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I’ve always been a fan of Lew’s fishing reels. They are light, smooth, and stronger than many others in my arsenal. However, I wasn’t as confident in their rods. The few I tried years ago were average, and I wasn’t impressed. They didn’t break, but they were heavy and a bit awkward. Then, a couple of months ago, Lew’s sent me two models from their new Custom Lite Casting Series, and my opinion changed immediately.

I spent the last few months testing out these new baitcasting rods on various lakes and other bodies of water. I even went to a friend’s stocked lunker pond to see how well I could flip big bass into the boat over and over again. After each outing, I liked these rods more than I did the day before. Now, thanks to Lew’s Custom Lite Casting Series, I can confidently say the company is a true contender in the reel and rod space. So before you turn your cheek on Lew’s rods, take a look at how the new Custom Lites performed, and I think you’ll reconsider.

The author makes a cast with a new Lew’s Custom Lite Casting rod. Shaye Baker

Lew’s Custom Lite Casting Rods Out of the Box

This new series of casting rods from Lew’s includes 20 models varying in length, action, and power. I was sent two different rods: the 7-foot, 3-inch medium heavy and the 7-foot, 4-inch medium moderate. The first thing I noticed out of the box was how light these rods are (hence the name). For the purpose of this piece, I actually weighed the 7-3 medium heavy and another leading brand’s 7-3 medium heavy that I’ve been testing the last few months. The Custom Lite came in at 12 grams lighter than the other premium rod. I know it doesn’t seem like much, but that’s nearly a 10 percent difference, and you can feel it while fishing. 

Lew’s went with split grips on the Custom Lite, combining an EVA foam butt with a Winn Dri-Tac ProWeave main grip. Those fancy terms are useless, but all you need to know is that these rods are very comfortable in hand. You can hook up a weedless rigged soft plastic on the hook keeper as well as a treble hook/open hook bait. I prefer this to closed-loop keepers that require you to remove the hook from your bait each time. All of the models are made from one-piece graphite blanks and have either a fast or moderate-fast action.


  • Rod Type: Casting
  • Pieces: 1
  • Rod Length: 7-foot, 3 inches and 7-foot, 4 inches
  • Rod Power: Medium-heavy
  • Rod Action: Fast and moderate-fast
  • Line Rating: 15-30 pounds and 10-20 pounds

Other Noticeable Features

  • Lightweight
  • Numerous technique-specific actions
  • HM85 graphite blanks
  • Stainless steel guides/titanium oxide inserts
  • Lew’s Full Contact reel seats
  • Split grip handles: Winn Dri-Tac ProWeave/EVA foam butt 
  • Multi-functional hook keeper
  • Limited 2-Year Warranty

How I Tested the Lew’s Custom Series Casting Rods

I paired the 7-4 medium rod with a Lew’s Tournament MP reel and spooled it up with 17-pound fluorocarbon. Then I paired the 7-3 medium with the new Lew’s HyperMag reel and spooled it with 40-pound Sufix 832 braided line. The Custom Lite rod with the HyperMag (weighing 5.2 ounces) is the lightest baitcasting combo I’ve ever fished with. But weight isn’t everything. In fact, it’s not even the most important thing. A rod’s strength and action are far more important than the weight. A heavy rod may wear you out, but a weak rod with a bad action will break and lose fish. I’m happy to report that the Custom Lite is as strong as it is light, and these two models have great actions for a variety of presentations. 

I kept a Berkley Cull Shad rigged up on the Custom Series 7-4 medium rod all spring, and it’s proven to be the perfect swimbait rod. It loads well for long backcasts but is still short enough to execute precise roll casts. Plus, it skips the CullShad just as well as any other rod. This setup also works well for spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, and lipless hardbaits.

Since I started testing, the 7-3 medium heavy has become my go-to for spinnerbaits. In the spring, I like to throw a 1/2-ounce spinnerbait with a big willow leaf around shallow wood in muddy water. This has been a great rod for the task, giving me enough length to launch the blade while being manageable enough to allow for accurate roll casts and maneuvering of the bait.

For the final leg of the test, I took both rods (plus the HyperMag reel) and a bunch of baits to a friend’s stocked pond. While the rods already excelled on traditional bodies of water, I wanted to see how these rods held up to catching big bass all day long. After putting the wood to a half dozen or so three-pound plus fish and boat-flipping them all, I was impressed with the rod’s durability. These rods can handle big fish without issue.

For anglers not looking to buy multiple rods, I’d suggest going with the 7-3 medium heavy for all-around performance. It can handle a wide range of bass fishing techniques, but pairing it with a spinnerbait is where I felt it excelled the most. While I wouldn’t consider this a budget rod by any means, it still isn’t overly expensive like many other high-end casting rods on the market.

The author holds up a largemouth and the new Lew’s Custom Series rod. Shaye Baker

Final Thoughts on the Lew’s Custom Series Casting Rods

Ranging from $149 to $179, there are 20 different models of the Custom Lite Casting/Cranking Rods (and another 8 spinning rod options). That’s a total of 28 casting, cranking, and spinning rods to choose from, all for under $180. And these rods are dang good for that price point. While I wrote off Lew’s as a serious rod contender years ago, I am happy to say they proved me wrong. These rods are built for serious anglers and everything that comes along with being on the water day in and day out.