It’s been almost 4 years since Pro Angler Brandon Lester began building his own custom fishing rods. Brandon has found that rod building improves his overall performance through advanced knowledge as well as the enhanced equipment that comes with it.
While custom rod building boosts his knowledge of different techniques, tackle, and fish, it’s up to the MHX Rod Blanks to bring the physical performance to match his fishing application. That’s exactly why Lester selected the ST1023F-MHX Blank as the foundation for his 8’6″ Spinning Rod Kit.
Recently, we caught up with Brandon Lester to talk about the ST1023F-MHX Rod Blank, his Long Spinning Rod Kit, and the performance advantages of fishing MHX.
Custom Rod Advice From Elite Pro Lester
For Bassmaster Elite Pro Brandon Lester, this longer blank combined with his selection of custom rod building components work together to dial-in his fishing skills and ultimately, enhance his performance.
When Brandon came in to ink a new deal with Mud Hole Custom Tackle, a partner of MHX, he was also looking to build a long spinning rod. With the 2017 Bassmaster Elite Series approaching, Brandon consulted MHX rod designers for advice on MHX blanks that have the right balance of action, length, power, flexibility, and sensitivity.
After listening to Lester’s requests for a rod blank, MHX designers determined the ST1023F-MHX would be the best fit to enhance his specific performance pursuits. Although it was originally designed as a steelhead and salmon blank, the ST1023F-MHX Blank’s length and flexibility bring a dynamic performance to crankbait applications.
As Lester describes, “For me, the ST1023F-MHX Blank does more than just extend my casting distance with smaller lures, the extra length also allows me to pull my crankbaits through the strike zone for longer periods of time.”
Casting a smaller lure, like Lester’s crankbait, further, the extra length of the ST1023F-MHX Blank maximizes the time the lure spends diving through the strike zone. Knowing this blank design comes in 9’ and 10’ lengths, Brandon says he chose the 8’6” because “the longer versions start getting heavier,” and “if I decide to cast a crank bait all day long, the fatigue brought by the heavier rod will wear down my arms and wrists much faster.”
Brandon admits there is a trade off in longer blanks, but it only revolves around accuracy. So, despite the fact that shorter blanks are more accurate for casting, longer blanks cast further and work better with crankbaits by maximizing the strike zone.
Resulting in a dramatic increase in crankbait efficiency, the strategic 8’6” length of the ST1023-MHX Blank is matched by its tactical flexibility at both the tip and mid-section.
“Once my hook is set in the fish, the ST1023-MHX Rod Blank flexes at the tip and mid-section to form a shock absorbing mechanism between the fish and myself,” Elite Pro Brandon Lester explains, “That way, the fish stays pinned on the hook until I get to it.”
When it comes to rigging up the ST1023F-MHX Rod Blank, Brandon works with “a lot of small crank baits like the Rapala Shad Rap and some balsa wood baits,” and concludes that the Rapala DT6 is “the largest crank bait I would use.”
Elite Pro Brandon reasons that since this long spinning rod is built primarily for finesse cranking, but also for drop shots, he “would use up to a ½ ounce drop shot rig.” Despite the similarities behind finesse cranking and drop shots, Brandon believes each technique requires different lines to bring the optimum performance in each application.
For instance, Brandon believes, “the best drop shot line is 10 lb. braid with an 8 lb. fluoro leader, or for finesse cranking, I would go with an 8 lb. mono or fluoro line because mono will cast further, work better in the cold weather, and it’s easier to use, but fluoro adds a little more sensitivity and gives you a little more depth considering it sinks.”
When it comes grip styles, Lester shares, “I use the split grip because I build a lot of rods and the split grip is easier to build, and also performs better for me while I fight and land fish.” Brandon will always choose the split grip setup and likewise, he will always fish with MHX Winn Grips.
When asked why, the Tennessee native smiles and says, “all my rods have MHX Winn Grips because these grips bring the most consistent performance in the face of weather’s harshest conditions.”
If you’ve been searching for a high-performance crankbait fishing rod, trust Bassmaster Elite Pro Brandon Lester and MHX to bring it to you with Lester’s exclusive 8’6″ Spinning Rod Kit!
Brandon Lester’s Kit includes:
Blank – ST1023F-MHX
Butt End – MHX-SGFB-190
Winding Checks – CK-13, CK-11 & CK-10
Rear Grip – MHX-RSG3T
Fuji Spinning Reel Seat – DPSM-17-B
Reel Seat Arbor – RS-17
Fore Grip – MHX-FG175
CRB Hookkeep – DSHK-B
CRB Elite Guide Set – 3GKSB-3
CRB Elite Tip – EBLT-5-4.5