2019 FLW Tour Predictions - Major League Fishing

2019 FLW Tour Predictions

Pundits and pros weigh in on the upcoming season
Image for 2019 FLW Tour Predictions
December 25, 2018 • MLF • Fishing League Worldwide

There are a lot of unknowns at the beginning of every FLW Tour season, but this year is special. With 34 rookies and an absolutely killer slate of big-fish lakes, a lot could happen. We gathered together some FLW staff and Tour pros to crank out a few predictions for the season. Some of them are pretty straightforward. Others are a little more out there…


Cox finally does it

John Cox has finished top 10 in the AOY standings three of the last four years. With how the schedule lines up, there’s no reason to believe he won’t be in the mix again this year. As long as the fish are biting up shallow (which they always seem to be for him), I think he’s going to finally lock down an Angler of the Year title. – Drew Aspinwall, FLW Communications and Social Media Specialist



Felix wins on Champlain

Austin Felix is on a first-name basis with almost every smallmouth bass in Lake Champlain. He’s excellent on smallmouth fisheries and seems to always be able to catch just a little bit better average-size smallmouth than the rest of the field. On Champlain, every ounce counts. I’ve talked to him several times, and all he wants to do is talk about Harry Potter and Lake Champlain. I think he’s excited for that one. – Matt Stefan, FLW Tour pro


Someone else wins AOY

The AOY title will not be won by one of the big-four power hitters: Thrift, Martin, Dudley or Cox. As good as they all are, I’m predicting another Tour veteran will step up and take the crown. With the departure of some of the most well-known FLW pros, a lot of people believe the talent level has dropped immensely. But, let me tell you that the caliber of anglers on Tour is still phenomenal. There are a lot of us that want nothing more than to hold up the AOY title at the end of the year. – Matt Stefan


We get a blowout at Big Sam

I think Sam Rayburn will be won by a Texan by a margin of 15 pounds or more. Sam Rayburn has some giant bass in it, and I’m expecting to see several bags of more than 30 pounds weighed in. But a lot of people will struggle as well, and the guys that find them will absolutely crush them, creating a lot of separation over the majority of the field. My pick would be Todd Castledine, Russel Cecil or Dicky Newberry, but any of the Texas boys could win this event. – Matt Stefan


AOY and FLW Cup champions will be first-time winners 

There’s been some turnover on the Tour this year, and there are plenty of new faces in the 170-angler field. Hammers such as Bryan Thrift and Scott Martin are still around, sure, and I wouldn’t necessarily use my own money to bet against either of them winning AOY or the Cup. But, considering the volume of new (and fairly new) faces we’ll see on the water this year, it’s a pretty good bet there will be at least a couple guys who make a name for themselves en route to AOY honors or a Cup victory. – Justin Onslow, FLW Associate Editor


Someone cracks the century mark at Chick

Chickamauga in the spring. There’s very little else to say. Last time the Tour visited Chick (in June 2015), Michael Wooley sacked up 92-4 for the win. The Tour will come to Chick more than a month earlier in the season this year, and that means bigger fish, shallower, on a lake that hasn’t stopped producing massive bags. Cracking 100 pounds is hard to do, but I think there’s a shot on the hawg factory that is Chickamauga. – Justin Onslow


A rookie makes it happen

I predict that at least one rookie will win a Tour event in 2019. The youth movement is in full-force, and with a big influx of seasoned rookies 2019 could be a big year for them. In fact, I’ll go one step further and predict that FLW Tour rookie Dicky Newberry will win the opener at Rayburn. – Todd Hollowell, FLW Live Analyst


Thrift’s streak survives the season

Due to the greatness of Bryan Thrift and the sweet schedule on tap for the 2019 FLW Tour season, I think there’s almost no way that Thrift’s consecutive limit streak in Tour competition ends. The fisheries are too good, and the timing of the events is right for a bunch of slugfests. As long as we don’t get sleet at Rayburn in January or some other crazy weather-influenced event along the way, his streak survives. Maybe … maybe it ends at the FLW Cup on Hamilton. The precedent is there: Thrift has fished 12 Cups as a pro, and in five of them he’s failed to catch a limit at least one day. August is a tough month, and at the Cup Thrift swings for the win, which can jeopardize his chances at a five-bass limit. Still, I don’t see him slipping up. Thrift is too good. He’s on the mother of all rolls. This season, he puts the record out of reach of the mortals on Tour. – Curtis Niedermier, FLW Editor-in-Chief


David Dudley gets a win

I don’t think you need to justify a prediction that David Dudley will win a tournament in a season; it seems like an easy one. Then again, Dudley hasn’t won since 2012, the year he won twice and earned his second consecutive Angler of the Year title. So let me back up this prognostication. First, I think Dudley is due. Six winless years is a drought by his standards. Second, I think the schedule is right for it. My guess is it happens at Cherokee, Chickamauga or Champlain – someplace where multiple patterns are in play or he can junk around and finesse fish into the boat. Third, and this one’s a little more out there, but I think the fishing world is channeling some serious energy toward Dudley right now. He’s FLW’s all-time best, and he’s stuck around despite many of his peers leaving. Now that Dudley might be the torchbearer for the FLW Tour for the foreseeable future, I think we’re trending toward the return of the dominant force he once was. – Curtis Niedermier


Thrift wins AOY

You don’t need me to tell you this, but Bryan Thrift is really good. In his entire Tour career, the Carolina pro has only finished outside of the top 10 in the points twice – one of those seasons was his rookie year. With a pair of Angler of the Year titles under his belt already, I think Thrift improves on his runner-up finish in 2018 and joins the exclusive three-title club. – Jody White, FLW Digital Editor


Hallman makes the Cup

Bradley Hallman is one of the most decorated anglers to never qualify for the FLW Cup or the Bassmaster Classic. He’s banked three wins with FLW since 2015, but his ability to throw up a triple-digit finish is just as present as his ability to win big. In theory, this year’s schedule has a lot of potential for him. Rayburn and Grand are obviously places where he has a lot of experience, and there should be shallow opportunities throughout the rest of the schedule. Additionally, Hallman is just fishing this year, not also working a normal job, so he’s going to be able to fully apply his considerable drive to fishing. I think he makes it, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s swinging big at Hamilton come August. – Jody White


The first four take big weight
After a wild offseason, it’s finally time to get the new season started. The 2019 FLW Tour sets up to be a superb one. Although the Tour has a few new faces, they are all still great anglers, and every single one of them is capable of winning any event. We are hitting some of the best fisheries in the country at some of the best times to catch giant bags (assuming the weather cooperates). The first four events of the year at Sam Rayburn, Lake Toho, Lake Seminole and Grand Lake could very easily take a 4-pound average to win. Throw in a couple smallmouth events and a Tennessee River event, and it’s gonna be a pretty exciting season. Put the best anglers in the world on the best fisheries in the world, and there’s gonna be fireworks. – Matt Becker, FLW Tour pro


The AOY hunt is diverse

I truly believe the 2019 AOY race will include myself, another West Coast angler, a Midwestern angler and two anglers from the East Coast (sorry Northern guys). The wild card tournament will be Lake Cherokee, not the final event of the year at Lake Champlain. Whoever survives the conditions and elements on Cherokee will have the best odds for the AOY title. – Jimmy Reese, FLW Tour pro


We see a giant

I also predict someone will catch a monster largemouth bass over 13 pounds this year. It will probably be caught on a swimbait, not on a float ‘n’ fly. – Jimmy Reese


Logan contends for a win

Without question, Wes Logan is one of the hottest up-and-coming anglers in professional fishing. Logan netted a top-10 finish at the FLW Cup (his first appearance to the big show) and finished second in points to Bryan Thrift in the Southeastern Division of the Costa FLW Series this past year, which helped to confirm that he’s really, really good. The 2019 Tour schedule could feature a solid shallow bite in nearly every event, and because of Logan’s shallow-water prowess, I think he’s got a chance to push for his first Tour win this season. Both Seminole and Chickamauga seem like solid venues for him to excel, but really, it could happen anywhere. – Kyle Wood, FLW Senior Editor


Both McMillan brothers finish in the top 10

Brandon, the older brother of the McMillan professional fishing duo, is about to embark on his fifth year as a Tour pro. Jared will be in his third, but his second going at it full time. They work well together and have greatly expanded their fishing game outside of the flipping they are used to doing in Florida. Since they’ll be able to keep their boats near the bank for most of the year and play to their strengths, look for them to have their name in the Angler of the Year race and punch their tickets to the Cup in style. – Kyle Wood


I make the Cup

My goal this year is to make the FLW Cup, and I think I do it. I came out of the gates swinging in 2017 and struggled a little in 2018, but all I wanna do in 2019 is make the Cup. I believe that accomplishment will solidify my goal of fishing long-term as a professional angler. – Jeff Dobson, FLW Tour pro


A McMillan wins in Florida

I think one of the McMillan brothers will win the Toho event. Brandon’s commitment to dive in headfirst in gator-infested water will be key, and Jared’s youth and drive will make him one to watch out for. – Rob Matsuura, FLW Staff Videographer and Photographer


The first two-time FLW Cup champion will be crowned at Lake Hamilton

Every year, we look forward to the world championship of bass fishing – the FLW Cup – and every year, we wonder if a former winner will take the season’s most coveted prize. Well, mark my words, 2019 will be the year it happens. This season we have five returning Cup champions on Tour – John Cox (2016), Brad Knight (2015), Scott Martin (2011), David Dudley (2003) and Darrel Robertson (2002). At first glance, it’s a pretty stout crew of anglers that should have little trouble qualifying for the Cup, as this year’s Tour schedule is loaded with shallow-water opportunities. Though, if I had to pick someone to win it all at Lake Hamilton, I’d take John Cox. Lake Hamilton has a lot of small creeks for anglers to pick apart, and as we’ve seen in the past, Cox excels in those nooks and crannies. He’s a versatile guy who has already pieced together some hefty limits on the big stage. This August, I think he heads to the record books with two FLW Cup titles to his name. – Brian Johnson, FLW Communications Specialist