We all like knowing what the Pros fish, but what about the staff at Mud Hole? What do they fish? There must be a preferred guide set or handle setup or a specific blank that is chosen above all others.
With 78,000 sq ft of rod building supplies at their disposal, they could seemingly choose anything they want. So, I sat down with Jake "The Mullet" Hutcheson and Hunter “Left Hand Man” McKamey, Mud Hole’s Director of Products and Purchasing and Co-Host of Mud Hole Live, to get their takes on their top three rods to build. I even got in on the action as I have a few favorite rod builds as well.
You can find all the Signature Rod Kits on Mud Hole's site!
Jake Hutcheson's Rod Kits
Let's kick it off with Jake's rod kits. If you follow Mud Hole on social media or watch Mud Hole live you might have seen him winning flip-off competitions, judging mullet cuts at trade shows or as the host of The Mullet Minute.
He is an excellent all around angler, but know for his bass expertise and fondness for fishing drains. When the storms roll through Central Florida you can hear Jake exclaim, "When its raining, it is time to go draining!"
"The Drain Rod was spawned from fishing ponds and lakes on foot in Central Florida. When it rains in the afternoon, bass congregate at the mouth of drains due to the influx of flowing water. My friends and I caught so many fish on these rods out of drains, we coined it, “The Drain Rod.”, Jake Explains.
Built on the MHX NEPS86MHF, I can't think of a better all-purpose bass fishing rod. Coming in at 7'2" and medium heavy power this rod can get it done with a speed worm, senko, rattle trap or even spinning bait. As a bass angler this is a "don't leave home without it" kind of rod. Jake added the CFX carbon fiber grips and fuji alconite guides for a beautiful and high end bass catching rod build. "
With Jake's signature Mullet hair cut, it is only fitting he has a couple saltwater rods in his arsenal. Yes, you guessed it, they are the Mullet and Lil' Mullet rod.
Jake describes his kit, "The Mullet Rod is THE snook, tarpon and redfish rod. Again, on foot, my friends and I terrorized bridges, inlets, beaches and piers day and night in search of snook tarpon and redfish. With the nature of this type of fishing and not always being able to bring an arsenal of rods, this is the one rod we bring that handles a variety of different baits and fish."
Jake pulled the ISSW1088 CRB Surf and Inlet and at 9' you can reach out to where the big fish roam. Built to throw large flare hawk jigs, big swimbaits and even bigger live bait this kit comes with EVA handles and Fuji guide set for comfortable and durability under harsh conditions.
"The Lil Mullet rounds out my lineup with a modern take on a classic inshore rod. The deliberate choice and layout of the components lets me bomb casts across long flats or skip baits deep under mangroves. Along with that, the color choices reflect the waters I‘m fishing, and the color of water I dream of while at work.", said Jake.
For the Lil' Mullet rod, he has chosen a CB905-MHX. This is a great multipurpose rod that can cross over from fresh to salt with ease. It is originally designed as a crankbait blank but with its 7'6" length and moderate-fast action, it can really get it done for inshore saltwater. This is your all around flats rod. From redfish to bonefish and flounder to snook, it handles both artificial lures and live bait extremely well. Built spinning with a VSS Contour Grip and Fuji High Frame guide train, this one fishes as good as it feels.
Hunter McKamey's Rod Kits
Now, let's see what Hunter has on his front deck. From growing up in the rod building business to winning multiple College Bass events, I would say he would be the one to listen to when wanting to build a custom bass rod. Hunter now co-hosts Mud Hole Live where he shows tips and trick to help any level of rod builder.
Hunter talks about his first kit, "All around versatile casting rod! The MB873 is my rod of choice for throwing jigs, soft plastics, spinnerbaits, and lipless crank baits. It can also be utilized for topwater lures such as a buzz bait or walking bait." The extremely popular MB873 from MHX comes in at 7'3" and medium heavy power. If you can only build one, build this one. Rounded out with MHX branded Winn grips and CRB LZR guides this rod is tournament ready but won't break the bank.
Hunter ups the ante a little with his next kit. Featuring the NEPS90HF-MHX this blank comes from the Elite Pro Series where lighter weight and more sensitivity without sacrificing durability puts more fish in the boat.
Hunter describes, "Workhorse rod for fishing in heavy cover! The NEPS90HF is perfect for pitchin’ a creature bait or 3/4 oz. jig around vegetation such as grass, lily pads, or pencil reeds. I also use this rod for larger reaction baits such as a 5” paddle tail swimbait, swimming worm, and a popping frog." He stays the course with MHX Winn Grips and LZR Guides because he knows as a tournament angler he can appreciate each rod having matching components.
With his last kit, he knows every tournament angler needs a great spinning rod and his choice is the SJ833 from MHX. "The SJ833 is my go-to spinning rod for any finesse application, whether it be a shakey head, drop shot, ned rig, or wacky rig. This rod can also handle small hard jerkbaits and spy baits with ease!", said Hunter.
Some might think this pick is out of left field, but once you have fished this blank, you know why it is Hunter's pick. He finished the build out with the CRB Palm Swell seat, matching MHX Winn Grips and LZR Spinning guides.
Chris Adams' Rod Kits
Well, last but not least I do have a few picks for the salt water angler as well as the traveling fly angler. The ability to have so many MHX Rod Blanks to choose allowed me to pick the perfect blank for a very specific technique I use on the flats. My kits were created to give my self and my clients an advantage when chasing some of the most challenging flats species on the planet.
My Technical Flats Rod is built on the NEPS86LMF from MHX. It comes from the Elite Pro Series and at 7'2" is it a perfect length for throwing flats jigs to wary fish but still light in hand for delicate presentations. The light power coupled with the moderate-fast action allows my clients to be successful when they are hooked up to a fish of a lifetime. This rod is set up to throw light weight flats jigs to bonefish, permit and redfish. I chose the Fuji VSS Contour seat and handle along with the LZR Spinning guide set for optimal performance.
My next kit, The Versatile Inshore Rod, is built to handle anything you may throw at it. From Paddle tails to MirrOlures or DOA Shrimp to Live Bait this CRB IS701L will get it done on the flats or over hanging mangrove edges. I have this rod built out with the Fuji VSS Contour seat and handle as well as the LZR Spinning guides as the comfort and durability are unmatched. Countless Permit have been landed by my clients on this build and it continues to prove itself against some of the toughest game fish.
Finally, I had to throw a fly rod build in the mix. The Allwater Fly Rod kit is built on one of the best all around rod weights, the 7wt. The F907-4 from MHX is a great option for both fresh and saltwater fly anglers alike. Built with a traditional cork full wells grip, a CRB all aluminum double locking seat and CRB fly guide set, it is ready for Redfish, Bonefish, and any of the bass species from Peacock to Smallmouth.
Well there you have it, hopefully we have added a few new suggestions for all rod builders out there. From Bass to Surf and the Flats to Fly we covered the why, what and how Mud Hole Staff members choose their personal rod builds.
Check out all the Signature Rod Kits on Mud Hole's site!