UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Norman

Bryan Thrift’s Greatest Hits

Bryan Thrift’s Greatest Hits
Bryan Thrift

FLW is looking forward to getting back on the water once it’s safe to come together and fish tournaments again. In the meantime, we’ll be offering a little retrospective on some of the all-time greats who’ve fished with FLW through the years.

In this case, we’re visiting the top 10 highlights in the career of Bryan Thrift. Before switching over to the Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour, Thrift had a superlative career while climbing the ranks in FLW and competing on the FLW Tour. With more than $3 million in earnings in basically 15 years, Thrift has been on the leading edge of the technical side of fishing and an overpowering competitor since the start.

 

About Bryan Thrift:

Age: 40

Hometown: Shelby, N.C

Career earnings with FLW: $3,008,675

Career FLW wins: 12

Career FLW top 10s: 68

FLW Cup appearances: 13

 

The highlights

Here are 10 highlights from Thrift’s career in more-or-less chronological order:

 

Check out these Okeechobee giants! These two bass enabled Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C., to win the Southeastern Stren Series on Lake Okeechobee.

1. Turning pro

Fishing as a boater in the South Carolina Division of the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine, Thrift competed in his first FLW tournaments in 2004. He didn’t weigh any bass to start the year at Santee Cooper, but he finished fourth in May on Santee and then second in September on Lake Wylie.

The next year, fishing as a co-angler, Thrift won two of the four Toyota Series Southeastern Division events. Winning on Santee Cooper and Lake Eufaula, Thrift finished second in the season-long points race, ahead of now-familiar names such as John Cox and Brad Knight. Back then, anglers like Wesley Strader, Anthony Gagliardi, JT Kenney and Steve Kennedy were tops in the points on the boater side.

After switching to the boater side of the FLW Series in 2006, Thrift immediately won the season opener on Okeechobee, beating local stick and current BPT pro Bobby Lane by ounces in the finals, but by more than 7 pounds of total weight.

There, Thrift helped to introduce a new lure to the fishing world – one that would go on to become a staple in everyone’s tackle box:

For four days, Thrift fished a 3/8-ounce Chatterbait (made by Rad Lures in South Carolina) in various colors in the Moonshine Bay area of Okeechobee. He fished the bait on 30-pound-test braided line.

Thrift targeted a mix of hydrilla and reeds with the unique swimming jig that features a bill-like blade in the front, which produces an erratic action.

"The best places were where the reed line and hydrilla created a seam," Thrift explained. "There were holes and gaps in the hydrilla where it met the reeds, and that's where all my big bites came from. I'd swim the Chatterbait over the holes, kind of slow-rolling it, ripping it and pausing it over each hole - that's when the big ones would crush it."

On the Tour as a co-angler, Thrift did pretty well in 2006, earning a top-10 finish in two of the three events and handily leading the points race through those tournaments. Unfortunately, he couldn’t fish the rest of the season because of demand, so we all missed out on a chance at witnessing an early stealth COY title for the North Carolinian.

He turned pro on the FLW Tour for the 2007 season.

 

Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C., proudly displays his first-place trophy after winning the FLW Tour event on Lake Norman.

2. 2010

After joining the Tour, Thrift wasted no time in making his mark. He finished second in the first event of the season on Lake Travis before going on to post a 28th-place AOY finish, which was the lowest he ever had on Tour. Naturally, he was the Rookie of the Year. He also finished fifth in the FLW Cup, which was a nice way to get his run of Cup success going.

Thrift finished fifth in points in 2008 and 2009, and in 2010, he took another step forward. After losing his father in January, Thrift put together a truly remarkable season, with four top-10 finishes and a dominating win on Lake Norman. Besting Andy Morgan by 51 points, Thrift also picked up his first Tour AOY title before finishing in the top 10 in the Cup.

2010 was the start of what turned into a truly remarkable decade in which Thrift consistently dominated. Between hoisting that first AOY trophy and now, Thrift would go on to finish in the top 10 on Tour 21 more times, make the top 10 in the Cup eight more times and finish outside of the top eight in the AOY standings just once.

 

Pro winner Bryan Thrift celebrates his second FLW Tour win with his wife Allison and son Wiley.

3. Beaver in 2011

Newly a father in 2011, Thrift won the FLW Tour season opener on Beaver Lake to get 2011 off to a rollicking start. He threw a jerkbait because Matt Arey tipped him off to it and caught a 20-pound bag on the third day of the event, which vaulted him into contention and was the largest single-day bag ever caught in FLW Tour competition on Beaver Lake at that point in time.

Despite it being his second win, and coming on the heels of an AOY, Thrift tabbed the Beaver Lake victory as his most meaningful to that point.

"I don't want to slow down," said Thrift, who has posted seven top-10 finishes and two wins in the last eight events dating back to the 2009 Forrest Wood Cup. "I want to catch them everywhere I go. That's my goal."

He said this win might mean more to him than last year's triumph at Norman, his first Tour win.

"I'd have to say it is, even though this one wasn't at home with a bunch of friends and family around. But it's my first win with my new son, Wylie. It was his first tournament, and he got to see me win."

As it happened, it wouldn’t be the last tournament Wylie would watch his dad win.

 

When the wind picked up Thrift targeted wind-blown grass to pick up this nice keeper on a ChatterBait.

4. The Rayburn win

Thrift took a bit of a break the next few years, though he did notch a pair of second-place finishes on Tour in 2012 and finished third in the Cup in 2012 and 2013. In 2014, coming off a rare triple-digit finish at Lake Hartwell, Thrift bested Mark Rose and Greg Hackney at the FLW Tour event on Sam Rayburn by running up the river and fishing cypress trees for bass that were staging to spawn.

 

Bryan Thrift gets some extreme distance and height on his casts.

5. Gunning at Eufaula

After finishing second in 2013 at Eufaula, Thrift got a measure of revenge on the lake in 2015 to notch his fourth Tour win in six years. There, Thrift targeted hundreds of brush piles during the event, perfectly blending his old-school dock-running skills from the Carolinas with his mastery of technology. On the final day, when his offshore brush program seemed to be faltering, Thrift even picked up a frog to pull a keeper off a dock.

 

Bryan Thrift

6. Two wins in 2016

Thrift added another two FLW wins to his resume in 2016, and he put them together in two strikingly different ways.

The first came in an FLW Series event on Santee Cooper in the spring. The event was a smashfest from the start. Scott Canterbury started it off with a 32-1 limit to take the lead, and though Canterbury faltered, the fishing certainly didn’t. On the final day, Thrift hammered out his own “dirty thirty” to go from fourth to first for the win. Thrift also notably placed his hat over the POV camera mounted on his boat at one of his stops, so you know he was really on the juice.

The next win came at Norman in the FLW Tour Invitational. Thrift actually didn’t win by much – just a few ounces separated him and Scott Beattie – but he started the final day in fifth place and seemed virtually fated to win from the start. It was Thrift’s second win at Norman, and yet another impressive defense of his home waters.

 

Bryan Thrift

7. The second AOY

Down the stretch in 2017, three-time Angler of the Year Andy Morgan threatened to unseat Bryan Thrift. Key word: “threatened.” In the end, Thrift’s incredible start to the season was enough to carry him to his second AOY title.

 On the year, which was the first Tour season with seven events, Thrift finished second at Guntersville and Travis to start the season, then sixth at the Harris Chain, 12th at Lake Cumberland and third at Beaver Lake. He wrapped up the season with two unspectacular-but-sufficient showings on a pair of river systems – 59th on the Mississippi and 48th on the Potomac.

For Thrift and fans, the second title almost seemed overdue.

“It’s nice to finally win it again. I think I blew Angler of the Year three or four times since [2010]. To be able to do it the first season we’ve had seven events, to me that’s a huge accomplishment. The Angler of the Year is the greatest accomplishment you can have in professional fishing. You were the best fisherman all year long. Not one tournament, not the championship, but all year long.”

 

Bryan Thrift

8. Winning on Cumberland

Though Thrift was slow to develop a reputation for Northern excellence, he’s virtually always had a handle on Southern smallmouths. In the spring of 2018, often fishing in pouring rain or frigid cold, Thrift put more than 70 pounds of brown bass on the scale to win the FLW Tour event at Cumberland. Though Clent Davis focused solely on smallmouths and finished third in the event, basically everyone else in the top 10 mixed smallmouths and largemouths or went all green.

 

Bryan Thrift

9. The stats 

During Thrift’s incredible run of success, he’s piled up some pretty unbelievable stats. While nobody has earned more with FLW than David Dudley, who has amassed $3,804,409 in winnings in 25 years, Thrift has earned $3,008,675 in just 16 years and is the only other pro over the $3 million mark. Impressively, of the three pros with more than $2.9 million in earnings (Scott Martin is the other one), Thrift is the only one who has never won $500,000 or more in one shot, and he’s been fishing professionally for fewer years than both Dudley and Martin.

Thrift also has a fairly secure grasp on the FLW Tour/Pro Circuit record for consecutive limits. He rattled off 71 in a row from day two of the 2016 FLW Tour event on Pickwick through day one of the 2019 Tour event on Seminole. In second is Cody Meyer’s streak, which ended at 50 limits, and there isn’t currently an angler on the Pro Circuit with an active streak of more than 21 limits.

Additionally, Thrift left the Tour with a solid grip on a handful of top 10-related stats. In spring 2017, Thrift established a new record for consecutive FLW Tour top 10s at five after making the cut on Saturday at the Harris Chain before finishing “only” 12th at Lake Cumberland in the next event. Had Ron Nelson not finished 11th at the Harris Chain this year we might be a little worried about it, but you can rest assured there’s still a long road ahead for anyone hoping to snap that particular streak.

It should come as no surprise that Thrift has more FLW Tour top-10 finishes than anyone else. He snuck ahead of Andy Morgan, who has 39, during the 2019 season and wound up with 43. Had Brent Ehrler stuck with the FLW Tour and maintained the pace he started on, it might be a slightly different conversation, but as Ehrler didn’t fish with FLW long enough to really pad his numbers, the difference between Thrift and the others at the top is quite startling. Andy Morgan, Clark Wendlandt, Scott Martin and David Dudley have all banked 33 or more top 10s on Tour, but they also all fished much longer careers with FLW. Thrift has done it in a virtual sprint from 2007 to 2019.

 

Bryan Thrift

10. Finally winning the Cup

Having done basically everything you can do at FLW’s pro level, Thrift was still lacking an FLW Cup victory coming into 2019, even after amassing an incredible eight top-10 finishes in the biggest tournament FLW had to offer.  Finally, in what many suspected would be the last FLW Cup, Thrift got it done, winning in dominating fashion in another summertime scorcher on Lake Hamilton in Arkansas. Catching fish on everything from a topwater to a worm and a crankbait, Thrift put together a truly masterful event to finally lock down his place in FLW Cup history. 

Now, with a slew of history behind him, Thrift is already looking quite at home on the BPT, as everyone knew he would. The frightening thing is that he may not yet be in his prime. Though it’s hard to imagine his 40s being better than his 30s, anyone who has watched him over the years has learned to never doubt the possibilities.

Tags: jody-white  article 

Lake Norman Midday Update – Day 1

Lake Norman Midday Update – Day 1

Day one of the Toyota Series on Lake Norman dawned bright and sunny this morning with a morning low of about 52 degrees. A light breeze had the schooling fish popping early and anglers were taking advantage of the fall feed. A lot of topwaters, swimbaits, jerkbaits and spy baits were being offered to the schoolers on main lake points. READ MORE »

MLF and FLW Unify as One Brand

MLF and FLW Unify as One Brand

To further elevate the sport of tournament bass fishing and align multiple circuits as one company, Major League Fishing (MLF) announced today its unification with Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) as one brand, transitioning all FLW brand assets to MLF.   READ MORE »

Clear Lake Midday Update – Day 3

Clear Lake Midday Update – Day 3

It is the final day here at the Toyota Series Western Division event on Clear Lake and another beautiful day with the top 10 pros and co-anglers trying their best to take home the title. READ MORE »

Clear Lake Midday Update – Day 2

Clear Lake Midday Update – Day 2

The second day of the Toyota Series Western Division event on Clear Lake began with slightly cooler weather, but it has turned into a beautiful day here in the Golden State. READ MORE »

Clear Lake Midday Update – Day 1

Clear Lake Midday Update – Day 1

The first day of the Toyota Series Western Division event on Clear Lake started with calm conditions and pleasant weather. Some of the anglers surveyed today were struggling to get bites and others seem to have the fishing dialed in. It appears to be feast or famine so far, but there will be some solid bags crossing the stage starting at 3 p.m. PT this afternoon. READ MORE »

TITLE Coming to the Mississippi

TITLE Coming to the Mississippi

FLW and Explore La Crosse announced Thursday that the 2021 Tackle Warehouse TITLE, the Pro Circuit Championship, will be held Aug. 17-22, 2021, on the Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Although FLW’s top championship has been held on the Mississippi River once before – in Moline, Illinois in 1998 – this event marks the first time that FLW has hosted its premier event in La Crosse. READ MORE »

Fish Northern Rivers for Smallmouth

Fish Northern Rivers for Smallmouth

From the Mississippi River to the Peshtigo River, Wisconsin and the surrounding region has miles of flowing water chock full of smallmouth bass. In the recent Tackle Warehouse TITLE presented by Toyota, Matt Stefan targeted rivers flowing into Green Bay for the majority of his catch, and in doing so, he was able to tap into a skillset that he’s groomed for years on the Wisconsin River and other flowages near him. READ MORE »

2021 Toyota Series Championship Hits Pickwick

2021 Toyota Series Championship Hits Pickwick

FLW and the Hardin County Convention & Visitors Bureau announced Wednesday that Counce, Tennessee, will host the prestigious 2021 Toyota Series Championship, Oct. 28-30, 2021, on Pickwick Lake. READ MORE »

Annual Bass Fishing Hall of Fame Auction Goes Digital

Annual Bass Fishing Hall of Fame Auction Goes Digital

The Bass Fishing Hall of Fame is excited to announce its first Digital Hall of Fame Week, which will be anchored by a massive online auction offering up an incredible selection of fishing-related items not available elsewhere. READ MORE »

Top Patterns and Baits from the Detroit River

Top Patterns and Baits from the Detroit River

With the whole field boxed into the Detroit River for the first two days of the final Toyota Series Northern Division event, it’s natural that the main player was the river itself. But, on the final day, when folks could branch out, Scott Dobson actually ran to St. Clair and many of the other pros ventured into Lake Erie. READ MORE »

2021 All-American Heads to Douglas

2021 All-American Heads to Douglas

FLW announced Tuesday that the 38th annual Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American will be held on Tennessee’s Douglas Lake in 2021. READ MORE »

2021 National Championship set for Grand

2021 National Championship set for Grand

FLW announced Monday that the 12th annual Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship will be held on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees in 2021. The tournament, slated for March 3-5, showcases the nation’s best collegiate anglers and awards the winners a $33,500 prize package, including a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard and automatic entry into the 2021 Toyota Series Championship where they will compete for a top prize of up to $235,000. READ MORE »

Grubb Wins Co-Angler Side at the Detroit River

Grubb Wins Co-Angler Side at the Detroit River

Taking the co-angler win in the Toyota Series Northern Division event on the Detroit River, Tony Grubb weighed four bass for 14 pounds, 1 ounce on the final day for a 46-5 total. For the win, his second as a co-angler with FLW, Grubb takes home a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat worth over $35,000. READ MORE »

Dardanelle Midday Update – Day 3

Dardanelle Midday Update – Day 3

Championship Saturday of the Toyota Series Plains Division opener at Lake Dardanelle presented by Fish-Intel followed its pattern of the week with anglers failing to capitalize on sparse opportunities. READ MORE »

Detroit River Midday Update – Day 3

Detroit River Midday Update – Day 3

With the wind laying down a bit, the top 10 anglers in the Toyota Series Northern Division event on the Detroit River have been able to go wherever they pleased today. With crisp morning temperatures, plenty of sun and a north wind, the conditions have largely been quite good, with mixed results from the anglers. READ MORE »

Dobson Grabs Second Toyota Series W

Dobson Grabs Second Toyota Series W

Weighing 18 pounds and 9 ounces on day three for a 59-3 total, Scott Dobson moved from second to first to win the Toyota Series Northern Division event on the Detroit River. The win is Dobson’s second in Toyota Series competition and his eighth overall with FLW. For the win, Dobson takes home $27,534 and further burnishes his record as one of the best smallmouth anglers on the planet.   READ MORE »

Dardanelle Midday Update – Day 2

Dardanelle Midday Update – Day 2

Anglers said Thursday that current didn’t matter during the first round of the Toyota Series Plains Division opener presented by Fish-Intel at Lake Dardanelle, but apparently it matters more than they thought. READ MORE »

Burton Edges Ahead at the Detroit River

Burton Edges Ahead at the Detroit River

Day two of the Toyota Series Northern Division event on the Detroit River saw the pros stuck in the river itself again due to the wind. Moving up from fourth place into the lead, Wilson Burton weighed 20 pounds, 4 ounces to get up to a 40-11 total. With the only 20-pound bag of the day, Burton slipped past Scott Dobson by just one ounce, who weighed 19-12 and sits behind him with a 40-10 total. READ MORE »

Detroit River Midday Update – Day 2

Detroit River Midday Update – Day 2

With strong wind from the north again, the Toyota Series Northern Division field was again confined to the actual Detroit River. On day one, the fishing was quite good, and several pros crossed the 20-pound mark and plenty of limits hit the scales. Today, things seem a little tougher. READ MORE »

Stokes Leads on the Detroit River

Stokes Leads on the Detroit River

Strong winds kept the pros in the Toyota Series Northern Division event on the Detroit River pinned to the actual river, but the fishing was still very good. Plenty of anglers brought in 17 pounds or more, and the leaders are all concentrated around the 20-pound mark. In first, Troy Stokes of Brownstown, Mich., weighed 21 pounds, 4 ounces to kick things off. READ MORE »