FLW Outdoors

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FLW Outdoors
FLW Outdoors Logo.jpg
Purpose Sport fishing tournaments
Key people Irwin L. Jacobs
Forrest L. Wood
Website www.flwoutdoors.com

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

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

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]

FLW Outdoors expanded beyond bass fishing, with a new tour for walleye fishing created in 2001, 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] Many anglers in the FLW tour make a living doing it so it gets extremely intense, which makes it very entertaining to watch. Coverage of the FLW Tour is seen on Versus. The FLW bass tours 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.)