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Bassmaster Elite Angler Greg Hackney compares his must-have gear setups for flipping and swimming jigs through heavy cover.
Greg Hackney is known for his skill with a jig and loves to fish it around heavy cover. He will either use a flippin jig or swim jig depending on the scenario, but one thing is for sure: Each style of jig fishing requires a different set-up in order to fish it effectively. That’s why he helped Lew’s design two signature rods that excel in these scenarios.
When Hackney is flipping a jig in heavy cover, there are a few components that are must-have. The first is a high-quality, high-speed reel like the Lew’s Super Duty casting reel in a fast 8.3:1 gear ratio. “I always want a fast reel anytime I am flipping or pitching so that I can pick up slack quickly and be really efficient by getting that bait in and out of cover. A high-speed reel enables me to do that” says Hackney. He also points out that fish in shallow cover tend to move fast so a high-speed reel allows him to always keep his line tight to make there’s no chance the fish will get slack. Rod wise, he has two rods in his signature series that he helped design specifically for flipping and pitching. There is a 7’6’’ pitching rod and then there’s a 7’1’’ flippin stick. The main difference between the two is that the 7’11’’ flippin stick is heavier than the other.
Hackney says he fishes with his Team Lew’s Signature Series 7’6’’ rod the most because a lot of the cover he fishes in is not extremely heavy. Most of the situations he fishes in is what he would consider “sparse cover” like boat docks, cypress trees, and reed edges. Even situations where he is using fluorocarbon, he will always use the 7’6’’ version. He notes that it’s not an overpowering rod when you pick it up because it fits in your hand perfectly, making it easy to fish with. “Don’t be fooled by this because it’s still a big rod, but one that can still be accurate when casting,” Hackney notes. “It has a heavy to medium-heavy tip which is important, because it has enough tip to carry the bait without losing all your sensitivity” Hackney explains. The reel he picks to match this rod is a Lew’s Super Duty casting reel, in the high-speed 8.3:1 gear ratio.
For situations that call for heavier baits, anything ¾ oz or bigger, Hackney will choose his Team Lew’s Signature Series 7’11’’ flippin stick. When fishing heavier weights, it’s important to not be overpowered by the weight of the lure which is why you need a bigger rod and that’s what this rod excels in. “Environments where I am flipping deep grass or need a lot of power to pull fish out of matts, lily pads and other cover, I will always choose this heavier rod. It’s balanced perfectly and won’t work you as hard when you’re fishing that heavy lure all day,” says Hackney. The reel he pairs this with is the same as when he is pitching, a Lew’s Super Duty in the fast 8.3:1 gear ratio.
When swimming a jig, it’s a totally different ball game for Hackney. He wants a rod that is much softer because you are typically swimming the jig at a high rate of speed. There are two different swim jig rods that he uses depending on the situation. When the cover is not heavy and doesn’t require extra-long casts, he uses his Team Lew’s Signature Series 7’3’’ Frog Rod. It’s a great rod when fishing areas that have lighter cover.
However, in situations where the cover is heavier, he uses a KVD Series 7’6’’ Jig/Carolina Rig/Big Spinnerbait Rod. “This rod does not have a fast tip, but is more of a parabolic, medium heavy style,” says Hackney. In these situations, he is making longer casts, so he likes the extra length this rod provides. He also prefers a bigger reel to hold more line when making longer casts. To pair with this rod, his reel of choice is a Lew’s BB1 Pro in the 7.5:1 gear ratio in colder water and in the 8.3:1 version when swimming the jig at a higher rate of speed. The BB1 reel also has a wider spool which is advantageous in making longer casts. “It’s a fast and powerful reel with big handles,” Hackney says. Ninety-nine of the time he is fishing this with braid. The only time he will switch to fluorocarbon is if he is swimming a jig in deeper water, slow rolling it. “It’s a moving bait so I’m not worried about the fish seeing the line. You’re throwing it in heavy cover most of the time, so there isn’t much opportunity for a fish to see it” says Hackney.