The Experimenting Began
Lew began experimenting with homegrown bamboo, figuring out the best growths to cut and how to temper and finish the poles so they would keep their shape indefinitely. His were highly superior products, but the problem was his United States sources for bamboo were limited and the costs for his treating processes required each pole sell for one dollar instead of the going rate of a quarter. “Fishermen will pay more for a better product,” became the motto of the man and the Lew’s brand.
Lew’s quest for a better bamboo pole took him to Japan. There he found the desired grade of bamboo, and a circle of businessmen who were interested in fishing and the U.S. market. Among them were leaders in manufacturing, plus a company named Fuji that was specializing in fishing rod components, the likes of which U.S. fishermen had never seen. Lew and Fuji formed a friendship and a partnership that brought the components into the American fishing market.
The Teardrop-shaped Reel was Born
By 1973, Childre was making his mark in the world of reels, too, having just introduced the Lew’s Speed Spool® baitcaster. Few thought the strange-looking teardrop-shaped reel had a chance going up against the popular Ambassadeur round reels of the time … until they would cast it. The Speed Spool’s low profile, narrow spool, fully disengaging levelwind and unique no-knob palming side cover provided a new feel and performance like American anglers had never witnessed before and they were loving it. The improvements were important to Childre because he was never satisfied with status quo. News of the Speed Spool traveled across the country like a wildfire. The Lew’s brand was rapidly gaining momentum for “innovation,” the very principle by which Lew Jr. founded the company. The business known as Lew Childre and Sons Inc. was in full gear.
40 Years of Innovation
Over the 40-year-period from 1949 to when the Childre family licensed the Lew’s brand to Browning® in 1989, the family-run business had made many major contributions that would change forever the face of recreational sport fishing. Additional introductions they were involved in beyond the Speed Stick and Speed Spool included single-foot guide frames, aluminum oxide guides, unique spinning rod handles, Speed Sticker® worm hooks, Magic Carpet trolling motor, non-roller straddle-mounted trolling guides, Fuji FPS reel seat, V-shaped casting spool, SIC (silicon carbide) guide rings, Speed Spin® spinning reels, Speed Lock® reel seat/foregrip, telescopic graphite Speed Sticks, Fuji “V” frame guides, luminous tip downrigger rod, Hardloy guide rings, graphite Tennessee spinning handle, fused solid tip graphite rods, Boron Speed Sticks, graphite Bream Buster, Zirconia pawls, small body/large spool spinning reels, “Power Up” drag system and “Soft Trigger” handle system.
Today, the Lew’s brand and its many well-known trademarks are under the ownership of Do Outdoors Inc. and longtime Childre family friend Lynn Reeves. Reeves has made the promise and commitment to return the Lew’s name to its place of prominence in the industry, keying on the same principles by which Lew Childre originally founded the company … building innovative products that are faster, lighter and stronger.