Greg Hackney’s exterior often plays like 60-grit sandpaper. But beneath the beard and a bit of loner’s independence, he has a generous heart for sharing as many deep details about how to catch a bass as you’ve got time to sit and listen to. Hackney has a gift for teaching the sport he loves.
However, as much as he loves it, he also unapologetically takes a day of rest from the water when his mind and body tell him to. Even, at times, when his competition is in the midst of yet another 12-hour practice day.
And it’s working.
Fact is, it’s worked well for Hackney for a decade now, but it’s working better right now than ever. He’s notched three Top 6 finishes this year; cashed a check in every Elite Series tournament, won an FLW event, and sits one point behind Mark Davis in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year race.
“I feel good mentally. I feel good physically. I’m just having a good time,” said Hackney minutes after weighing another fat limit at BASSfest. “You see momentum a lot in our sport. Clunn did it many times. Look at the roll Skeet was on in 2010, and Kevin in 2011.”
Asked if he’s had a magical lure or technique this year as he sat relaxed beside two of his favorite large spooled Quantum EXO reels, Hackney confirmed that was definitely not the case. He then rattled off a list of lures he’s succeeded with long enough to fill a tackle store. Most of them are shallow water lures, but range greatly from topwaters to Strike King’s Hack Attack Heavy Cover Swim jigs and crankbaits, too.
“I talked to (Rick) Clunn in the tackle store the other day, and he said sometimes it seems like the fish are looking for you, rather than you looking for them, and that’s so true when you’re on a roll,” said Hackney, who will be quick to tell you that watching Clunn win the 1984 Bassmaster Classic in Pine Bluff as a teenage spectator was the moment that inspired him to become a pro.
Thirty years later, Hackney, now age 40, can’t wait to get out of bed to compete. “I rolled over in my sleep at 2:30 in the morning looking forward to fishing today.”
But, as far as practice, sometimes he’d rather sleep in. “I’m fishing two tours, that’s a lot, and I fish really well when I’m competing that much, but it definitely wears you out. I ain’t afraid to take a practice day off to rest, and I don’t care what anybody thinks.”
And that’s what we admire most about Hackney. Gutsy, unapologetic, scruffy-bearded independence, complemented by a love of his craft and powerfully good results -- especially this year.