Lew Childre's Speed Spool Gear Kit ad circa 1974.

Today’s bass anglers take a lot for granted. One example is retrieve ratios for the reels we use. Any reel we buy today generally has a number of different retrieve ratios available from a “slow” 5:1 to the “high-speed” 7:1 or even higher. But what about the days when we were stuck with retrieve ratios that barely reached 4:1? For example, in the day, the ABU 5000 (the old red one folks) was state-of-the-art. It featured two brass bushings (not bearings), a free-spool mechanism (not a knuckle buster), and a hefty 3.75:1 gear ratio!

But as bass anglers, we not only needed our boats to go fast, we needed reels that were faster too. In 1973, ABU came out with their “fast” reels, the 500 series (i.e. 4500, 5500 etc) with the unheard of 4.7:1 gear ratio. But so many anglers already had a number of old 5000-series reels in their arsenal. What to do with all these “slow” reels? Throw them away or put them aside for catfishing?

Well, Lew Childre saw a need and developed the Lew’s Speed Spool Gear Kit. With this kit, you could retrofit your old slow 5000, 6000 and Diawa Millionaires with high-speed, 4.8:1 gears. You’ll also notice in the ad he states, “Ours are 4.8 to 1 reel retrieve…all others are actually 4.6 to 1 with smaller teeth.”

Who were those “others?” We’ll have a few more posts out soon that address these other gear companies.


Past Reader Comments:

  1. Craig:  I have one of the early Lew’s Speed Spools. Bought it in 1974 or 1975. Used it for years. Lew might have built gears to make other reels faster but when he built his original it had a 4.3 to 1 ratio. It was great for cranks and spinnerbaits.
  2. Jerry Rapp:  Great site Terry! I remember back in the day (early 70’s), if you got the high speed gears and a big cranking handle you could “bubble” a Bass Buster Tarantualla or Scorpion across the top of the water.
    1. Terry:  Thanks Jerry!