Although they live on almost exactly the same latitudinal line but nearly 2,000 miles apart, professional bass anglers John Murray of Phoenix, Ariz., and Michael Murphy of Lexington, S.C., have a lot more in common than just the map reference and their fishing careers. Both anglers have recently inked new sponsorship deals with Lew’s, a 60-year-old rod and reel name that has launched itself from a faded presence of a few years back to now being one of the hottest brands in the industry again.
Murray, a Bassmaster Elite Series competitor, is one of the most celebrated professional anglers to ever come from the western United States. He is a two-time U.S. Open Champion, a FLW Outdoors winner and a two-time Bassmaster winner; and he’s the only angler to have won a fully rigged boat on every major western waterway. Murray has qualified for six Bassmaster Classics and earned more than $1.8 million in career winnings to date. Murray and Lew’s have met before.
“I was a part of the Lew’s team many years ago when I was early in my western professional career,” said Murray. “Lew’s was leading the industry back then with its Speed Spools and Speed Sticks, and now here they are on top again with an all-new and highly impressive product line. My background is all about making long casts and fishing deep, and this new gear has brought a whole new level of performance to my game. I’m confident we’re going to make a good team for a long time.”
On the eastern side of the country, it’s a Murray other than his new Arizona teammate that has been helping Michael Murphy fine tune his tournament skills – Lake Murray. The South Carolina fishery is the home lake for Murphy, about to turn 32, and that’s where he has spent countless hours honing his preferred fishing techniques of flipping and pitching, and using a topwater bait to entice suspended fish to strike.
In his young career, Murphy has tournament history along both the FLW and B.A.S.S. tournament trails. In 2012, he fished the Bassmaster Opens in the southern and northern divisions. His total prize earnings to date are already approaching the $200,000 mark.
“I’m excited about this opportunity with Lew’s because I know it’s going to take my performance to a higher level,” said Murphy. “My self-proclaimed weakness is that I’m an impatient angler, often fishing faster than I should. Sometimes that has me trying too hard to make things happen instead of waiting for them to occur. Lew’s has fast reels, but I know their BB1 option with 21 IPT (inches per turn) will make me slow down when I need to. My new Lew’s have me really fired up about this 2013 tournament season.”
Murray and Murphy are the two newest members of a Lew’s pro staff that has grown in size and stature over the past two years. Lynn Reeves, the company’s CEO, says the growth hasn’t been just about adding more people but is more about building a team that strategically complements the brand’s future expansion objectives.
“I realize the speed by which our Team Lew’s pro staff has grown over a short period of time makes it look like we’re just wanting a bunch of pros, but that’s not the case.” Reeves explained. “Give our roster a little more thought and you’ll likely begin to see what we’re doing in assembling a group of anglers, seasoned and early in their careers, that bring a diverse set of product knowledge, geographical techniques and fishing styles that we believe will serve our future well for continued development of products that are ‘lighter, faster and stronger,’ which was the original vision of the late Lew Childre and remains this company’s mission today.”
The Lew’s product line still uses many of the original product names and trademarks introduced by Childre, including the BB1, Speed Spool, Speed Spin, Laser and Speed Stick.
For 2013, Lew’s introduced an all-new BB1 series of Speed Spool baitcast reels, which still feature many of the same influential characteristics of the original BB1s of the 1970s. But there are also new features, including the fact the BB1 is available in both multi-stop and Zero Anti-Reverse models, and come in right and left-hand versions. Among BB1 gear ratio options are 21 IPT, 28 IPT and 31 IPT.
Image courtesy Lew's