Fishing League Worldwide

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FLW Outdoors Logo.jpg
TypeTournament Organization
Legal statusPrivately Owned
PurposeTo provide a lifestyle experience that is the best in fishing, on and off the water.
HeadquartersBenton, Ky., Minneapolis, Minn.
  • United States
Key people
Irwin L. Jacobs
Forrest L. Wood Boyd Duckett
Formerly called
FLW Outdoors

Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) is the world's largest tournament-fishing organization. Each year, FLW offers anglers of all skill levels the opportunity to compete for millions in prize money across the globe in five tournament circuits, four of which offer a path to the most lucrative tournament in professional bass fishing – the Forrest Wood Cup.

The organization's initials are taken from Forrest L. Wood, founder of Ranger Boats and developer of the modern bass-fishing boat. The FLW Tour championship - 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.


FLW was founded in 1979 as Operation Bass when Mike Whitaker of Gilbertsville, Kentucky, a former high school teacher and football coach turned electronics salesman, started conducting one-day, weekend bass tournaments. Unlike most tournaments of the day, Whitaker geared his events toward anglers who were unable to take time off from work and travel long distances to participate in high-entry-fee tournaments. Sometimes, these anglers were called "weekend warriors."

The first FLW tournament season followed in 1980 when the company held 12 events in two states and awarded $20,000 in prize money. The company's first tournament was held on Barren River Lake near Glasgow, Kentucky, in March, 1980.

An important point in FLW history occurred July 24, 1996, when Minneapolis businessman Irwin L. Jacobs purchased the company. Jacobs owned FLW until his death in 2018. In 2019 Major League Fishing purchased FLW.

Operation Bass was renamed FLW in 2001 to honor legendary Ranger Boats founder Forrest L. Wood, developer of the modern bass boat. Over the years as FLW has expanded with broader reach around the globe, a new name of Fishing League Worldwide was adopted to better reflect FLW's international presence. FLW still honors their namesake by naming the sport's most lucrative championship after him, the Forrest Wood Cup.

In October 2019 it was announced Major League Fishing had purchased FLW. FLW will continue operating as a subsidiary of MLF.

Tournament circuits[edit]

FLW Pro Circuit[edit]

FLW's top tournament circuit is the FLW Pro Circuit. The Tour features a field of 150 anglers competing for a top prize of $125,000 at each tournament and points to qualify for the end of the season championship, the FLW Championship. The top 40 anglers will qualify for the Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour while the bottom 40 will be demoted to the FLW Series.

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 Series[edit]

The FLW Series is FLW's AAA-level circuit. The Series offers regional anglers a chance to compete close to home for a shot at qualifying for a no-entry fee championship. Twenty four regular-season tournaments are held in eight different divisions around the country. Qualifiers from each division advance to the FLW Series Championship. The top 40 anglers will qualify for the FLW Pro Circuit.

Phoenix Bass Fishing League[edit]

The Bass Fishing League (BFL) is for the weekend angler, featuring one-day tournaments in 24 divisions across the country that provide advanced competition and lucrative payouts. Each division will each feature four one-day qualifying tournaments that pay as much as $8,000 to the winning boater and $3,000 to the winning co-angler, plus a two-day super tournament offering top awards of $11,000 and $4,500, respectively. There are six no entry fee regional championships for the top anglers. The top finishers will qualify for the BFL All-American.

Non-bass tours[edit]

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. Since 2013, FLW has been exclusively a bass fishing organization.

Media[edit][edit] is the largest, fastest-growing and most comprehensive website dedicated to tournament and recreational fishing. The fully responsive site breaks down each of FLW's five tournament trails and includes up-to-the minute tournament results, feature stories, angler profiles and on-demand video. led the industry with the introduction of “FLW Live” in 2003, the first live streaming video and real-time leaderboards for all Walmart FLW Tour tournaments. In addition, provides readers with tips-and-techniques videos, news and insights, current “FLW” television episodes and the latest FLW merchandise. The website offers both the casual angler and the tournament fanatic a one-stop destination for fishing news, tips and entertainment. For more information, visit



The Emmy-nominated "FLW" television show airs on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN), the Pursuit Channel and the World Fishing Network (WFN) and is broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoors-sports television show in the world. Episodes will also be broadcast online at and the FLW YouTube channel at shortly after the television premiere. The television show, as well as the live web broadcast, is produced by Digital P Media.

Circuit Breaker[edit]

FLW Circuit Breaker is FLW's original YouTube based reality series that documents life on the road as a professional bass angler. It allows fans to experience firsthand what life on the road is really like and feel the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat as it happens to pro anglers pursuing the dream of becoming Forrest Wood Cup Champion. Season one featured the trials and tribulations of Casey Martin, while season two featured the compelling duo of Chad Grigsby and J.T. Kenney. Season three featured west-coast standout Mark Daniels Jr. Season four featured West Coast angler, Cody Meyer. Full episodes can be found online at the FLW YouTube channel at


FLW Bass Fishing Magazine[edit]

FLW Bass Fishing Magazine features award-winning photography, a respected stable of writers and a clean design making it one of the finest publications in the industry. The magazine is available in both print and an interactive digital e-edition, and each issue is produced independently with a focus on educating anglers to help them enjoy more successful fishing trips in the future.

The in-depth feature articles highlight the country's top anglers demonstrating proven techniques and products that work all over the country and in tournament-pressure situations. FLW Bass Fishing magazine continues to provide cutting-edge information on new fishing tactics, great fishing locations, hot new products and tournament secrets anglers are using to catch more fish.


The FLW Podcast[edit]

The FLW Podcast, formed in October 2013, breaks down the latest fishing news, stats and analysis in a convenient on-the-go audio format. Hosts Jody White and Kyle Wood also interview compelling FLW Tour anglers and/or FLW officials in an attempt to get their thoughts on a myriad of intriguing topics

FLW Foundation[edit]

Formed in 2010, the FLW Foundation was created to help connect youth to their natural resources and promote education, conservation and an active lifestyle. The FLW Foundation functions nationwide with thousands of volunteers at hundreds of fishing tournaments and outdoor expos to achieve measureable on-the-ground success in youth angler recruitment and retention. The FLW Foundation maximizes the impact of existing partnerships and expertise through experiential learning opportunities that meet the shared goals of partner schools, natural resource agencies and corporations. This hands-on approach allows the FLW Foundation and its partners to connect outdoor leisure activities with sound educational principles.