The Man behind the bluegill, Matt Servant of Mattlures
||San Diego, CA|
Matt is probably best known for his bluegill
baits, and why not when they catch toads like this!
just a few short years, Mattlures has grown to be one of the better
known, hand made swimbait manufacturers around. The popularity of their
baits stems from quality work at affordable prices, because letís face
it, most fisherman are very frugal minded! We managed to catch up with
Matt Servant, owner and namesake of Mattlures, for a brief interview.
Come join us as we learn a little more about the man behind the baits!
thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Tell us, what is your first memory of
going fishing, and at what point, did you begin to concentrate on fishing big
baits for big fish?
I honestly donít have a first memory. My dad used to take my sister and I all
the time when we were little and I remember a bunch of trips. We mainly would
fish for trout or crappie or bluegill. I started fishing big baits about 10
years ago. I always caught bigger fish than my friends but they all had one fish
over 10lbs and I didnít, and it killed me! At one point I decided I didnít care
about catching good-sized bass anymore. I wanted at least one big fish that was
bigger than my friends. I started using big worms and jigs and other larger
baits. I caught more good fish but still no double digits. I knew I was making
progress but I still wasnít getting there. I read every thing I could and
basically changed the way I fished. I started throwing big baits! And I started
to learn the habits of big bass
Mattís arsenal of Okuma Swimbait sticks and a
collection of baits heís made through the years.
did you get started in the actual business of designing and building your
I spent about 3 years fishing San Diego Bay. The cost of basic swimbaits was
expensive and the more fish I caught the more it cost me. My good friend Ed Lesh
pours his own saltwater swimbaits and he taught me the basics of plastic pouring
and mold making. That old man still pours a mean bait! At first I just copied
the baits that worked but shortly after I started carving my own and improving
on the designs. The funny thing is my initial plan was to sell my basic
saltwater swimbaits. That market is tough and I knew it would be hard to
establish myself so I decided I would make some fresh water swimbaits until my
baits became known and then I could break into the saltwater market. Well I
looked around at the baits that were being made and I was not impressed. Most of
them looked like cartoon fish.
Working full time in addition to being a full
time husband and father begs the question, does Matt ever sleep?
knew I could do better. A friend of mine, Luis Ulrich approached me and
tried to talk me into starting a business, I was hesitant but I figured
I would try it. I carved out a couple baits and tested them until I was
satisfied. Looking back they were still a little crude. I remember
posting some pictures online and I got a lot of positive responses but I
also got some negative comments from other swimbait manufacturers. They
basically said I wouldnít make it in the business. Well thatís all it
took. That lit a fire under me and I got to work. I still havenít
released a saltwater swimbait yet but I have some strong designs.
An early shot of Mattís weedless minnow
named, the Mattlures Minnow
do you feel is the primary difference? Between a bait
and built by Matt Servant and those offered by your Competitors?
The biggest difference is attention to detail. I did taxidermy for a few years
and did a lot of fish mounts. You learn a lot about fish anatomy. When I design
a bait it stems from being on the water and not having the perfect bait that I
needed. I will think about an idea for days and days, sometimes I canít sleep
until I have finished designing in my head. Before I release any bait, I have to
prove to myself that it will be a producer. If I can catch fish on them, then so
can everybody else.
Being a solo operation has got to be taxing. There can't ever be enough time in
one day! With that said, what is atypical day in the life of Matt Servant like
or is there such a thing?
Oh man, a typical day is busy! I wake up and take my daughter Ashlyn to daycare
then I am off to work. I work a maintenance job for a school district. After
work I pick up Ashlyn and go home until my wife Amanda comes home around 5:00pm.
Then she takes over and I get to work making baits. I will sometimes work until
2:00 am and always at least 1 full weekend day. I donít get to fish much anymore
but the pictures from my happy customers make up for it! Well, almost
One of Mattís first fish on his minnow bait
Cal: How long does it typically take you to go from concept through
design into development and ultimately, sale of your baits?
Sometimes it can be real fast like a couple months and other times it could take
over a year. It just depends on the concept and how much testing it takes to
see, with the introduction of your "Woody" lure, you're now venturing into hard
baits. What challenges did you face producing these hard baits versus the soft
Well the Woodyís were wood baits produced for me by another company so the
hardest thing was getting the company to make them the way I wanted them made. I
will be getting into other hard bait projects but I will probably stay away from
wood. My next challenge will be to enter a flooded market. Everybody makes a
hard swimbait and a few of them are very good baits. I will have to set myself
apart by coming up with my own designs instead of making baits that look like
everybody elseís. Wait till you see what I got coming!
Speaking of whatís coming, is there anything you can tell us about what you have
in the works?
I have a bunch of new and interesting baits I am working on. Itís just a matter
of which ones I get dialed in first and how I go about manufacturing them. Once
I have some working prototypes I have to know that they will produce big bass.
Once a bait has proven itself to me then I can release it. Right now I have
several baits that are being tested for me by some big named pros and by a
couple average anglers. The pros tend to give me great feedback but it shows me
more when a ďregularĒ guy reports that he is sticking fish.
Matt also released a new shad bait earlier
this year appropriately named the MattShad. This is a shot
of a couple of the prototype lures
There's no doubt fishing with big baits produces some big fish. There's a
stigma though, that the big swimbaits only work in California or in
impoundments that are stocked with trout. I hear it all the time, and I'm sure,
you must hear it even more. What is your response to an angler, tournament or
otherwise, with this mindset?
I just wish I could fish were they are fishing. It would be so easy. Bass are
bass and it doesnít matter where they are from. The biggest bass are the most
efficient eaters. They eat big meals without spending a lot of energy. It
doesnít matter if the biggest bass in the lake is only 8lbs. People think all we
catch is monsters and we fish for days without bites. Thatís just not true. We
may go many trips before we get a monster but there are a lot of smaller 3-6lbrs
caught in-between. Big bass no matter where they are from will eat a swimbait. I
have repeat customers in every state except Alaska and Hawaii.
Here is the color selection of the Mattlures
Cal: As you are aware, many of our readers are equally, if not more,
into acquiring tackle than they are actually using it. What are Matt
Servant's favorite brands of reels, rods, and fishing line? Or do you
have any favorites?
I am an Okuma guy. I am sponsored by them but I fished with Okuma way before
they ever sponsored me. They actually approached me because I was talking them
up so much. I have about 8 swimbait set ups that I take when ever I am on my
boat and all the rods are Okumas but I still use my 2 Calcutta te's a 400 and a
300. My other swimbait reels are all Okumas. The Induron Idx's are what I
prefer. Neither the Indurons or the TE's have ever let me down and I do abuse
them. As far as line goes, where I fish its very pressured and extremely clear
water. Because of this I like fluorocarbon. I have found that my favorite brand
of fluoro is by far Maxima. At .017 inch the Maxima 25lb test is about the same
size as most other companies 20lb test. It doesn't have a lot of stretch but
that's Ok when I am using 25 I can just over power them. I honestly believe that
the invisibility of the fluoro gets me more bites and I have never broke a fish
off on the Maxima. I just have a ton of confidence in it. I have broke a few big
fish of on other brands and I will never try to save a buck on line again. Line
is of those things that is just too important to compromise so for me its Maxima
fluoro on 90% of my rods. The other 10% I like their green mono for top water
applications. I will not use braid ever. It's too visible and it's unforgiving.
For Rods, I have every rod in the Okuma swimbait line up. Each one serves a
purpose. I like the 7'6 med for my smallest baits and the 7'6 and 7'11 hvy's for
midsized baits. The 7'6 and 7'11 ex hvy's are for big baits. The Rods were
designed by a swimbait fisherman named Mark Rogers. He has basically built the
perfect series of swimbait rods.
Making baits leaves little time for fishing,
but when he gets the time, Matt makes a habit of bringing in
fish like these!
is your favorite species of fish to pursue and what species are on your
The sacred LMB is of course my favorite prey. I do like to catch other fish
though. I pretty much trophy hunt no matter what kind of fish I am going after.
I like to catch bluegill as long as they are over a pound. Someday I would like
to go after some big smallmouth or stripers. I donít really have any of those
close to me.
you again Matt, for taking the time to talk to us. In parting, is there anything
you'd like to say to our readers?
For all you guys who are just starting out with swimbaits, donít get
discouraged. Itís a different type of fishing and it usually takes some time to
gain confidence. You will get bit once you start to figure it out. Swim baits
work everywhere there are bass. One thing I canít stress enough is you have to
buy quality. Good rods, reels, line and especially good swim baits. Most
beginners go out and buy the cheapest baits to learn with thinking they will
upgrade later. I believe this is the worst thing you could do. You are
handicapping yourself. You would be 10 times better off buying one quality
swimbait than 10 cheap ones. You donít have to buy mine just buy quality.
Everybody is making swimbaits these days but only a few baits are proven.
TackleTour would like to thank Matt Servant for taking the time to share with us
his passion for swimbait design and manufacturing and the big fish they
are designed for