Expert Review: Lew's Mach I SLP Baitcasting Reel

This review is my honest opinion of the reel, which I purchased with my own money in March of 2020.

The Lew's Mach I SLP Baitcasting Reel.

All photos courtesy of Danny Palmquist

About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the reel, which I purchased with my own money in March of 2020.

My take

The Lew's Mach 1 SLP Baitcasting Reel is an exceptional casting reel for anglers who require making accurate, long-distance casts. It is lightweight and compact, making it easy to manage in the hand while working lures. The brakes are easy to dial in, and the reel is capable of casting lightweight lures like weedless, soft-plastic lures at an impressive distance.

Close up of the Lew's Mach I SLP Baitcasting Reel.

About the reel

  • Model: Lew’s Mach 1 SLP Baitcasting Reel
  • Reel Size: 100
  • Construction: Baitcaster, graphite frame
  • Drag System: Rulon
  • Drag Pressure: 15 lb.

About me

  • Preferred fishing styles: Topwater bass fishing, swimbaits
  • Experience: 20+ years of fishing

Test conditions

  • When I bought this: March 2020
  • Rod Paired with Reel: Dobyn’s 734c, 7’3”, heavy, fast
  • Line Paired with Reel: Izorline XXX Copolymer line, 15 lb.
  • Days tested: 300+ days
  • Waters I’ve used it on: Lakes and ponds
  • Species targeted with reel: Largemouth bass

How it performs

Durability
4/5
Performance
5/5
Quality
4/5
Versatility
3/5

What I was looking for

I was looking for a casting reel primarily for fishing buzzbaits. I wanted something with a fast enough gear ratio to keep a buzzbait churning on the surface of the water. I also wanted something with brakes that could accommodate the awkward size and shape of a buzzbait throughout the cast.

Why I chose this gear

I had originally purchased the reel as part of the Lew’s Mach 1 combo. I had also looked at the Shimano SLX XT, but when I held the Mach 1 in my hand, there was no real comparison. I have somewhat large hands, but it was easy to palm and really comfortable to hold. The gear ratio of the reel is 7:5:1, perfect for keeping buzzbaits high in the water column. The reel also features a dual braking system, making it easy to dial in and offering plenty of casting control to manage cumbersome buzzbaits.

The centrifugal brakes on the Lews Mach 1 Baitcasting Reel.

The centrifugal brakes are adjustable on the outside of the spool itself.

What I love about it

  • Performance: The reel pairs well with both the Mach 1 rod it came on, as well as the Dobyn’s 734C that I currently have paired with it. The dual braking system is easy to use to dial in and make long casts without minimal issues with line overrunning. The reel is smooth on the retrieve, and since it’s easy to hold in my hand, it offers me plenty of control to keep a buzzbait in the sweet spot, creating a consistent bubble trail through the entire retrieve. I am also really impressed by how easy it was to make long casts with weightless soft plastics and other lightweight lures.
  • Durability: I was a little bit hesitant about the durability of the reel on account of its graphite frame. However, it has held up fine for me after heavy use throughout the two years that I’ve had it. Graphite can sometimes flex under a heavy load, which can damage the gears, but the frame has remained rigid and sturdy. I was even able to fish hollow body frogs with the reel using a 50 lb. braid for a few months. I wouldn’t recommend this reel for flipping and pitching or frogging in the thickest of lily pads, but I have been impressed by the strength of the reel.
  • Feel: I found the reel to be very comfortable to hold with minimal fatigue during long outings. For anglers with carpal tunnel or who have smaller hands, this reel would make a great fit.
  • Aesthetics: I really appreciate the overall look of the reel. It has held up really well and I find that it pairs really nicely with the green logo on my Dobyn’s Fury rod. I am personally a huge fan of the matte finish on the reel aesthetically, but I also love the way it feels in hand and helps me to hold on to the reel.

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Versatility: The 7:5:1 gear ratio of the reel doesn’t make it a good fit for reaction baits like spinnerbaits and chatterbaits. It is possible to slow down the retrieve to adjust, and some anglers might prefer a faster reel for those applications. But this isn’t the ideal reel to use for those types of baits.
  • Maintenance: While I love the appearance of the white, matte-finished frame, it does show dirt and grime pretty easily, and it needs to be routinely rinsed off more than my darker color reels.
The Lew's Mach 1 Baitcasting Reel.

Favorite moment with this gear

It’s really hard to pinpoint one favorite moment with this reel. I just have to say how much fun this reel has been to fish with. It’s smooth, it looks great in hand, and it’s really a blast to just get out and fish with the reel. Especially when I don’t have a lot of time and want to grab a setup and hit the water before an oncoming storm, I have this reel at the ready to head out and catch some bass.

Value for the money vs. other options

This is a great reel for the money. The graphite versus an aluminum frame helps keep the cost down, but the quality and design of the frame are solid and maintain the integrity of the gears inside. The braking system on this reel sets it apart from other reels around the same price point. The Shimano SLX XT features a similar braking system and is similarly priced, but the comfort of the reel in hand is what sets the Mach 1 apart for me.

Final verdict

For anglers struggling with casting distance and backlashes on their baitcasting setups, Lew’s Mach 1 SLP is a solid reel at a reasonable price. When it comes to making accurate casts with lightweight or cumbersome lures, this is a phenomenal option. It’s comfortable to hold, aesthetically pleasing, and it holds up to heavy use and heavy cover. Anglers of all skill levels will find a place for this performance-oriented casting reel in their arsenals.

Selling Lew's on Curated.com
Lew's Mach I SLP Baitcasting Reel
$129.95
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Written By
As a lifelong angler, I have experience fishing a wide variety of techniques. My passion is fishing for bass. I put a lot of time and effort putting together technique specific combos and optimizing them so I can land more fish and improve my overall experience. I am also a writer and photographer,...

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