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The Man behind the bluegill, Matt Servant of Mattlures

Date: 4/4/08
Interview: Matt Servant
Location San Diego, CA
Interviewer: Cal



Matt is probably best known for his bluegill baits, and why not when they catch toads like this!

Introduction: In 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!


Cal: Matt, 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?


M.Servant: 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.

Cal: How did you get started in the actual business of designing and building your swimbaits?


M.Servant: 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?

I 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

Cal: What do you feel is the primary difference? Between a bait

designed and built by Matt Servant and those offered by your Competitors?


M.Servant: 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.


Cal:  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?


M.Servant: 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?


M.Servant: 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 perfect it.


Cal: I 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 plastics?


M.Servant: 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!


Cal: Speaking of whatís coming, is there anything you can tell us about what you have in the works?


M.Servant: 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

Cal: 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?


M.Servant: 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 Minnow

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?


M.Servant: 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!

Cal: What is your favorite species of fish to pursue and what species   are on your "someday" list?


M.Servant: 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.


Cal: Thank you again Matt, for taking the time to talk to us. In parting, is there anything you'd like to say to our readers?


M.Servant: 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









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