The anglers spoke, and FLW listened.
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.
First and foremost, the Toyota Series offers pros and co-anglers one of the best values in competitive bass fishing, with more opportunities to win bass boats and cash prizes up to $235,000 than any other league, but with lower expenses to compete. It’s also the only regional circuit of its kind with a no-entry-fee world championship.
Anglers hoping to make it to the pro ranks also have more chances to qualify up through the Toyota Series than any other circuit, and they never have to leave their home region to do it.
So, no matter if your goal is to compete close to home for minimal expense, to qualify for the pro ranks, or to earn a shot at winning a bass boat or a six-figure payday, the Toyota Series might be the best fit for you in 2020.
Here’s what you need to know:
The Toyota Series consists of eight divisions spread out across the country. Each division hosts three tournaments per season, and each tournament lasts three days. Top finishers in each division’s Strike King Angler of the Year and Co-angler of the Year standings qualify for the no-entry-fee Toyota Series Championship.
Pros and co-anglers share a boat during tournaments but compete in separate competitions. In each tournament, the entire field fishes for two days, with the top 10 pros and top 10 co-anglers qualifying for the final round. Winners are determined by three-day cumulative weight.
One of the hallmarks of the Toyota Series is the chance to fish for major payouts at every tournament, without having to shell out exorbitant entry fees and travel expenses over the course of a season.
The entry fees are $1,700 per tournament for pros and $550 per tournament for co-anglers.
By expanding the Toyota Series from five divisions to eight in 2020, FLW was able to reduce the distance between venues, making it possible for competitors to fish an entire division with minimal travel expense and time off work in order to have an affordable shot at championship qualification. Some anglers could see nearly an 80-percent reduction in miles driven over the course of a season compared to other Triple-A leagues.
Anyone wanting to fish more than three events is most likely within a reasonable drive of some or all of another division’s scheduled lakes. You do not have to fish every tournament in a division in order to compete.
When registering for a Toyota Series tournament in 2020, FLW is now offering the option for a pro and co-angler to link together to guarantee their spots in the tournament. That means no more waitlists, and no more postponing your travel and tournament plans. If you link, you’re in.
Linking for the Toyota Series is similar to linking for Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine tournaments. When registering for a Toyota Series tournament, either online or over the phone, pros have the option to provide a link to a co-angler, and co-anglers have the option to provide a link to a pro. You’ll need to provide your linking partner’s name and FLW member ID at registration time. And the partner must not already be confirmed in the tournament.
Once your linking partner also registers and verifies your information as his or her link, you’ll both be confirmed for the tournament. If your partner drops out, however, you may lose your confirmed status if a replacement is not immediately available.
Linked anglers do not compete together during the tournament. Linking is for entry only.
IMPORTANT: Any pro or co-angler currently on the waitlist for a 2020 Toyota Series event will get the first opportunity to take advantage of the new linking option. Those waitlisted anglers have until Feb. 12 to link up and guarantee a spot in the tournament. After Feb. 12, linking opens up to everyone.
Anglers who link will gain entry over people on the waitlist that do not link, so it pays to recruit a buddy to make sure you both get in.
Despite reducing entry fees in 2020, FLW increased payouts to Toyota Series anglers.
The maximum winning prize for pros at regular-season events, including a $35,000 FLW Phoenix Bonus for qualified anglers, ranges from $75,000 to $100,000, depending on field size and contingency eligibility. The winning co-angler at every tournament takes home a new-for-2020 Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat powered by a 115-hp Suzuki outboard worth $33,500, with a possible additional cash payout of up to $5,000 depending on field size.
Payouts at regular-season events extend down to 40th place for a 160-boat field. For every 20 additional boats that enter, the payouts increase and extend additional places, up to a max of 65th place for 260 boats. (see the complete payout table here)
Strike King will reward the top pro and co-angler in every Toyota Series division’s standings with cash at the end of the season. Each Strike King Angler of the Year earns $5,000, while each Co-angler of the Year earns $2,000.
What might be the biggest carrot for Toyota Series anglers in 2020 is a record-setting payout at the Series’ world championship: a guaranteed $200,000 prize for the winning pro and a $33,500 Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat powered by a 115-hp Suzuki outboard for the winning co-angler.
That’s not all that’s at stake, however.
The highest-finishing pro from each division – a max of only 28 anglers per division – at the championship earns $10,000.
An upgraded roster of contingency programs also promises plenty of opportunity for Toyota Series anglers. For instance, the new FLW Phoenix Bonus pays an additional $35,000 to the winning pro if the pro meets the contingency standards, pumping the top award to an incredible $235,000.
The championship field will consist of the top 25 pros and top 25 co-anglers from every division’s regular-season standings, top performers from FLW’s International Division, and a handful of qualifiers from other FLW circuits (complete details here).
New this year, FLW has added a “win-and-you’re-in” qualification route: If you win a regular-season Toyota Series tournament as a pro or co-angler and fish every regular-season event in that division, you automatically qualify for the championship. You are never more than one tournament away from punching your ticket to the Toyota Series Championship for a shot at winning as much as $235,000 as a pro or a brand-new Phoenix bass boat as a co-angler.
The Toyota Series is the qualification route to the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit and ultimately Major League Fishing’s no-entry-fee Bass Pro Tour.
The top five pros in the standings from each U.S. division of the 2020 Toyota Series qualify for the 2021 Pro Circuit. If a top-five pro declines his or her bid, the next eligible pro qualifies. This process continues through the top 10 pros in each U.S. division.
Following the 2021 season, 10 anglers will qualify from the Pro Circuit to compete on the Bass Pro Tour.
The Toyota Series is a great place for budding stars to be seen by sponsors and fans in photo galleries and articles, regular social media posts to an audience of more than 1 million fans, and live tournament weigh-ins, which stream daily at FLWFishing.com.
Exposure increases at the Toyota Series Championship. The main event of the season will be broadcast on World Fishing Network and FLW’s YouTube channel.
FLW and its partners are still adding contingency programs. To date, here are some of the best opportunities to earn more:
GET REGISTERED: Contingency programs require anglers to register and follow specific guidelines in order to be eligible. Prizes vary based on the equipment used by participating anglers and where those anglers finish in the standings. Check respective FLW sponsor contingency websites (links above) for more information. You can also see a summary of all Toyota Series contingencies here.