By BassFan Staff
The FLW Pro Circuit will retain the former FLW Tour's traditional four-day, five-fish-limit format for the 2020 season, but will feature a Major League Fishing-style championship event for the top 50 anglers in the final points standings, according to documents recently provided to anglers by MLF.
A previous plan, revealed earlier this month after FLW was acquired by MLF, had the Pro Circuit events expanding to six days, with MLF's catch-all-you-can structure being adopted for the final four rounds. Under the current scenario, the seven regular-season events will play out much the same as they have in the past, with the schedule that was announced at this year's FLW Cup remaining intact.
Included in materials sent to the anglers was the revelatory statement that "if MLF had not purchased FLW, the FLW Tour would likely not have survived."
Entry fees for the season will rise from $35,000 to $40,000 per angler. In exchange, competitors will receive dramatically increased media exposure – 156 two-hour broadcasts on Outdoor Channel and Sportsman Channel, compared to just 40 hours on the more lightly distributed World Fishing Network this year. Included are 26 consecutive weeks of Friday night "prime time" airings on Outdoor Channel.
Exposure will be greatly enhanced for anglers who survive the second-day cut, as both the weigh-ins and on-the-water action from days 3 and 4 will be live-streamed over the Internet. The live streams will be limited to weigh-ins on days 1 and 2.
The season-ending derby for the top point accumulators is currently labeled as the "MLF Format Championship," but it's noted that the name is subject to change. Set for Aug. 8-13 at the St. Lawrence River out of Massena, N.Y., it'll pay $200,000 to the winner, with all participants guaranteed at least $10,000.
In essence, the championship derby replaces the FLW Cup, albeit with a lower payoff for the victor (Bryan Thrift received $300,000 for winning this year's Cup). The field will be limited to Pro Circuit anglers – no berths will be available from lower-level trails.
Winners of the seven regular-season events will receive $100,000. Paychecks of at least $10,000 will extend through 50th place, with another 25 anglers earning a minimum of $5,000.
The Angler of the Year winner will receive a monetary award that's yet to be determined (pending sponsorship). Polaris, which formerly held an ownership stake in FLW, will underwrite a cash prize for the Rookie of the Year, who must be an angler with no tour-level experience prior to the season.
The 150-angler Pro Circuit field will be constructed via the 2019 FLW Tour rules (the criteria can be found here). As previously announced, the top 10 in combined points from the 2020 and '21 seasons will advance to the Bass Pro Tour, with the bottom 10 from the first three BPT campaigns relegated to the '22 FLW Series. It'll be 10 in and 10 out annually thereafter.
The top 110 pros from the 2020 Pro Circuit points list will requalify for the next year. They'll be joined by the 40 qualifiers from the FLW Series (the top 5 in points from each of the eight U.S. divisions).
To view the full pdf document provided to Pro Circuit qualifiers, click here.