It’s Time to Move to the Front - Major League Fishing
It’s Time to Move to the Front
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It’s Time to Move to the Front

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Todd Kline
December 4, 2017 • Todd Kline • Angler Columns

(Editor’s note: Few co-anglers in the Costa FLW Series have been as successful as California fisherman Todd Kline. He’s won back-to-back Co-Angler of the Year titles and earned more than $124,062 in three seasons.)

I started fishing from the back seat as a co-angler in the Costa FLW Series Western Division in 2013. I entered one tournament, my intentions being to learn the lake and different techniques of the pro anglers with whom I would be fishing.

I had a blast and the experience motivated me to dive in head-first and fish all of the Western Costa FLW Series tournaments for the next four years. During that time, I achieved the biggest goal I had: to learn from the anglers I drew as partners and I practiced with at each tournament.

Fishing with some of the greatest pros in the West has been awesome. Sure, it’s been challenging at times, given that a co-angler’s fishing space is limited, but I wouldn’t change anything about it. I’ve made good friends with many of the FLW Series anglers and it’s been awesome learning from them.

Their techniques, how they break down the water and manage fish have been like lessons at Fishing School. It’s time to graduate. I’ve been an absolute sponge during those four years, and now I’m going to make the big move in 2018; I’m going to fish from the front of the boat in the Costa FLW Series Western Division.


Trevor Fitzgerald goes for the net while co-angler Todd Kline pulls on one.

The stepping stone

As in other areas of life, a fisherman needs to evolve continuously in order to grow. I want to make the move to the front of the boat next year as this will give me the opportunity to continue to develop in a sport that I love. I feel that the knowledge I have gained over the passed four years has given me a great stepping stone.

Why now? Last year I launched a guide service in southern California and it has been awesome. In addition to meeting great people, passing on my knowledge to other anglers and watching them catch fish, I have learned a ton. Constantly being on the water and running my own boat, I have continued to build knowledge and confidence with decision making and reading the water and fish, which will help me in tournaments. Guiding has been a great learning experience.

Also, let’s face it, fishing from the back is great fun, but you can find yourself many times in a tough situation trying to find space to fish while still respecting the pro in the front. That’s one thing I was always mindful of and happy now that I did, considering I’m friends with many of those pros. I feel that I have learned a ton and I’m ready to apply this knowledge. But I also know that I will continue to learn from the front.


Couple o' winners right there in the form of Ray Hanselman and co-angler Todd Kline.
Gaining confidence

The 2018 Western Division schedule will have us competing on Havasu, Clear Lake, and the Delta. As a co-angler, I’ve been blessed with success at the all of those fisheries. We’ll kick off next year at Havasu where I scored two top 10s, with one of those being a win. The second tournament of the year will be at Clear Lake. Here again, I’ve notched two top 10 finishes there, which includes another win.

The final Western Division tournament will take place on the Delta. This fishery has been the most challenging for me, though I’ve been able to get a 2nd place finish there. How will this help me from the front, you might ask?  Well, the biggest thing it will do is give me confidence, knowing I’ve done well on those fisheries in the past. It also will give me a head start since I had the opportunity to fish these lakes with some of the best and saw how they approached each body of water.


Co-angler Todd Kline of San Clemente, Calif., shows off his whopping 9-plus-pound largemouth shortly before winning the Rayovac FLW Series tournament title on Lake Havasu.

Looking forward to Havasu

It’s going to be very challenging next year fishing from the front against the best in the West, but I am super excited. I would have to say that Havasu is the one I’m most excited about, the reason being it’s the first one of the year. I can’t wait. I really like how Havasu fishes in the winter. It’s very difficult, but if you can figure things out, you cash a check.

In my earlier career as a surfer, I learned how strong the mind is when it comes to competing. Several times we would compete in less then ideal conditions and many surfers lost a particular contest before it even started because they became frustrated mentally. The exact same thing happens in fishing.

Many anglers take themselves out of a tournament before it starts because they had a horrible practice and/or fishing is not good. That’s where I think many guys struggle at Havasu and I enjoy such challenges.


Todd Kline

Goals and expectations

My biggest expectation is the same as the one I had when I fished from the back.  HAVE FUN!  If you’re not having fun, you’re not doing yourself any good or the others around you. Don’t get me wrong; I want to win just as much as the next guy, but I feel that if you’re not having fun along the way, what’s the experience really worth?

So here I go. I want to reach the Costa FLW Series Championship my first year as a pro and make the top 10 in the AOY. These are both lofty goals, but I am excited to go after them.