Aim Predictions of spread of non-indigenous species allow for greater efficiency in managing invasions by targeting areas for preventative measures. The invasion sequence is a useful concept in predictions of spread, as it allows us to test hypotheses about the transport and establishment of propagules in novel habitats. Our aims are twofold: (1) to develop and validate multi-stage invasion models for the introduced fishhook waterflea, Cercopagis pengoi, and (2) to assess how variability in the transport patterns of the propagules influences the accuracy and spatial extent for predictions of spread. Location New York State, USA. Methods We developed a two-stage model for the spread of C. pengoi. First, we developed a stochastic gravity model for dispersal based on surveys of recreational boat traffic in New York State as a proxy for propagule pressure. We then modelled the probability of establishment based on predicted levels of propagule pressure and measures of lakes’ physicochemistry. In addition, we used Monte Carlo simulations based on the gravity model to propagate variability in boater traffic through the establishment model to assess how uncertainty in dispersal influenced predictions of spread. Results The amount recreationalists were willing to spend, lake area and population size of the city nearest to the destination lake were significant factors affecting boater traffic. In turn, boater traffic, lake area, specific conductance and turbidity were significant predictors of establishment. The inclusion of stochastic dispersal reduced the rate of false positives (i.e. incorrect prediction of an invasion) in detecting invasions at the upper 95% prediction interval for the probability of establishment. Main conclusions Combinations of measures of propagule pressure, habitat suitability and stochastic dispersal allow for the most accurate predictions of spread. Further, multi-stage spread models may overestimate the extent of spread if stochasticity in early stages of the models is not considered.