Setting the hook and fighting strong, boat-side runs have been an afterthought throughout my testing. It’s just a really well made rod.
Before you buy a $99 rod, try to put the TP-1 Speed Stick IM8 in your hands first. It’s a solid rod at an attractive price point and I believe anglers of all skill levels will agree with my assessment.