We’ve discussed the many innovations that Lew’s is credited with in bringing to market its Speed Spool line of reels. Terry has covered many of them HERE for those that want to reflect back. One thing that didn’t really get touched upon though was the creation of the V-spool design.
You can’t really tell the story of Lew’s without also mentioning both Shimano and Ryobi. Lew’s originally didn’t manufacture their own reels, instead starting out with Shimano as their original equipment manufacturer (OEM). That lasted until 1977-78, when Shimano and Lew’s split ties, with Shimano introducing their own line of Bantam reels. That left Lew’s having to find another OEM, and they did with Ryobi.
Ryobi began making the BB1-N/NH and BB1-NG/NGH models for Lew’s, but they also had their own version of reels out at the same time. Their most popular models were the Ryobi V-Mag series of reels, featuring both a smaller V-Mag 3, and the larger V-Mag 4, both with similar Lew’s branded models. There was also the Ryobi AD-4000/5000 sereies of reels, and many of these were also created in a “Lew’s” version. Some of the models were so similar that parts from one could be interchanged with parts of the other. In fact, it was almost hard to tell them apart at first glance unless you knew to look for the difference in handles.
But what Ryobi really seems to be most noted for was the creation of their “V spool”. The V spool design was an attempt to reduce the incidence of backlashes. The idea was pretty much a concept based in physics, whereby as line would peel off the spool on a cast, there wold be less line mass left remaining on the spool. This reduction would match the reduction of spool speed as a lure eventually slowed down toward the end of the cast, thereby helping to prevent overruns. It was a feature that showed up on both their own Ryobi models as well as some of the Lew’s brand models they made.
An excerpt from a booklet included with a V spool reel described it as such: “The “V” design releases a maximum amount of line at the beginning of the cast while the lure velocity is at its greatest. As the lure velocity decreases, the “V” design automatically reduces the available line to leave the spool per revolution. This automatic reduction acts similar to a spool speed governor. The governing action virtually eliminates backlash when the cast control is properly adjusted.”
I only ever owned 1 Lew’s Speed Spool in my life, but I did own several different Ryobi models. They were among my favorites for many years until Daiwa eventually released their TD models, another story unto itself. But I still have a fondness for that V spool design concept which was featured on several of the Ryobi’s I fished with at the time.