By Todd Ceisner
BassFan Editor

The 2018 season is in the books and it’s safe to say nothing will be the same moving forward. A new era in national-level tournament bass fishing is upon us with the debut of Major League Fishing’s Bass Pro Tour next month.

Sure, it’ll still be easy keep track of who wins and racks up top-10s and how anglers perform in marquee events like the Bassmaster Classic and Forrest Wood Cup, but it could get tricky to get a clear picture of consistency once all three tours get cranked up.

Through the years, the BassFan World Rankings have endured as an easy-to-digest multi-year statistical measure of consistency and will continue to be so in the coming seasons.

Each edition of the World Rankings shows an angler's current position, his position in the prior edition, and his position at the start of the year. Columns can be sorted by heading to quickly reference improvement across a few weeks, or the entire season. A quick glance at the year-end rankings reveals that between this time last year and now, five anglers were able to maintain their top-10 standing in the World Rankings – Jacob Wheeler, Bryan Thrift, Brandon Palaniuk, Jason Christie and Kevin VanDam.

There also were a number of pros who made sizable moves up the ladder. More specifically, nine pros made improvements of 40 or more spots to close the year inside the Top 50. The biggest mover amongst that group was David Williams, the FLW Tour pro who rocketed up 119 spots to 26th. Oddly, he's the only one among the nine who will remain with the same circuit in 2019.

Here's a closer look at those nine pros.

Josh Bertrand: 77th to 4th

The 30-year-old from Arizona enjoyed his best year as a pro in 2018. He recorded top-50 finishes in all eight regular-season Elite Series derbies, including top-10s at Kentucky Lake (6th) and Lake Oahe (8th) and his first career win at the St. Lawrence River. His bid for an Angler of the Year title went by the wayside at Lake Chatuge, but he still clinched a Classic berth and his dynamic year has him as high as he’s ever been in the rankings.

> Average finish last 2 years: 35.59

> Net gain: 73 spots

> 2019 circuit: Bass Pro Tour

Bradley Roy: 53rd to 10th

Like Bertrand, consistency has been the engine behind Roy’s rise. The Kentucky native had five top-20 finishes in full-field Elite Series events over the past two seasons, including a trio in 2018 – Grand Lake (4th), Sabine River (4th), Lake Oahe (6th). If not for a couple outcomes in the 70s (Lake Travis and St. Lawrence River), he’d likely be higher in the rankings.

> Average finish last 2 years: 42.00

> Net gain: 43 spots

> 2019 circuit: Bass Pro Tour

Mark Daniels Jr.: 71st to 14th

Since his move to the Elite Series in 2017, Daniels Jr. has taken his game to another level. He followed up an 88th at the Mississippi River this year with his first career tour-level win at Lake Oahe, a once-obscure smallmouth fishery on the Missouri River in South Dakota. He rounded out the season with a 12th at the St. Lawrence with another finesse-heavy performance.

> Average finish last 2 years: 40.17

> Net gain: 57 spots

> 2019 circuit: Bass Pro Tour

Chris Johnston: 75th to 18th

The Ontario native had four straight finishes of 92nd or worse in 2017, including three triple-digit duds. He bounced back with three top-10s in the first four outings of ’18, including a win at the Harris Chain FLW Tour. He still finished 4th in FLW Tour AOY points despite a season-low 91st at Lake Lanier in March. He and brother, Cory, are headed to the Elite Series in 2019.

> Average finish last 2 years: 52.21

> Net gain: 57 spots

> 2019 circuit: Bassmaster Elite Series

David Williams: 145th to 26th

Williams made a smooth transition from the Elite Series to the FLW Tour in 2018. After cashing just one check in 2017, he went to the bank five times in 2018, including a six-figure payday for winning at Smith Lake in April. It was one of four top-20 results this season.

> Average finish last 2 years: 31.00

> Net gain: 119 spots

> 2019 circuit: FLW Tour

B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito
Photo: B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito

Brent Chapman had a dynamite 2018 Elite Series season and qualified for his first Bassmaster Classic since 2014.

Zack Birge: 126th to 38th

Birge’s best season on the FLW Tour was highlighted by a three-tournament stretch that saw him claim three top-20s in a row – Harris Chain (11th), Lake Lanier (2nd) and Lake Cumberland (16th). He finished in the money two other times before finishing 6th at the Forrest Wood Cup. He’ll look to carry that momentum to the BPT next month.

> Average finish last 2 years: 51.71

> Net gain: 88 spots

> 2019 circuit: Bass Pro Tour

Brent Chapman: 113th to 41st

The former Elite Series AOY returned to the top of the standings for a spell this season before Justin Lucas took control near the end. Chapman didn’t miss a check until the seventh derby of the year (Lake Oahe) and compiled consecutive top-12s in May – Kentucky Lake (9th) and Lake Travis (5th) – to bolster his rally and qualify for his first Classic since 2014.

> Average finish last 2 years: 45.59

> Net gain: 62 spots

> 2019 circuit: Bass Pro Tour

Gerald Spohrer: 138th to 45th

Spohrer followed up a rookie season on the Elite Series that included four outcomes of 81st or worst with a campaign that had no distinct bombs. He opened with three middle-of-the-pack showings, then rattled off a 6th at Lake Travis, a 21st at the Sabine River and career-best 4th at the Mississippi River. He finished 12th in points and collected a Classic berth as well as an invite to the BPT.

> Average finish last 2 years: 55.53

> Net gain: 93 spots

> 2019 circuit: Bass Pro Tour

Dustin Connell: 109 to 48th

The 2017 Elite Series Rookie of the Year bookended his ’18 campaign with check-worthy finishes. The middle five events, however, found him mainly in the 50s and 60s. Still, the strength of his rookie campaign, combined with a solid showing this year, catapulted him into the Top 50 by year’s end.

> Average finish last 2 years: 45.24

> Net gain: 61 spots

> 2019 circuit: Bass Pro Tour