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Lester's rod builder history

by Mustad Fishing 9 Jun 2022 21:35 UTC
Instinct Signature Series Rods by Brandon Lester © Mustad Fishing

When the job is demanding, you must demand the best. That was the driving thought for Bassmaster Elite angler Brandon Lester, the seasoned pro from Fayetteville, Tenn., who designed Mustad's new BLF Instinct rods.

A stellar lineup of of 14 models — eight multi-purpose baitcasters, three cranking specific rods and three spinning rods — the Instinct series boasts Mustad's renowned quality with the insightful design specifications Lester has mastered throughout the course of his fishing career.

"When this opportunity to work on this new Mustad Instinct line arose, they did not give me a single guideline; they said 'Tell us what you need and we'll go from there,'" Lester said. "I was traveling at the time and I had a layover in Houston Airport, so I opened up the Notes on my smartphone and I laid out the groundwork for a line of rods to cover everything you need to do in bass fishing."

Recognizing that budgets and interest level don't always justify a full set of fishing rods, Lester points to the BLF Instinct 7-0 medium heavy as the series' workhorse. "I've probably put more emphasis on that one than any other in the lineup. It took us three prototype stages to get that one to where I wanted it to be.

"If somebody said to me: 'I'm not a really big fisherman, I just like to fish every now and then and I just need a good, quality fishing rod,' I'd tell them to go buy a 7-foot medium heavy. You can drag worms on it, you can throw a spinnerbait on it, you can throw a squarebill crankbait on it, a chatterbait, a frog. You can do a whole bunch of different stuff with that one rod."

Lester began building rods at the start of his Elite career, approximately 10 years ago. While he's always valued well-made rods, an early opportunity provided the perspective that would forever change his view.

"At the start of my career, back to my club days, I was like anybody else; I bought a variety of rods — probably 10 different manufacturers," Lester said. "I knew there were some I liked and some I didn't like, but I didn't really know what I did and didn't like about them.

"Early in my career, I did some work with a rod building company and I learned a lot about what makes a good fishing rod. It's the customization — you can make your handle length the way you want it, you can make the guides the way you want them. Everybody likes something different and once you learn about rod building, you can see what's not right with a certain rod."

Recalling the first rod he created, a 7-3 all-purpose model, Lester said he has enjoyed advancing his knowledge of the parts and process that goes into rod building. With production now left to Mustad's capable facilities, he can focus on fishing. Still, the appreciation for a smartly designed rod will never leave him.

"At first, it was just me dabbling in the process to see if I liked it," Lester said of his early rod-building efforts. "It was time consuming and there was a lot to learn, but I'm glad I did. It taught me a lot about rods.

"It's satisfying knowing you caught a fish on a rod that you built. That's rewarding."

Without question, Lester said he's most thankful that his experience has allowed him to create a rod series that offers something for everyone. Each model has its own identity, but Lester infused the BLF Instinct line with a lot of versatility.

"We decided not to label the actual rod by technique, because we didn't want people to pick one up and (feel limited)," Lester said. "At the end of the day, everybody likes a little something different.

"My suggestion is to pick them up in the store, feel them and see what you think about them. Pick your poison; we have something for everybody."

So, what's in a name? Lester explains:

"The name popped into my mind because instincts play such a big role in fishing, especially for me," Lester said. "Some guys are more run-and-gun type and some guys are more pattern-driven fishermen. For me, every day I go out on the water, I try to analyze what's going on, my surroundings and just fish off of my instincts.

"That's where the name came from. I feel like it fits."

Instinct Signature Rods

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