John's Journal...

How Bass Pro Greg Hackney Makes Winning Decisions

When to Change Lures

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Each professional bass fisherman makes different decisions on how, what, where, and when to fish. Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, once said, “The person who makes the most right decisions in any bass tournament will win.” Strike King pro Greg Hackney of Gonzales, Louisiana, also has proven that he knows how to make right decisions in a bass tournament by becoming one of only two fishermen to qualify for the Bassmaster Classic and the FLW World Championship in the same year. Hackney will be fishing the 2009 Bassmasters Classic in February on Louisiana’s Red River. This week, Hackney will tell us how he makes fishing decisions on the water.

Question: How do you make the decision to change lures or tactics?Click to enlarge
Hackney: I usually give myself a time limit. For instance, if a bank with a lot of cover should be holding a number of bass, I’ve picked a lure those bass should hit. Then if I don’t get a bite, I’ll change lures. There must be a reason those bass aren’t taking the bait.

Question: When do you decide to change lures, if you’re not getting any bites?
Hackney: This really depends on the size of bass for which I’m fishing. If I’m fishing for limit-sized bass with lures I think should produce weigh-in-size bass, then I’ll change lures after about 30 minutes, if I haven’t gotten a bite. If I’m fishing for really-big bass that will weigh 5- to 12-pounds each, I won’t get many of those types of bites. So, I’ll try to catch big fish with a big lure longer than I’ll attempt to take a smaller bass with a smaller lure. For instance, if I’m fishing the Strike King Iguana, Click to enlargeI’m pretty sure I’ll only get a big bass to bite. Depending on where I’m fishing, I don’t expect to get more than three to five bites, so I’ll stay with that bait much longer than I will if I’m fishing the Strike King Bitsy Bug, trying to catch 4- to 5-1/2-pound bass. When I’m fishing the Iguana, I may put that big worm in front of 25-little bass that won’t bite it to finally get it in front of one big bass that will hit it. Therefore, the size of the bass for which I’m fishing and the size of bait I’m using determine how long I’ll fish that lure before I switch.

There are many changing fishing conditions during the day that may cause me to change lures, based on that specific condition on that lake, on that day. I observe what the birds are doing, search for shad and check the water level. To fish effectively, you really have to monitor all the fishing conditions on the lake when you’re fishing. When you notice changes in wind, weather, water color and baitfish activity or spot birds diving on bait, you have to be prepared to switch lures to match that changing condition. Click to enlarge

I believe in fishing in the moment, trying to determine the best lure to use for the moment I’m fishing. More anglers are beginning to adopt this philosophy and aren’t going into tournaments with hard-and-fast game plans. If the fishing conditions change when you’re on the water, the game plan you’ve set-up the night before may not be the best way to fish, while you’re on the water.

When you’ve fished as long and as hard as most professional tournament bass fishermen have, you develop a sixth sense you can depend on that tells you when to switch lures. I don’t really know how this sixth sense works, but your subconscious is constantly analyzing that huge database of information you’ve built from thousands of hours of fishing. When I get that subconscious message to change lures, I don’t try to reason why I should or shouldn’t change lures. I just change. That little voice has been right more times than it’s been wrong. You can’t teach someone to fish intuitively. That ability just happens after you’ve logged thousands of hours on the water trying to catch bass.

Tomorrow: Know When to Hold ‘Em and When to Fold ‘Em

Check back each day this week for more about "How Bass Pro Greg Hackney Makes Winning Decisions"

Day 1: Fish Close or Run Far
Day 2: When to Change Lures
Day 3: Know When to Hold ‘Em and When to Fold ‘Em
Day 4: Does the Weather Get Too Bad to Fish?
Day 5: Fourth and Forty: Being a Hero or a Goat


Entry 489, Day 2