Custom Rod Building Hooks Pro Angler Blake Smith

Captain Blake Smith, a dual professional fisherman in salt and freshwater, recently took a trip to Louisiana to compete in IFA’s 2016 Tour Championship. But before casting out into the competition, Smith met up with Todd Vivian, who is the Rod Designer for MHX, to pick up a couple custom fishing rods built specifically for his salt and freshwater abilities.

 Versatility of MHX Blank Surprises Smith

Fishing in both the IFA and FLW Tours, Pro Angler Blake Smith is no stranger to the diverse fish that inhabit the waters around Louisiana. From largemouth bass to redfish and speckled sea trout, the variety of fishing applications in the waters surrounding Louisiana provide the perfect environment for dual angler Blake Smith to hone his skills.

Although Smith came prepared to improve his fishing abilities, he underestimated how the optimization of his new custom fishing rod would factor into his performance.

Rather than merely putting a fishing pole in his hand like many other manufacturers, Blake found that Todd alongside Mud Hole Custom Tackle provided the Mag Taper MB873-MHX Rod Blank and its custom components to truly complement his multiple fishing styles.

Blake decided to give the MB873-MHX the ultimate test by sight fishing for Louisiana’s lunging redfish before transitioning to try out the blank’s sensitivity with the finesse type techniques it takes to catch bass.

After catching over 30 redfish over 25 inches, Pro Angler Blake Smith knew the MB873-MHX had the mid-butt power as a med-heavy blank to win the fight against those lumbering Louisiana redfish. Although this MHX Blank can obviously handle Louisiana’s largest redfish, Blake loved the added benefit of using the MB873-MHX to throw lighter lures.

Blake recounts, “I was catching some of the biggest, broadest redfish of my career, and I wrestled them to the boat with ease. But to me, the most impressive part is that I hooked them with only a light leader and a popping cork.”

After laughing to himself for a moment, Blake explains that in the past manufacturers have given him a rod and testing those rods never took him long. “In fact,” he said, “it usually takes about 30 seconds to determine the difference between quality and a company’s attempt to just throw something into the market.”


The Mag Taper MB873-MHX Rod Blank is 40% lighter than standard graphite blanks, making it far more sensitive.

The MB873-MHX was the complete opposite, and he noticed its powerful performance immediately. Blake realized this blank is the real deal for redfish, but wondered how it would fair against the more particular taste of Louisiana’s best bass.

Smith acknowledges that “Tackle selections and even the real estate that I find each of these species in are often one in the same however, the biggest difference between redfish and bass is the pull.”

Knowing that tip sensitivity would matter much more for bass than redfish, he transitioned to throwing an even lighter leader and a soft plastic jerkbait. Mimicking its brilliant performance with monster redfish, Blake tested the MB873-MHX against smaller bass and found, “Even with smaller bites and less violent retrieve, I could feel the bite and softer take so much more than I ever imagined possible.”

Although Blake harnessed the MB873-MHX for two specific species, this blank is championed for just about any fishing species, location, and application. You name it, and the MB873-MHX will catch it!

The versatility of the MB873-MHX instantly impressed Pro Angler Blake Smith, but the opportunity to fine-tune its performance even more through custom rod building is what brought him to MHX partner Mud Hole Custom Tackle. As the largest resource for rod building in the world, Mud Hole provides a custom rod building experience like no other.

The MB-873 is available for either individual purchase, or you can check it out as part of a custom rod building kit!

The Science of Success Behind MHX Blanks

Backed by decades of design and manufacturing experience, each MHX Rod Blank is developed, tested, and built according to its specific application. MHX stands out in the blank market by executing a tedious, yet effective process to ensure the blank’s intended performance.


All MHX Blanks are designed to perform and feature a Lifetime Limited Warranty.

First, MHX rod designers determine what each fishing application demands from a rod blank. Next, the blanks are developed into prototypes per the accurate modulus as well as advanced materials to ensure it will perform to the angler’s specification.

Then, each blank makes its way to MHX Regional Pros, who test the blank for accuracy in performance based on the application. These applications range from salt and freshwater to ice fishing and all the way down to specific fishing scenarios.

Once the performance behind the blank is accurate, MHX manufactures the blanks under a 7-point inspection to further confirm each blank’s design purpose. This extensive design process creates specialization in each blank that in turn makes MHX blanks virtually unbeatable in every particular fishing application.

Read more about Pro Blake Smith’s MHX Blanks here!