This is an in-depth Lamson Litespeed G5 review. The Litespeed is one of Waterworks-Lamson’s most popular reels. The G5 is the fifth iteration of the Litespeed, boasting a few improvements on the already proven design.
I bought the largest size of the Lamson Litespeed G5 for a 12 weight outfit four months ago. I already had experience with Lamson, so I knew it was a brand I could trust. Although I haven’t had it out in the field as much as the other reels I’ve reviewed for Into Fly Fishing, I’ve gotten a good feel for it.
The Litespeed G5 isn’t an inexpensive reel, nor will it break the budget for most people looking for a really nice but fairly affordable fly reel. The G5 is a great real though, coming in a versatile array of sizes. It may well be the exact sort of reel you’re looking for.
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Why Trust My Lamson Litespeed G5 Review?
Even though my own is just barely broken in, I believe I can still do it justice in a review of the Lamson Litespeed G5. I’ve owned enough fly reels and used them for the purposes I bought my G5 for to have a good basis for comparison.
To put it simply, I have enough experience to know what a good fly reel looks and feels like. I also know what a bad fly reel looks and feels like, and I’d have no qualms saying the Litespeed G5 was a bad reel if I thought it was.
What’s in the Box?
The Lamson Litespeed G5 comes with most of what you’d expect with any reel you’d buy. It looks really nice right out of the box. It also comes with a nice reel pouch, nicer than some I’ve gotten when buying reels from other makers.
Out of the box, the Litespeed G5 looks and feels really nice. There are a bunch of different color options, so depending on what’s in stock you have a few choices of reel to aesthetically match a rod. The handle and drag knob feel pretty good.
The retrieve rate is excellent. It also feels nice and light. When I bought my -11+ model, it was the weight compared to another Lamson model (an older version of the Speedster) that convinced me to buy it.
The Litespeed comes with a great pouch. It’s flexible and thick enough to do a great job protecting the reel from bumps and scratches. It also fits nicely when put on a rod. It’s actually my favorite reel pouch in my collection. It’s definitely nice not to need to buy a better pouch for this reel.
As with most fly reels, the Litespeed comes with a small pamphlet, actually more like a card. It covers simple maintenance and changing from left to right hand retrieve. There are times I’ve regretted throwing these out, so I kept the one that came with my Litespeed G5.
Lamson Litespeed G5 Review Features & Specs
The Litespeed G5 has a number of features its predecessors didn’t have, like a slightly narrower spool. It’s also a bit lighter and tougher than previous models. The drag is excellent. It has minimal startup force and a good range of tension that’s easily controlled.
The G5 also looks, sounds, and feels really nice.
The build quality on the G5 is excellent. The reel itself is machined from 6061 bar stock aluminum. It’s both light and tough, an important combination. There are some stainless steel parts as well. The finish and lettering look excellent and seem quite durable.
The drag cassette is very neatly housed but still accessible for maintenance. The handle is nice, turns easily, and isn’t small like the Lamson Liquid. Overall, the build quality is what I’d expect from a reel of this price and is more than adequate.
- Physical weight: 3.72-8.06 oz
- Available weights: -3+ (2,3,4 wt), -5+ (4,5,6 wt), -7+ (6,7,8 wt), -9+ (8,9,10 wt), -11+ (10,11,12 wt).
The G5 is a nice light reel in all sizes and does a good job of balancing with most fly rods of the weights each model is rated for. The available models fit a good variety of fishing scenarios. The little -3+ would be appropriate in many trout fishing scenarios, as would the -5+. The -11+ is what I own, and I fully intend to fish it for tarpon and small bluefin tuna.
Waterworks-Lamson’s lifetime warranty is certainly a big plus, as any company should stand by their workmanship. The warranty extends to any defect or fault in manufacturing or material. It doesn’t cover abuse, misuse, or modification. It’s also exclusive to the original owner.
Information about returning a reel for repair can be found on the Waterworks-Lamson website.
The drag of the Litespeed G5 has excellent qualities. At full drag, my -11+ has more force than would be needed for most fishing situations, though I’ll definitely be happy to have it when fishing for 30 to 50 pound striped bass around rocky structure.
The startup tension is negligible, which is very important. If a fish starts a run and it takes too much force for the spool to begin spinning, it’s a recipe for disaster. It should be expected that any reel even half the price has minimal drag startup tension. The G5 has performed flawlessly so far.
A narrower spool and large arbor have not compromised the Litespeed G5 in line capacity to any significant degree. If you need to pack it full of backing, you can. I have 400 yards of Spectra on mine. The rating for backing capacity with 30 pound dacron on the -11+ is 250 yards.
The smallest model, the -3+, can fit 100 yards of 20 pound and much more spectra. As with most modern large arbor fly reels, the line capacity of the G5 is more than adequate for most fishing scenarios.
So far, in my limited use, my G5 seems very durable. I certainly haven’t used and abused it like I have many of my other reels, but it looks and feels durable. It’s made of the right material to be durable. The 6061 aluminum bar stock is tough and doesn’t corrode easily.
The frame doesn’t bend to excess, and the design isn’t prone to bends or breaks if the reel is bumped around a bit. I trust it more than many of the fly reels I’ve owned. I can generally tell when one is less durable because it feels less tough in hand.
The drag is pretty well contained and out of the elements. Outside extreme scenarios like repeated full submersion in salt water with lots of sand, I trust it completely.
I personally like how my Litespeed G5 Blackout looks. It’s beautiful on the 12 weight Heritage Rod I have it paired with. The holed-out spool and design of the frame are lovely. Lamson also offers a few different color options: blackout, cinder, and bronze.
These colors give anglers some choices to find something that best matches their outfit, if it’s important to them. The type II anodized finish is durable and looks great.
If you love loud, screaming drags, the Litespeed G5 might not be your favorite reel. The simple clicker gives a good inbound and outbound noise that I’m happy with, and the same clicker design on my Lamson Liquid has lasted for year (though it’s louder than the Litespeed).
Personally, I don’t care how loud a reel sounds. It could be completely silent. However, if you don’t like quieter reels and want the person down the pool from you to hear when the fish you’ve hooked is running drag, the G5 may not be satisfying.
It’s a pleasant sounding reel, not overly dramatic, and for anyone less inclined to care about screaming loud drags, it’s excellent.
Although I’ve not had much time to test the seal on my G5, it’s essentially identical to that of my less expensive and smaller Lamson Liquid, which I’ve used in salt water for years. That one has held up to salt and sand as well as any fly reel I’ve owned and better than most.
I expect the Litespeed G5 to perform just as well. If you’re really looking for a great drag for saltwater purposes, especially big game, the Litespeed M is a better (though much more costly) reel for the job. However, the G5 is perfectly capable of most saltwater fly fishing situations.
The sizes available, durability, and capabilities handling salt water mean the Lamson Litespeed G5 can be applied in plenty of fishing scenarios. The smallest versions are great for trout, bass, and panfish. The mid-range sizes are excellent for carp, salmon, and inshore saltwater species.
The largest size can handle big freshwater game, tarpon, cow striped bass, and small shark and tuna species. The reels would work well on both single hand and two hand rods. Easy spool interchangeability allows for quick fly line changes and increases versatility even more.
Like the Lamson Liquid and other Lamson reels, the Litespeed G5 has a simple spool removal. Simply pull it straight off, and to put it back on, line it up and push it snugly back into place. Sometimes I feel uncomfortable with how much it takes to pull the spool off.
However, it’s far from my least favorite way a reel maker has designed spool removal. It’s definitely preferable to methods that make it too easy to accidentally knock the spool off while on the water. It does also make for easy and quick change-ups if you decide to buy more than one spool.
The newer narrow spool is excellent for line handling. I intentionally dumped 100 yards of line on my yard and reeled it back in, giving it as much attention as I would if I were on the water fishing and distracted.
It wasn’t prone to piling up on either side and I didn’t need to give it that much attention to keep it from spooling sloppily. That was a definite thumbs up for the G5 on this one.
This is probably my least favorite part of the Litespeed, though it’s only a minor issue. I find the drag knob a bit uncomfortable and ever so slightly stiff for my liking, despite Lamson having apparently improved it already.
If you aren’t precise enough to have the drag set correctly before you begin fishing, it could be slightly tricky to adjust on the fly.
Were the knob just slightly larger or if it had more grip, it would be easier, although increasing the size would probably increase the weight. I don’t consider this a make or break flaw at all, however.
The Litespeed G5 is not an inexpensive reel, nor should it be expected to be. Depending what model you buy, where from, and when, a G5 could run you anywhere from about $230 to $390. At the time of writing this review, the G5 is running $229.99 at most online retailers. This is not a bad price at all for a fly reel of this quality.
Lamson Litespeed G5 Review: My Personal Thoughts
- Excellent drag
- Light weight
- Great build quality and materiel
- Good aesthetics
- Drag knob
I feel it’s important to note that the two cons on this list, unlike in some of the reel reviews I’ve done, are completely subjective. Some buyers may find no fault in these things at all. It’s really difficult to find something so wrong with the reel that it detracts from its value. I really like the Litespeed G5, and it might be my favorite reel in my arsenal.
The G5 has a broad range of sizes to fit many angling situations. It therefore has a place in most fly fishers’ lineups. It certainly isn’t extremely affordable, but if you’re looking for an excellent fly reel at a more than reasonable price, it’s a good reel to look at. It’ll satisfy experts and intermediates alike.
The Waterworks-Lamson Litespeed G5 is a great fly reel. It’s hard to question that. Although I haven’t really put mine through the ringer yet, I certainly will and I’m very confident in its promise. Maybe a year down the road I’ll be writing a Lamson Litespeed G5 review in a very different tone, but I doubt that.
Have you owned a Lamson Litespeed or another similar reel? Comment down below about your experiences with it.