Greg Hackney Interview
Watch an exclusive interview with bass fishing pro Greg Hackney taped at the 2008 Bassmaster Classic. Glenn May, founder of BassResource.com, asked him some intriguing questions, and Greg made an announcement you'll only see here!
Glenn: Hi, I'm with Greg Hackney at the Bassmaster Classic. Getting ready for another appearance for the Classic for you.
Greg Hackney: It is.
Glenn: Greg, can you tell us a little bit about how you got started in tournament fishing and progressed up to where you are today?
Greg: You know, actually I got started at a fairly young age. I think I fished my first tournament when I was 11, and it was the year the Bassmaster Classic was in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, in '84. Went to that, just huge deal, all the tackle, the boats, watched Clunn break the all-time record. From there it just kind of took off. I fished club tournaments, joined a federation. As I progressed, I was looking for a tougher field, and eventually I ended up here.
Glenn: So with someone who's just starting out in the tournament circuits and maybe has aspirations to make it to this level, what kind of advice would you give them?
Greg: The biggest thing, what worked for me, it may not work for everyone, is not starting off too big too soon. What I mean by that is starting off with a club, and when you feel like, not necessarily that you have to dominate the club, but that you're really consistent. And that way you build confidence in yourself, and as you get confidence there you move to the next level.
And for me, that's the way it was for me. Every time I felt like I was fulfilled at a level, I went to the next. And that's how I eventually ended up here, and for me it worked out, and I never felt like I overloaded myself too quick by doing that. Baby steps or whatever. And everybody matures at their own rate. You know, some by far sooner than others, but for me it was a gradual process.
Glenn: Okay. And sponsors play an important role in building your career and moving along. Can you tell me a little bit about the sponsorships that you've gotten and how they've helped you along the way, and maybe what you do for them in return?
Greg: The biggest thing with how sponsorships help me now is they take so much pressure off of me. The deal is, with most sponsors, they pay you more than what they expect out of you. It really works out for the fisherman. I feel honored to work for them actually. The deal is, I don't have to worry about my light bill. When I first started, you're worried about paying your bills at home, paying entry fees, and eventually you get to a point where you align yourself with the right sponsors, it takes a lot of pressure. They want you to fish and do well, and they're behind you 110 percent.
Glenn: Great. Let's talk a little bit about on the water. For instance, when you're pre-fishing for a tournament, what exactly are you trying to accomplish, and how do you go about doing that?
Greg: Really for me, I'm trying to accomplish two things. The first thing, I'm trying to come up with a pattern that suits my style of fishing. Not only am I just looking for a pattern, I'm looking for one that suits me. The other thing is I'm eliminating water. During the tournament I don't want to spend any time in dead water or have any wasted motion. I want to be able to get around real efficiently, be able to move from one spot to the other with no wasted time. Really just almost machine-like. I want everything to go right.
When the day's over I want to turn around and look back. I made no mistakes. I have no regrets. There are so many variables in fishing, you can't win every tournament. But I want to go out of the tournament, even if I didn't win, and say I made no mistakes. I fished flawlessly. I moved when I was supposed to. I did the things I, you know, when I got that bite I caught it. I was thinking about it. I was ready for it. And normally, if you fish a tournament like that, even though you may not win, you're always in the top 20 percent.
Glenn: You just mentioned a minute ago about moving when you're supposed to. Well what determines that? How do you figure out how long to stay in a spot, and what determines when you should move? Aren't you a little worried that when you move on a good spot that maybe someone might come in and take that spot from you?
Greg: Not really. I've been doing this long enough now, I pretty much just go with my gut feelings. I'm watching the signs of life, getting signs from the fish, and I don't know. I actually have a lot of confidence in myself and my abilities, so when I say it's time to go, I believe it's time to go. And even though somebody may come along, normally you don't know that. You know what I'm saying? You don't see that happen.
And what really builds confidence like that is when you get that gut instinct to move, and you move, and you catch them on the next move. The more you do that and the more you build confidence, the more you start to believe in your own instincts. And I believe fishing, you do a lot better believing on your own instincts rather than forcing something. Forcing them to bite, forcing an issue. It goes back to being more fluid.
Glenn: Okay. Would you say that confidence level is the difference between an elite angler such as yourself and the weekend warrior, or do you think there are other factors involved?
Greg: I believe that's one of the biggest differences between this level of competition and the weekend guy. There is no one in this room right now that does not believe they can't catch them. They're all out there. They know they can catch them. If they get to biting, they'll catch them. This is the cream of the crop.
Glenn: Let's talk a little bit about the tournament rules. Every year they change them a little bit on you. If it was in your control, if you could change one rule, what would that be?
Greg: The biggest thing for me, the one rule I would change, that you could get no help. There would be a forever off-limits. When a tournament was announced, at that point, whether it was three years in advance or whatever, that you could not solicit any local information. You couldn't go there until the official practice for the tournament. That would be the one I would change, and I just think that totally keeps the playing field level.
Glenn: Okay. I want to give you a moment to take the platform it's what I call "the shameless plug moment." You can plug anything you want. Upcoming boat DVD, or you can say hi to your fans or family, or say something about your sponsors. Whatever you want. The platform's yours.
Greg: The biggest thing that I want to plug is a new hook company coming out, and me and three other guys that are in this room right now are going to be owners and are developing all the hooks. It's going to be the biggest thing to come out since the wheel.
Greg: Honestly. So, just everybody needs to watch for that because it's on its way.
Glenn: I'm definitely going to look for that. Alright. Well thank you very much for spending time with us. I appreciate it, and good luck out on the water.
Greg: Thank you.