Rod Building with MLF Pro Matt Stefan

If you haven’t caught up with the Matt Stefan Fishing YouTube channel, you’re missing out on some of the most straight-forward, informative, and useful fishing and rod building content available. In the past year, Mr. Stefan has re-invented his internet presence, posting daily videos and gaining over 24,000 YouTube followers with over 3 million views.

From pro tips on getting the most out of your favorite jerkbait to recaps of his pro tournament performances, Matt’s content covers angling from almost every angle. Most important to Mud Hole, Matt also shares his rod building expertise, where he showcases why and how he builds his custom fishing rods. Make sure to subscribe so you don't miss out on all of Matt's amazing video content!

Here's Matt's latest video:  Watch Matt build a complete custom rod on the MHX NMB873, butt to tip, in 5 minutes (with the magic of time lapse and some good editing!) and then put it to the test, fishing for walleye in some challenging Wisconsin conditions. 

In the Beginning...

Matt grew up casting and catching with his entire extended family - grandparents, uncles, aunts, and immediate family – and would take an annual 2-week vacation to northern Wisconsin which included plenty of time on the lakes and rivers. When he was twelve, his family bought a lake house in northern Indiana, and that’s when Matt’s love for, and focus on, fishing really took hold.Matt credits his grandfather for getting the whole family into fishing and cites him as his angling “hero”. His grandfather not only passed along his passion for the sport, but also the importance of patience on the water – something that Matt carries with him to every MLF tournament today. And although his dad wasn’t “big into fishing” when Matt was growing up, he is now an avid angler who is happy to accompany Matt on his fishing adventures.

From Repair to Custom Rods

Matt Stefan turned pro in 2011, and like many anglers turned rod builders, Matt’s path to crafting fishing rods began with repairing tip tops and damaged guides. Rod repair is often the gateway to a lifetime of custom rod building. Matt was already creating his own custom baits at home, and with very few rod repair options in his local area (and a 4-week wait for the return of a repaired rod from a local tackle shop), he decided to do it himself.  It didn’t take long for Matt to realize that the super glue and braid he was using wasn’t up to the task of rod repair.Matt had been a loyal customer of Dirty Jigs Tackle for many years, and owner Curt Demerath was an avid rod builder who helped show Matt the rod repair and rod building ropes. Curt already knew Matt as an enthusiastic “tinkerer” and figured he would take to custom rod building like a duck to water. He set Matt up with all the needed gear to build, and Matt ran with it. Dirty Jigs went on to be Matt’s first (and longest running) professional sponsor.

Why Custom Rods?

If ever there is an evangelist for custom rod building, it’s Matt Stefan.  Matt continuously preaches the benefits of building your own gear and shares his techniques and rationale. When asked for his top reasons to build, Matt shared the following:

  1. You can build for your precise specs, handle size and handle placement, and with the exact components you need to provide the perfect feel for your fishing application. The rod is truly custom to your specific needs.
  2. You can build rods for the baits that you use. You have better success on the water when your bait is doing exactly what you want it to do.
  3. Knowing rod building makes it easy to do repairs, especially when you know what components were used and how the rod was constructed.
  4. Knowledge gained from building rods makes for better knowledge of the sport as a whole and makes you better at specific techniques. It provides for a more well-rounded angler.

There are many other benefits to building custom rods that Matt shares regularly on his channel.  Overall, Matt credits building MHX rods for the past 6 years as a key component to his year-over-year performance increase and a major competitive advantage he has on the tour. When asked about his favorite fishing rod blank, Matt pointed to the NMB873 in the MHX Elite-X Series, a fast action, medium-heavy power blank that holds significant strength with high sensitivity.

Matt Stefan Fishing on YouTube

Since 2019, Matt Stefan has been sharing his wealth of fishing and rod building knowledge on YouTube.  The videos range in titles from “Sturgeon Fishing with Hank” (catching sturgeon with his young son Hank in the backyard on the Wisconsin River) to “The Best Chatterbait Rod Ever!” (building and fishing a favorite tournament rod on the MHX CB907 rod blank). Matt’s interest in creating this content stems from his passion for helping people become better anglers.  Matt enjoys engaging directly with fans at shows and tournaments but found there are only so many people you can meet face-to-face.  YouTube was the best avenue to provide useful content and reach a large audience across the world.  He can also gain feedback and respond to questions and comments on the platform, which is really important to Matt.

A Day in the Life

When he’s not fishing professional tournaments on or off the tour, and when he’s not creating amazing fishing and rod building content in the “Basement Bait Shop”, Matt enjoys time with his family at home in Wisconsin.  Of course, Matt’s home happens to be on the Wisconsin River. So once the ice breaks, he, his wife, and two boys (ages 5 and 3) are on the shore or on the boat 4 days a week chasing everything from panfish to smallmouth bass to musky.

Matt Stefan YouTube Playlist

So, take a peek into the life of a seasoned pro and rod builder. Check out Matt Stefan Fishing on YouTube and see why his followers continue to grow.  And pick up some great rod building tips while you’re there!

MhxMlf proRod buildingRod repairTips & tricks

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