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The Bassmaster Classic Welcomes Mud Hole Pro Anglers

From building their own custom fishing rods to building their own paths to the Bassmaster Classic, join pro anglers Bradley Roy, Brandon Lester, and John Cox in reliving their road to Lake Hartwell.

3 Rod Builders Set to Compete in 2018 Classic

Lights, camera, …rod building!

Three pro anglers will dawn the signature Mud Hole colors on Lake Hartwell and fight a field of over 50 competitors to weigh-in the weekend’s biggest bags. But in addition to their versatile skills in bass fishing, Bradley Roy, Brandon Lester, and John Cox all share one important x-factor…

Building their own custom fishing rods!

Rod building enables all three anglers to customize and personalize each fishing rod to enhance their favorite techniques.

From flipping, punching, and cranking, to finesse techniques and beyond, these guys know the performance demands of the professional tournaments across the nation and rod building helps dial-in their fishing rods to handle whatever happens on tour.

Pairing their bass expertise with the best rods for their applications certainly makes these awesome anglers especially dangerous on Lake Hartwell.

Joining the Classic line-up is an incredible accomplishment alone, so let’s take a look back at Bassmaster Elite Pros Brandon Lester and Bradley Roy as well as FLW Veteran and Forrest Wood Cup Champion, John Cox to see their road to making the Classic cut.

Bradley Roy Returns for Second Straight Classic

Mud Hole’s Elite Pro Bradley Roy learned a lot from the seventh place finish at his first the Bassmaster Classic last year. Now in his second attempt, Bradley Roy is excited to fish Lake Hartwell and chase Bassmaster Classic history.

Elite Pro Bradley Roy rolls into Day 1 of the Bassmaster Classic ready to launch.

Bradley Roy’s road to the Classic began at only 13 as he took home first place in 2004’s Junior World Championship. After weighing in on the big stage, Roy saw the lights and realized his dream.

Roy knew he was on a collision course that would bring him back to the famed Bassmaster Classic stage.

In 2010 at just 19 years old, he became the youngest angler to ever compete professionally on the Bassmaster Elite Series. Not only did he compete, Roy won Rookie of the Year and earned more respect and admiration from his pro angling peers.

Fishing year after year, Bradley Roy practically grew up fishing in the Bassmaster Elites. In fact, his confidence and comfort at such a high level of competition says as much about his angling abilities as it does about his character.

Mud Hole Pro Bradley Roy looks to improve on his seventh place finish from last year’s Bassmaster Classic.

A very skilled angler and a huge presence in his home state of Kentucky, Roy was once the youngest angler to ever fish professionally on the Bassmaster Elite Series. After essentially growing up on the pro tour, he has come a long way as an angler, competitor, and rod builder.

Bradley Roy’s Favorite MHX Fishing Rods

Since his rise in professional fishing, Bradley Roy has made some strategic changes to enhance his fishing equipment as well as his techniques. Roy took up rod building in 2015 and worked out a title sponsorship with Mud Hole, who’s brand of custom rod building is championed by pro anglers across the country.

In fact, when Bradley got comfortable with rod building, his talents for fishing fused with the immense knowledge inherent in custom rod building for a lethal combination in competition.

Together with Mud Hole, Roy found custom rod building on MHX rod blanks dialed in his equipment and his techniques for maximum efficiency regardless of the fishing application or location.

Here’s a shortlist of Roy’s favorite rod blanks:

Fishing across the nation, he really appreciates this performance boost of rod building and MHX rod blanks.

When asked about his all-time favorite rod, Bradley grins and replies, “If I were forced to choose one rod, my MB873-MHX Rod would be a no brainer… I actually keep three rigged up on my boat at all times because their versatility outperforms just about every other option.”

How Bradley Roy Made the 2018 Bassmaster Classic

Similar to his friend and fellow Mud Hole Pro, Brandon Lester, Bassmaster Elite Pro Bradley Roy entered Mille Lacs with his mind tuned to fishing the Classic and using his custom MHX Rods to get there.

And shortly after the start of day 2, Roy could relax knowing he bagged 36lb-13oz and another shot at storied Classic title!

Bradley later left Mille Lacs after catching 52lb-1oz of Mille Lacs’ Bass, a nice big check, and a spot on the 2018 Bassmaster Classic Roster. Roy placed 7th in his first appearance and he’s happy to use that experience to climb the ladder this time around.

Brandon Lester Makes Third Classic Appearance

It’s not far from his home in Tennessee to the Classic on Lake Hartwell in South Carolina and Brandon Lester couldn’t be happier to make the trip.

Brandon Lester is a master of adapting his techniques to his fishing conditions. He has demonstrated the skills necessary to switch from power fishing to finesse fishing repeatedly over his career however, he can’t always do it alone.

Elite Pro Brandon Lester cruises into the first day of the 2018 Bassmaster Classic ready to fish.

This marks Lester’s third time competing in one of bass fishing’s biggest events and for him, rod building played an important role. When talking about the custom craft, Pro Brandon Lester appreciates all the advanced angling knowledge that comes from building his own specialized fishing rods.

Whether it’s a preference in rod length or action, in rod components like grips and guides, or even for the way he prefers to work a specific lure, Lester looks to custom rod building to make his dream rods a reality.

Rod building is far more than a way to improve your rod’s looks, it’s all about customizing your fishing rods to bring the best performance to your favorite fishing applications.

Brandon Lester’s Favorite MHX Fishing Rods

Each rod that Brandon Lester builds provides a specific purpose on the water and all work together to keep him confident and competitive across the country.

Whether skipping wacky rigs under docks, maximizing a crankbait’s efficiency, or just crushing crappie in the offseason, Brandon Lester has assembled the perfect high-performance fishing rods for his favorite fishing applications.

Let’s just say that Brandon Lester and custom rod building are a match made at Mud Hole!

For Lester, rod building not only fine tunes his fishing rods, but also helps him maintain the same feel for rods despite their vastly different applications. This essentially means that Brandon can have the power to throw a swim bait and the precision for a drop shot without ever sacrificing his feel for the rod during the transition between fishing applications.

Here are some of Lester’s favorite rod blanks:

  • MB843-MHX: Mag Taper / Length—7’0″, Line—10-17 lb., Lure—1/4-3/4 oz., Action—Fast, Power—Med-Heavy
  • CB845-MHX: Crankbait / Length—7’0″, Line—10-20 lb., Lure—3/8-1 oz., Action—Mod-Fast, Power—Med-Heavy
  • NEPS81MXF-MHX: Elite Pro Length—6’9″, Line—8-17 lb., Lure—1/4-5/16 oz., Action—Extra Fast, Power—Medium
  • NEPS81MLXF-MHX: Elite Pro Length—6’9″, Line—6-15 lb., Lure—5/32-7/16 oz., Action—Extra Fast, Power—Med-Light
  • NEPS86HF-MHX: Elite Pro Length—7’2″, Line—12-25 lb., Lure—1/2-1 oz., Action—Fast, Power—Heavy
  • NEPS86MHF-MHX: Elite Pro Length—7’2″, Line—10-20 lb., Lure—5/16-13/16 oz., Action—Fast, Power—Med-Heavy
  • NEPS86MF-MHX: Elite Pro Length—7’2″, Line—8-17 lb., Lure—3/16-5/8 oz., Action—Fast, Power—Medium
  • NEPS90HF-MHX: Elite Pro Length—7’6″, Line—10-20 lb., Lure—1/2-1 oz., Action—Fast, Power—Heavy
  • S721-MHX: Spinning Crappie Length—6’0″, Line—2-6 lb., Lure—1/32-3/16 oz., Action—Mod-Fast, Power—Ultra Light

How Brandon Lester Made the Bassmaster Classic

On the drive to Mille Lacs Lake in Onamia, Minnesota, Elite Pro Brandon Lester knew he was sitting on the Classic bubble and still deep in the chase for the Bassmaster Classic.

On the edge of either fishing the Classic or feeling his bubble burst, Lester recognized it wouldn’t be easy, but at the same time, he welcomed the challenge. Toughing out three days of fierce competition, Brandon Lester caught 43lb-1oz to finish in the money and ink his name on the roster for 2018 Classic.

Lester admits he was nervous coming off the Mille Lacs, but he later left the weigh-in grinning from ear to ear as he thought of his approaching shot at the Classic title.

John Cox Takes Hartwell History to First Classic

John Cox and custom rod building are inseparable.

Years before he began competing around the nation, Cox grew up fishing in Debary, Florida. As many will tell you, bass fishing in Florida is very unique compared to other states and for many reasons.

For one, there’s little environmental variation between bodies of water because the warm weather remains most of the year. And then this warm weather sustains vegetation like cat tails, hydrilla, and lily pads virtually year-round.

Together, these factors have given rise to a strain of Florida bass that is genetically different compared to other bass across the nation. The bass outside of Florida have environments that are quite different.

Fishing outside of Florida, bodies of water will have some vegetation, but their climates can also create creeks from rain runoff, have rocks, rocky shorelines, or even exhibit ice during winter.

Mud Hole Pro John Cox teases some game planning for Day 1 of the Bassmaster Classic on Lake Hartwell.

Since John Cox grew up in Florida, he wasn’t prepared for the bass fishing outside of the Sunshine State that would require him to tune up his equipment for FLW’s various environments.

That’s why Cox took his uncanny skills as a sight fisherman to rod building. Cox used his experience and expertise to make custom fishing rods that truly benefit his fishing abilities. Rod building brought life back to John’s fishing career by matching his personal preferences in techniques and lures with actual rod blanks and custom components to enhance his overall fishing performance unlike ever before.

Last time John hit Lake Hartwell in 2016, he gave it everything he had—knowing that the bass would be ready to hit back. Cox repeatedly demonstrated his mastery of sight fishing with his custom rods by catching the fish others simply couldn’t get.

Although one of John’s idols, Clark Wendlandt, briefly became his ultimate sight fishing foe, Cox didn’t shy away from the challenge and won Hartwell with a whopping 67 pounds and 6 ounces of bass.

John remembers, “everybody was on the bank,” and “I would wait for someone to work a fish and leave it. Then, I would pull in and catch it.”

Since winning that big tour event on Hartwell, hoisting the Forrest Wood Cup, and making the cut for the 2018 Classic, John Cox has become a household name to bass fishing fans everywhere.

John Cox’s Favorite MHX Fishing Rods

John Cox along with the help of Mud Hole Custom Tackle and MHX Rods, created an incredible combo for bass fishing all over the country. Beginning to turn the corner from Professional to Champion, John Cox hit his fishing stride right on time.

Pro John Cox looks to make a big splash in his first ever Bassmaster Classic appearance.

After his realization on the FLW Tour, John Cox went to find out more about custom rod building. In 2015, he met up with Mud Hole Custom Tackle and MHX to begin building his own rods.

His enthusiasm for rod building quickly emerges as he explains, “I started learning so much about it,” and “after I built that first rod at Mud Hole, it just opened my eyes to how easy it was.” John can’t help but grin as he continues, “I went to Bob and I’d tell him this blank I have, I want something softer,” and “we’d find the blank, and if we didn’t have it,” then “we’d go make it, get it, and order it.”

Here are some of Cox’s favorite MHX rod blanks:

How John Cox Made the Bassmaster Classic

When Pro John Cox finished on top of the B.A.S.S. Southern Open at Chickamauga Lake in Dayton, Tennessee with 68lb-3oz, his big win came with more than just a check, it also included a spot in the next Bassmaster Classic.

Cox hoisting the 1st place trophy from Lake Chickamauga, where he secured his entrance to the Bassmaster Classic.

After hoisting the Forrest Wood Cup and making a major splash on the FLW Tour, Cox and his custom MHX Rods are crossing over to fish in the 2018 Classic. The sight fishing phenom is excited for the opportunity, especially considering this Classic will be held on Lake Hartwell where he secured a huge Tour win back in 2016.

With his spots and some new rod builds in mind, Cox is a dangerous competitor looking to capitalize on his knowledge and experience of Lake Hartwell.

Build the Rods the Pros Use on Tour

Want the rod performance that these pro anglers use to catch the biggest bass across the nation?

Look to Pro Tour Rod Kits, these kits are engineered by the pros to dial-in skills from flippin to cranking and everything in between. But now, the same rods that pros carry all over the country are available for you.

Get the performance big fish demand and build your own pro tour rod!