FLW Outdoors

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File:FLW Outdoors Logo.jpg
Type Tournament Organization
Purpose To provide a lifestyle experience that is the best in fishing, on and off the water.
Headquarters Benton, Ky
  • United States
Key people
Irwin L. Jacobs
Forrest L. Wood
Website www.flwoutdoors.com
Formerly called
FLW Outdoors

FLW, also known as Fishing League Worldwide, is the sanctioning organization for a series of bass fishing tournament tours, the best known being the WalMart FLW Tour.

The organization's initials are taken from Forrest L. Wood, founder of Ranger Boats and developer of the Ranger fishing boat. The top tournament on the FLW Tour, the Forrest Wood Cup, is also named for Wood. In 2007, the tournament was the first to offer a $1 million prize for the winner.

The FLW Tour was created by businessman Irwin L. Jacobs, owner of Genmar, the world's largest manufacturer of recreational boats (including Ranger, Wood's former company). Jacobs bought a small fishing-tournament promotion company based in Gilbertsville, Kentucky, United States, and renamed the company's tour as the FLW Tour. Jacobs' plan was to turn the tour into the object of major media coverage, with larger cash prizes, a television-friendly competition format, and sponsorships from well-known corporations from outside the fishing industry. Jacobs promptly signed the biggest company of them all — WalMart — which became the title sponsor for the FLW Tour, which was the first such sponsorship in the giant retailer's history. The tour went without Walmart as a title sponsor in 2010, but the retailer signed a new deal that restored the title sponsorship beginning in 2011.[1] That same day, Jacobs also announced that legendary oilman and investor T. Boone Pickens had taken an equity stake and a partnership in the company.[2]

In 2001, FLW expanded beyond bass fishing with a new tour for walleye fishing, for kingfish and redfish in 2005 and for striped bass in 2006. All of these tours have a hierarchy somewhat similar to the farm system in Major League Baseball, with lower-level tours that allow anglers to qualify for the top-level series.[3]

FLW also manages the Rayovac FLW Series and Walmart Bass Fishing League (BFL), the AAA and AA circuits for anglers looking to join the top-tier Walmart FLW Tour. The Series consists of 15 tournaments with a championship being held at the season's conclusion. During the three-day Rayovac FLW Series tournaments, 300 professionals and co-anglers compete for cash prizes and points which are used to award Angler of the Year titles and entry into the Forrest Wood Cup.

The Walmart Bass Fishing League, which is tailored to weekend anglers, consists of 96 one-day tournaments in 24 divisions across the United States. Each division ends their season with a super tournament where anglers compete for entry into the BFL All-American Championship and Wild Card tournaments. The top boater in the All-American qualifies for the Forrest Wood Cup. Like the Rayovac FLW Series, top performers in the Walmart Bass Fishing League BFL are invited to move up to a more difficult circuit.

Coverage of the FLW Tour is seen on NBC Sports Network and heard on FLW's weekly podcast. Many anglers in the FLW tour make a living doing it so competition gets extremely intense, which makes it very entertaining to watch. The FLW circuits compete with those operated by the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S.), which was formerly owned by ESPN. (ESPN announced a sale of B.A.S.S. to private investors in July 2010.)