Something like a midterm and maybe more like a semi-annual report, a look at this year’s numbers after three-quarters of the season on the FLW (National Guard) Series suggests continued difficulty in pursuing a pro career or even maintaining this level of pro circuit in the West.

I got these numbers from FLW (you know where to look) and I’m pretty sure I’ve got them right. The big difference from a year ago, of course, was there were approximately 320 different fishermen involved then in the Series (National Guard West) and this year, only 151 different guys.

So what I discovered thus far during the season is that right at 50 percent (76 of 151) “cashed” some amount in three events.  However, the number players recovering their $12,000 in entry fees was only 34 pros–or 22 1/2 percent.  If you will recall, that is almost 11 percent lower than a year ago when 33 percent of all the pros returned their entry fees.

When it comes to making the game profitable (and remember, I’m not factoring in the widely diverse element of expenses) I have discovered that only 11 percent of all the participants have taken home $10,000 more than their entry fees. (I know a check is a check, but it gave me a measuring tool).

When moving higher in the money winnings, I’ve found that only 12 competitors or 8 percent of the pros earned at least $20,000 more than their entry fees.  And going farther up the cash ladder, as you would expect,  an even smaller number, just 5 fishermen or 3 percent of all the pros cashed checks totaling at least $30,000 above entry–although there were two others who were maybe $2,000 short.

What else is different? A year ago we were looking at a 50th place finish for a roughly $9,000 average take home per event as a successful return. That’s when I discovered that only 8 percent of all those 320 or so fishermen hit that level in 2008. But a year ago, I was more interested in performance, but let’s face it, this year every paycheck had that $4000 “tax.”

But in all fairness, what if we used that same standard from 2008 for three events in 2009? Even, with smaller fields and fewer players, the number of pros who averaged the $9,000 cash (or roughly a 30th place finish for each event this year) was 14. And wouldn’t you know it, that comes to 8 percent of the total– or the very same as last year.

Competitive bass fishing against skilled performers and in every case, a preponderance of local knowledge, means you have to be very good. And the top guys always seem to get ’em. So  slice it up any way you want, but a year ago, 92 percent of the entire field of players could not average 50th place, while this season, 92 percent of the field could not average 30th place. Those are the facts.

So what are the most realistic expectations? This season (and we know there are a number of reasons)  just 151 total pro players produced an average of 95 pros per contest–or just 63 percent of a full field. And yet, last season with more than double the total number of participants, FLW produced the same percentage of “winners.”

There has been a clamoring for lower fees and less travel, and it appears that it’s going to happen.

But what’s it going to change?


3 Responses to “FLW numbers telling the same story”

by Robert Schneider

gotta love the math!

by Clayton Meyer

“What’s going to change?”

As of yesterday and I haven’t researched it at all, two separate people ( not sources ) suggested the entries would be cut in half. If this is true and the payback remained the same, I think many more would enter the tournaments on at least an individual tournament basis.

As for the topic of making money… I made money fishing FLW and still I had to make the choice not to fish this last year due to having purchased a home in Nevada and concerns for the short term economy. Many anglers had responsibilities, families and careers to protect and if they had dreams of getting sponsored fishing this tour they had first be cashing checks on a regular basis.

You need to have money or make money in this game.

If you have a boat payment, truck payment, entries and expenses you need to make 30k+ to make it a profit. Before I started this I looked at my top 10 finishes and knew I would be fishing against the same people making the “odds” good enough for me to take a chance. I also had the money to lose for one year, but if I didn’t do well I was broke.

These are big things to consider as a working man… a $30,000 savings or broke, lose your home, wife, kids. Even with a boat sponsorship you can’t make money on your boat when you sell it. The boats are being given away. I tried to sell mine but wasn’t going to drop the price so I paid it off and kept it. Now it looks like the boat is worth more than it was last year since the economy has turned and people are recovering.

Back to what will happen… Asking anglers where and when they want to fish is a good thing. I think it was too limited before and only a very small number of people had FLW’s ear. The delta tournament didn’t even have 90 boats… so much for all the hype about how many local boys will be fishing. Who believes that stuff? They have the same responsibilities the rest of the world has. If the anglers don’t have the money they aren’t going to fish a tournament just because the fishing is great.

Where they go doesn’t matter to myself although I wish different lakes were on the circuit even if the cities weren’t entirely capable of handling the event. I am a little tired of the same old lakes and seem to do quite well with waters I don’t know.

Fees are one thing to change but “LESS” travel? Whats it going to be… the Delta Tour? The West… that is what we fish. Canada to Mexico and I think all the way to the border of Texas… Actually we should include Texas too. Fuel prices just aren’t an excuse any more or maybe we should compete online and not leave the couch.

The tournament industry will go through it’s cycle of change once again and we will all be fishing and happy as long as we are able to adapt to it’s changes

by George Kramer

Clayton: You are too big a hitter to stay on the left side of the map. My argument remains the same. If only one in 10 has a chance to make a go of it, how many “possible” players do you need to maintain filling a 150 boat circuit? In harsh terms, “working guys” just have a greater ability to sustain losses. That doesn’t mean they’re suited to be tour fishermen.