By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor

Greg Hackney is one of several big-name anglers who currently sit outside the cutoff for the 2025 Bassmaster Classic as the Elite Series prepares to conclude its season with back-to-back events in the North Country next month. But he's just barely out right now in a campaign that's seen him finish all over the standings sheet through seven events.

To qualify for his 19th Classic, the 50-year-old from Louisiana may need move up just a bit in the points standings at Lake Champlain and the St. Lawrence River. The Top 40 on the final list are guaranteed berths, but the line will drop at least a couple of rungs due to double qualifiers (reigning Classic champion Justin Hamner leads the AOY race and No. 7 Jay Przekurat has an Opens victory on his ledger).

Some BassFans may assume that the 2014 AOY has been inconsistent because he's primarily an old-school power-fisherman who hasn't entirely embraced the forward-facing sonar craze. That description may be at least partially true, but he insists that his poorest showings can be attributed to a more traditional failing – bad on-the-water decisions.

"I've gambled when I shouldn't have and didn't gamble when I should have," said Hackney, who has two finishes among the Top 13 this year but also two in the 90s. "It's been all my fault and I should've known better.

"I'm just glad to not be all the way out of (Classic contention). Both places we're going to, I've had some bad tournaments and I've had some success. But in these last two, I can't have any bad mistakes. I'm gonna go ahead and try to get myself in at that first event."

He said he's not a total FFS hater and he's actually had some fun employing the new technology. He knows it'll be the predominant factor at Champlain and the St. Lawrence, and he used it predominantly in the most recent derby at Smith Lake (a 78th-place finish) in order to prepare himself for the August tournaments.

He said if all tour-level anglers were ranked on a scale of 1 to 10 based on their FFS ability, he'd peg himself at about a 4.

"It's not that you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but some of us you have to force it on," he said with a chuckle. "I just don't know that I want to do it every week – I still want to fish (traditionally). I still love to flip and do other stuff.

"When I do it, it is fun to see a fish swimming around (on the graph) and fire a bait out there and watch him eat it. But it's not fun to watch someone else do it and it makes everybody look the same. I'm a huge fan of fishing and I watch a lot of it (on livestreams), but if that's all guys are doing, I'll check the weights and turn it off. If they're fishing, I'll watch."

He said one thing the technology has definitely done (and continues to do) is strengthen the fields at the sport's top levels. That aspect magnifies the consequences for miscues such as ill-fated decisions or losing key bites.

"People used to say you really only had to beat 60 or 65 guys or whatever, but now you've gotta beat 90," he said. "These younger guys are still finding themselves and they're like a sponge – they don't have any old habits to overcome. I remember what it was like at that age.

"I'm just kind of biding my time and waiting to see what happens. It's not my place to tell the organizations what to do – I need to control the things I can control and not worry about it. I guess I should be glad that all of this didn't come around 10 years ago, but I might be better off today if it'd happened 20 years ago."