Following a great season in 2019, I just signed up for the FLW Pro Circuit for 2020. Foremost, I’m excited about the opportunities that are being provided by MLF and FLW. I see overall growth in the platform as we strive to be a bigger and better industry. This will ultimately help the organizations and anglers be more profitable and eventually enable more anglers to become stable in their chosen career of professional bass fishing, as long as their fishing performance and business skills are in tune with the needs of the industry.
For me, there’s no question that the Pro Circuit is my best opportunity to have the most financial reward in 2020 – not only from a potential winnings standpoint with the paybacks, but also from a sponsorship viewpoint. Each angler has his own platform and is an entrepreneur, and tournament bass fishing is just one way to make an impact in the industry. It’s certainly not the only way.
From my perspective as the general manager at Hayabusa, I want to see our sponsored anglers go make an impact in a variety of platforms so we can see they’re promoting our product to the best of their ability. If you continue to provide that for Hayabusa, whether it’s in a tournament situation, at industry events, through media relationships or on your social media platform, we’ll see those rewards on our bottom line. If an angler can be multi-faceted in providing these benefits to a company, I don’t think what tournament circuit he’s fishing is very important.
The second element that’s exciting is that everything I enjoyed with FLW is essentially going to continue, and we’re going to be provided with increased media exposure as an additional benefit. Anglers that perform well in the Pro Circuit events are going to get rewarded with media exposure, and their sponsorship associations are going to get rewarded with exposure that wasn’t previously available. It is important to note that the Pro Circuit is providing us more coverage than any tour in the industry other than the Bass Pro Tour. The TV and additional media platforms are significantly more than the FLW Tour was able to provide in 2019.
It’s my belief there’s going to be even more attention on the Pro Circuit in 2021 and 2022, when we start adding and removing anglers to and from the BPT and continually via the FLW Series. There’s going to be a lot of shifting going on, and lots of interest in how anglers perform on their competitive platforms.
There’s going to be more opportunity than ever for FLW Series anglers as well, with eight divisions, a huge championship and the chance to move up to the Pro Circuit. To me, it’s actually the first time we’ve seen a true platform to move from one level to the next that makes viable sense for an angler from an introductory level to the top level.
Still, in any organization there are things we can do to continue to improve. If we can decrease that gap in financial investment between the FLW Series and the Pro Circuit that would be good, and it would just make it a more viable system for an angler to move through and feasibly continue to the top without having an overburden of financial risk.
I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to compete with MLF. Although I did not receive an invite to compete in the opening of the Bass Pro Tour at its inception, I’m a guy that looks at things as opportunities. I would have never qualified for the 2019 Forrest Wood Cup if I’d received an invite, nor would I have cashed in five out of seven events last year. So, my whole deal is that things happen in life for a reason. You smile, you don’t get disgruntled, and you push forward with what you can control and make the most of your available opportunities.
I don’t care what format you like, whether it is weighing five fish or catch, weigh and release. To me, having the two in one organization is the best of both worlds for moving forward and progressing the sport of bass fishing. As mentioned, I was a competitor in MLF previously. I actually had success by winning the 2015 Challenge Select on Lake Peckerwood, beating well-established anglers such as Mark Rose, Jacob Wheeler, Brandon Palaniuk, Marty Robinson and Scott Suggs. I was proud to be a part of that program, and so I’m excited for the possibility to join in that process again now with MLF and continue moving the sport in a direction of new opportunity and potential growth.
We’ve had two years of industry shakeup, and it seems like maybe that has culminated here, with the return of an industry having two major organizations. I’m happy to be associated with the organization that I just signed up for. I am excited for the chance to qualify for the BPT and have no entry fees. I had a great year on the FLW Tour in 2019 and look to continue my momentum in 2020. For the moment, I’m busy working on Hayabusa projects, my 2020 sponsorship lineup and also rigging my new Ranger 520L when I have the chance.
Of course, the most exciting thing I’m looking forward to is going fishing, and now that I’m all signed up for the Pro Circuit, I can’t wait to make the drive to Sam Rayburn in January to kick it off.