John's Journal...


When Minus Is A Plus

EDITOR’S NOTE: Winning $65,000 and the title that went with it, Angler-of-the-Year on the Forest L. Woods (FLW) tour, prove that Greg Hackney knows how to catch bass. One of the newest members of the Strike King Pro Staff, Hackney from Gonzalez, Louisiana, has been fishing professional tournament circuits for 5 years. However, he’s been competing in bass-fishing tournaments since he was only 11-years old. Hackney is the number-two pro in the nation according to This week he’ll tell us how to catch bass during March.

QUESTION: What’s another lure that you like to fish at this time of the year?

HACKNEY: This time of the year, you can catch plenty of bass on the Strike King’s Series 1 crankbait and the Spence Scout crankbait. The Spence Scout is an old bait that many anglers have forgotten. It was one of the first lures that Strike King produced. I’ve found it to be just as effective, if not more effective, now versus when it was originally made. I’ve found the Spence Scout to be most-effective when you tie it to the bottom line tie, not the top line tie. This crankbait has a metal lip and is a shallow runner. I fish the Spence Scout over vegetation or when I am cranking wood. I fish it in the same place I would fish the Series 1XS over vegetation, around wood and any place you would fish a spinner bait.

QUESTION: What type of retrieve are you using?

HACKNEY: When I’m fishing the Spence Scout, the Series 1, or the Series 1XS, I use a really-slow retrieve and a heavy line to help float-up the bait.

Click to enlargeQUESTION: How do you decide which one of these crankbaits you’re going to fish?

HACKNEY: I prefer to fish the Spence Scout when the water is really dirty and stained. I use the Series 1XS when the water is slightly-stained clear because it has a smaller profile. The Series 1XS is the same size as the Series 1 except that it has a turned down lip and runs extremely shallow. Both the Spence Scout and the Series 1XS run about 6-inches deep. To get the Spence Scout down you have to tie it on the bottom line tie.

QUESTION: What colors do you like?

HACKNEY: I like chartreuse and black, the brown crawfish which is orange and brown, the red crawfish and chrome with a black back.

QUESTION: When you’re fishing these lures how long are the casts you’re making?

HACKNEY: I’m making long casts trying to cut through as much water as possible with these lures. I’m usually casting them out over long flats or paralleling the edge of a long flat. Most people fishing this lure this way don’t believe they’ll catch big bass because the lures are so small. You have to remember that if the bass are going to the bed or coming away from it, they’re going to be hungry and will eat anything they can during this process. I think it’s also important to remember, since we talked about fishing for bedding bass earlier, that not all the bass are on the bed at the same time. During this month in many places in the nation, you’ll have bass going to the bed, sitting on the bed and coming off the bed all at the same time on the same lake. I’m from south Arkansas, and every year in the spring, anglers in my area consistently catch huge bass on the Strike King Spence Scout and the Series 1XS crankbaits.

Click to enlargeQUESTION: On what pound-test line are you casting these baits?

HACKNEY: I like 20-pound-test fluorocarbon. Although the Series 1XS and the Spence Scout are small profile baits, they’re heavy baits. You can cast them long ways even on lines as big as 14- to 20-pound-test. The Series 1XS probably weighs 5/16-ounce, and the Spence Scout weighs 1/2-ounce. I usually cast those baits on a 7-foot rod with 25-pound-test line.

QUESTION: Where is another place besides flats that you fish these two lures?

HACKNEY: I’ve learned that shallow-diving crankbaits are most-effective around lily pad beds at this time of the year because the lily pads haven’t grown back yet. The bass will be hanging around those lily pad fields looking for little baits near the surface. In these areas, most anglers throw spinner baits, but I’ve found that these little crankbaits are far more-productive. The reason I like the Series 1XS and the Spence Scout so much is they allow me to fish a different type of lure in what most anglers consider to be spinner bait water. When I fish these crankbaits in spinner bait water, I’m giving the bass a different lure to look at during a different time of year in a place where he hasn’t seen that lure before, which I believe causes me to get more strikes.

QUESTION: Are there any other factors that make you like these lures so much?

Click to enlargeHACKNEY: I like the Spence Scout and the Series 1XS because they’re the same, yet different. By that I mean they’re both shallow-running crankbaits that have two-entirely different looks, yet they work the same water. The Series 1XS has a tighter wobble than the Spence Scout does. I like to fish it when the water is cool, or when a cold front hits. I like to fish the Series 1XS when the water is starting to clear. The Spence Scout has a wider wobble, and I prefer to fish it when the water is warmer and more stained. The Spence Scout also has a skirt on the back of it that gives this lure a completely-different look from any other baits the bass have seen at this time of year. One of the advantages of fishing the Spence Scout is that this old lure has been around as long as Strike King. It was initially made out of balsa wood, and it’s still a good bait now. The big advantage to the Spence Scout is that most anglers have forgotten about it and these are the reasons why I’m still using it. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that a good lure is a good lure and will always be a good lure. Therefore, when other anglers quit using an old good lure and start fishing a new good lure, that old good lure becomes a new good lure.


Check back each day this week for more about GREG HACKNEY ON BASSING

Day 1: Smoke the Black Buzzbait
Day 2: Figuring Out Tube Bass
Day 3: Bet on Creature Baits
Day 4: When Minus Is A Plus
Day 5: Wanted – Big Bass Only



Entry 342, Day 4