I’ve made my own fishing tackle for years. I’m a tackle junky. There are tremendous amounts of great tackle for sale at your local tackle shops, but I found tinkering with tackle to be therapeutic for me. I’ve made jigs, spinnerbaits, crappie lures, hair jigs, tied flies, feathered trebles, plastics and more. One thing I’ve not made on my own but I’m intrigued by is my own custom rod.
I talked with Chris Adams from Mud Hole Custom Tackle several times this year, and I wanted to learn to build my own rod but just couldn’t find the time with a busy travel schedule. So Adams made me a couple of rods, letting me spec out materials and components from MudHole.com to test their components. He doesn't do this normally, but he is very well versed at rod making. So it was a good way to test their components.
WHY GO CUSTOM
Adams went a step further, and here is where I think building a custom rod would really compel me and other anglers like me. We talked about making a topwater / jerkbait rod that could handle the larger topwater lures that have come to the market in the last few years. I wanted more backbone that could handle the load on a backcast of a lure that might weigh 3/4 ounce to 1 ounce.
Adams took a rod blank made for jig fishing, a 7-foot, 2-inch heavy-power rod with an extra-fast tip and he started working backwards, shortening the blank from the butt. I ended up with a rod that wasn’t too long, had a good backbone and a great tip for working a big topwater. Again he has a lot of experience with rod building.
My first rod started with a 7-foot, 2-inch Mud Hole MHX Mag Bass Rod Blank (MB864XF-MHX). The second rod also started with a 6-foot, 9-inch Mud Hole MHX Mag Bass Rod Blank (MB813XF-MHX). Both made for topwaters (big and small) and the latter I knew would make an outstanding jerkbait rod if it was light and had a good tip. Which I confirmed in a big way on a recent trip catching a bunch of nice bass on jerkbaits. I also caught some nice bass on topwaters this past summer and fall on the MHX rods.
The rods also featured new custom MHX WinnDry Grips. The grips are are tacky, soft and surprisingly light.
The Nanolite Ring Lock Guides offer improved surface area for inserts so the guides are less likely to separate. So the guides are light but also really durable. I bent one flat somehow on the front deck of my boat and was able to bend it back into place, although I don’t recommend doing that too many times in a row.
The Mag Bass Rod Blanks were light with great actions. The rods were balanced well and the guides were perfect on the spine of the rod. They loaded well on the cast, fished well especially while snapping the rod tip low and away, and the handles weren’t in the way.
HOW TO GET STARTED
So the kicker on these Mud Hole MHX rods: great components at a reasonable price, but you have to build the rods yourself or find someone who does. I have a lot of friends in fishing who build rods and love the stuff from Mud Hole and other places like Batson Enterprises. I could see me getting into this down the road when my schedule isn’t so hectic, as I love the idea of playing with actions and powers along with handle lengths to come up with some great rod designs for specific applications that can be hard to find.
But if you’re just getting started, Mud Hole offers starter kits as well as individual tools so you can build your rod building shop as you go. You need to find the spine on your rod, determine guide spacing, handle length, wrap and glue guides mount reel seats, rod grips and of course consider the overall balance of the rod with a reel on it.
Mud Hole Custom Tackle also offers a whole series of online resources, books, DVDs for those wanting to get into rod building. Adams and Hunter McKamey have started a YouTube video series discussing rod building and things you want to consider. It’s a great series to watch if you’re getting started.
Here is the list of Mud Hole Custom Tackle components used on my rods:
- Mag Blank MB813XF-69
- ECSM Graphite Blank Exposed Reel Seat
- WinnDry Casting Rear Split Grip
- Winn Dry Casting Fighting Butt
- Micro Casting Guide Set Black
- Nanolite Ring Lock Guides
- Ring Lock Lite Top
Rods are very personal. Often, guys I fish with like totally different actions, lengths and powers on rods than I do for the same techniques. Doesn’t mean one of us is right and the other is wrong. It just means one rod fits how I fish while another rod fits how they fish. Or maybe they are taller than me have shorter arms or any other combination that makes a rod a better fit for them or for me. It’s one of the reasons when you look in my rod locker, you see 8-9 different rod models in there. Because one line of rods will have the perfect action, power and length for certain applications, but be just a bit off on others and vice versa.
I’ve used a custom built rod from Batson Enterprises. These Mud Hole MHX rods are the second series of custom built rods I’ve used with components that you can buy and build yourself. I can see how this becomes a fascinating hobby for gear-tinkering, tackle-building obsessed anglers like me.
Visit Mud Hole Custom Tackle’s website at mudhole.com.