Hackney's hook change strategies

If there’s one thing Greg Hackney has learned in his 16 years as a professional angler, it’s the wisdom of change. Change locations, change tactics, change baits — flexibility rules. But there’s one small change that Hackney has found to bear significant impact on his ability to effect a desired result — hooks.

“I use to be one to sharpen the hooks that came on the bait, but now I don’t do that because typically you can buy an aftermarket hook that is sharper than what you can do with a file.”

Hackney’s general preference is a short shank treble in a size or two bigger than the bait’s standard hardware. This allows him to maintain a similar profile (i.e. how deeply the hook hangs) and action, while affording a better hook-up opportunity.

That being said, he wants maximum firepower for hitting a moving target.

“I typically like to go with the biggest hook I can put on a bait because that increases my chances of catching a fish on a treble hook bait,” Hackney said. “With crankbaits, jerkbaits, topwaters or anything with a treble hook, that fish is harder to land — even with all those hooks — than a fish that was caught on a single hook bait.”

That said, Hackney offers a few examples of hook changes with situational strategies.

Dead Heads

“I like to run over size hooks on my crankbaits to cut down on the action if I want it to run tighter; deadening the action a little. I do this in clear water, heavy fishing pressure, cold water or around a school of pressured fish.”

For example, on a KVD 2.5 squarebill, Hackney often replaces the standard No. 2 hooks with short shank No. 1 when he’s fishing it around heavy cover, or a 1/0 for open water use over shell beds, rock, etc. Both offer greater lip-grabbing ability, but both options serve particular purposes.