Fishing League Worldwide

Last updated
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
Formerly called
FLW Outdoors

Fishing League Worldwide, also known as 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.

Bass fishing is the activity of angling for the North American gamefish known colloquially as the black bass. There are numerous black bass species considered as gamefish in North America, including largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass or Kentucky bass, and Guadalupe bass. Black bass are members of the sunfish (Centrarchidae) family.


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.

Forrest L. Wood is the founder of Ranger Boats, and widely acknowledged as the developer of the modern bass boat. He is also the namesake of the Walmart FLW Tour for sportfishing.

Ranger Boats are a popular line of bass fishing boats designed primarily for black bass fishing. Since launching, the company has expanded their line of boats to offer recreational options as well. The company has fiberglass boats, but with the modern success of the aluminum boat on top tournament trails, unveiled an aluminum series. The company was founded in 1968 by Forrest L. Wood in Flippin, Arkansas. Ranger is generally credited with the introduction of the modern bass boat.


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 still owns FLW today, overseeing more than 240 tournaments around the globe.

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, Forrest L. Wood, by naming the sport’s most lucrative championship after him, the Forrest Wood Cup.

Tournament circuits

FLW Tour

FLW's top tournament circuit is the Walmart FLW Tour. The Tour features a field of the best bass-fishing anglers in the world competing for a top prize of $125,000 at each tournament and points to qualify for the end of the season championship, the prestigious Forrest Wood Cup.

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]

Irwin L. Jacobs was an American businessman. He was the CEO of several large corporations, formerly including the now-bankrupt Genmar Holdings, which at one time was billed as the world's largest boat-building company. He earned the nickname "Irv the Liquidator" for his aggressive business practices in the 1970s and early 1980s. In 1973, Jacobs founded COMB, a catalog-based mail-order retailer. In 1986, COMB and several cable television operators created the Cable Value Network (CVN), a pioneering television shopping channel which was later purchased by Joseph Segel's QVC. Jacobs, based in Minneapolis, became wealthy by taking big stakes in Fortune 500 conglomerates, usually with the goal of unlocking value by breaking them up.

Gilbertsville is census-designated place and unincorporated community in Marshall County, Kentucky, United States. Its elevation is 351 feet (107 m), and it is located at 37°1′28″N88°17′59″W. It is known as the closest village to Kentucky Dam. The town was relocated to its present site when Kentucky Dam and Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park replaced the former site.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Costa FLW Series

The Costa 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 two no-entry fee championships. Fifteen regular-season tournaments are held in five different divisions around the country. Qualifiers from each division advance to the FLW Series Championship, with top finishers at the Championship advancing to the Forrest Wood Cup.

FLW Bass Fishing League

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.

Non-bass tours

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.

Walleye species of fish

The walleye, also called the yellow pike, is a freshwater perciform fish native to most of Canada and to the Northern United States. It is a North American close relative of the European zander, also known as the pikeperch. The walleye is sometimes called the yellow walleye to distinguish it from the blue walleye, which is a subspecies that was once found in the southern Ontario and Quebec regions, but is now presumed extinct. However, recent genetic analysis of a preserved (frozen) 'blue walleye' sample suggests that the blue and yellow walleye were simply phenotypes within the same species and do not merit separate taxonomic classification.

King mackerel species of fish

The king mackerel or kingfish is a migratory species of mackerel of the western Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. It is an important species to both the commercial and recreational fishing industries.

Redfish is a common name for several species of fish. It is most commonly applied to certain deep-sea rockfish in the genus Sebastes, or the reef dwelling snappers in the genus Lutjanus. It is also applied to the slimeheads or roughies, and the alfonsinos (Berycidae).

Media 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

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

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

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

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.

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