FLW Outdoors

FLW Outdoors is the sanctioning organization for a series of sport fishing tournament tours, the best known being the Wal-Mart 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 modern bass-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, 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 outside of the fishing industry. Jacobs promptly signed the biffest company of them all — Wal-Mart, which became the title sponsor for the FLW Tour, the first such sponsorship in the giant retailer's history.

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. [ [http://mc.flwoutdoors.com/mc/FLW%20Outdoors%20History.doc.pdf FLWoutdoors.com: History of FLW Outdoors] ]

Coverage of the FLW Tour is seen on Fox Sports Net. The FLW bass tours compete with those operated by the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (BASS), which is owned by FSN competitor ESPN.


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