John's Journal...

Bass-Fishing Tactics with Greg Hackney

Day 5: Finally, Crank Them

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Greg Hackney of Gonzalez, Louisiana, one of the hottest tournament fishermen on both pro circuits, has finished in the top-10 in four tournaments with nine more tournaments left to compete in this year. Hackney won the Lake Sam Rayburn Bass Tournament, and so far this year, he’s earned $192,000 on the Bassmaster circuit and is ranked No. 1 statistically on as of May, 2006.

Question: Greg, if you found a group of keeper-size bass on a point in the early summer, you’ve caught those bass on a finesse worm and then crawled and hopped a jig before starting with the finesse worm again, and finally the fish have stopped biting, what will you do next?
Hackney: I’ll stay where I am and begin fishing the crankbait. If the water has any color to it, I’ll be using a chartreuse-and-blue or a lime-and-blue bait. If I’m fishing water that’s 10 feet or less, I’ll be using the Strike King Series 5 crankbait. If I’m fishing 10 to 15 feet of water, I’ll be using the Strike King Series 6 crankbait.

Question: Greg, how are you working the crankbait?
Hackney: I normally work the crankbait pretty fast. I really want that crankbait to run hard, hit a rock, a bush or a stump, deflect off that cover and then start running again. Normally, when I crash a Click to enlargecrankbait into some type structure, that’s when the bite will occur. I don’t stop the crankbait when it hits the cover. I keep the bait coming on a steady retrieve. Oftentimes, I’ll actually hang the crankbait in the cover, and that’s when the bass will hit it.

Question: Crankbaits are notorious for losing bass. How are you keeping the bass on the crankbait once you take them?
Hackney: One thing that I’m doing that a lot of other anglers aren’t doing is that I’m casting my crankbait on braided line. I’ve learned that bass bite totally different on braided line than they do on monofilament line. I think that monofilament has so much give in it that many times the bass don’t think they’re hooked very well, so they jump and cut up to throw the bait. Normally, when you’re fighting the bass on braided line, the fight is much shorter and not as hard as it is when you’re fighting the fish on monofilament line. There seems to be something about the braided line’s not having any stretch in it that seems to cause the bass to give up quicker. I’ve also found that it’s not nearly as hard to cast a crankbait on braided line as it is to cast a crankbait on monofilament line. When I fish a crankbait on a monofilament, I feel like thClick to enlargee crankbait is working twice as hard as it is when I’m fishing it on monofilament. Also, with monofilament, the crankbait isn’t moving as fast, and a lot of times the bass will slap at the crankbaits with their mouths and get hooked up on the outsides of their mouths. But with the braided line, the bait’s moving so fast, a bass usually gets the whole thing in its mouth. I’ve noticed that the hooks generally hook up much better on the braided line than they do on the monofilament line. Now, I’m still using a fiberglass rod and not a graphite rod, and I’ve just found that I catch more fish and lose fewer fish using braided line than I do using monofilament line. I really do like deep cranking with braided line, and I know that my hook-up ratio is much better with that braided line than it was with the monofilament. I’ll use anywhere from as light as 30 to as heavy as 50-pound-test braided line.

Question: What’s another tactic that you use to fish slowly in June?
Hackney: I’ll either be casting a big worm or the Strike King Iguana lizard at this time of the year.

Question: How big is the big worm you’ll be fishing?
Hackney: If I’m fishing a worm, it will be at least 10-1/2-inches long. At this time of the year, the early summer, the bass don’t really seem to want a fast bait, but instead seem to prefer a big bait. The bass are coming off the spawn and trying to build their bodies back up, and they want the triple-decker hamburger, not the Lean Cuisine Meal. At this time of the year, the bass like really big, slow-moving kind of bait. The clearer the water is that I’m fishing, the less action I want in the tail of the worm. The more stained the water is, the more action I want in the tail of the worm. Now when I’m fishing the Iguana, Strike King’s really big lizard, I’ll be fishing it on aClick to enlarge Carolina rig. That’s when I’m fishing for really-big bass. I’ve used the 3/4-ounce weight if I’m fishing less than 6 feet of water. If I’m fishing deeper than 6 feet, I’ll use the 1-ounce lead for my Carolina rig. The reason I’m using the lead is to keep my bait in contact with the bottom. So, I need a heavier lead if I’m fishing in deeper water. You have to remember that the Iguana floats up. That 3X material has a lot more floating power than most other plastics do. So, that Iguana is up high, floating around behind the lead I’m using. Therefore, I want to make sure I have a lead that will stay on the bottom when I’m fishing that heavier and bigger Iguana lizard. I think the bass come to see what’s making the racket that big lead is making as it moves across the bottom. When they come looking, they see that big lizard in that dust cloud behind and above the lead. I really believe that the big lizard catches more big bass than the smaller baits do. You can throw a little lizard and catch 2 pounders, or you can throw a big lizard and catch 5 pounders. Remember that when you use that big lizard, it will cut down on the number of casts you make. The size of fish you catch on the Iguana is generally going to be bigger than the size bass you catch on smaller lizards.

Question: Is it good to fish the big lizard after you have your limit of bass?
Hackney: This depends on your style of fishing. If you’re a headhunter trying to catch big bass, put the Strike King Iguana on first. Many times when you first pull up on a school of bass, the biggest bass in the school will be first one to bite. When I start fishing, if I decide I need to use a big soft-plastic bait to catch bass, I’ll start fishing with the Strike King Iguana.

Question: What color do you like to use?
Hackney: I really like chartreuse, especially when the bass are biting shad. But my favorites are green pumpkin, watermelon and Junebug. Those colors will fit just about any water colors you encounter.

Question: Most people don’t fish a chartreuse-colored lizard, do they?
Hackney: No, I don’t think they do. But what you have to remember is we don’t know what colors look like to bass. We like to think we do, but we really don’t. That chartreuse seems to have a glow, and I believe that in deep-water, chartreuse may not look like shad.

Question: What size line are you using?
Hackney: If I’m fishing in deep water, I’ll probably be using 50- to 60-pound-test braided line, and I’ll have 16- to 20-pound-test Gamma Fluorocarbon leader coming off my main line. If I’m not pushing deep cover, I’ll be using 20-pound-test Gamma Fluorocarbon as my main line and I’ll be fishing 12- to 15-pound Gamma Fluorocarbon as my leader.

Question: How many days a week are you fishing?
Hackney: Up until this year, I was fishing three-different tournament circuits, and I was probably averaging six days a week on the water. But I’ve cut back a little now, and I’m only averaging about five days a week on the water.

Check back each day this week for more about " Bass-Fishing Tactics with Greg Hackney"

Day 1: Fish Slow to Catch More Bass
Day 2: Finesse Fishing Pays Off
Day 3: Drag a Jig, and Drag in Bass
Day 4: Hop It If They Don’t Bite It Dragging
Day 5: Finally, Crank Them


Entry 356, Day 5