UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Hartwell

2020 Pro Circuit Predictions

2020 Pro Circuit Predictions

The Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit is at Sam Rayburn Reservoir in Brookeland, Texas, this week to kick off what promises to be another great season of professional bass fishing for FLW. In anticipation of great things to come during the inaugural Pro Circuit season, a few FLW staff members and one Pro Circuit pro decided to play pundit and make a few predictions. 

 

Ron Nelson

Ron Nelson for AOY 

– Jody White, FLW Digital Editor 

As one of the foremost Ron Nelson fans on staff, I feel like it’s incumbent on me to engineer an Angler of the Year prediction for the sophomore Michigan pro. This year, there are only three returning pros that finished higher in the standings than Nelson in his Rookie of the Year season in 2019: John Cox, Joseph Webster and Terry “Blade” Bolton. Now, though Cox is amazing, I think you can slip him out of the mix due to the likelihood that he’ll miss at least one event for a Bassmaster Elite Series tournament. The likely absence of Cox makes the anglers in contention for the title awfully level. I don’t see anyone running away with AOY this year, but, gosh, can I see Nelson doing well. He’s great around grass and due for redemption at Rayburn, and I’m to the point with Nelson that there isn’t anywhere I don’t trust him to figure it out. Nelson’s unique pattern of fishing in the Southeast and the North seems to have given him a good start on national competition, and he really only stumbled at Grand and Rayburn in 2019. Finally, if things are close at the end, I would wager a lot on Nelson excelling in the final smallmouth showdown on the Detroit River. After all, he finished a close third in the points to the likes of Austin Felix and Chris Johnston the last time the Northern Division fished a smallie-only schedule. 

 

John Cox

John Cox makes the TITLE

– Matt Stefan, Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit pro 

If I told you I thought an angler would qualify for the championship without fishing an entire year you’d probably think I was nuts. But I predict John Cox will qualify for the FLW TITLE championship even though he will most likely miss one of the regular-season events. He’s that good.

Read more about Cox's plan to fish two major circuits this season.

 

Nick LeBrun

Nick LeBrun finds redemption at Rayburn

– Justin Onslow, FLW Associate Editor 

Last year, then-rookie Nick LeBrun announced his presence on the FLW Tour with a bang and turned in a second-place finish at 2019’s first event on Sam Rayburn. He very nearly missed out on the victory (which went to Terry Bolton, who should also do well at Big Sam again this season) with a four-day total of 90 pounds, 7 ounces. 

High winds and poor boating conditions on the morning of day four last year forced tournament officials to deliberate and ultimately push back the final round for a day. During that process, no one in the top 10 was as amped up and ready to fish as LeBrun, and it was at that point I realized just how confident he is on Rayburn and how badly he wants to win his first pro-level event. He’ll get another shot at it this week, and this time he’s going the distance. 

 

Wade Strelic

A dozen under 30 years old will qualify for the FLW TITLE championship

– Curtis Niedermier, FLW Editor-in-Chief

FLW has some serious young firepower on the Pro Circuit this season with a roster that includes 27 pros who won’t even be 30 years old when the season kicks off at Sam Rayburn on Thursday (two of them, Evan Barnes and Kyle Gelles, will turn 30 during the season). Most of these young bucks have a few professional seasons behind them, too, which means they’re primed to have big showings in 2020. I’m predicting we’ll see a dozen of our current “under 30s” qualify for the FLW TITLE championship this year. That’s 12 out of the 50 qualifiers. And if I’m wrong, we’ll still see 10 make it in. 

In case you were wondering who’s still under 30, here’s the list: Lane Olson (19), Colby Miller (20), Bailey Boutries (20), Kyle Hall (22), Laramy Strickland (22), Tyler Woolcott (22), Cole Floyd (23), Hunter Freeman (23), David Gaston (23), Jared McMillan (23), Sam George (24), Travis Archer (25), Corey Neece (25), Jacob Wall (25), Tyler Stewart (25), Joshua Weaver (25), Dakota Ebare (27), Matt Becker (27), Preston Craig (27), Kurt Mitchell (27), Cody Nichols (27), John Hunter (28), AJ Slegona (28), Wade Strelic (29), Chad Warren (29), Evan Barnes (29) and Kyle Gelles (29).

 

Dakota Ebare

Dakota Ebare will earn a W 

– Jody White

Dakota Ebare came perilously close to a win several times in 2019, most notably in an FLW Series event at Table Rock and in the FLW Cup on Hamilton. Overall, Ebare had a phenomenal first season as a pro, earning more than $124,000 across all the tournaments he fished. This year, he has already earned money in the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Cowboy Division opener on Rayburn, so he seems to be back in the saddle pretty nicely. I think in 2020 he’ll close the door on a Pro Circuit W in some form or fashion. I could totally see Rayburn happening (though I suspect Nick LeBrun will have something to say about that), but there really isn’t any lake he couldn’t win on because, after a frantic 2019, he’s fished everywhere. 

Read more about Dakota Ebare's marathon season in 2019.

 

Spencer Shuffield

Spencer Shuffield will win at Dardanelle 

– Matt Stefan 

Picking tournament winners can be difficult, but if I had to pick the pro I think had the best shot at winning any of the regular-season events I would choose Spencer Shuffield at Lake Dardanelle. I know he has been tearing up Arkansas lakes, and I think he’s going to have a leg up on the majority of us at Dardanelle since the Pro Circuit hasn’t been there in the 10 years I’ve been a pro. The rest of us won’t have near as much experience to fall back on. 

 

Cole Floyd

Rookie Cole Floyd will make the FLW TITLE championship

– Justin Onslow 

Age and time on the water often go hand-in-hand, but that’s not necessarily the case with Pro Circuit rookie Cole Floyd. The three-time Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine LBL Division AOY is only 23, yet he already has a ridiculously stacked resume at the grassroots level, including FLW College Fishing presented by YETI and the FLW Series.

The Bethel University standout is making the jump to the Pro Circuit this season, and while most 23-year-olds would struggle with that jump, Floyd won’t. He might have a couple letdowns here or there, but I’m predicting at least one top 10 and a TITLE appearance for the young pro. 

 

Ron Nelson

John Cox, Ron Nelson will make four top-30 cuts apiece

– Curtis Niedermier 

This season’s Pro Circuit schedule has a little bit of everything in it: big Texas prespawn bass, Florida spawners, Southern smallmouths, spotted bass, junk-fishing lakes, big water up north and plenty of different styles of fisheries. With a schedule so diverse, everyone on the roster will at some point find himself in a scenario that fits his specialty, but only a few have the kind of track record that suggests they’ll be top-10 contenders at every event. Among them are John Cox and Ron Nelson. This is probably bold, but I predict both will make four top-30 cuts during the regular season, and they’ll probably each make at least a couple of top 10s. 

Nelson is a smallmouth hammer who’ll do great at Detroit River and Cherokee Lake. He’s also had a few good finishes in Florida in his career, which suggests he might make the cut at the Harris Chain, and could easily get a top 30 junk-fishing at Dardanelle or catching spots at Martin or Hartwell. Last year at Rayburn, Nelson blanked on day one, but caught 16-plus on day two. I think we’ll see two good days this time for a shot at the cut. 

As for Cox, making four top-30 cuts would be extraordinary because he’ll miss a tournament due to a scheduling conflict. But Cox does extraordinary stuff all the time. He’ll make the top 30 at Harris, Hartwell and Dardanelle for sure. And he’ll probably come close at all the others.

Wiley X Teams with FLW

Wiley X Teams with FLW

FLW, the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, announced today a multi-year sponsorship agreement with Wiley X, one of the most trusted brands in the world for safety eyewear, high-performance sunglasses, and optical/protective sports eyewear for youth. Effective immediately, Wiley X becomes the official sunglass provider of FLW and assumes title sponsorship of the FLW High School Fishing Camp, the ultimate summer camp for serious high school anglers, their parents, boat captains and coaches. In addition to the High School Fishing Camp, Wiley X has also been named the presenting sponsor of the new Major League Fishing (MLF) College Faceoff events. READ MORE »

Dortch’s Flipping Setup

Dortch’s Flipping Setup

After growing up on the Tensaw River in Alabama and spending much of his early fishing career in Florida, Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit pro Bradley Dortch naturally has a very good handle on flipping. Especially around matted cover, Dortch is quick to put a big stick into action, and his preferences fit him perfectly. If you’re looking for a new flipping plan, or maybe just thinking about tweaking around the edges, his advice could be applicable to you. READ MORE »

Co-angler Opportunities Expand in Toyota Series

Co-angler Opportunities Expand in Toyota Series

For 2020, FLW has partnered with Toyota to roll out a host of enhancements to its Triple-A league known as the Toyota Series – including great new opportunities for co-anglers. READ MORE »

Abu Garcia Partners with FLW, MLF

Abu Garcia Partners with FLW, MLF

FLW and Major League Fishing (MLF) announced today a sponsorship agreement with Abu Garcia, a legendary fishing brand and industry-leading manufacturer known for its high-quality, innovative rods and reels. Abu Garcia will immediately assume title sponsorship of FLW College Fishing circuit. READ MORE »

Toyota Series: Best Value in Fishing

Toyota Series: Best Value in Fishing

For 2020, FLW has partnered with Toyota to roll out a completely revamped Triple-A league known as the Toyota Series, with many enhancements over the previous FLW Series that were requested by competitors. READ MORE »

Register Now for High School Camp

Register Now for High School Camp

Registration is now open for the 2020 Wiley X High School Fishing Camp presented by Tackle Warehouse, which runs from July 22-24. The registration period will continue through June 30 or until all camp spots have been filled.  READ MORE »

Toledo Bend Midday Update – Day 3

Toledo Bend Midday Update – Day 3

The final day of the Toyota Series Southwestern Division event on Toledo Bend is an absolutely glorious one, in terms of weather. A light breeze and sunny skies greeted anglers for the first time all week, and while it may be pleasant to be outside in, it hasn’t done much to help the fishing. READ MORE »

Toledo Bend Midday Update – Day 2

Toledo Bend Midday Update – Day 2

It was another cloudy, cool morning to start day two of the Toyota Series Southwestern Division event on Toledo Bend. With water temperatures hovering around 52 degrees, the fish weren’t in much of a biting mood throughout much of the morning. READ MORE »

Fish BFL, Series for Chance to Win Polaris

Fish BFL, Series for Chance to Win Polaris

Just as it did last season, Polaris is teaming up with FLW in 2020 to give away a pair of ATVs and a UTV. READ MORE »

Toledo Bend Midday Update – Day 1

Toledo Bend Midday Update – Day 1

Day one of the Toyota Series Southwestern Division season opener on Toledo Bend has been about what the competitors figured it would be – a slow and steady grind. A misty rain and light fog greeted anglers at takeoff, followed by a decent wind out of the north bringing a chill to the air, which wasn’t exactly forecasted. READ MORE »

Previewing the St. Johns River

Previewing the St. Johns River

With the addition of new divisions on the 2020 Toyota Series schedule, Florida anglers (and anyone else hoping for a full schedule of Florida fisheries) get a trio of Sunshine State staples on the docket this year, starting with the St. Johns River on February 13. READ MORE »

Toyota Sponsors MLF and FLW

Toyota Sponsors MLF and FLW

Toyota Motor North America (TMNA) announced today a formal sponsorship of Major League Fishing (MLF), professional bass fishing’s newest premier tournament organization, and home to Team Toyota professional anglers Mike Iaconelli, Terry Scroggins, Kevin VanDam, and Jacob Wheeler. The partnership includes Fishing League Worldwide (FLW), the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, as title sponsor of the Toyota Series. READ MORE »

Sharing Forrest Wood Stories

Sharing Forrest Wood Stories

In the few days since Forrest Wood passed away, thousands of people have taken to social media to share their favorite “Forrest Wood story” in public tribute to one of bass fishing’s most iconic men. In keeping with the trend, we reached out to people within the FLW family and the broader fishing industry and invited them to share a Forrest Wood story or two, or to reflect on what Forrest meant to them. READ MORE »

Forrest Wood’s Legacy

Forrest Wood’s Legacy

Surrounded by his family, Forrest Wood passed away in a Mountain Home, Ark., hospital just after 9 a.m. Saturday, four days after suffering a heart attack in his home. Wood, who was 87 at the time of his death, was the founder of Ranger Boats of Flippin, Ark. A pioneer of bass tournament fishing, he helped launch the careers of hundreds of aspiring tournament anglers through sponsorships. During his 20-year span at the helm of the company he founded with his wife, Nina, Forrest is credited with laying the groundwork for the modern bass boat through his innovative designs and engineering advancements. READ MORE »

Forrest L. Wood, 1932-2020

Forrest L. Wood, 1932-2020

FLW is saddened to report that Forrest L. Wood, the namesake of our organization and a longtime member of the FLW family, passed away today at age 87. He spent his final days surrounded by his family, including his wife of 68 years, Nina. READ MORE »

Daniel Fennel to Direct Pro Circuit

Daniel Fennel to Direct Pro Circuit

At the registration meeting for this week’s Pro Circuit season opener at Sam Rayburn Reservoir, FLW announced that Daniel had been promoted to senior director of tournament operations for the Pro Circuit, FLW Series and Phoenix Bass Fishing League, with responsibilities to include directing the Pro Circuit. Bill Taylor, who served as tournament director for the FLW Tour from 2001 through 2019, has been promoted to senior director of operations, where he’ll lend his expertise acquired through more than two decades as a tournament director toward logistics, angler relations and event planning for all FLW circuits. READ MORE »

John Cox Making Most of Opportunities

John Cox Making Most of Opportunities

In addition to finishing second in the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit standings last season, John Cox finished runner-up in the Bassmaster Central Open standings and fourth in the Eastern Open standings, qualifying him to fish the Pro Circuit and Bassmaster Elite Series this year. While many pros were faced with some either-or decisions this offseason, Cox chose both – fishing the Pro Circuit and Elite Series – and he’s not even a bit nervous about doing both. READ MORE »

Tackle Warehouse Teams with FLW

Tackle Warehouse Teams with FLW

FLW, the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, announced today that it has reached a sponsorship agreement with Tackle Warehouse, the sport’s leading online retailer that offers the guaranteed lowest prices on bass fishing tackle from every top brand. Effective immediately, Tackle Warehouse becomes the official tackle retailer of FLW and assumes title sponsorship of the FLW Pro Circuit, professional bass fishing’s premier five-fish-limit tournament series. READ MORE »

Rookie Profile: Laramy Strickland

Rookie Profile: Laramy Strickland

Being a rookie on the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit can be daunting no matter what age you are. This year, there are 28 newcomers eager to prove themselves against some of the best in the game. And while the bulk of them have been chasing the dream for a while, 22-year-old Laramy Strickland of Bushnell, Fla., will be one of the younger pros looking to make a name in the industry. READ MORE »

How to Prep Like a Pro

How to Prep Like a Pro

When it comes to getting ready for a season of tournaments, there are plenty of ways to do it. But, there’s no denying that for most people, being prepared will lead to better performance on the water. READ MORE »