Boyd Duckett's definition of "winning" has changed since the creation of the Bass Pro Tour. Photo by Garrick Dixon

Winning is the goal of every tournament angler I know fishing the MLF Bass Pro Tour. I certainly want to win every event I fish, and that will never change. But, I also know that my life as a tournament angler is completely different now. 

Yes, I’m one out of the 80 anglers fishing the Bass Pro Tour, but I’m full-time management as well. As a co-founder of MLF and a member of the MLF Board of Directors, I now have business meetings at every event we have. It’s a very interesting dynamic and has completely changed how I’m fishing.

The other anglers have a huge advantage over me now, for sure. It’s hard to keep up with these pros when I have a lack of time on the water, no time for practice, or tackle preparation. To achieve the highest levels in bass fishing, like what Edwin Evers did this year, you need to work at your profession consistently to be successful. I can’t, so I work with what I’ve got.

My chosen role really does impact me personally. My priorities have changed: I can’t really give 100 percent of my focus to angling. I know I don’t have the time to put in the work needed to compete with this field of pros, but I’m okay with that. I feel a great sense of accomplishment that we now have no entry fees, and that anglers earn their checks, and are the priority.

I’ve been fishing tournaments since 1977, and to see where we are now, our huge media platform, anglers fishing with no entry fees and getting $100,000 for first place, I truly feel like I’m winning at every event.

Building a Broader Foundation

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and our group is working hard to build up the sport and business every day with our focus on the anglers. With the acquisition of FLW, we can focus on making things better there as well.

Previously, the anglers fishing FLW events were viewed from a cash position. It’s the business model that’s been in place for decades – there’s nothing wrong with that from the company side of things. We just approach things with the focus on the anglers. The old model is the company focuses on profit, and one byproduct is that the employees – or, in that case, the anglers – might benefit, but that wasn’t the priority of the business.

But taking care of the anglers is our priority.

In our company, we focus daily on how we can help the anglers achieve their goals and get to where they want to be as tournament professionals. We’re always striving to improve the sport.

We have to convince people daily that what we’re doing is the right thing. That angler focus is the right way. We’ll be better in 2020 than in 2019, and better in 2021 than in 2020. MLF was created by anglers, and we as a company work for them, and the anglers work together with us. It’s a partnership. We perform for each other. Both the company and the anglers need each other. We can’t win if we are divided.

Let’s All Do What’s Best for the Sport

Change has always been made in this industry by dreamers and entrepreneurs. 

B.A.S.S. has great heritage for sure, but they can never be the same as they were in the past. The landscape for tournament fishing has permanently changed, and MLF has caused that change. But that shouldn’t make anyone feel like they have to make a choice between the two brands! Although we are very different, both are good companies and both have a lot to offer the fans.

Let’s all try and do a good job and do what’s best to grow our sport.

For me, I believe the MLF Bass Pro Tour (and now the partnership with FLW) is a natural evolution of the sport. We aren’t asking anybody to choose anything. Instead, we’re offering something very exciting and dynamic to enjoy, and hopefully participate in, from the BFL level all the way to the top at the Bass Pro Tour.

At our inaugural Bass Pro Tour event back in February, I finished terribly and Jordan Lee won, but I sure felt like I won, too. As anglers, we all did.