Lew's TP167MLFS spinning rod for Midwest finesse

James Cox of San Antonio, Texas, spent several days in August fishing in northeastern Kansas and using Lew's new TP167MLFS spinning rod and catching largemouth bass and smallmouth bass on Z-Man Fishing Product's Finesse T.R.D.on a 1/32-ounce Gopher Tackle's Mushroom Head Jig and Z-Man's four-inch Finesse WormZ on a 1/32-ounce Gopher jig.

Lew's has created a spinning rod for Midwest finesse anglers. It is part of their Tournament Performance TP1 Speed Stick Series, and it was created by Bob Brown of Springfield, Missouri, who has been working for Lew's for about two years as a developer of new products, and he primarily focuses on rods.

Brown began this project on Oct. 24, 2014, which was when he became a Midwest Finesse aficionado and a member of the Finesse News Network.


Initially, he was going to build a five-foot, six-inch medium-power and fast action rod for Midwest finesse applications. In some ways, it would be similar to the spinning rod that the late Ray Fincke of Overland Park, Kansas, designed and built for us decades ago, or similar to the spinning rods used by the late Charlie Brewer of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, and the late Billy Westmorland of Celina, Tennessee. And to begin this rod-building project, Brown acquired all of the soft-plastic baits and jigs Midwest finesse anglers employ.


Straightaway, he had reservations about creating a rod from the bygone days of Fincke, Brewer, and Westmorland, noting that consumer demand, as well as the needs of tournament anglers, focuses on long rods nowadays. And by Dec. 23, 2014, Brown had come to the conclusion that our old-fashion ways of wielding short spinning rods and vintage Cardinal Four manual-bail spinning reels had to be jettisoned and updated to bring us up to the piscatorial standards of the 21st century. He explained his contention by saying that "many anglers here in the Ozarks and elsewhere around the country are using longer rods as they are fishing your rigs deeper and want the leverage of longer rods for hooking and fighting fish in deeper clear lake reservoirs."

Ultimately, Brown created the TP167MLFS spinning rod, which is a six-f00t, seven-inch rod. It is a one-piece, medium-light-power IM8 graphite blank with a fast action. There are eight guides and one tip affixed to each blank. The guides are manufactured by the American Tackle Company, and it is called the Microwave Guide System, which was the creation of the late Doug Hannon of Tarpon Springs, Florida. This guide system helps to increase casting distance and accuracy, as well as helping to eliminate wind knots. The rod is designed to handle 1/16- to 1/4-ounce Midwest finesse lures. Instead of the old-fashioned Tennessee cork handles and the black-electrical tape that we use to affix our spinning reels to the handle of our short rods, Brown's rod possesses a Winn Grips handle and Dri-Tec technology split grips, which he says provides great rod control and touch in all kinds of weather conditions.

As Brown worked on developing this rod, he fielded tested it at Bull Shoals Lake in Arkansas and Missouri, Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri, and Table Rock Lake, Missouri, where he said that has had the time of his life wielding various Midwest finesse rigs and inveigling scores of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass. And the vast majority of those black bass were caught on main-lake and secondary points.

Bob Brown suggested that we talk with Peter Thliveros of Jacksonville, Florida, who has been competing in the big-time-tournament world for more than three decades, and he used a prototype of the Midwest finesse rod to garner a seventh-place finish at the Walmart FLW Tour event at Beaver Lake, Arkansas, on April 23-26.

In a telephone conversation on Aug. 24, when Thliveros was driving home from competing in the Walmart FLW's Forest Wood Cup at Lake Ouachita, Arkansas, on Aug. 20-23, he talked about how he used the prototype of the Midwest finesse rod at Beaver Lake. Thliveros' prototype sported a Lew's TL300H Gold C40 Carbon Spinning reel that was spooled with Lew's APT 10-pound-test braided line with an eight-pound-test Lew's APT monofilament leader. To the leader, he tied a black 1/10-ounce Z-Man Fishing Products' Finesse ShroomZ jig. He affixed a four-inch Zoom Bait Company's Super Fluke Jr. to the Finesse ShroomZ jig , and before he affixed it, Thliveros cut a touch off of its head so that it would fit flush to the back of the jig. When he was plying shorelines, he executed 20- to 30-yard casts at a 45-degree angle to the shorelines and most of his casts would land within inches of the water's edge. When he was dissecting flat pea-gravel points, his casts were extremely long one, which he said were easy to execute. He presented his Super Fluke Jr. and Finesse ShroomZ jig by employing a straight-swimming retrieve, which some Midwest finesse anglers call a do-nothing presentation. Depending on the depth of the water that he was fishing, his retrieve traveled five to 10 feet under the surface.

Thliveros lauds the soft-action of the rod, and besides employing with a jig and a soft-plastic bait, he noted that it is a perfect rod to use for wielding a four-inch jerkbait, which he did at the Walmart FLW Tour event at Lewis Smith Lake, Alabama, on Mar. 26-29.

In an Aug. 26 email, Brown summarized their field-testing procedures and results. Here is an edited and condensed version of his email:

We field tested the rod by using Z-Man Fishing Products' California Craw, Green Pumpkin, New Money, and PB&J Finesse T.R.D.s and the Z-Man's Finesse ShadZ in the Green-Pumpkin and the Watermelon-Red hues. These baits were affixed to either a 1/15- or 1/6-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig. Some of the baits were rigged on the weedless Finesse ShroomZs , and some of the baits were rigged on the Finesse ShroomZs with an exposed hook. They inveigled an impressive array of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass.

The TP167MLFS handled the casting of these lightweight baits very well. The Microwave guides allowed for very long and accurate casting. The sensitivity of these rods was excellent in detecting even the slightest bite. Many times the smallmouth bass we caught would just pick it up off the bottom and swim off with it. Other times they would eat it on the initial drop. And we also caught them using a variety of Midwest finesse presentations as well.

All in all, the TP167MLFS met all our expectations and then some. It is exactly the rod we were hoping it would be. (1) It allowed us to cast these light lures with great distance when we needed to execute a long cast. (2) It is very sensitive to the slightest bite. (3) It possesses a great tip action for casting and great backbone for fighting bass in the six-pound-plus-class.

We introduced it to the angling world at the Walmart FLW Forrest Wood Cup at Lake Ouachita and Hot Springs, Arkansas, last week, and the consumer reaction to it was very positive. Many of Lew's pros, who had not been involved in the field testing, saw it for the first time, and they thought that it is perfect for Midwest finesse techniques, as well as many other finesse applications.

In my eyes, it is a sure winner in our new Tournament Performance Series. Rods are now currently available for sale. The suggested retail price is $99.99.

James Cox with one of the many smallmouth bass that he tangled with while using Lew's TP167MLFS in August.

Endnotes:

(1) For details about our first outing with the Lew's TP167MLFS, and some history about it, see the Aug. 7 log in our August guide to Midwest finesse fishing at http://www.in-fisherman.com/bass/midwest-finesse-fishing-august-2015/.

(2) One of the biggest Internet retailers notes that anglers will be able to purchase this rod on Sept. 25. It will be in all major retailers no later than November or December.

(3) For more information about this rod and Lew's, go to this link: http://www.lews.com/rods-tp1.php.

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