Innovation leads the fishing industry, but what does innovation really mean? The Tournament Pro tells me who Lew’s is and why they make reels. The company lives by the saying “Lighter.Faster.Stronger.” Working fishing retail has opened my eyes to a wide variety of manufacturers and I get to see the true value of the company through day-to-day customer interaction. No matter their intention, customers want value and performance to meet in the middle. They want the best of both worlds. Long gone are the days of purchasing and regretting – we want to make the right decision the first time.
The quality of customer service and product must meet at a central point for me to absolutely call a company innovative. You want to talk lightweight? Lew’s has it. You want casting distance right out of the box? The Tournament Pro has it. You want to talk to a company who understands the customer? Look no further than Lew’s.
I am a marketing student. I pay attention to details that would bore the average person, yet I help anglers make purchasing decisions every day – at work, online and over the phone. I work fishing retail, communicate through Facebook, Twitter and just about every other social media platform available today with thousands of anglers. The Lew’s Tournament Pro is my first answer to anyone looking for a baitcasting reel in the $200 price range, and here’s why:
First thing is first, this reel weighs in at 6.7 ounces. That is a little more than my Swingline office stapler. Go ahead, make your “Office Space” jokes, but never underestimate the power of weight reduction. The Tournament Pro’s body is made of a one-piece aluminum frame for ultra-strong durability – this means less body twist that would otherwise allow the internal parts to shift.
The graphite side plates are lightweight, and the spool is aircraft forged Duralumin that is drilled and anodized. The entire reel fumes with quality and is sure to please even the most picky consumers. Lew’s made no shortcuts in the engineering phase; the handle frame is pure carbon fiber, not a wrapped piece of aluminum. The finish is stylish, the body size is smaller and more comfortable, and the entire package comes together that screams differentiation. These are the details that truly make Lew’s innovative.
The handle grips are worth mentioning because there is a trend that many customers dislike – EVA foam handles. Lew’s chose to implement a balance of control and ergonomics with their standard rubber paddle handles. Even though I do not mind the feel of EVA, it is nice to feel handles that are solid and reassuring. The grip design is unlike any other manufacturer on the market and I give Lew’s a pat on the back for not trying to copy other designs. These feel great and it is nice to know that someone out there is trying to improve our equipment – not replicate it.
Getting used to a reel with ‘dual braking’ only took about an hour. Opening the sideplate reveals the centrifugal braking system that most of us have come to appreciate from other manufacturers, but on the outside is an easy-to-access magnetic system that is designed to fine tune your technique. This is the other braking system called the External-Adjust Multi-Setting Brake. Engaging two brakes under the cover is all that I have done since purchase. I use the magnetic system on the outside to adjust my brakes on the fly. The result is unrivaled casting distance and control without having to open the reel.
The only feature that I feel is missing from the Tournament Pro baitcasting reel is additional gear ratios in the left handed model.
Gear Ratios available for Left Hand Retrieve: 6.4:1
Gear Ratios available for Right Hand Retrieve: 5.4:1, 6.4:1, 7.1:1
The drag is carbon composite, meaning with a combination of carbon and steel, the system is more efficient at dissipating heat. Heat is the enemy of any moving part, whether it be your reel, trailer bearings or outboard motor. Lew’s decided to offer the best of both materials to give you the most stopping authority that has continually provided smooth stopping power. I have hauled five-pound smallmouth up and out of submerged trees in confidence knowing that when the fish decides to pull drag, the reel won’t respond with ‘jerky’ feedback. In order to protect your line, the drag on your reel needs to be powerful, smooth and operational 100% of the time.
While you have many choices as a consumer, you will most likely compare this $199 reel to that of the newly designed Shimano Curado, Quantum Smoke, Daiwa Aggrest and Abu Garcia Revo STX. While the majority of manufacturers have a well perceived reputation, comparing features and options will help you get the most out of your hard-earned money. If you see me on the water and you would like to give the Tournament Pro a try, be sure to ask – the least I could do for you is to let you see the performance for yourself.